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disciples that it was in full force, and that it was their duty to be perfectly holy, and that in designed opposition to the doctrine of the Pharisees, who, in effect, held that the law was abated. Mat. v. 17-48. Was it abated after Christ's death and resurrection ? Surely no; for St. Paul always taught that the Christian scheme of religion which he preached, did not make void, but rather establislied the law. Rom. iii. 31, And St. James insisted upon it, that it must not be broken in any one point. James ii. 10. When was it abated, therefore? Why, says Christ, Till heaven and earth shall pass away, one jot or tittle of the law shall in no wise fail. Mat. v. 18. And besides, if the law is abated, in what particular is it abated, and how great are the abatements ? Are there any abatements made in our duty to God? Surely no; for we are still required to love him with all our hearts, and more than this never was demanded. Or are any abatements made in our duty to our fellow-men ? Surely no; for we are still required to love our neighbour as ourselves, and more than this never was enjoined. Or is there any abatement made in the internal part of our duty ? Surely no; for the whole heart is still required, and more than this never was insisted upon. Or, finally, is there any abatement made in the external part of our duty ? Surely no ; for we are still required to be holy in all manner of conversation, as he that has called us is holy, (1 Pet. i. 15.) and more than this was never required. So that, from the whole, we have as much reason to think that the law requires sinless perfection now, as that ever it did: yea, this point cannot be plainer than it is; for the law, in fact, is the very same it was from the beginning, word for word, without the least alteration : Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heurt, &c. and thy neighbour as thyself ; so that, if it ever did require siniess perfection, it does now.
The highest pitch of holiness the saints in heaven will ever arrive to, will only be to love God with all their hearts; and exactly the very same is required of every man upon earth. And it was because St. Paul understood the law in this sense, that he had always such a inean and low opinion of all his attainments ; for while he compared what he was, with what he ought to be, he plainly saw how the case stood : and there
fore he says, The law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. O wretched man that I am! Rom. vii. 14. 24.
So that, upon the whole, this seems to be the true state of the case : as there are various capacities among all intelligent creatures in general, so there are among men in particular, souls of various sizes ; some of larger natural capacities, and some of smaller ; but souls of different capacities are capable of different degrees of love. A degree of love exactly equal to the natural capacity of the soul, is perfection; and this is what the law requires, nor more nor less; all the heart, all the soul, all the mind, all the strength. The saints and angels in heaven love God thus, and hence they are perfect in holiness; and, so far as we fall short of this, we are sinful. This is the exact rule of duty. And now, this law is holy,
. just, and good. The thing required, is in its own pature, right, fit, and suitable. God is worthy to be loved with all our hearts, and this is just what is required. It is right we should have a degree of love to ourselves, and it is right we should love our neighbours as ourselves ; but it is fit we should love God with all our hearts. Considering what he is, and what we are, it is in its own nature, infinitely fit and right; and not to do so, infinitely unfit and wrong. Indeed, God is worthy of an infinitely greater degree of love than we,or any of his creatures, are capable of. He only is capable of a complete view of his own infinite glory, and of a full sense of his own infinite beauty, and of a love perfectly adequate to his own loveliness: and he does not require or expect any of his creatures to love him to that degree he loves himself; only, as he loves himself with all his heart, so he requires and expects that they love him with all their hearts. And there being the same reason for one as for the other, the law is, therefore, in its owo nature, perfectly right, and just, and equal. Indeed, had God required the most exalted of his intelligent creatures to have loved him in the same degree that he himself does, then the thing required would, in its own nature, have been absolutely impossible, and what he could have no reason to expect : Or, if he had required the meanest of his intelligent creatures to have loved him, in the same degree that Gabriel does, it would have been a thing naturally im
possible ; but now he only requires every one to love him with all their hearts : this is right; perfectly right, just, and equal. Less than this could not in justice have been required of each one; in justice, I mean to the Deity, who ought to have his due from each one, and whose proper right the Governor of the world ought to assert and maintain.
Thus we see the law is exactly upon a level with our natural capacities; it only requires us to love God with all our hearts : and thus we see that the law is therefore perfectly reasonable, just, and equal. 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?
Hence, as to a natural capacity, all mankind are capable of a perfect conformity to this law; for the law requires of no man any more than to love God with all his heart. The sinning angels have the same natural capacities now, as they had before they fell ; they have the same faculties, called the understanding and will; they are still the same beings, as to their natural powers. Once they loved God with all their hearts; and now they hate him with all their hearts : Once they had a great degree of love ; now they have as great a degree of hatred; so that they have the same natural capacities now as ever. Their temper, indeed, is different; but their capacity is
; the same; and, therefore, as to a natural capacity, they are as capable of a perfect conformity to the law of their Creator as ever they were. So, Adam, after his fall, had the same soul that he had before, as to its natural capacities, though of a very different temper ; and, therefore, in that respect, was as capable of a perfect conformity to this law, as ever. And it is plainly the case, that all mankind, as to their natural capacities, are capable of a perfect conformity to the law, from this, that when sinners are converted they have no new natural faculties, though they have a new temper: and when they come to love God with all their hearts in heaven, still they will have the same hearts, as to their natural faculties, and may, in this respect, be justly looked upon as the very same beings. In this sense, Paul was the same man when he hated
and persecuted Christ, as when he loved him and died for him: and that same heart that was once so full of malice, is now as full of love. So that, as to his natural capacities, he was as capable of a perfect conformity to this law, when he was a persecutor, as he is now in heaven. When, therefore, men cry out against the holy law of God, which requires us only to love him with all our hearts, and say, “ It is not just for God to require more than we can do, and then threaten to damn us for not doing,” they ought to stay a while, and consider what they say, and tell what they mean by their CAN do; for it is plain, that the law is exactly upon a level with our natural capacities, and that, in this respect, we are fully capable of a perfect conformity thereto. And it will be impossible for us to excuse ourselves by an inability arising from any other quarter; as will presently appear. For, to return,
From what has been said, we may learn, that there can be nothing to renderit, in any measure, a hard and difficult thing, to love God with all our hearts, but our being destitute of a right temper of mind, and having a temper that is wrong: and that, therefore, we are perfectly inexcusable, and altogether and wholly to blame, that we do not.
Obs. But I do not know God; how, therefore, can I love him ?
Ans. Were you of a right temper, it would be your nature, above all things, to attend to those discoveries which he has made of himself in his works and in his word; you would search for the knowledge of him, as men search for silver, and as they dig for hidden treasure : and, were you of a right temper, it would be natural to take in that very representation which God has made of himself. And now, was it but your nature to attend, with all your heart, to the discoveries which God bas made of himself; and your nature to take in right notions of him, it would be impossible but that you should know what God is; because he has acted out all his perfections so much to the life, and exhibited such an exact image of himself. The works of creation and redemption, and all his conduct as moral Governor of the world, show just what kind of Being he is. He has discovered his infinite understanding and almighty power, and he has shown the temper
of his beart; and all in so plain a manner, that, were it your nature to attend and consider, and take in right notions, it is quite impossible but that you should know and see plainly what God is.
OBJ. But if I have right notions of what God is, yet I cannot see his glory and beauty in being such ; how, therefore, can I love him?
Ans. Were you of a right temper, it would be your nature to account him infinitely gloriouš in being what he is. As it is the nature of an ambitious man to see a glory in applause, and of a worldly man to see a glory in the things of the world, so it would be your nature to see a glory in God; for what suits our hearts, naturally appears excellent in our eyeś. (John viii. 42. 47.)
OBJ. But I feel that I cannot love him; how, therefore, am I wholly to blame?
Ans. The fault is in him, or in you: Either he is not lovely, or else you are of a very bad temper : but he is infinitely lovely; and therefore it is only owing to the bad temper of your heart, and to your being destitute of a right temper, that you cannot love him; and you, therefore, are wholly to blame: Indeed
could not but love him, were you not a very sordid wretch.
Obs. But to love God, or to have any disposition to love him, is a thing SUPERNATURAL, cleun beyond the powers of nature, improved to the utmost ; how can I, therefore, be wholly to blame?
Ans. It is a thing supernatural, you say; i. e. in other words, you have no heart to it, nor the least inclination that way ; nor is there any thing in your temper to work upon by motives to bring you to it; and now, because you are so very bad a creature, therefore you are not at all to blame. This is your argument. But can you think that there is any force in it? What! are moral agents the less to blame the worse they grow ? And are God's laws no longer binding, than while his subjects are disposed to obey them ?
OBJ. But, after all, I must needs reply, as Nicodemus in another case, How can these things be?
Ans. Why did not the Jews love their prophets, and love