صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

“ceived his love to them, they certainly would love and “ obey him. Can they be brought to love and obey God " by having their minds inspired with tormenting fear ???* In reply to the whole I observe,

1. Love is not the only genuine principle of obedience. Noah was moved with fear to build the ark, Heb. xi. 7. Jesus Christ inculcates the same principle upon his disciples : Fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Though love may be allowed to be the most noble principle, yet fear will appear to be equally necessary, when we consider the nature of man,

and the circumstances in which he is placed.

2. The government of God is the reign of terror, to the finally impenitent; and the consideration of it is urged as a motive against sin. Knowing therefore the TERROR of the Lord, we persuade men. 2 Cor. v. 11.

3. If sinpers saw God's loveliness, and perceived his love to them, they certainly would not all love and obey him, if we may judge of the future by the past : “because when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” Rom. i. 21. The Jews certainly perceived the amiableness of the Divine character, and his particular regard for their welfare, by a long train of gracious providences in their favour; and yet, as a nation, they did not love and obey him. The apostle Paul also speaks of some who despise the riches of Divine goodness, and harden their hearts against it, Rom. ii. 4, 6. If all men must be brought to virtue by a sight of God's loveliness, and of his love to them, and only that will bring them to it, what end can be answered by future punishment that is even limited in its duration ? And why does not God make the discovery to them now? If they cannot be brought to love and obey God, by having their minds inspired with the tormenting fear of punishment, can it be done by the infliction of punishment? Why then are

* Examination, p. 18.

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

they punished at all? The fact is, that, in his zeal against endless punishment, Mr. W. has lost sight of both corrective and limited punishment, though they are the two chief corner-stones of his spiritual building. But I have proved above, that the terror of the Lord supplies a motive against sin : this motive is of infinite weight when urged by an anti-universalist: this motive, however, Mr. W. has neglected: we are therefore justified in charging him with taking off an infinite weight from our motives against sin.

But Mr. W. undertakes to show, that the charge properly belongs to his opponent's system. “That system,

(says he) which throws a thick veil over God's infinite “ loveliness, by representing him as infinitely wrathful " and vindictive, is the system which takes off an infinite “ weight from our motives against sin, by diminishing,

beyond calculation, the most powerful motives to “ obedience."*

One would think that no man in his senses would be hardy enough to affirm that we take off an infinite weight from the motives against sin by representing God as threatening to punish it for ever; yet this is done under the pretence that the motive drawn from the love of God is diminished in the same proportion that vice is punished : if it were so, Mr. W.’s consequence would not follow; it would only prove that one motive is weakened as another is strengthened; so that, upon the whole, there would be no diminution of their weight against sin. But the motive drawn from the love of God is not diminished at all by the threatening of eternal punishment. On the ground of divine love, we teach that glory inconceivable in degree, and eternal in duration, will be the reward of obedience. Mr. W. cannot possibly make this motive stronger; and while he continues to reject the other, he must not be offended if we continue to prefer our charge against him.

* Examination, p. 10.

I know that in his pamphlet, Mr. W. speaks of future punishment as a motive against sin ; but it is also certain, that in the above paragraph he disavows it; and it is no part of my business to reconcile his contradictions. Should he, however, allow that future punishment supplies us with a motive against sin, he must recollect, that the strength of the motive will be in proportion to the dgration of the punishment; this motive will therefore be infinitely stronger when urged by those who hold the doctrine of endless punishment, than when urged by the advocates for its limited duration.

It is a question of vast importance, and which I fear ministers in general do not sufficiently attend to, whether the love or the terror of God operates most powerfully at first on the minds of sinners? If they were governed by their reason, there would be no necessity to preach the terror of the Lord to them; because as soon as they perceived that their interest and duty are united, they would begin to promote the one by the practice of the other; but he must have a very superficial acquaintance with men, who does not know, that, in general, they are governed by their corrupt passions and appetites, in opposition to the dictates of reason and religion. The privileges of religion will never operate as a motive on corrupt minds to practise its duties. Tell them about the comforts of the Spirit ; the sweets of communion with God in religious exercises ; and the happiness of heaven, as consisting in the vision of God, and the society of saints, angels, and Jesus Christ; in investigating the works and ways of God; singing his praises ; in loving and serving him for evermore ; I say, tell them of these things ; but, since they have no dispositions to enjoy them, they will express no desires after them. You might as well cast pearls before swipe. The temper of

[ocr errors]

their minds must be changed, before such motives will have any influence upon them.*

A minister can have no hope of success till he has made sinners sensible of their state. The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. Jesus Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Let him tell them of their danger, that upon their present conduct depends their everlasting condition, that if they die in sin they will be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing their teeth, in unquenchable fire; that they have no security against the arrest of death ; that hell may now be moved from beneath to meet them at their coming ; let him, I say, sound these awful truths in their ears with the energy


a man alarmed at their dreadful condition, and some at least, will begin to see their danger, fee from the wrath to come, and inquire what they must do to be saved.t. Then is the time to unfold the love of God to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* “Since the pleasure of any thing results from the agreement between 6 it and the desire, what satisfaction can spiritual enjoyments give unto a * carnal mind? Alas! what delight would it be to the swine to be wrapt « in fine linen, and laid in odours? His senses are not gratified by any “ such delicacies; nor would he feel any thing besides the torment of

being withheld from the mire. And as little complacency would a “ brutish soul find in those pure and refined pleasures, which can only o upbraid, not satisfy him." Causes of the Decay of Christian Piety, chap. i.

+ “God lays hold on that powerful principle of self-preservation within us to oblige us by any means, to be good, wise, and happy ; and if the * love of goodness, wisdom, and happiness, cannot prevail, (as they cannot “ possibly in the nature of things at first, over habitual sinners) to drive “ us into that good he intends for us, and compel us to come in, through “ fear of the dread punishments of the contrary practices. Therefore he “ has in his great wisdom and goodness, positively acquainted us with " those endless unendurable torments to rouse us out of that desperato “ inconsideration and lethargo, infatuation and insensibility, which are “incident to a habit of sinning. That since the impenitent sinner must

one day suffer them in reality, he might every day think of, and suffer " them in his thoughts, till the pain thereof changes the course of his life;


them. It will inspire them with hope and devotion. In answer to prayer they will obtain pardoning mercy; a consciousness of that mercy will fill them with love, and then every passion, appetite, and power of their minds, will unite to impel them forward in the paths of piety and virtue.

I will now inquire whether the Scriptures favour the idea that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of religion. Jesus Christ addressed the fears of daring sinners : "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye

escape the damnation of hell ?” Paul alarmed the fears of Felix. While “he reasoned on righteousness, “ temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled ;"> and though the apostle did not succeed in his design, yet no one will question the propriety of the method which he adopted in order to attain it. The three thousand that were converted on the day of Pentecost, were moved with fear: “They were pricked in their hearts, “s and said, Men, and brethren, what shall we do ?” The Philippian jailer " came trembling, and fell down 66 before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do “to be saved ?" Examples might be multiplied, but it is unnecessary. It is evident that religion generally begins with fear. And should a minister peglect to address this passion, by leaving out the terror of the Lord, he may preach the love of God, the joys of heaven, moral virtue, or what he pleases, till his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth, without converting one sinner from the error of his


" and then in a few days, he will surely turn and repent, and precipitate him “ self into virtue and happiness, taking sanctuaryin the fear of God, in order

! to rejoice in the arras of his favour." Cure of Deism, vol. i. p. 319, 320. 3d. edit.

« السابقةمتابعة »