Sivut kuvina
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

tification and happiness of men, 2 Thess. i. 10. he will exert himself to the utmost, that his neighbour make advapves to holiness and happiness

. Finally, whoever sincerely loves God, will never think he loves and glorifies him enough; such excellencies he discovers in him, sees bis name so illustrious, and so exalted above all praise, as to long, that all mankind, nay, all creatures, should join him in loving and celebrating the infinite perfections of God. But this is the most faithful and pure love of our neighbour, to seek that God may be glorified in him, and he himself be for the glory of God. Hence it appears, that the love of our neighbour is inseparably connected with that of God. If therefore it flows from the nature of God, to enjoin us the love of himself, as was just proved; it must likewise flow from the nature of God to enjoin us the . love of our neighbour.

XVII. To conclude, if we conceive all holiness to be founded on the arbitrary will of God, this greatest of all absurdities will follow, that God our lawgiver can, by commanding the contrary of what he had done before, without any regeneration or renovation of the inward man, make of the wicked and disobedient, for whom the law is made 10 condemnation, persons holy and righteous : a shocking pa sition !

XVIII. From what has been said, it is astonishing, that a certain learned person should approve of the following as . sertion; namely, that “on the will of God not only things themselves depend, but also every mode of a thing, the truth, order, law, goodness; nor can any goodness of the object cither move the divine will, or put a stop to it.”. It is indeed certain, that no bounds or rules can be set to the will of God, by any thing out of God himself; that being repugnant to his sovereign pre-eminence. Yet something may, and ought to be conceived, flowing from God himself, and his intrinsic perfections, which hinders the act of the divine will, and this is not therefore good, because God wills it; but God wills it, because it is good; for instance, the love of God, as the chief good. And they do not consider things regularly, who make the holiness of God to consist only in the exact conformity of his actions with his will. Which will

, say they, is the rule of all holiness, and so of the divine. On the contrary, as the natural holiness of God ought to be conceived prior to his will, so it is rather the rule

of the will, than to be ruled by it. For, this holiness of God is the most shining purity of the divine perfections, according to which, agreeably to the most perfect reason, he always wills and acts.

" The

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

By this opinion, which we are now confuting, every distinction between what are called moral and positive precepts, is destroyed, and Archelaus exploded paradox brought up anew; namely, το δίκαιον εινα, και το αισχρόν και φυσει, αλλά νομω. distinction of good and evil was not from nature, but of positive institution;" adopted by Aristippus, and Theodorus, surnamed the Atheist. “Than which opinion," says Cocceius, in his Summa Theolog. c. xxiv. $6. “none can be devised more pernicious, and none more effectual for undermining all religion, striking at the very root of the divine justice, and the necessity of a Saviour, cutting out the vitals of piety."

XIX. And thus we bave proved these three things concerning the law of nature, on which the covenant of works is founded: namely, Ist. That it flows from the nature of God and man, that some law be prescribed to man. 2dly. Such a law, as to be the rule and standard, not only of our actions, but also of our nature. 3dly. That the most universal precepts thereof at least are founded on the nature of God. Let us now consider the other, the symbolical law.

XX. We find this law, Gen, ü, 16, 17. “ And the Lord, God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die," Concerning this, tree, three

, things are chiefly to be taken notice of. Ist. That it is not quite certain, whether it was a single tree; since a whole species of trees might be forbidden to man: we shall afterwards repeat this remark, when we speak of the Tree of Life. 2dly. There seems to be a two-fold reason for this appellation. 1, In respect to God, who, by that tree would try and know, whether man would continue good and happy by persevering in obedience, or swerve to evil by disobedience. In which sense God is said to have tried Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxxii

. 31. “ that he might know all that was in his heart." 2. In respect of man, because, if from love to God he obeyed this law of probation, he was to come to the fruition of that beatific good, which is never, perfectly known, but by the en, joyment: on the contrary, if disobedient, he was .. kpow by sad experience, into what plunge and abyss of evils he had brought himself. .

XXI, 3dly. The tendency of such a divine precept is to be considered. Man was thereby taught, 1. That God is lord of all things; and that it is unlawful for man, even to desire an apple, but with his leave. In all things therefore, from the greatest to the least, the mouth of the Lord is to be

n n

[ocr errors]

consulted, as to what he would, or would not have done by us. 2. That man's true happiness is placed in God alone, and ho thing to be desired, but with submission to God, and in order to employ it for him. So that it is HE only, on whose account all other things appear good and desirable to man. 3. Readily to be satisfied without even the most delightful, and desirable things, if God so command : and to think, there is much more good in obedience to the divine precept, than in the enjoyment of the most delightful thing in the world. 4. That man was not yet arrived at the utmost pitch of happiness, but to expect a still greater good, after his course of obedience was over. This was hinted by the prohibition of the most delightfal tree, whose fruit was, of any other, greatly to be desired; and this argued some degree of imperfection in that state, in which man was forbid the enjoyment of some good. See what follows, chap. vi. & XIX.

XXII. Thus far of the Laws of the Covenant, both that of nature, and of this other symbolical and probatory one. It now follows, that according to what we proposed, § I. of this chapter, we consider the observation of those laws. Accordingly, a most perfect obedience to all the commands of God is required; agreeable to that stated rule, Lev. xvii. 5. “ which if a man do, he shall live in them.” And as life was likewise promised upon obedience to the symbolical law about the Tree of Knowledge, which doubtless was a positive institution; so, to observe by the way, it appears, that by this tepresentation, moral precepts, as they are called, cannot be so distinguished from positive, as if to the former alone this sentence belonged, which if a man do, he shall live in them, • and not to the latter. XXIII. This obedience does in the first place, suppose

the most exact preservation of that original and primitive holiness, in which man was created. For, as we have already said, God by his law does above all things require the integrity and rectitude of man's nature to be cherished and preserved, as his principal duty, flowing from the benefit he has received In the second place, from that good principle, good works ought to be produced : “ Charity, out of a pure

heart, and of a good conscience,” I Tim. i. 5. In the third place, there ought to be a certain ready alacrity to perform whatever God shall reveal to man as his good pleasure and appointment, that in all things he may be ready to say, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

XXIV. A threebid perfection is required Ist. Of Parts, both with respect to the subject, as that the whole man shall,

[ocr errors]


in soul and body, and all the faculties of both, employ bimself in the service of God, 1 Thess. v. 28. (for man is then on perfect, when the outward man corresponds with the inward, the actions with the thoughts, the tongue and hands with the heart, Psal. xvi. 3, 4. and Psal. xxxvii. 30, 31.) and with respect to the object, as that all and each of the precepts are observed, without any sin of commission or omission, Gal. ii. 10. Jam. ii. 10. 2dly. Of Degrees, which to make obedience truly valuable, excludes all stiežasav pardon and connivance, strictly requiring obedience to be performed

with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the mind," Matt. xxii, 37. “With all our might,” Deut. vi. 5. “ Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently," Psal. cxix. 4. In the third place, Of Perseverance, without interruption or period. God insists upon this with rigour, Ezek. xvii. 24. pronouncing, that “all his righteousness that he had done, shall not be remembered, when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness," which was fulfilled in Adam. This is emphatically expressed, Deut. xxvii. 26. “Cursed be that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them."

XXV. Such a perfect observance of the laws of the covepant, quite to the period which God had fixed for probation, had given man a right to the reward. Not from any intrinsic proportion of the work to the reward, as the grosser Papists proudly boast; but from God's covenant, and engagement, which was no ways unbecoming him to enter into. Nor bad man, before the consummation of his obedience, even in the state of innocence, a right to life. He was only in a state of acquiring a right; which would at length be actually acquired, when he could say, I have fulfilled the conditions of the covenant, I have constantly and perfectly done what was commanded; now I claim and expect that thou my God will grant the promised happiness.

XXVI. How absurdly again do the Papists assert, that Adam, as he came from the hands of his Creator, had a right, as the adopted son of God, to supernatural happiness, as to his paternal inheritance, which, according to Bellarmine, de Justificat. lib. v, c. 17. “ is due to the adopted son of God, in right of adoption, previous to all good works.” But this is truly a preposterous way of reasoning. For, the right of adoption belongs to the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus : " the adoption of children is by Jesus Christ,” Eph. i. 5. Besides, was this opinion true, good worhis could not be required, as the condition of acquiring a right to eternal life;


[ocr errors]

but could only serve to prevent the forfeiture of the right of a son: by this means, the whole design of the covenant of works, and all the righteousness which is by the law, are quite destroyed. In fine, what can be more absurd, than the trifling manner in which these sophisters talk of the grace of adoption, as giving Adam a right to enter upon an heavenly inheritance, in a legal covenant: when on the other hand, they so stiffily contend for the merits of works, under a covenant of grace. It is only there (to wit, under the covenant of grace,) that we are to apply the above sentiment, that the inheritance is due to an adopted son of God, in right of adop. tion, previous to all good works.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Of the Promises of the Covenant of Works. 1. Having thus considered the condition of the Covenant of Works ; let us now enquire into the Promises of that covenant. And here first, the Socinions come under our notice, who obstinately deny all promises. For, thusVolkeliras, de vera Religione, lib. i. c. 8. says, Scarce, if at all, was any general promise made to the men of that age: but rather threatenings and terrors' were then set before them. Nor do we see God promising, upon Adam's abstain ing from the fruit of that tree, any reward of obedience ; brust only denouncing destruction, if he did not obey, Gen. i. 17. For this he assigns the following reason: Moreover, the reason why God at that time would be obeyed, without proposing almost any general reward, seems to be this ; because, at the very beginning of the world, he would shew to all that he owed nothing to any, but was himself the most absolute lord of all.

II. To this I answer, as follows: Ist. Man's natural conscience teaches him, that God desires not to be served in vain, nor that obedience to his commands will go unrewarded and for nought. The very Heathens were also apprized of this. Arian, in his Dissert

. lib. i. e. 12. introduces Epictetus speaking thus: “ If there are no Gods, how can it be the end of man to obey the Gods ? But if there are, and they be yet regardless of every thing ; how is the matter mended? But if they both are, and take care of human affairs; but men have no recompense to expect from them, and have as little; the case is still worse." Let us add, Seneca, Epist. xcv.

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »