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Christless sinners, (p. 65, 66.) may warrantably,' while such, and as such,' bind themselves, in covenant 'by divine assistance to obey the whole will of God. Whether what has been offered in the foregoing section, is sufficient to prove that this external covenant is not from heaven, but of men, is submitted to the consideration of every judicious reader.— And we are now at liberty more particularly to examine the new scheme of religion, which he has advanced in order to support his external covenant, which is to be the principat business of most of the following sections.
Rom. viii. 7, 8. The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of Gud, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Quest. I. Are we, as fallen creatures, at enmity against
Are we enemies only to false and mistaken ideas of God? Or,
Quest. III. Is the carnal mind enmity against God's true and real character, and that notwithstanding the revelation tehich God has made of his readiness to be revealed to us, if we repent and return to him through Jesus Christ? If so,
Quest. IV. What contrariety is there heteeen the carnal mind and God's true and real character?
ACCORDING to our author, (p. 50.) Adam, after the fall, before the revelation of a Mediator,' was not bound by the divine law to love God. The divine law bouod bim to “punishment' for what was past; but its binding authority respected not his obedience,' for the time
For Adam by the fall ceased to be a moral agent. For it now became inconsistent with a principle essential to moral agency, to love God. For, (p. 5.)
a principle of self-love is essential to us as moral agents.'But, (p. 10.) 'to delight in God under those circumstances,
was the same thing as to delight in his own misery ;' which
was exhibited in the moral law given to Adam ; for to do so is the same thing as to love their own misery. Wbich to do is inconsistent with moral agency, and contrary to the law of God, which requires us to love ourselves. (p. 41, 42, 43.) And the Gospel does not require us to love that character of God which is exhibited in the moral law. (p. 43.) For the love of God which the Gospel teacheih, is love of that divine character which is exhibited to us in a Mediator, and no other.' But this character the unbeliever hath no idea of, and so cannot love it. (p. 43.) “ To suppose that the soul sees, and loves this character, before a believing view of Christ takes place in the heart, is to suppose the soul to see and not to see at the same time. And as we are not moral agents with respect to law or Gospel, while unregenerate and unenlightened, nor bound in duty at present to love God, believe, or repent; so the external covenant, which requires unregenerate endeavours, and promises the strivings of the Holy Spirit to render external means effectual to salvation,' comes in here to our relief. And our “total depravity,' and our' enunity against God,' not being of a criminal nature, are no bar in the way of our admission to sealing ordinances. And therefore, although a man who steals but a shilling, and justifies himself in it, must be debarred; yet he who is totally depraved, and an enemy to God, and justifies himself-in it, may be admitted. This is the sum of Mr. M.'s scheme.--Now that we, wbile unregenerate, are moral agents, has been already proved. And the nature of that enmity against God, which is in the carnal mind, is to be considered in this section, which may be done in answer to the questions proposed; and then the way will be prepared to consider the nature of that reconciliation to God, to which the Gospel calls us, which is to be the subject of the next section. Now, therefore, let us attend to the questions.
Question I. Are we, as fallen creatures, enemies to God, merely as conceiving God to be our enemy?
Answer. As likeliness of nature lays the foundation for liking; so contrariety of nature is the original ground of dislike; or that in which enmiy radically consists e. And there© There are some sinners who do not know enough about God, sensibly to
fore, our enmity to God does not arise merely from conceiring God to be our enemy. Here let these things be considered :
1. If our enmity against God arises merely from conceiving him to be our enemy, if we have no contrariety of heart to God, but what arises inerely from conceiving that he dislikes us ; then God's dislike to us must have taken place while we were perfectly holy. Or our belief that God is our enemny, is a groundless sentiment, originally injected into the human mind by the devil, the father of lies, as Mr. Sandeman supposes ; but for which, we should naturally love God, be perfectly pleased with his character, and from our childhood grow up truly friendly to him. And if either of these be true, then,
2. In order to our reconciliation to God, we need not to be born again ; we need no change of nature; we only need to believe that God is become our friend : and so we may be reconciled to God by this belief. For it is an old maxim, remode the cause and the effect will cease. And in this view the old Antinomian scheme, relative to total depravity and regeneration, is consistent. This faith, therefore, is the first act. And by this faith we are regenerated : that is, a belief of God's
him or hate him, or to have any exercise of heart relative to him. God is not in all their thoughts. They never hated him in their lives, they will tell you ; nor did they ever feel any love to him, or delight in hiin. The divine character, as yet, never came near enough to their view to give them pleasure or pain. The fool saith in his heart, there is no God. They wonder, therefore, what can be meant by the apostle's words, The carnal mind is enmity against God. Sure. ly, say they, he does not mean, that every natural man hates God, for I never hated him in my life. For let our sinful natin'e be ever so contrary to God's holy nature, yet the contrariety will not be felt until the true and real character of the Holy One of Israel begins to come into clear view. For without the law sin was dead: but when the commandment came, sin revived. This contrariety, which is between our sinful nature and God's holy nature, is the thing chiefly intended in the text. And the sense is, “ The carnal mind is contrariety to the holy nature of Go:1, as appears from this, that it is not subject to that law, which is a transcript of God's moral character, neither indeed can be, which proves the contrariety to be total, and fixed. And as the tree, such is the fruit ; so then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. For God cannot be pleased with what is contrary to his own boly nature. And therefore, upon the whole, to be carnally minded, is death.” Which was the point to be proved. See Rom. #fi. 6, 7, 8, 9.
love to us, removes the grounds of our enmity to him, and begets love, repentance, and every Christian grace.
. Mr. Sandeman's scheme, which is nothing else than the old Antinomian scheme refined, and dressed up in a new attire, teaches, that the truth to be believed in justifying faith, is,
that there is forgiveness with God through the atonement for impenitent sinners.' A belief of this begets hope, and love, and repentance, and every Christian grace. For on his scheme, forgiveness takes place before repentance, as it does necessarily on the Antinomian scheme, whatever shape it assumes. For on this scheme, as our enmity against God arises from conceiving God to be our enemy; so our love arises from conceiving God to be our friend. And therefore we must first of all conceive God to be our friend, before love can exist; and so before repentance can exist. And so justification must necessarily take place before repentance. This is a difficulty which neither the more ancient nor the later Antinomian writers know how to get rid of.
And thus faith, even that faith by which we are justified, takes place, in order of nature, before regeneration. For it is the cause of it. But the cause, in order of nature, is always before the effect. But if faith takes place before regeneration, it is in its own nature not a holy, but a graceless, unregenerate act. For it is the act of a graceless unregenerate heart. And so faith is not a saving gruce, but a saving sin. But can we be married to a holy Saviour by an unholy act? By an act in its own nature, perfectly opposite to his mediatorial character ? Can we receive Christ by an act of rejection? Can we be united to Christ by an act of disunion? Can we become one with Christ by an act of sin ? ---Perhaps it inay be thought that Mr. Sandeman gets rid of this difficulty, by teaching that faith is not an act ; that there is no volition, or exercise of heart implied in it. But nothing is gained, if, while we avoid one difficulty, we run upon another as great.
For, if it is not un act ; if no volition or exercise of heart is implied in it, then we are married to Christ, without our consent;' just as Mr. Mather supposes that the Israelites, on the plains of Moab, were taken into covenant,' without their consent. But this is inconsistent with the very notion of