« ZurückWeiter »
from what follows: one as well as the other, is exposed to the wrath of God, for any ungodliness, or unrighteousness ; i. e. for any neglect of duty to God, or man ; i. e. for any defect of perfect holiness in heart or life. And that which makes it evident this is his true meaning, is, that in these words he designedly lays down a maxim upon which to build his whole argument, by which to prove the whole world to be guilty before God, and that no flesh, whether Jew or Greek, could be justified in the sight of God, by their own virtue and good deeds. The sum of his argument is this:
every sin exposes to the everlasting wrath of God. But both Jew and Gentile have sinned. Therefore both Jew and Gentile are exposed to ibe everlasting wrath of God." The whole world stand guilty before God. “ No man can be jusrified by law, unless he yield a perfect obedience. But there is none righteous, no, not one, in this sense : therefore no flesh can be justified in the sight of God by law.” This, I say, is the sum of his argument: which plainly supposes, that the Gentile was bound by the law of nature to sinless perfection, just as the Jew was by the law of Moses : and was equally exposed to the wrath of God for any neglect. For otherwise, the apostle's reasoning, although it might prove, that no one Jew could be justified by the law of Moses, which he was under ; yet it would not prove,
that no one Gentile could be justified by the law of nature, which he was under. Which yet the apostle intended to prove ; that the Gentile as well as the Jew, might be convinced of his need of Christ and Gospel-grace.
Besides, if the Gentile could be justified by the law of nature, he might justly reject the Gospel of Christ, upon the same ground upon which the unbelieving Jews unjustly rejected it. They rejected the Gospel, because they thought they could be justified by their law. But if they could have obtained justification by their law, the apostle virtually owns their conduct was reasonable. For, be grants that if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. And he grants, that if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain P. Which positious, the Gentile might o Gal, üi. 21.
p Gal. ii. 21.
have laid hold of, and turned against the apostle, and out of his own mouth have demonstrated, that there was no necessity of Christ's dying for them, if the law of nature, which they were under, did not require sinless perfection, under paid of eternal damnation, as did the Jew's law : but only required them, as some seem vainly to imagine, sincerely to endeavour to do as well as they could, and to be sorry for their failings, and study amendment, and to trust in the mercy of God. If life might bave been had in this way by the Gentiles, then Christ had died in vain, as to them.
And if this had been the case, as to the Gentiles, that they might have been thus saved by the law of nature ; it will follow, that there never had been any need of Christ's death for the Jewish nation, had it not have been for the law given on Mount Sinai. Had they remained only under the law of nature, they might have been saved by it too, as well as the Gentiles. And so the death of Christ was made necessary merely by the Sinai law. And so, instead of being a schoolmaster to teach the Jews their need of Christ, it was the only thing that made Christ needful: to suppose wbich, would overthrow law and gospel too. All which absurdities, plainly following on the present hypothesis, do sufficiently prove it to be false; and demonstrate that the law of nature did require sinless perfection on pain of eternal damnation of the Gentiles, just as the law from Mount Sinai did of the Jews. And now the apostle's argument will be conclusive, and no flesh, whether Jew or Gentile, by their own good deeds can be justified in the sight of God. For neither the law of nature, nor the law from Mount Sinai, could give life. And there was a necessity for Christ to die for the Gentile as well as the Jew; all having sinned, and the whole world standing guilty before God.
To conclude, it may be added, that sin did, according to reason and strict justice, deserve eternal damdation, antecedent to the giving of the law from Mount Sinai, or it did not. If it did, then, by the law of nature, eteroal damnation was due. If it did not, then the law from Mount Sinai was too severe, in threatening a greater punishment for sin than in strict justice it deserved. But God forbid ! For we are sure
the judgment of God is according to truth, says the inspired apostle in this very case 4. And again, is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ? God forbid. For then how shall God judge the world' ?
If it should be said, (and what is there that will not be said by guilty sinners, raiber than own they deserve eternal damnation for their rebellion against the GREAT God?) If it should be said, that “neither the law of nature, nor the law from Mount Sinai threatened eternal damnation for sin ;" jt must be said by the same men, in order to be consistent with themselves, that neither did Cbrist come to save Jew or Gentile from eternal damnation ; as antecedent to the coming of Christ, not one of mankind was in danger of eternal damnation, according to them. And as Christ hinself said, he did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved ; so these men will not say, that Christ's coming exposed the world to an eternal hell, they were in no danger of before. No : so far from it, that the same first principles that will carry men to say as above, will naturally carry them one step further, to say, that those who die impenitent from under the light of the Gospel, are in no danger of eternal dampation'
And yet will any be so inconsistent as to say thús, when the eternity of hell torments is as expressly asserted in the BIBLE, as the eternity of heaven's joys: They grant the happiness of heaven will be eternal; and will they deny the eternity of bell-torments, which is expressed in just the same language? These shall go areay into everlusting punishment ; but the righteous into life eternal, Christ has said, that their
9 Rom. ii. 2.
r Rom. ii. 5, 6. s Some of their first principles are ; “God's only end in the moral govern. ment of the world is the happiness of the creature. There is no evil in sin as it is against God. Sin, strictly speaking, deserves no punishment. All the miseries which God inficts upon sinners, in this world or the next, are iu mere mercy, to purify and fit them for happiness. The devils and all the damned will finally be saved.-For, goodness, or love to the creature, is the only moral perfection of the divine nature.”-A scheme that perfectly suits the heart of a secure sinner. But a realizing sense of the being and perfections of the Great God, as revealed in the holy Scriptures, set home on the heart by the spirit of God, would dash it to pieces in a moment.
t Matt. xxv. 46.
worm shall never die, their fire never be quenched, and repeated it over and over. And this fire is not designed for their purification, as some dream, but expressly for their DeSTRUCTION*, for their second deathy, for their EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT”, ihan which nothing can be plainer to determine against their notion. The righteous will be considered as the wheat, and the wicked as the chaj, and the tares, which are not to be purified, but to be burnt, and that with unquenchable fire, and the smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever for ever. And this is so far from being out of love to them, as being designed at last for happiness, that in them God means to show his wrath, and make his power known, as being vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. Thus God teaches us his word; nor can any with the least show of reason say, but that the eternity of hell torments, and that under the notion of a punishment, is as plainly and fully expressed, as though God had intended we should believe it. Why then is a guilty world so loath to believe it? Doubtless it is because they do not feel that they deserve it. And not being sensible, that they deserve eternal damnation, they venture to disbelieve it, and endeavour to evade the testimo. ny of divine revelation ; and then proceed to raise objections from reason against it.
As to their methods of evading the testimony of divine revelation, they need no particular answer ; because these men themselves are sensible, that the Scriptures speak quite plain enough. And if they would for once, speak out their hearts, they would say, that it is not because the eternity of helltorments is not plainly revealed in Scripture, but only because they do not like to believe the doctrine, that makes them doubt it. It seeins too severe that the sipver should lie in hell to all eternity. Therefore they set themselves to evade Scripture, and to raise objections against it. And no' sooner will these men have heard, what has now been advanced concerning the law of Moses, and the law of nature, as requiring perfect obedience on pain of eternal damnation, but these objections will be in their minds.
y Rev. sx, 1.de
u Mark ix. 43-48. * Matt. x.28. 2 Theg. i. 9.
z Matt. xiü, 30. Loke iii, 17. VOL III.
1. “It is not riglit for God to require of his creatures more than they can do, under the penalty of any punishment at all."
2: “ If some sins do deserve some punishment; yet no sin, how great soever, deserves eternal damnation."
3. “ Or rather, strictly speaking, sin deserves no punishment at all.”
Now these positions, every one will soon discern, need no particular answer from divine revelation ; because, the whole of divine revelation is itself a standing confutation of them. Did not God from Mount Sinai require the whole congregation of Israel to love the Lord their God with all their heart, and obey him in every thing? And was not the curse denounced against the man that should fail in any one point ? Now could the whole congregation yield this sinless perfection every day of their lives, without the least defect in heart, or life? And did not the curse mean, at least, some punishment? And thus the whole law of Moses is a standing confutation of their first maxim. And as for the other two, if any regard was to be had to the plaiu declarations of the New Testament; sin not only deserves punishment, but everlasting punishment; and at the day of judgment it will be inflicted on all Christless sinners. But it is no satisfaction to these men, to have their objections answered, and their mouths stopped, by the word of God. For, although they pretend to believe the holy Scriptures to be divine ; yet, finding so many things in the bible that do by no means suit them, they do as St. Paul did in another case, appeal to Cæsar, as the higher power, and where he hoped to have better justice done him. So, with the same view, these men appeal to reason; nor will they believe the Scriptures mean this or that, how plainly suever expressed, unless it quadrates with their notions, and so appears to thein rational. . Now were there no depravity in their hearts, to blind and bias their minds, I should have no fear of joining issue according to their desire, and submit these points to be decided solely by reason. For I believe they can be demonstrated from reason as fully, although not so easily, as from Scripture. The Scripture has given us an edition of the law of nature, much plainer and more legible