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holy will*. Every the leaft deviation from it, by tranfgreffion, or neglect of duty, muft ftill be evil in itself, and muft ftill be feen, and esteemed to be so by the God of truth, who cannot lie. Now, is there any thing in the gospel that hath the leaft tendency to leffen the fenfe of this obligation, after it hath been once difcovered? Very far from it on the contrary, all that Christ hath done for the falvation of finners, as its immediate

* Since mention has been made of perfect conformity to the will of God, or perfect ebedience to his law, as the duty of man, which is indeed the foundation of this whole doctrine, I think it neceffary to obferve, that fome deny this to be properly re quired of man, as his duty in the prefent fallen ftate, because he is not able to perform it. But fuch do not feem to attend either to the meaning of perfect obedience, or to the nature or cause of this inability. Perfect obedience is obedience by any crea ture, to the utmost extent of his natural powers. Even in a state of innocence, the holy difpofitions of Adam would not have been equal in ftrength and activity to thofe of creatures of an higher rank: but furely to love God, who is infinitely amiable, with all the heart, and above all, to confecrate all his powers and faculties, without exception, and without intermiffion, to God's fervice, must be undeniably the duty of every intelligent creature. And what fort of inability are we under to pay this? Our natural faculties are furely as fit for the fervice of God as for any bafer purpose: the inability is only mora!, and lies' wholly in the averfion of cur hearts from fuch employment. Does this then take away the guilt? Muft God relax his law because we are not willing to obey it? Confult even modern philofphers; and fuch of them as allow there is any fuch thing as vice, will tell you, that it lies in evil or misplaced affections. Will then that which is ill in itself excufe its fruits in any degree from guilt or blame? The truth is, notwithstanding the loud charge of licentioufnefs upon the truths of the gospel, there is no other fyftem that ever I perufed which preferves the obligation of the law of God in its ftrength: the moft part of them, when throughly examined, juft amount to this, that men are. bound, and that it is RIGHT and MEET and FIT that they should be as good and as holy as they themselves incline.


confequence, magnifies the law, and makes it honourable.

Perhaps it may be thought, that the releasing a finner from the fanction of the law, or the punishment incurred, by pardon purchased and beftowed, has this effect: and here it is, to be fure, that men, by their partial views, are apt to fuppose the objection lies. But let us only reflect, that the obligation to duty and obedience to the Creator, hath been seen by a believer in the ftrongeft light, and muft continue to be fenfible. Will he then be induced to act in the face of a perceived obligation, by an instance of unspeakable mercy? Is this reasonable to suppose? or rather, is it not felf-contradictory and abfurd? It is fo far from being true, that this mercy disposes to obedience, as a peculiar and additional motive, as I fhall aftewards fhew more fully in its proper place. In the mean time, it is felf-evident, that it can be no hindrance. What leads us into error in this matter, is what happens fometimes in human affairs. In a human government mercy, or a promife of impunity for paft crimes, may enable, tho', even in that cafe, not incline a rebellious traitor to renew his wickednefs. But this is a most unjust and partial view of the cafe, in which the very circumftance is wanting upon which the chief ftrefs ought to be laid. Human laws reach


only outward actions, becaufe human knowledge is fo imperfect, that it cannot difcover the difpofition of the heart: and as all profeffions are not fincere, fo kindness is often bestowed on improper objects. This kindness, however, though it may discover the impropriety, it cannot cause it.

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But make the fimilitude complete, and fee how it will lead us to determine. Suppofe one who hath been in rebellion, deeply and inwardly convinced of the evil of rebellion, and his obligation to fubmiffion; fuppofe this conviction fo ftrong, that he confeffeth the juftice of the fentence condemning him to die, which is very confiftent with a defire of life: will a pardon offered or intimated to such a person make him dif loyal? Is this its natural, nay, is it its poffible effect? If it could be fuppofed to have any fuch confequence at all, it could only be in this diftant way, that pardon feems to leffen the sense of a judge's displeasure at the crime. But even this can have no place here, becaufe fufficient care is taken to prevent any fuch abuse of it, by the fubftitution and vicarious fufferings of a Mediator.

I cannot help obferving here, that the fimilitude above used will lead us to the difcovery of one great cause of the objection against which I am reafoning. It arifes from that corruption of heart, and inward oppofition to the law of God

in its extent and purity, which is in all men by nature, and continues in all who are not renewed in the spirit of their minds. As they have a ftrong tendency and inclination to tranfgrefs the law where they dare, they are ready to think, that the hopes of impunity muft encourage every one to a bold violation of it. And no doubt this would be true, if there could be any real esteem, or cordial acceptance of the gofpel, without a previous conviction of the obligation of the law, and the guilt and demerit of every tranfgreffor *. But fuppofing what is in truth the case with every believer, that there is a real and strong conviction of the obligation of the law of God upon every rational creature, which cannot be taken away to imagine that the mercy of God in pardoning finners for Chrift's fake will leffen or weaken the fenfe of this obligation, is a most manifest contradiction. On the contrary, fin must needs have received a mortal blow, the love of it must neceffarily have been destroyed, before pardon in

But this is impoffible for tho' there may be fome fort of fear of punishment, occafioned by difplays of divine power, where there is no true humiliation of mind, or genuine conviction of fin; this is but like the impatient struggles of a chained flave, instead of the willing fubjection of a penitent child. There is ftill in all fuch an inward murmuring against the fentence, as that of an unjuft and rigorous tyrant, and not of a righteous judge. Therefore, tho' fuch should pretend to rely on the merits of Chrift for pardon and deliverance, it is plainly not from their hearts, and therefore neither to the faving of their fouls, sor to the reformation of their lives.

this way could be fought or obtained: fo that the apostle might well fay, "How fhall we that are dead to fin live any longer therein?"

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In the fecond place, he who believes in Christ, and expects justification through his imputed righteousness, must have the deepest and strongest fenfe of the evil of fin in itself. This is in a good meafure, included, in, or an immediate confequence of, what has been already mentioned, For the obligation of the law, as hinted above, is but very imperfect, if we confider it only as founded on the power of God, and the dependence of the creature, and not alfo on the holinefs, juftice, and goodness of the law itself. In the first fenfe, perhaps, it may be felt by the wicked in this world, at leaft, we are fure, it is felt by devils and damned fpirits in a separate ftate. They know that they must suffer, because they will not obey. But where there is a complete fenfe of obligation, it implies a belief of the righteoufnefs of the law, as well as the power of the law-giver, of the equity, nay, the excellence of the command, as well as the feverity of the fanction. All fuch not only believe that God will punish for fin, but that it is most just that he should do fo, and that fin has richly deferved it.

It may therefore feem unneceffary to add any thing on this fubject more than has been already

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