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ners, and cried out, I am carnal, sold under sin; O wretched man that I am ! and hated to commend himself when the Corinthians drove him to it, and seemed to blush at every sentence, and, in a sort, recalled his words I am not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles, yet I am nothing. I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I. Such a sight of things kills a self-righteous spirit at root, in the most
a exalted saint; for he has nothing, (all things considered,) to make a righteousness of, but, in strict justice, merits eternal damuation every hour, and does nothing to make the least amends.
For, if perfect obedience merits no thanks, as was before observed, and if the least sin is an infinite evil, and deserves an infinite punishment, as we have now seen, then a whole eternity of perfect obedience would do just nothing towards making the least amends for the smallest sin ; much less will the best services of the highest saint on earth. And, consequently, when Paul came to die, he deserved to be damned, (considered merely as in himself,) as much as when he was a bloody persecutor, breathing out threatenings and slaughter; yea, and a great deal more too: for all his diligence and zeal in the service of Christ did just nothing towards making the least amends for what was past; and his daily short-comings and sinful defects run him daily infinitely more and more into debt, which he did nothing to counterbalance. And hence, Paul accounts himself to be nothing, (2 Cor. xii. 11.) as well he might; and all his attainments to be, in a sense, not worth remembering, (Phil. iii. 13.) and looks upon himself the chief of sinners, (1 Tim. i. 15.) and less than the least of all saints, (Eph. iii. 8.) and durst venture his soul upon nothing but mere free grace through Jesus Christ. Phil. ii. 8, - 9. And thus it is with every believer, even the most holy,
although he daily sees what a God he has sinned against ; how he has sinned against him, and does, from a gracious respect to God, mourn for sin, for all sin, as the greatest evil, and sincerely turns from all to the Lord, and gives up himself to God, to love himn and live to him for ever; yet he feels that all this makes no amends at all for his sins, but that be really deserves to be damned for them as much as
ever; yea, be feels that he is infinitely blame-worthy for not being more humble, and penitent, and self-abhorring, and that his desert of damnation is infinitely increasing continually. And hence, he looks upon the grace that saves him as absolutely and divinely free, and infinitely great; and always derives all his hopes of happiness from the free grace of God through Jesus Christ. And this is what the apostle means when he speaks of his living by the faith of the Son of God, Gal. ji. 20. of his rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the filesh. Phil. iii. 3. And this was the cause of his so earnestly longing to be found not in himself, but in Christ ; not having on his own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith. Phil. iii. 8, 9. How directly contrary to all this is the temper of the blind, conceited Pharisee, as expressed by Maimonides, the Jew, who was professedly one of that sect? “ Every man,” says be,“ bath his sins, and every man his merits: and he that hath more merits than sins, is a just man ; but he that hath more sins than merits, is a wicked man." And this is the way of such men ; they put their sins, as it were, into one scale, and their good duties into the other; and when they fancy their goodness outweighs their badness, then they look upon themselves in the favour of God. But to return :
From what has been said, we may learn, that the more sensible any man is of the infinite glory and excellency of God, and of his infinite obligations thence resulting to love God with all his heart, and obey him in every thing, the clearer will he see that perfect obedience deserves no thanks, and that the least sin is an infinite evil, and deserves an infinite punishment; and so he will renounce his own righteousness, die to himself, and come down to nothing, more and more; and so will be proportionably more and more sensible of his absolute need of Christ and free grace. And hence, the more holy a man grows, the more hunble will he be. And, on the contrary, the more insensible a man is of God's infinite glory and excellency, and of his obligations thence resulting, the more will he value bis duties, and the less evil will he see in sin, and the less sensible will he be of his ill desert, and of his need of Christ and free grace. And hence, a self-righteous, impenitent, Christ-despising spirit, reigns in all who know not God. And thus we see some of the consequences necessarily following from that infinite obligation to love God with all our hearts, which we are under, resulting from the infinite glory and excellency of the divine nature. But to pass on,
3. This obligation we are under to love God with all our hearts, arising from his infinite glory and excellency, is in the nature of things, eternally binding. God, his being, perfections, and glory, will be eternal. God will always be infinitely amiable; always as amiable as he is now; and there will be always, therefore, the same reason that he should be loved, for being what he is; even the very same reason that there is now : This obligation is therefore perpetually binding amidst all the changes of this life. Whether we are sick or well, in prosperity or in adversity; whether we are raised to honour with David, or live in affluence with Solomon; or whether we are in prison with Joseph, or on the dung-hill with Job, or wandering about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, with those mentioned in the eleventh to the Hebrews, still this obligation upon us to love God, is invariably the same.
For God is always infinitely amiable in himself; yea, and always will be so, whether we are in the earth, or in heaven, or in hell. And therefore it always is, and always will be, our indispensable duty to love him with all our hearts, let what will become of us, and let our circumstances, as to happiness and misery, be what they may.
Did our obligations to love God arise merely from a consideration of something else besides the eternal excellency of the divine nature; from something which might altogether cease in time, then might it possibly, some time or other, cease to be our duty to love God with all our hearts. But assuredly it can never cease, until God ceases to be what he is. The infinite obligation hence arising will be eternally binding. Indeed, if all our obligations 10 love God did arise merely from selfish considerations, then in hell, where these selfish considerations will cease, it would cease to be a duty to love God. If I were obliged to love God, only because he loves me, is kind to me, and designs to make me happy, then,
when he ceases to love me, to be kind to me, and to intend my happiness, all my obligations to him would cease; and it would be no sin not to love him.
since our obligations to love God arise originally from his being what he is in himself, antecedent to all selfish considerations ; therefore it will for ever remain our duty to love him, let our circumstances, as to happiness or misery, be what they will. And not to love him with all our hearts, will for ever be infinitely wrong. Hence the guilt of the fallen angels has been increasing ever since their first apostacy; and the guilt of all the damned will be increasing to all eternity ; and no doubt their punishment will increase in the same proportion. : How inconceivably and infinitely dreadful, therefore, will be their case, who are thus continually sinking deeper and deeper in that bottomless pit of wo and misery! And indeed, if this be the case, hell may well be compared, as it is in scripture, to a bottomless pit. Rev. ix. 1. xx. 1.
4. This obligation which we are under to love God with all our hearts, resulting from the infinite excellency of the divine nature, is also unchangeably binding. As unchangeable as the divine nature is; as unalterable as the divine beauty is, even so unchangeable, so unalterable, in the very nature of things, is this our infinite obligation to love him supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him superlatively. As God is infinitely lovely in himself, and unchangeably so, so it is self-evident we are under an infinite and invariable obligation to love him with all our hearts. This cannot but be always our duty. So long as God remains what he is, this will remain our duty. It will, in the nature of things, be unalterably right and fit to love him; and not to do so, unaltera
; bly unfit and wrong. Our sinking down into ever so bad a temper, and getting to be ever so remote from a disposition to love him, can no more free us from the obligation, than it can cause him to cease being amiable. He must cease to be amiable, before our obligation thence arising can possibly cease to be binding. If there be no alteration in his infinite beauty, there can possibly be no alteration in the infinite obligation thence arising. While God remains what he is, and while our natural powers and faculties are maintained in be
ing, it must continue our duty to love God with all our hearts, and it cannot but be our duty. In the nature of things it is right; and the obligation is just as incapable of any alteration, as is the equality between twice two and four. The fallen angels are of so bad a temper, that the very thoughts of God will, doubtless, sooner than any thing, stir up all their hatred. But God deserves to be perfectly loved by them, as much as he did before their apostacy. There is a great alteration in the temper of their minds; but not the least shadow of change in the divine beauty. Their having contracted so bad and wicked a temper, cannot surely make it right and lawful for them to indulge it, and continue in it. Their impious revolt surely cannot free thein from the authority and government of Almighty God. He deserves their homage and subjection, as much as ever he did. The original ground of all still remains; he is still the LORD. The same may be said of fallen man : it is impossible that our bad temper should free us from our obligation to love God with all our hearts. It is still, in the nature of things, as wrong, not to love God with all our hearts, as ever it was, or as it would have been, bad we not joined with the fallen angels, and turned apostates. It must be so, unless our being of so bad and wicked a temper makes it right for us to continue of such a temper, and we not at all blameworthy for acting agreeably thereto; that is, unless our being so very bad and wicked, makes us not at all to blame for our badness and wickedness: and so, according to this rule, the viler any creature grows, and the more averse to God and to all good, the less he is to blame; which is one of the grossest absurdities in the world. Therefore,
(1.) The divine law which requires us to love God with all our hearts, considered as a rule of duty, is, in the nature of things, unalterable, and absolutely incapable of any abatement, more or less. The thing required is, in the nature of things, our duty, antecedent to any consideration of an express law in the case; as that children ought to honour their parents, and neighbours do as they would be done by, are things in themselves right, and duties antecedent to any consideration of an express law in the case. Eph. vi. 1.
These things would have been duties, if there had never been any