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of duty in that covenant which was externally entered into; and yet he believes that the covenant externally entered into, did require no holiness at all; but might be really complied with in the sight of God, by a graceless man, dead in sin. But the Pharisees were more consistent *. They believed that the Sinai covenant required nothing more in religion than they performed. For, as touching the rightcousness of the law, they were blameless in their own eyes. For they lived up to its demands in their sense of it. All these things have I done from my youth up, said one of them. And it was the spirit of the whole party to say to God, as the elder brother did to his father, lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment. Luke xv. For they were in their own eyes, righteous men who needed no repentance. And this encouraged them to pray to God, and to hope for his approbation; for they could say as he did, God, I thank thee I am not as other men; for without the law sin was dead; and so they were alive without the law. And in this view of themselves, they were bold to claim a covenant relation to God; we have one father, even God. And they gloried much in having Abraham to their father; and were vexed at John Baptist, and Jesus Christ, for not admitting their claims to be well-grounded; and for representing them to be not the children of Abraham, nor the children of God, but the children of the devil, a generation of vipers. This was shocking treatment, indeed, of those who were not only in covenant with God, as they thought; but who, as they understood it, had lived up to it too and Mr. M. may be challenged to point out any essential difference between their notion of what the law of Moses required, and his notion of what his external covenant requires. For both agree in this, that a man may live up
g For the divine law to require contrary and inconsistent volitions, is to be a self-contradictory and inconsistent law. Mat. vi. 24. But sinful and holy volitions are contrary and inconsistent. John iii. 6. Rom. viii. 7. Gal. v. 17.
For God to make two laws, one requiring none but holy volitions, the other none but sinful volitions, is to make two laws, contradictory and inconsistent; both of which cannot be in force at the same time: yea, rather, neither of which can be in force at all, as they mutually destroy each other.
to the one, and to the other, without really embracing Christianity. They lived up to the law in their sense of it, and openly rejected Christ. And one may live up to Mr. M.'s external covenant and reject Christ in his heart, as he allows. And were it the fashion, he who rejects Christ in his heart, might do it in open profession1. Nay, how many professors are there, who, in their consciences, view the divine law very much in the same light that the Pharisees did? They are sensible it forbids open, gross, and, (what the world calls,) scandalous sins; such as stealing, &c. Their consciences will smite them if they are guilty of any such gross sins: but their consciences never smote them in their lives for not being converted for impenitence, for unbelief, for not loving God and Christ above all things, &c. &c. But they are agreed to a man to justify themselves in these sins, for they say, 66 we do as well as we can." And these are the men who claim church privileges with the greatest boldness, and have the highest notions of their being in covenant with God, and having a right to covenant blessings.
h In the dark days of popery there were no professed infidels among Christians. Since the reformation, light and knowledge are greatly increased, and infidelity is become very fashionable in Great-Britain. However, there are thousands of professed Christians yet remaining in the visible church, who believe the bible to be the word of God, not because they understand and believe that scheme of religion which in fact is contained in the bible; but because they think it contains their own schemes. Thus Pelagians believe the bible to be the word of God, as supposing it contains a system of Pelagianism; and Socinians, as supposing it contains a system of Socinianism; and Arminians, Neonomians, and Antinomians do the like; while they allow themselves to disbelieve, and hate, and oppose that very system of doctrines and practice which in fact it does contain. In this view there may be not a few professed Christians, who are infidels in reality; i. e. who really disbelieve that scheme of religion which is contained in the bible, while they profess to believe the bible to be the word of GOD. Thus it was among the Jews. John v. 46, 47. Matt. xxiii. 29-36. Should light still increase, and these men find out that their various schemes are not contained in the bible, if left to their own hearts, they would universally prefer infidelity to Christianity. And in this case there would be nothing to prevent their throwing off the profession of Christianity but their worldly interest. For it is plain fact, that the external evidences of Christianity, when fresh, and before the eyes of the Pharisees, were not sufficient to conquer their aversion to it, so as to prevent their rejecting of it. And human nature is the same that it was seventeen hundred years ago.
If it should ever happen to these men, that their consciences should be so awakened, as to see that a state and course of enmity against God and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven, is as great a sin, in the sight of the Holy One of Israel, as stealing, considered as a crime committed against our neighbour; their consciences would soon tell them, that the one disqualified them in the sight of God, for entering into covenant with God, as much as the other. But if we tell men, that a state and course of enmity against God and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of heaven does not, in the sight of God, disqualify them to enter into covenant with God, though stealing does, it will have, according to Mr. M.'s reasoning, p. 44. "a direct tendency to prevent their minds being impressed with a sense of the heinous nature of such sins, and of God's displeasure against them; but it is highly expedient they should be so dealt with, as to awaken in their minds a sense of the displeasure of God against their conduct."
2. Jesus Christ did not understand the law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the Sinai covenant, in the same sense with the Pharisees, as requiring such a kind of obedience as they performed, and as other unconverted men may perform; but professedly undertook to give another explanation of it. This he did in his sermon on the Mount, which may be considered as a confutation of the Pharisaic scheme of religion. But a man may comply with Mr. M.'s external covenant fully, who has not the least degree of that religion taught in this sermon. A graceless man may live up to Mr. M.'s covenant, and at the same time be entirely destitute of a compliance with the law of Moses, in our Saviour's sense of it. For, says Christ, he that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, shall be like a man that built his house upon a rock. But a man may hear and do those things required in Mr. M.'s external covenant, and yet finally be like the man that built his house upon the sand; as he himself allows.
3. The law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the covenant into which the Israelites entered, required nothing but holiness. That covenant, which was externally exhibit
ed, and externally entered into, was so far from being altogether a graceless covenant, that it required nothing but true grace and real holiness; nothing but love, with all its various exercises and fruits, in heart and life; love to God and man of this we are expressly assured by one who came from God, and infallibly understood the nature of that dispensation. Mat. xxii. 36-40. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? said a Pharisee to our Saviour, referring to the law of Moses. "Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind: this is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Thus he had answered the Pharisee's question. But he proceeded to add another sentiment, which effectually overthrew the Pharisaic scheme. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets; for if the law obliged the Jew to perform every duty in a holy manner, out of love; and required no other kind of obedience but this; if all the law and the prophets hung on these two commands; so that radically love was all; so that this holy love was the fulfilling of the law, Rom. xiii. 8. 10. then the Pharisees, who were entirely destitute of this, were equally destitute of that kind of religion required in the Mosaic law, and so their scheme was completely overthrown 1.
i It is not only a fundamental maxim in the scripture scheme of religion, that love is the fulfilling of the law; but it is expressly affirmed, that without love the highest gifts and the greatest attainments, the most expensive deeds, and the most cruel sufferings, are nothing, and will profit nothing. The apostle Paul carries the point so far as to say, though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; as destitute of true and real virtue. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and have all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing. And to carry the point as high as it can possibly be carried, he adds, and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. For in his view charity, or love, was the sum total of all virtue. And so there is no virtue in any knowledge, faith, or practice, any further than there is love in them; and where there is no love, these are all nothing. In a word, holiness in the creature is a conformity to God's moral perfections. The law is a transcript of God's moral character: God is love The whole of what the law requires, is love with all its various exercises and
4. It is manifest, that Moses himself instructed the Israelites to understand the covenant in this sense, and that the blessings of it were promised, not to an ungracious, but to a holy obedience. Moses did instruct the Israelites to understand it in this sense, as requiring holiness, Deut. vi. 4, 5. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Lev. xix. 18. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. And as requiring nothing but holiness.. Deut. x. 12. And now Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul-and that the blessings of it were promised to this holy obedience? This was one clause of the covenant, Exod. xx. 6. Showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. And thus it was afterwards explained. Deut. xi. 22. For if ye will diligently keep all these commandments which I command you to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him, then will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, &c. &c. And if any man will read the first eleven chapters of Deut. he will see with what plainness and fidelity Moses explained the covenant to the Israelites or rather let the whole book be read through from beginning to end in this view.
5. The same kind of faith in God, as their conductor through the wilderness to the promised land, which was a type of the heavenly Canaan, was required of the whole congregation of Israel in their covenant, as is required of every believer, under the Gospel dispensation, in Christ Jesus, the captain of our salvation, on whom we depend to conduct us safe through this world to that rest that remains for the people of God: and this they professed, when they professed to take Jehovah for their God. And for the want of this faith their carcasses fell in the wilderness, just as false pro
fruits. Therefore love is the sum of all virtue. Therefore, where there is no love there is no virtue: not the least degree of a real conformity to God's nature and law. Were this point understood and attended to, it would put an end to more than half the disputes in the Christian world.