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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.
Gai. 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 prominent 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 precepts this last, I say, though it professes to be greatly at variance with several of the foregoing schemes, is nearer akin to them than its advocates are willing to admit. If the love of God and man be left out of our religion, it matters but little what we substitute in its place. Whether it go by the name of Reason, or Superstition, Religious Ceremony, or Evangelical Liberty, all is delusion; all arises from the same source, and tends to the same issue. Good men may in a degree have been beguiled, and for a time carried away with these winds of false doctrine; but I speak of things, and their natural tendencies, not of persons. In short, we may safely. consider it as a criterion by which any
* 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.
be tried: if it be unfriendly to the moral law, it is not of God, but proceedeth from the father of lies.
Crisp. What you have observed seems very clear, and very affecting. But I have heard it remarked that these systems naturally attach teir adherents to the works of the law.
Gai. This is very true; but there is a wide difference between an attachment to the law, and an attachment to the works of the law as the ground of eternal life; as much as between the spirit of a faithful servant who loves his master, loves his family, loves his service, and never wishes to go out free, and that of a slothful servant, who, though he hates his master, hates his family, hates his employment, and never did him any real service, yet has the presumption to expect his reward.
Crisp. This distinction seems of great importance, as it serves to reconcile those scriptures which speak in favor of the law, and those which speak against an attachment to the works of it.
Gai. It is the same distinction, only in other words,
which has commonly been made respecting the law as a rule of life, and as a covenant.
Crisp. Will you be so obliging as to point out a few of the consequences of denying the law to be the rule of life, and representing it as at variance with the Gospel?
Gai. First, This doctrine directly militates against all those scriptures which speak in favor of the moral law, and afford us an honorable idea of it: such as the following: O how I love thy law! The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, just, and good, I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law, I delight in the law of God after the inner man, I with my mind serve the law of God. Secondly, This doctrine reflects upon God himself for having given a law under one dispensation, which is at variance with a gospel given under another. Thirdly; It justifies the sinner in the breach of the law. There can be no evil in sin, but in proportion to the goodness of that law of which it is a transgression. Fourthly, It is in direct opposition to the life and death of the Savior. By the former he obeyed its precepts; by the latter endured its penalty; and by both, declared it to be holy, just, and good. Every reflection therefore upon the moral law is a reflection upon Christ, seeing he has magnified it, and made it honorable. Fifthly, It strikes at the root of all personal religion, and opens the flood-gates to iniquity. Those who imbibe this doctrine, talk of being sanctified in Christ, in such a manner as to supersede all personal and progressive sanctification in the believer.
Crisp. I thank you, my dear Gaius, for your observations. Farewell.
DIALOGUE EIGHTH BETWEEN CRISPUS AND GAIUS.
ON HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
observations on various important subjects; and now if agreeable I should be glad of your thoughts on the painful but in. teresting subject of Human Depravity.
Gai. An interesting subject indeed! Perhaps there is no one truth in the Scriptures of a more fundamental nature with respect to the gospel way of salvation. I never knew a person verge towards the Arminian, the Arian, the Socinian, or the Antinomian schemes, without first entertaining diminutive notions of human depravity, or blame-worthiness.
Crisp. Wherein do you conceive depravity to consist?
Gai. In the opposite of what is required by the Divine law.
Crisp. "The sum of the Divine law is love; the essence of depravity then must consist in the want of love to God and to our neighbor; or in setting up some other objects, to the exclusion of them.
Gai. True; and perhaps it will be found that all the objects set up in competition with God and our neigh
be reduced to one, and this is Self. Private self-love seems to be the root of depravity, the grand succedaneum in human affections to the love of God and man. Self-admiration, self will, and self-righteousness, are but different modifications of it. Where this preVol. III.