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holiness, or moral goodness, which is implied in love to the Supreme Being. If not, all the difference between those whom God will receive, and those whom he will reject, consists not in the nature of their characters, but in their degrees of goodness. Those, who have much of divine love, will be received, and made eternally glorious; those, who have little of this quality, are made the objects of their Maker's displeasure. Now, it would be quite inconsistent with
. the general import of scripture, to suppose, that any, who have any sincere affection for their Creator, on account of his moral rectitude, will be treated as incorrigible enemies. But if the moral character of God, is not the object of our love, such love can neither be the foundation of virtue, nor necessarily connected with it.
Further: It is asserted by St. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, that they who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans, viii. 3.) What is meant by this term, appears by the connexion, in which it stands. Those to whorn this term applies, and those who are led by the spirit, constitute the whole human family. Persons of the latter description, are called the sons of God; and it is said concerning them, that they shall live : Of the others, who live after the flesh, it is said, they shall die. But this assertion is true in relation to all, who are not led by the spirit. Of all such, then it is true, that they cannot please God. Of persons, who have love to the Supreme Being, on account of bis holiness, or moral rectitude, this cannot be asserted. Therefore, all, who are not led by the spirit, are destitute of this quality; and conse
r quertly of all virtue, of which this quality is the foundation.
It is further said, that the carnal mind is enmity against God: that it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be. It cannot be questioned, that the carnal mind is the mind of those, who, agreeably to the apostle's language, are in the flesh. As the apostle must have had some meaning, when he asserted, concerning such persons, that their minds are
enmily against God, to ascertain his meaning, must be an object worth inquiry. That men have a dislike to all restraints, whether civil or divine, which they habitually disregard, will hardly be doubted. They, who habitually re
, fuse compliance with the laws of God, must dislike those laws. Though their reason may, their hearts do not approve them. But these laws are an expression of the character of God. If, therefore, they dislike the one, it is im. possible, that they should not dislike the other. It is certain then, that those who do not live after the spirit, dislike the divine moral character. That they are not subject, i. e. not obedient to the divine law, is beyond dispute.
Suppose further, that persons, thus disliking their Maker, as a moral being, should reflect that his law will be execuited, and the punishment which it threatens, will be inflicted, would it not follow, as a natural consequence, that their feelings of dislike would be increased? Were they not restrained by fear, and had they nothing further to hope from the Almighty, would not their dislike thus increased to violent enmity, be expressed by words? A disloyal subject under an earthly monarchy, while persevering in sedition or disobedience, thereby exposing himself to punishment, would, as a matter of course, not only dislike the government, but desire a revolution; which revolution he would effect, were power sufficient lodged in his hands. While convinced of of the impracticability of such an enterprise, he may never express such a wish, nor perceive it distinctly formed in his mind. Now, if disobedience has the same expression in regard to the divine government, which it doubless has in relation to civil government, it follows, that the wicked man's dislike of the law, and consequently of the character of God, would, under certain circumstances, lead to measures, most strikingly impious.
That we may understand still inore distinctly the apostle's assertion, that the curnul wal is enmily against God, let it be considered, under wbat circumstances, one man becomes the enemy of another. These are an opposition of charac
ter and interest. If there is a man, whom I know to be of such a character, as to view mine with unvarying displeasure or abhorrence, and who is preparing to inflict heavy sufferings in proof of such displeasure, my feelings towards that person are not those of friendship, but hostility. Now the wicked, if they view the suliject justly, know that Deity is of such character, as to contemplate theirs with displeas. ure; and that he is preparing to inflict heavy sufferings in
proof of this displeasure. Must there not be the same in 4- ference in this case, as in the other ?
it wicked men, you reply, are not conscious of possessing a mind, hostile to their Maker. The remark is true: but admission of its truth imposes no necessity of relinquishing the doctrine in question. Suppose the best created be. ing in the Universe were in company with the worst : while each was ignorant of the other's character, there would be no actual hostility. Were two persons, between whom there had been a settled enmity, brought together, under circumstances, which prevented each from knowing the other, no unfriendly feelings would be excited. Yet they are in truth enemies. In like manner, if sinners mistake the attributes and requirements of God, fancying, that no great difference exists between his character and theirs, it is easy to perceive, why they are not conscious of any hostility. Although they should, in words, acknowledge the extent of his de mands, yet if they never make these the subject of deliberate reflection, or if they suppose, that he, who makes these demands, will, in some way or other, dispense with them, feelings of enmity are not likely to be perceived.
In using the term enmity against God, in application to the human heart, we mean nothing more, than that state of feel. ing, which necessarily results to a corrupt being, from contemplating the divine rectitude, in connexion with a full
persuasion of his own exposure to punishment, in consequence of his opposition to this rectitude. There can be no particular excellence in any sound, or combination of letters. Extreme attachment to this, or to any other term, is not to
be justified. As the object of language is to convey ideas, whenever a term is found to be often misunderstood; to convey more or less than the speaker designs, it ought to be fully explained, or disused. But no person, I am persuad. ed, who believes, that the hearts of wicked men are destitute of any affection to virtue or holiness, will condemn the term enmity, as in itself improper.
I shall now in the 2nd place notice some objections to the doctrine in general, additional to those, already mentioned.
1. It is said, if sinning is natural, man cannot be blame worthy.
You will recollect what was said in the last lecture; viz. “ That may be considered, as natural to man, which, without any divine influence, he generally or universally pursues.” The question tben is, whether a man ceases to be blame worthy, because, without divine influence on the heart, he generally or universally pursues a course of disobedience. Let this question be considered, 1st, on the ground of necessity, 2nd, on the ground of freedoin. They, who believe in the doctrine of necessity, whether on the principle of Mr. Edwards or Dr. Priestly, can with no consistency, urge this objection. They suppose, that all actions through the Universe, are necessary. Yet they believe, that there are such qualities, as virtue and vice. Now, if necessily does not exculpate him, who in a moral point of view proceeds obliquely part of the time, it will not exculpate those, who never proceed in a right direction. Once admit the doctrine of necessity, and so far as the present objectiun; so far as human acrouniability is concerned, it matters not whether wrong conduct be occasional or perpetual.
Let us now contemplate the objection or supposition of human liberty. It is evident, that men do sin part of the time. This, it is conceded, is not inconsistent with freedom; and the transgressor is justly punished. That some individuals sin with great frequency, will not be denied. Do they for this reason, cease to be blame worthy ?
Let us proceed a little further, and suppose, that a few abandoned
persons pursue uniformly that course, which the individuals last mentioned, pursue occasionally. Do they cease to be , .
the criminal? If men, without constraint, and in opposition to reason and interest, choose to do wrong part of the time, they may uniformly make the same choice. If a disposition to moral evil, or, if you please, a disposition, criminally defective, occasionally existing, does not prove a necessitating impulse ; neither would the same disposition, were it con stant.
II. It may be further objected, that the doctrine before us appears to attribute moral evil to those, who are incapable of moral action.
Whether such representations of the doctrine are ever made, as are fairly liable to this objection, I do not undertake to determine. It is sufficient, if it does not lie against
TE the doctrine, as it has, in these lectures, been defined. At by what time, moral agency commences, in human creatures, it would be extremely difficult to determine. Previously to the existence of moral agency, no guilt can le contracted. It is doubtless absurd to predicate virtue or vice of a creature, incapable of both. Nor would it be less absurd to speak of reward or retribution, or moral goodness, in reference to such à being. But if children at a very early pe. riod are not moral agents; if they are not capable of doing or feeling wrong: they are, it will be remembered, equal
. ly incapable of doing or feeling right, and therefore, as it should seem, perfectly unqualified to partake in a retribution. The doctrine, attempted to be proved, is this, and this only, that human creatures do not practise righteousness, or sincerely obey the divine law, without divine influence: a proposition, which has no necessary connexion with the period, at which moral agency commences.
If any of the human race are taken from the world, while destitute of qualities, which capacitate them for moral action, God will doubtless dispose of them agreeable to that wisdom and rectitude, which characterize bis government.
It is, 1 'suppose, scarcely necessary to say, that the doc