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evangelical repentance, yet is so far from being the thing, that is a full proof that such a sinner, in the eye of the Gospel, is not yet convinced, that it belongs to him to repent. For as yet he does not see himself to blame in manner and form, as alleged in the divine law. Every objection a man's heart makes against the law, every plea he advances for him. self, every excuse, every extenuating consideration, is a proof he does not think himself to blame as therein held forth. And the more positively he affirms, that it is impossible he should love God, until first he knows that his sins are pardoned, the more positively does he declare that his upcircumcised heart is still unhumbled, and that he is still disposed to justify himself, and impute iniquity to his Maker. For God to forgive a sinner in this view, and so bring him to a reconciliation, is virtually to own that his law was too severe, and himself to blame, and to repent and make restitution, and so induce the sinner to forgive him. Aud to suppose that Christ died to bring God the Father to this, is the very first-born of blasphemy. And if singers believe such a Gospel, and are ravished with it, their very faith proves them infidels; and their very joys prove they are enemies to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. There can be not the least degree of that kind of repentance, which the Gospel calls sinners unto, unless we feel ourselves to blame in the sense which the death of Christ imports. But the plain import of the death of Christ is, that the law by which we are charged and condemned, is a good and glorious law. For its being such, was the very thing that rendered his mediation and death needful, in order to our being forgiven, consistent with the divine honour. To be blind to the beauty of the law, to plead in our own justification, to excuse, extenuate, &c. is to declare ourselves to be, in the sight of God, impenitent infidels, enemies to heaven. For every word we say in our justification, in this case, is to God's condemnation. For if we are not so much to blame as his law supposes, he is to blame who made the law; and repentance, restitution, and reformation, are his duty. Add so a self-justifying, is a God-condemning disposition ; and therefore of all things most diametrically opposite to the cross of
Christ, which declares God to be wholly right, and seals the declaration with blood.
VI. If the divine law is holy, just, and good, antecedent to a consideration of the death of Christ, then the gift of Christ, to be a Saviour, was an act of grace absolutely free. As God was not obliged to grant any relief at all; so the relief he has granted, in every view of it, is an act of grace absolutely free. The gift of Christ to be a Redeemer, the gift of the Holy Spirit to be a sanctifier, divine illumination, faith repentance, forgiveness, and every other blessing, contained in the Gospel, is absolutely of free grace.
And by the way, this is the true Gospel notion of free grace; and is what no Antinomian ever yet had a true idea of. For till the law appears to be a glorious law, worthy to be magnified and made honourable, the grace of the Gospel cannot be seen. For it was this very thing that rendered the gift of Christ, in God, an act of grace, altogether free, For had not the law been wholly good, God had been obliged in justice to grant us some relief. And had it not been altogether glorious, the death of Christ to do it honour had been needless.
And this, I say, is an idea of free grace, that no Antinomian ever had. I use the word Antinomian according to its proper signification, to mean, one that is against the law; which is the true character of all men, how much enlightened soever they have been, in reality or to appearance, who are yet blind to the beauty of the divine law. For all such are enemies to it in heart, whatever their profession may be. Arminians and Pelagians are professed enemies to the law, and so were those in the two last centuries, who were commonly called Antinomians. But those who profess to be enemies to the divine law, and boldly advance their objections against it, do only more impudently proclaim what more secretly lurks in the heart of every unregenerate man, how orthodox soever his profession may be. For every carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. And therefore it is equally true, as to all unregenerate men, as the apostle affirms, the natural mun cannot discern the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him. Neither the glory nor the grace of the Gospel was ever seen by an unregenerate man. For the Gospel has no glory nor grace in it, only on supposition the law was a glorious law antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ. Till, therefore, the law be thus viewed, and no uuregenerate man ever viewed it thus, neither the glory nor the grace of the Gospel can ever be seen. And if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.
But I the rather say, this is an idea of the grace of the Gospel no Antinomian ever had. To set it in contrast with that notion of free grace, which Antinomians so called, are wont to have, and to glory in, viz. being pardoned before repentance: this is free grace indeed. Repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, sounds very legal in an Antinomian ear. To believe the pardon of sin, and God's love to me, impenitent as I am, is pure Gospel. And this belief is the source of love to God, and of all religion. And these, with them, are the doctrines of tree grace, which they love, and for which they are full of zeal. But as to the free of the Gospel of Christ, which supposes, that God was absolutely unobliged to grant any relief to this apostate world, as the law by which we stood condemned, was holy, just, good, and glorious ; explain it, till they begin a little to understand what you mean, and they will appear as great enemies to free grace, as any people in the world; just as the Pharisees of old, who made their boast of the law, and yet enemies to the law, rightly understood. Their false notions of the law served only to feed their spiritual pride, just as false notions of Christ and free grace do with these' men.
The design of the Mediatorial office and work of Christ, was to
do honour to the divine luw.
A MEDIATOR, to bring about a reconciliation, supposes the parties concerned to be at variance. If both parties are to blame, it is the business of a Mediator to bring both parties to see their faults, to confess, reform, and make restitution, and so to make up. If one party is altogether right, and the other altogether wrong, then one party is to be wholly justified, approved, and commended, as publicly as the controversy is known, and the entire blame to be laid at the other's door ; who, if he can make no restitution, must suffer according to his desert, unless the mediator, or some other, will interest himself in his welfare, so as to become bis sponsor, and answer in his stead. And if his crime is of such a nature, that his penitency can make no atonement, if ever he is forgiven and received into favour, it must be simply on the credit of his sponsor. But in the case before us, God was wholly right, and we were wholly wrong; and so much to blame, that our deepest penitency ought in reason and justice to be disregarded. However, so far were we from penitency, as rather to be disposed to justify ourselves, and lay the blame on God, and on his holy law. And our disaffection to the divine character and government arose even to enmity itself. When therefore the Mediator espoused his Father's honour, and testified of the world, that their works were evil, they were angry, yea, they were enraged, and they put him to death as not fit to live. So far were they from a disposition to take the blame to themselves, confess, repent, return, and be reconciled. And this conduct of a set of men, who made very high claims to virtue, was but a specimen of that temper which is natural to all mankind. But what reason have mankind to be so disaffected to the Deity?
God, an absolutely perfect, and infinitely glorious and amiable being, iufinitely worthy of supreme love and honour, and of universal obedience, the Creator and original proprietor of the Universe, as becomes him, assumes the authority of king and supreme governor over his own world, takes the throne, proclaims his divinity, saying, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no other God; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and yield an entire obedience to his will.Adding, he that doth these things shall live in them; but the soul that sins shall die. For us thus to love, honour, and obey him, is no more than a
practical acknowledgment of his Godhead and Lordship; it is no more than barely giving unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. And this is all he requires, and it is our duty; and our obligations to it are infinite, and it is infinitely for our interest. So that our disaffection and rebellion are unreasonable, groundless, nay, infinitely criminal. To be disaffected and to rise in open rebellion, as we in this lower world have done, is a practical declaration in the sight of the universe, (and practice speaks louder than words,) that God's character is not good, and that his law is bad. Or in other words, it is a practical declaration, that he is not what he claims to be, by nature, Got), an absolutely perfect, and infinitely glorious and amiable being, and our rightful sovereign.
To have given up his law, founded on his Godhead and Lordship, and which only asserted his proper character and worth, and claimed his proper rights, had been a practical giving up of his divinity and supremacy, in favour of a disaffection absolutely groundless, of a rebellion infinitely upreasonable; a thing very unbecoming the absolutely perfect Being, at the head of the universe. Better, infinitely better, a whole race of such apostates be doomed to endless woes, as a public practical declaration of the infinite evil of their crimes.
The design of the incarnation, life, and death of the Son of God, was to give a practical declaration, in the most public manner, even in the sight of the whole intellectual system, that God was worthy of all that love, honour, and obedience, which his law required, and that sin was as great an evil as the punishment threatened supposed ; and so to declare God's righteousness, and condemn the sins of an apostate world, to the end God might be just, and yet a justifier of the believer. And this he did by obeying and dying in our room and stead.
The Jewish dispensation, which was designed to prepare the way for, and to introduce the Christian, and which was a shadow of which Christ is the substance, was in its whole constitution purposely calculated to do honour to the divine law. The clouds, and the thick darkness, and the Name of a devouring fire on Mount Sinai, the thunders and the light