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ted by it, they each have a subordinate influence upon one another: All attract, and are attracted by others in their respective orbits; yet no one of these subordinate attractions interferes with the grand attractive influence of the sun, but acts rather in perfect concurrence with it. Under some such idea we may conceive of supreme love to God and subordinate love to creatures.
Crisp. Among the planets, if I mistake not, the attractive power of each body corresponds with the quantity of matter it possesses, and its proximity to the
Gai. True: and though in general we are required to love our neighbor as ourselves, yet there are some persons, on account of their superior value in the scale of being, and others, on account of their more immediate connexion with us; whom we are allowed, and even obliged, to love more than the rest.
Crisp. If we could suppose the planets endued with intelligence, and any one of them, weary of revolving round the sun, should desert its orbit, assume a distinct centership of its own, and draw others off with it, what would be the consequence?
Gai. Anarchy and confusion, no doubt, with regard to the system, and cold, and darkness, and misery, with regard to those which had deserted it.
Crisp. And is not this a near resemblance to the condition of apostate angels and men?
Gai. Doubtless it is: and your similitude serves to illustrate the evil of sin, as it affects the harmony of the Divine government in general, and the happiness of each individual in particular.
Crisp. Is there not a general notion in the minds of
men, that the moral law is too strict and rigid for man in his fallen circumstances?
Gai. There is; and some, who ought to know better, have compared its requirements to those of an Egyp tian task-master, who demanded brick without straw; and have recommended the Gospel as being at variance with it. They would be thought the greatest if not the only friends of Christ; yet have made no scruple of professing their hatred to Moses, as they term the moral law.
Crisp. But does not the precept of the moral law require what is beyond our strength.
Gai. If, by strength, you mean to include inclination, I grant it does; but if, by strength, you mean what is properly and literally so called, it requires us even now but to love God with all our strength. It is not in the want of strength, literally and strictly speaking, that our insufficiency to keep the Divine law consists; but in the want of a holy temper of mind; and this, instead of being any excuse, or requiring an abatement of the law, is the very essence of that wherein blame consists.
Crisp. I have thought it might serve to show the goodness of the Divine law if we were to suppose it reversed. Suppose, instead of loving, God should require us to hate him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor likewise?
Gai. This would be requiring us to be both wicked and miserable; and the idea is sufficient to shock any person of common sense.
Crisp. But suppose him to require us to love him, and one another, only in a lesser degree?
Gai. That would be the same as requiring a part of our affection, and allowing us to be of a divided heart. Our powers cannot be indifferent: if they are not applied to the love of God and man, they will be applied to something opposite, even the love of the world. But as the love of the world is enmity to God, if this were allowed, it were the same as allowing men, in any degree, to be at enmity with him and each other; that is, to be wicked and miserable.
Crisp. I have several more questions to ask you on this important subject, but shall defer them to another opportunity.
Gai. Farewell then, my dear Crispus; God grant that this Divine law may be found written upon each of our hearts!
DIALOGUE SEVENTH BETWEEN CRISPUS AND GAIUS.
OUR conversation on the moral law has led me to think of some other subjects nearly related to it. I have observed that many people have been called Antinomians; yet very few call themselves so. What is Antinomianism?
Gai. Enmity or opposition to the law of God. Crisp. Are not all men then by nature Antinomians? Gai. I believe they are, for the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.
Crisp. By this passage it would seem too, that God and his law are so united, that a non-subjection to the one is enmity to the other.
How should it be otherwise? The sum of the law is love; and not to love in this case; is to be at enmity.
Crisp. All men, however, do not profess to be at enmity, either with God or his law.
Gai. True; but many men are very different, you know, from what they profess to be, and even from what they conceive of themselves.
Crisp. I can easily conceive of various wicked characters being enemies to the Divine law, whatever they may say in its favor.
Gai. And have you not observed that all the different species of false religion agree in this particular? Crisp. I do not know whether I have sufficiently. To what do you refer?
Gai. I refer to the different forms in which mankind quiet their consciences and cherish their hopes, while the love of God and man is neglected. What is superstition but the substitution of something ceremonial, something that may be done consistent with a heart at enmity with God, in the place of that which is moral? The tithing of mint and cummin, and various things of the kind, were much more agreeable to the old Pharisees than judgment, mercy, and the love of God. The modern Jews are greatly attached to ceremony; but the shocking indevotion which distinguishes their worship, and the fraudulent spirit which pervades their dealings, sufficiently discover their aversion to that law of which they make their boast. Impiety and cruelty are promi
nent features in the faces of our modern heathens, with all their refinement; and the same is observable in others who are less refined. Gods and weapons of war are to be found in the most barbarous heathen nations. Ignorant as they are, they have all learned to violate the two great branches of the moral law.* Beads, and pilgrimages, and relics, and all the retinue of Popish ceremonies, are but substitutes for the love of God and our neighbor. The formal round of ceremonies attended to by pharisaical professors of all communities is the same. Let an attentive reader examine the system of Socinus, and even of Arminius, and he will find them agree in opposing the native equity and goodness of the moral law. The former claims it as a matter of justice, that allowances be made for human error and imperfection; and the latter, though it speaks of grace and the mediation of Christ, and considers the gospel as a new, mild, and remedial law, yet would accuse you of making the Almighty a tyrant, if this grace were withheld, and the terms of the moral law strictly adhered to. All these, as well as that species of false religion which has more generally gone by the name of Antinomianism, you see are agreed in this particular. This last, which expressly disowns the moral law as a rule of life, sets up the Gospel in opposition to it, and substitutes visionary enjoyments as the evidence of an interest in Gospel blessings, in place of a conformity to its preceptsthis last, I say, though it professes to be greatly at variance with several of the foregoing schemes, is nearer
* This reflection was made by a friend of mine on visiting the Bri tish Museum, and seeing various curiosities from heathen countries, amongst which were a number of their idols and instruments of war.