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it or not? If all the angels had been of the mind of satan, and the saints of the spirit of the unbelieving Israelites, who were not gathered; yet would he have been glorious in the eyes of the Lord. The belief or unbelief of creatures makes no difference as to his worthiness, or their obligation to ascribe it to him.
It is allowed by all, except the grossest antinomians, that every man is obliged to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength; and this notwithstanding the depravity of his nature. But to love God with all the heart is to love him in
every character by which he hath made himself known ; and more especially in those wherein his moral excellencies appear with the brightest lustre. The same law that obliged Adam in innocence to love God in all his perfections, as displayed in the works of creation, obliged Moses and Israel to love him in all the glorious displays of himself in his wonderful works of providence, of which they were witnesses. And the same law that obliged them to love him in those discoveries of himself obliges us to love him in other discoveries by which he hath since more gloriously appeared, as saving sinners through the death of his Son. To suppose that we are obliged to love God as manifesting himself in the works of creation and providence, but not in the work of redemption, is to suppose that in the highest, and most glorious display of himself, he deserves no regard. The same perfections which appear in all his other works, and render him lovely, appear in this with a
tenfold lustre: to be obliged to love him on account of the one, and not of the other, is not a little extraordinary.
As these things cannot be separated in point of obligation, so neither can they in fact. He that loves God for any excellency as manifested in one form, must of necessity love him for that excellency let it be manifested in what form it may; and the brighter the display the stronger will be his love. This remark is verified in the holy angels. At first they loved their maker for what they saw in his works of creation. They saw him lay the foundation of the earth, and they sHOUTED FOR JOY. In process of time they witnessed the glorious displays of his moral character in the government of the world which he had made; and now their love increases. On every new occasion they cry, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD OF HOSTS; THE WHOLE EARTH IS FULL OF HIS GLORY. At length they beheld an event to the accomplishment of which all former events were subservient; they saw the Messiah born in Bethlehem. And now their love rises still higher. As though heaven could not contain them on such an occasion, they resort to the place, and contemplate the good that should arise to the moral system, bursting forth into a song:-GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TO MEN! All this was but the natural operation of love to God; and from the same principle they took delight in attending the Redeemer through his life, strengthening him in his sufferings, watch
ing at his tomb, conducting him to glory, and looking into the mysteries of redemption. With a heart like theirs, is it possible to conceive that we should continue impenitent or unbelieving? If in our circumstances we possessed that love to God by which they were influenced, it would melt us into holy lamentation for having sinned against him. If the gospel invitation to partake of the water of life once sounded in our ears, we should instantly imbibe it. Instead of making light of it, and preferring our farms and our merchandize before it, we should em. brace it with our whole heart. Let any creature be affected towards Christ as the holy angels are, and if he had a thousand souls to be saved, and the invitation extended to every one that is willing, he would not hesitate a moment whether he should rely on his salvation. It is owing to a want of love to God that any man continues impenitent or unbelieving. This was plainly intimated by our Lord to the Jews. I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not. It is impossible to love God, and not embrace the greatest friend of God that ever existed; or to love his law, and not approve of a system which above all things tends to magnify and make it honourable.
« The affections included in divine love, says an “ able writer, are founded on those truths for “ which there is the greatest evidence in the world. “ Every thing in the world, that proves the being " of God, proves that his creatures should love
« him with all their hearts. The evidence for “ these things is in itself very strong, and level to “ every capacity. Where it does not beget convic“tion, it is not owing to the weakness of men's “ capacities; but the strength of their prejudices, “ and prepossessions. Whatever proves that rea“sonable creatures are obliged to love God and his “ law, proves that sinners are obliged to suitable “ hatred of sin, and self-abasement for it. A sin
ner cannot have due prevalent love to God and “ hatred of sin, without prevalent desire of obtain
ing deliverance from sin, and the enjoyment of God. “ A suitable desire of so important ends cannot be « without proportionable desire of the necessary
means. If a sinner, therefore, who hears the “ gospel, have these suitable affections of love to “ God, and hatred of sin, to which he is obliged
by the laws of natural religion, these things can“ not be separated from a real complacency in that “ redemption and grace which are proposed in reveal" ed religion. This does not suppose that natural
religion can discover, or prove the peculiar things " of the gospel to be true; but when they are dis" covered, it proves them to be infinitely desirable. 66 A book of laws that are enforced with awful sanc* tions cannot prove that the sovereign has passed “ an act of grace, or indemnity in favour of the “transgressors. But it proves that such favour is
to them the most desirable, and the most neces
sary thing in the world. It proves that the way " of saving us from sin, which the gospel reveals, " is infinitely suitable to the honour of God, to the
“ dignity of his law, and to the exigencies of the
consciences of sinners."*
“ If any man has a taste for moral excelleney, says another, a heart to account God glorious for
being what he is; he cannot but see the moral “excellency of the law, and love it, and conform “to it; because it is the image of God: and so he “ cannot but see the moral excellency of the gospel, " and believe it, and love it, and comply with it ; “ for it is also the image of God: He that can see “ the moral beauty in the original, cannot but see “the moral beauty of the image drawn to life. “ He, therefore, that despises the gospel, and is an “ enemy to the law, even he is at enmity against “ God himself. Rom. viii. 7. Ignorance of the “ glory of God, and enmity against him, make “ men ignorant of the glory of the law, and of the “ gospel, and enemies to both. Did men know " and love him that begat, they would love that “ which is begotten of him. 1 John v. 1. He that is “ of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them “ not, because ye are not of God.” John viii. 47.t
III. THOUGH THE GOSPEL, STRICTLY SPEAKING, IS NOT A LAW, BUT A MESSAGE OF PURE GRACE; YET IT VIRTUALLY REQUIRES OBEDIENCE, AND SUCH AN OBEDIENCE AS INCLUDES SAVING
* M'Laurin's Essay on Grace, p. 342.