Moral agents possess intellect, or the faculty of knowledge. They also
possess sensibility, or in other words the faculty of feeling. They also
possess will, or the power of choosing or refusing in every case of
moral obligation. Man is a moral agent. All praise and blame which all
men award to each other, is founded upon the universal acknowledgement
of this truth.
These primary faculties are so correlated to each other, that the
intellect or the sensibility may control the will, or the will may, in a
certain sense, control them. That is, the mind is free to choose in
accordance with the demands of the intellect which is the law-giving
faculty, or with the desires and impulses of the sensibility, or to
control and direct them both.
The will can either command or obey. It can suffer itself to be enslaved
by the impulses of the sensibility, or it can assert its sovereignty and
control them. We are conscious of affirming to ourselves our obligation
to obey the law of the intellect rather than the impulses of the
sensibility; that to act virtuously we must act rationally, or
intelligently, and not give ourselves up to the blind impulses of our
I. WHOSE RIGHT IT IS TO GOVERN.
Moral beings exist. They must of necessity be happy or miserable. Moral
law is that mode of moral action that exactly accords with the nature
and relations of moral beings. Conformity to this law is virtue. Virtue
is the cause of happiness. Happiness is an ultimate good. Happiness is
the ultimate end of government. Upon moral government as a means of
promoting this end, both ruler and ruled are dependent.
He has a right to govern, who possesses such attributes, such a
character, is so circumstanced, and sustains such relations as to be
both able and willing to secure the highest good of the whole. Upon him
all eyes are, or ought to be, turned, to sustain this office. It is both
his right and duty to govern; for upon him all are naturally dependent,
for securing the highest interests of the whole. It is therefore the
right and duty of God to administer the moral government of the
II. ALL THE COMMANDMENTS ARE DECLARATORY, AND ARE BUT THE APPLICATION
OF THE ONE ONLY LAW OF LOVE.
All God's moral attributes are modifications of one principle; that
is--benevolence. All virtue in moral beings is only different
modification of benevolence. Perfect, perpetual, and universal
benevolence, modified by the relations and circumstances of moral
beings, is their whole duty.
If benevolence, in its various modifications, is the whole of virtue,
then all God's requirements must be in spirit one. Love expresses and
comprehends the whole. The command to love God with all the heart, and
soul, and mind, and strength, is identical in spirit and meaning with
the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour like thyself."
These two commands might both be united in one precept: Thou shalt
regard and treat all interests, beings and things according to their
relative value in the scale of being. Thus the two great principles of
law are identical in spirit, yet two in their letter. The Ten
Commandments are proofs and illustrations of this Truth.
FIRST COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before
1. Reasons for this commandment: God's happiness is infinitely the
greatest good in the universe, and therefore thus to regard and treat
it, is right in itself. To render to God the highest degree of
benevolence, gratitude, and complacent love, is demanded by the very
laws of our being.
2. The true meaning and spirit of this command: This command prohibits
the love of any being or thing more than God. It requires the highest
degree of benevolence or good-will to God, of which we are capable. It
requires the deepest repentance on the part of sinners, of which they
are naturally capable. It requires the most perfect and perpetual
consecration of our whole being, time, talents, possessions, and all we
have, and are, to God.
SECOND COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:4-6 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any
graven image: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them."
1. Reason for this commandment: God is a spirit. All visible
representations of God, by pictures, images, or other means, are utterly
deceptive, and convey gross, false, abominable, and ruinous ideas of
THIRD COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord
thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh
His name in vain."
1. The true spirit of this commandment: It requires a feeling of the
utmost holy awe, reverence, love, and respect for God. The happiness of
the universe depends on their virtue. Their virtue consists in obedience
to God; and their obedience to God depends upon the light in which they
regard Him. Therefore, the highest good of the universe demands that God
should respect His name, and never suffer it to be trifled with.
FOURTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:9-11 "Six days shalt thou labour, and
do all thy work; but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in
it thou shalt not do any work."
1. What this implies: That all this be done in the spirit of love to
God, and not in a legal and self-righteous temper.
FIFTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:12 "Honour thy father and thy mother;
that thy days my be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth
1. What is implied in this requirement: This requirement implies that
the parent practically recognize his relations to the child; for if he
cast the child out helpless into the street, and refuse or neglect to
recognize his relation, the true spirit of this command cannot require
the child to honour him as a parent, but simply to regard him as a
fellow-being, and to treat him according to the universal law of
benevolence. It requires that both parents and children should fulfill
to each other all those duties that will, in the highest degree, promote
their individual and domestic happiness, holiness, and peace.
SIXTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill."
1. What is prohibited by the letter of this precept: The letter of this
precept prohibits the unnecessary destruction of life, whether of men or
2. What is the true spirit of this requirement: There can be no
exceptions to the spirit of a commandment, but to the letter there may
be exceptions. Gen. 9:3 "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat
for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." Here is a
general permission to kill animals for the food of man.
3. Some cases to be regarded as violations of this commandment: Every
unnecessary violation of the laws of life and health, either in men or
animals. Every unnecessary disregard of the command to multiply the
number of human beings. Every selfish disposition to lessen the amount
of animal life. Every degree of ill-will toward any being. All selfish
anger. "He that hateth his brother is a murderer."
SEVENTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:14 "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
1. What is implied in this commandment: It implies the pre-existence of
the institution of marriage. It implies that marriage is recognized as
not only already existing but as a divine institution.
2. What its true spirit prohibits: All carnal commerce of married
persons with others than their lawful husband or wife. All carnal
commerce between unmarried persons. All lewd and unchaste desires,
thoughts, and affections. It prohibits all writing, conversation,
pictures, modes of dress, and whatever has a natural tendency to beget
in any degree a licentious state of mind; for he who provokes to lust is
guilty of the crime of which he is the guilty cause.
3. Reasons for this command: Marriage is a necessity of our nature, both
moral and physical. The species must be propagated, and so propagated as
to secure the highest physical and moral perfection of the race. But the
benefits of marriage will be entirely excluded, unless licentiousness be
prevented. Every kind and degree of licentiousness is inconsistent with
the highest well-being of mankind.
EIGHTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:15 "Thou shalt not steal."
1. What is implied in this command: That the persons of human beings are
their own, or that every human being has a property in himself, and that
he is, so far as his fellow-men are concerned, his own proprietor.
2. What the true spirit of this command prohibits: It prohibits the
infliction of any injury upon the person, morals, education, reputation,
family or property, of a human being, whereby he has less of good than
he would have possessed but for your interference.
It prohibits all refusal to bear your full proportion in building
churches, supporting ministers, and sustaining all the institutions of
religion. To receive these things gratuitously, is to make slaves of
your neighbours, to receive their services for nought, and involves the
very principle of theft. Every wrong done or intended to a neighbour, is
a violation of his rights, and a violation of the spirit of this
NINTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness
against thy neighbour."
This commandment implies the duty, under certain circumstances, of being
true witnesses for or against our neighbour. It prohibits every species
of artifice, or designed deception, intended to make any impression
contrary to the truth, on any subject, upon one who has a right to know
the truth upon that subject.
TENTH COMMANDMENT. Ex. 20:17 "Thou shalt not covet thy
neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his
man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything
that is thy neighbour's."
1. What this commandment implies: The right of property--that a thing
may lawfully belong to a neighbor. It implies a right to the exclusive
possession and enjoyment of our wives and husbands as such. It implies
that every desire to interfere with the exclusive enjoyment of wives by
their husbands, or husbands by their wives, as such, is selfishness.
This command prohibits a disposition to possess anything that is
inconsistent with the will of God, and the highest good of the universe.
The spirit of this commandment enjoins perfect and universal
benevolence. It is plainly a declaratory summing up of the spirit of the
law of universal benevolence.
The above commandments are to be regarded only as specimens of the
manner of declaring and applying by express statute, the common law of
the universe, or the one great, universal, and only law of love.
All the commandments of God were properly summed up by our Saviour, and
condensed into two great precepts. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; and thy neighbor
as thyself." These two precepts are at once a condensation and a
declaration of the whole duty of man to God and his neighbour.
I. DEFINITION OF THE TERM DEPRAVITY.
The word is derived from the Latin de and pravus. Pravus means,
"crooked." De is intensive. Depravo, literally and primarily means,
"very crooked," not in the sense of original crookedness, but in the
sense of having become crooked, lapsed, fallen, departed from right or
II. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND MORAL DEPRAVITY.
Physical depravity, as the word denotes, is the depravity of
constitution, or substance, as distinguished from depravity of free
moral action. It may be predicated of matter or mind. Physical depravity
can have no moral character. It may, as we shall see, be caused by moral
depravity; and a moral agent may be blameworthy for having rendered
himself physically depraved, either in body or mind. But physical
depravity can have no moral character in itself, for the plain reason
that it is voluntary, and in its nature is disease, and not sin.
Moral depravity is the depravity of free-will, not of the faculty
itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of moral law.
Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with
moral law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is
moral depravity because it has moral character.
III. OF WHAT PHYSICAL DEPRAVITY CAN BE PREDICATED.
1. It can be predicated of any organized substance. Depravity is a
possible state of every organized body or substance in existence.
2. As mind, in connection with body, manifests itself through it, acts
by means of it, and is dependent upon it, it is plain that if the body
becomes diseased, or physically depraved, the mind cannot but be
affected by this state of the body, through and by means of which it
The sensibility or feeling department of the mind, may be sadly and
physically depraved. This is a matter of common experience. The
appetites and passions, the desires and cravings, the antipathies and
repellencies of the feelings, fall into great disorder and anarchy.
Numerous artificial appetites are generated and the whole sensibility
becomes a wilderness, a chaos of conflicting and clamorous desires,
emotions and passions.
IV. OF WHAT MORAL DEPRAVITY CAN BE PREDICATED.
1. Moral depravity cannot be predicated of any involuntary acts or
states of mind, for moral law legislates directly, only over free,
2. Moral depravity cannot be predicated of any unintelligent act of
will, that is, of acts of will that are put forth in a state of idiocy,
of intellectual derangement, or of sleep. Moral agency implies
intelligence, or knowledge of moral relations.
3. Moral depravity can only be predicated of violations of moral law,
and of the free volitions by which those violations are perpetrated.
Moral law requires love, and only love, to God and man, or to God and
the universe. This love is good-will, choice, the choice of an end, the
choice of the highest well-being of God, and the universe of sentient
Moral depravity is sin. Sin must consist in choice, in the choice of
self-indulgence or self-gratification as an end.
4. The law of God requires good-willing only, and nothing but acts of
will can constitute a violation of moral law. Outward actions, and
involuntary thoughts and feelings, may be said in a certain sense to
possess moral character, because they are produced by the will. But,
strictly speaking, moral character belongs only to choice, or intention.
Sin does not, and cannot consist in the choice of sin or misery as an
end, or for its own sake. All sin consists, and must consist in
selfishness, or in the choice of self-gratification as a final end.
Moral depravity then, strictly speaking, can only be predicated of
selfish ultimate intention. Moral depravity consists in a state of
voluntary committal of the will to self-gratification. It is a spirit of
self-seeking, a voluntary and entire consecration to the gratification
of self. It is selfish ultimate intention; it is a choice of a wrong end
of life; it is moral depravity, because it is a violation of moral law.
It is a refusal to consecrate the whole being to the highest well-being
of God and of the universe, and obedience to the moral law.
Moral depravity sustains to the outward life, the relation of a cause.
This selfish intention, or the will in this committed state, of course,
makes efforts to secure its end, and these efforts make up the outward
life of a selfish man.
V. MANKIND ARE BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MORALLY DEPRAVED.
1. There is in all probability, no perfect health of body among all the
ranks and classes of human beings that inhabit this world. The physical
organization of the whole race has become impaired, and beyond all doubt
has been becoming more and more so since intemperance of any kind was
first introduced into our world. Especially is this true of the human
sensibility. See that bloated wretch, the inebriate! His appetite for
strong drink has played the despot. His whole mind and body, reputation,
family, friends, health, time, eternity, all, all are laid by him upon
its filthy altar. There is the debauchee, and the glutton, and the
gambler, and the miser, and a host of others, each in his turn giving
striking and melancholy proof of the monstrous development and physical
depravity of the human sensibility.
2. The moral depravity of the human race is everywhere assumed and
declared in the Bible, and so universal and notorious is the fact of
human selfishness, that should any man practically call it in question:
should he, in his business transactions, and in his intercourse with
men, assume the contrary, he would justly subject himself to the charge
VI. THE MORAL DEPRAVITY OF MANKIND IS UNIVERSAL.
The Bible exhibits proof of it: --
1. In those passages that represent all the unregenerate as possessing
one common wicked heart or character. "And God saw that the wickedness
of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the
thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Gen. 6:5. "The carnal
mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be." Rom. 8:7.
2. In those passages that declare the universal necessity of
regeneration. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
God." John 3:3.
3. Passages that expressly assert the universal moral depravity of all
unregenerate moral agents of our race. "What then? Are we better than
they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles,
that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous,
no, not one." Rom. 3:9-10.
4. Universal history proves it. What is this world's history but the
shameless chronicles of human wickedness?
5. Universal observation attests it. Whoever saw one unregenerate human
being that was not selfish, that did not obey his feelings rather than
the law of his intelligence, that was not under some form, or in some
way, living to please self?
6. I may also appeal to the universal consciousness of the unregenerate.
They know themselves to be selfish, and they cannot honestly deny it.
VII. THE MORAL DEPRAVITY OF THE UNREGENERATE MORAL AGENTS OF OUR
RACE, IS TOTAL.
By this is intended, that the moral depravity of the unregenerate is
without any mixture of moral goodness or virtue, that while they remain
unregenerate, they never in any instance, nor in any degree, exercise
true love to God and to man. It is not intended that they may not
perform many outward actions, and have many inward feelings, that are
such as the regenerate perform and experience; and such too as are
accounted virtue by those who place virtue in the outward action. When
virtue is clearly seen to consist in the heart's entire consecration to
God and the good of being, it must be seen, that the unregenerate are
not for one moment in this state.
VIII. THE NATURE OF MORAL DEPRAVITY OR SIN.
1. The Bible gives a formal definition of sin. 1 John 3:4, "Sin is a
transgression of the law." This definition is the only one that can
possibly be true.
2. The Bible everywhere makes the moral law the only standard of right
and wrong. This truth lies everywhere upon the face of the Bible.
3. It holds men responsible for their voluntary actions alone, or more
strictly, for their choices alone, and expressly affirms, that, "If
there be a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath,
and not according to what he hath not." That is, willing as God directs
is accepted as obedience.
4. The Bible always represents sin as something done or committed, or
willfully omitted, and never as a part or attribute of soul or body, as
consisting in "the deeds done in the body."
IX. THE PROPER METHOD OF ACCOUNTING FOR MORAL DEPRAVITY.
1. The Bible has given us the history of the introduction of sin into
our world; and from the narrative, it is plain, that the first sin
consisted in selfishness; it consisted in yielding the will to the
impulses of the sensibility, instead of abiding by the law of God. Thus
the Bible ascribes the first sin of our race to the influence of
St. James says that a man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own
lusts, and enticed. That is, his lusts, or the impulses of his
sensibility, are his tempters. When he, or his will is overcome of
these, he sins.
2. St. Paul and other inspired writers represent sin as consisting in a
carnal or fleshly mind, in the minding of the flesh. The representations
of Scripture are, that the body is the occasion of sin. In short, the
Bible rightly interpreted everywhere assumes and implies, that sin
consists in selfishness.
3. Selfishness consists in the supreme and ultimate choice of
self-gratification as an end in life, or for its own sake, over all
other interests. Now, as the choice of an end implies and includes the
choice of the means, selfishness of course, causes all that outward life
and activity that makes up the entire history of sinners.
THE SANCTIONS OF GOD'S LAW
I. WHAT CONSTITUTES THE SANCTIONS OF GOD'S LAW
The sanctions of God's law are the motives to obedience: that which is
to be the natural and governmental consequence or result of obedience
and of disobedience.
They are remuneratory, that is, they promise reward to obedience. They
are vindicatory, that is, they threaten the disobedient with punishment.
They are natural, that is, all moral law is that rule of action which is
in exact accordance with the nature and relations of moral beings.
Happiness is to some extent naturally connected with, and the necessary
consequence of, obedience to moral law. Misery is naturally and
necessarily connected with, and results from, disobedience to moral law,
or from acting contrary to the nature and relations of moral beings.
Sanctions are governmental. By governmental sanctions are intended:
(a) The favour of the government as due to obedience, and positive
rewards bestowed upon the obedient by the government.
(b) The displeasure of the government toward the disobedient, and direct
punishment inflicted by the government as due to disobedience.
All happiness and misery resulting from obedience or disobedience,
either natural, or from the favour, or frown, of government, are to be
regarded as constituting the sanctions of law.
II. THERE CAN BE NO LAW WITHOUT SANCTIONS.
Precepts without sanctions are only counsel or advice, and not law.
Nothing is moral law, but the rule of action which is founded in the
nature and relations of moral beings. It is therefore absurd to say,
that there should be no natural sanctions to this rule of action. It is
the same absurdity as to say, that conformity to the laws of our being
would not produce happiness, and that disconformity to the laws of our
being would not produce misery.
What do we mean by acting in conformity to the laws of our being, but
that course of conduct in which all the powers of our being will sweetly
harmonize, and produce happiness? And what do we mean by disconformity
to the laws of our being, but that course of action which creates mutiny
among our powers themselves, which produces discord instead of harmony,
misery instead of happiness?
III. IN WHAT LIGHT SANCTIONS ARE TO BE REGARDED.
Sanctions are to be regarded as an expression of the benevolent regard
of the lawgiver for his subjects; the motives which he exhibits to
induce in the subjects the course of conduct that will secure their
IV. THE END TO BE SECURED BY LAW AND THE EXECUTION OF PENAL
The ultimate end of all government is blessedness. This is the ultimate
end of the precept, and of the sanction attached to it. A state of
blessedness can be secured only by the prevention of sin and the
promotion of holiness.
Confidence in the government is the indispensable condition of all
virtue. Confidence results from a revelation of the lawgiver to his
subjects. Confidence in God results from a revelation of Himself to His
V. BY WHAT RULE SANCTIONS OUGHT TO BE GRADUATED.
Moral obligation is founded in the intrinsic value of the well-being of
God and of the universe, and conditioned upon the perception of its
Guilt ought always to be measured by the perceived value of the end in
life which moral beings ought to choose. The sanctions of law ought to
be graduated by the intrinsic merit and demerit of holiness and sin.
VI. GOD'S LAW HAS SANCTIONS.
That sin, or disobedience to the moral law, is attended with, and
results in, misery, is a matter consciousness. That virtue or holiness
is attended with, and results in happiness, is also attested by
consciousness. Therefore that God's law has natural sanctions, both
remuneratory and vindicatory, is a matter of fact.
That there are governmental added to the natural, must be true, or God,
in fact, has no government but that of natural consequences. The Bible
expressly, and in every variety of form, teaches that God will reward
the righteous and punish the wicked.
VII. WHAT CONSTITUTES THE REMUNERATORY SANCTIONS OF THE LAW OF GOD.
The happiness that is naturally and necessarily connected with, and
results from, holiness and obedience. The merited favour, protection,
and blessing of God, and all the natural and government rewards of
VIII. THE PERFECTION AND DURATION OF THE REMUNERATORY SANCTIONS.
The perfection of the natural reward is, and must be, proportioned to
the perfection of virtue. The duration of the remuneratory sanction must
be equal to the duration of obedience. This cannot possibly be
otherwise. If the existence and virtue of man are immortal, his
happiness must be endless.
The Bible most unequivocally asserts the immortality; both of the
existence and virtue of the righteous, and also that their happiness
shall be endless. The very design and end of government make it
necessary that governmental rewards should be as perfect and unending as
IX. WHAT CONSTITUTES THE VINDICATORY SANCTIONS OF THE LAW OF GOD.
The misery naturally connected with, and resulting from, disobedience to
moral law. The natural vindicatory sanction of the law of God is misery,
resulting from a violation of man's own nature.
The displeasure of God, the loss of His protection and governmental
favour, together with that punishment which it is His duty to inflict
upon the disobedient.
X. ENQUIRE INTO THE MEANING OF THE TERM INFINITE.
It literally and properly means not finite, not limited, not bounded,
unlimited, boundless. A thing may be infinite in a particular sense, and
not in the absolute sense.
XI. INFINITES MAY DIFFER INDEFINITELY IN AMOUNT.
This is the doctrine of Sir Isaac Newton, and of natural and
mathematical science. It is a plain matter of fact. For example: suppose
that from this point radiate mathematical lines endlessly in every
direction. Let each two of these lines make an angel of one degree, and
let the points be sufficiently numerous to fill up the while circle.
Thus the whole space is no more than infinite, in the absolute sense of
the term, and yet there is, in the sense of unlimited in quantity, an
infinite amount of space between every two of these radii.
The same would be true upon the supposition of two parallel mathematical
lines of infinite length, no matter how near together. Anything is
infinite which is boundless in any sense. The area between any two of
the radii of the circle, or of the parallel lines, is not infinite in
the sense that it has no bounds in any direction, for it is bounded on
its sides. But it is infinite in the sense of its superficial measure or
So, endless happiness or misery may be finite in one sense and infinite
in another. They may be infinite in amount, taking into view their
endlessness, however small they may be in degree. There is and can be no
whole of them.
It should be remarked that practically no creature, nor all creatures
together, will either have enjoyed infinite happiness, or endured
infinite misery. At any possible period of the future it will be true
that they have only enjoyed or suffered a finite amount. At any possible
period, an eternity of bliss or misery is, and always will be still
XII. THE RULE BY WHICH DEGREES OF GUILT ARE TO BE ESTIMATED.
Here let it be remembered that moral obligation is founded in the
intrinsic value of those interests which moral agents are bound to
choose as an end in life, and is conditioned on a knowledge of this end.
The degree of obligation is just equal to the apprehended intrinsic
value of those interests.
The guilt or refusal to live for these interests is in proportion, or is
equal to the amount of the obligation. Consequently, the mind's honest
apprehension or judgment of the value of those interests which it
refuses to live for, is, and must be, the rule by which the degree of
guilt involved in that refusal ought to be measured.
XIII. ALL AND EVERY SIN MUST FROM ITS VERY NATURE INVOLVE INFINITE
GUILT IN THE SENSE OF DESERVING ENDLESS PUNISHMENT.
Sin implies moral obligation. Moral obligation implies moral agency.
Moral agency implies the apprehension of the end that moral agents ought
to live for.
This end is the highest well-being of God and the universe. The
intelligence of every moral agent must affirm this end to be of infinite
value, in the sense that its value is unlimited. Every moral agent must
be able to affirm, that the intrinsic value of the happiness of God and
the universe must be boundless, unlimited, infinite. By this
affirmation, or the apprehension that necessitates this affirmation, his
guilt ought to be measured, if he refuses to consecrate himself to the
promotion of those interests.
XIV. ALL SIN DESERVES ENDLESS PUNISHMENT, YET THE GUILT OF DIFFERENT
PERSONS MAY VARY INDEFINITELY, AND PUNISHMENT, ALTHOUGH ENDLESS, MAY
VARY, AND OUGHT TO VARY.
The guilt of different persons may vary indefinitely. This also may be
true of the same person at different periods of life. Observe: the
degree of guilt depends on the degree of intellectual development on
moral subjects, upon the clearness with which the mind apprehends moral
relations, especially the intrinsic value of those interests which it
ought to choose. These apprehensions vary, as every moral agent is
conscious, almost continually.
The obligation to live for an end lies in the intrinsic value of the
end. The obligation is greater or less, as the mind's honest estimate of
the value of it is greater or less. As light increases, and the mind
obtains enlarged conceptions of God, of the universe, of endless
happiness or misery, and of all those great truths that cluster around
these subjects, its obligation increases in exact proportion to
increasing light, and so does the guilt of selfishness.
XV. PENAL INFLICTIONS UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD MUST BE ENDLESS.
Here the enquiry is, what kind of death is intended, where death is
pronounced against the transgressor, as the penalty of the law of God?
The penal sanction of the law of God is endless death, or that state of
endless suffering which is the natural and government result of sin or
of spiritual death.
I will notice an objection, in three forms, which is leveled against the
justice of endless punishment:
1. Life is so short, that men do not live long enough in this world to
commit so great a number of sins as to deserve endless punishment.
This objection is founded in ignorance or disregard of a universal
principle of government, viz., that one breach of the precept always
incurs the penalty of the law, whatever that penalty is.
The length of time employed in committing a sin, has nothing to do with
its blameworthiness or guilt. It is the design that constitutes the
moral character of the action. It is the intrinsic desert or guilt of
sin, that renders it deserving of endless punishment.
2. A finite creature cannot commit an infinite sin.
This objection takes for granted that man is so diminutive a creature,
so much less that the Creator, that he cannot deserve His endless frown.
Which would involve the most guilt, for a man to smite his neighbour and
his equal, or his lawful sovereign? The fact that man is so infinitely
below his Maker, does but enhance the guilt of his rebellion, and render
him all the more worthy of His endless frown.
3. Sin is not an infinite evil, and therefore does not deserve endless
This objection must mean that sin does not involve infinite guilt. What
does all sin in its own nature deserve? They who deny the justice of
endless punishment, consider the guilt of sin a mere trifle. They who
maintain the justice of endless punishment, consider sin as an evil of
immeasurable magnitude, and, in its own nature, deserving of endless
Sin is selfishness; it consists in preferring self-gratification to the
infinite interests of God and of the universe. Every moral agent, by a
law of his own reason, necessarily affirms that God is infinite, and
that the endless happiness and well-being of God and of the universe, is
of infinite value.
Hence it follows, that refusal to will this good is a violation of
infinite or unlimited obligation, and, consequently, involves unlimited
Unless the penal sanctions of the law of God are endless, they are
virtually and really no penalty at all. If a man be threatened with
punishment for one thousand, or ten thousand, or ten millions, or ten
hundred millions of years, after which he is to come out as a matter of
justice, and go to heaven, there is beyond an absolute eternity of
The tendency of sin to perpetuate and aggravate itself, affords another
strong inference, that the sinfulness and misery of the wicked will be
To deny the justice of eternal punishment is virtually to deny the fact
of moral evil. But to deny this is to deny moral obligation, and moral
agency. But of both moral obligation and moral agency we are absolutely
conscious. Therefore it follows to a demonstration, not only that moral
evil does exist, but that it deserves endless punishment.
XVI. EXAMINE THIS QUESTION IN THE LIGHT OF REVELATION.
The Bible expresses the duration of the future punishment of the wicked
by the same terms, and, in every way, as forcibly as it expresses the
duration of the future happiness of the righteous, and never once
represents it otherwise.
I will here introduce, without comment, some passages of Scripture
confirming this last remark. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of
the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and
everlasting contempt." Danl. 12:2
"Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye
gave Me no drink. And these shall go away into the everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Matt. 25:41, 41, 46
The English word atonement is synonymous with the Hebrew word for cover.
The cover, was the name of the lid or cover of the Ark of the Covenant,
and constituted what was called the mercy-seat. The Greek word rendered
atonement, means reconciliation to favour, or more strictly, the means
or conditions of reconciliation to favour. The term properly means
An examination of these original words, in the connection in which they
stand in the Bible, will show that the atonement is the governmental
substitution of the sufferings of Christ for the punishment of sinners.
It is a covering of their sins by His sufferings.
I. SOME ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT.
Moral law is not founded in the mere arbitrary will of God or of any
other being, but it has its foundation in the nature and relations of
moral agents. It is that rule of action, or of willing, which is imposed
on them by that law of their own intellect.
There is a distinction between the letter and the spirit of moral law.
The letter relates to the outward life or action; the spirit respects
the motive or intention from which the act should proceed.
The letter of the law is found in the Ten Commandments, and in other
Biblical precepts relating to outward acts. To the letter of the law
there may be exceptions, but to the spirit of moral law there can be no
exception. For example: the letter of the law prohibits all labour on
the Sabbath day, but the spirit of the law often requires labour on the
In establishing a government and promulgating law, the lawgiver is
always understood as pledging himself duly to administer the laws in
support of public order, and for the promotion of public morals, to
reward the innocent with his favour and protection, and to punish the
disobedient with the loss of his protection and favour.
Public justice, in its exercise, consists in the promotion and
protection of the public interests, by such legislation and such an
administration of the law, as is demanded by the highest good of the
public. It implies the execution of the penalties of law where the
precept is violated unless something is done that will as effectually
secure the public interests. When this is done, public justice demands,
that the execution of the penalty shall be dispensed with by extending
pardon to the criminal.
It is a fact well established by the experience of all ages and nations,
that the exercise of mercy in setting aside the execution of penalties
is a matter of extreme delicacy and danger. The influence of law, as
might be expected, is found very much to depend upon the certainty felt
by the subjects that it will be duly executed. It is found in experience
to be true, that the exercise of mercy in every government where no
atonement is made, weakens government, by begetting and fostering a hope
if impunity in the minds of those who are tempted to violate the law.
Whatever will as fully evince the lawgiver's regard for his law, his
determination to support it, his abhorrence of all violations of its
precepts, and withal guard as effectually against the inference, that
violators of the precept might expect to escape with impunity, as the
execution of the penalty would do, is a full satisfaction of public
justice. When these conditions are fulfilled, and the sinner has
returned to obedience, public justice not only admits, but absolutely
demands, that the penalty shall be set aside by extending pardon to the
The following things must be true under a perfect government: that sin
cannot be forgiven merely upon condition of repentance, for this is
within the power of the subject, so that he might then be sure of
impunity; nor can it be forgiven upon a condition that shall be
repeated, for this would encourage the hope of impunity.
II. THE FACT OF ATONEMENT
This is purely a doctrine of revelation. The Old and New Testaments
attest, most unequivocally, the necessity of an atonement. If sinners
were to be saved at all, it must be through an atonement.
"Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name
under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the
faith of Jesus Christ." Gal. 2:16. "Without the shedding of blood, there
is no remission of sin." Heb. 9:22
Some passages that establish the fact of the vicarious death of Christ,
and redemption through His blood: "But He was wounded for our
transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of
our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." Isa. 53:5
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give His life a ransom for many." Matt. 20:23 "Being justified
freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. To
declare, I say, at this time, His righteousness; that He might be just,
and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:24 "In this
was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only
begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is
love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to
be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10
III. THE DESIGN OF THE ATONEMENT
Christ's obedience to the moral law as a covenant of works, did not
constitute the atonement. Had He obeyed for us, He need not certainly
both have fulfilled the law for us, as our substitute, and at the same
time have suffered as a substitute, in submitting to the penalty of the
law. If He obeyed the law as our substitute, then why should our own
return to personal obedience be insisted upon as an indispensable
condition to our salvation?
The atonement was intended as a satisfaction of public justice. The
moral law did not originate in God's will, but is founded in His
self-existence and immutable nature. He cannot therefore, set aside the
execution of the penalty when the precept has been violated, without
something being done that shall meet the demands of the true spirit of
the law. "To declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that
are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this
time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him
that believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:26
Whatever can as effectually reveal God, make known His hatred to sin,
His love of order, His determination to support His government, and to
promote the holiness and happiness of His creatures, as the execution of
the penalty of His law would do, is a full satisfaction of public
Atonement is, therefore, a part, and a most influential part, of moral
government. The execution of law still holds a place, and makes up an
indispensable part of the great circle of motives essential to the
perfection of moral government. Fallen angels, and the finally
impenitent of this world, will receive the full execution of the penalty
of the divine law.
An atonement was needed to inspire confidence in the offers and promises
of pardon. Whenever the soul can apprehend the reality of the atonement,
it can then believe every offer and promise, as the very thing to be
expected from a Being who could give His Son to die for enemies.
An atonement was needed as the great and only means of sanctifying
sinners. The law was calculated, when once its penalty was incurred, to
shut the sinner up in a dungeon, and only to develop more and more his
depravity. Nothing could subdue his sin, and cause him to love, but the
manifestation to him of disinterested benevolence. The atonement is just
the thing to meet this necessity, and subdue rebellion. An atonement was
needed, not to render God merciful, but to reconcile pardon with a due
administration of justice.
God's great and disinterested love to sinners themselves was a prime
reason for the atonement. "For God so loved the world, that he gave His
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life." John 3:16
His love to the universe at large must have been another reason,
inasmuch as it was impossible that the atonement should not exert an
amazing influence over moral beings, in whatever world they might exist.
Another reason for preferring the atonement to the punishment of sinners
must have been, that, sin had afforded an opportunity for the highest
manifestation of virtue in God: the manifestation of forbearance, mercy,
self-denial, and suffering for enemies that were within His own power.
It is impossible to conceive of a higher order of virtue than are
exhibited in the atonement of Christ. It was vastly desirable that God
should take advantage of such an opportunity to exhibit His true
character, and show to the universe what was in His heart.
The atonement would present to creatures the highest possible motives to
virtue. Example is the highest moral influence that can be exerted. If
the benevolence manifested in the atonement does not subdue the
selfishness of sinners, their case is hopeless.
The atonement would afford God an opportunity always to gratify His love
in His kindness to sinners, in using means for their salvation, in
forgiving and saving them when they repent, without the danger of its
being inferred in the universe, that He had not a sufficient abhorrence
for their sin.
The final punishment of the wicked will be more impressive in the light
of the infinite love, manifest in the atonement. The atonement is the
highest testimony that God can bear against selfishness. It is the
testimony of His own example. The atonement so reveals all the
attributes of God, as to complete the whole circle of motives needed to
influence the minds of moral beings.
IV. THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
We must enquire into the governmental value of the atonement. It is
valuable only as it tends to promote the glory of God, and the virtue
and happiness of the universe. Its value also consists in its
adaptedness to prevent further rebellion against God in every part of
the universe. The atonement exhibits God in such a light, as must
greatly strengthen the confidence of holy beings in His character and
The atonement may be viewed in either of two points of light. Christ my
be considered as the Law-giver attesting His sincerity, love of
holiness, hatred of sin, approbation of the law, and compassion for His
subjects, by laying down His life as their substitute.
Or Christ may be considered as the Son of the Supreme Ruler: and then we
have the spectacle of a sovereign, giving His only-begotten and
well-beloved Son, His greatest treasure, to die a shameful and agonizing
death, in testimony of His great compassion for His rebellious subjects,
and of His high regard for public justice. This is the highest possible
moral influence. It is properly moral omnipotence; that is, the
influence of the atonement, when apprehended by the mind, will
accomplish whatever is within the compass of moral power to effect. All
mankind can be pardoned, if they are rightly affected and brought to
repentance by it, as well as any part of mankind.
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the
Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29 "Who gave
Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:6 "And
He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for
the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2
Sinners are represented as having no excuse for being lost and for not
being saved by Christ. "And He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou
in hither, not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless." Matt.
Faith in the atonement of Christ rolls a mountain weight of crushing and
melting considerations upon the heart of the sinner. Thus the blood of
Christ, when apprehended and believed in, cleanses from all sin. From
this may be seen the indispensable necessity of faith in the atonement.
The atonement shows how solid a foundation the saints have for an
eternal repose and confidence in God. It greatly glorifies God; indeed
it does so, far above all His other works and ways.
It opens the channels of God's benevolence to state-criminals. It has
united God in a new and peculiar way to human nature. It has opened a
way of access to God never opened to any creatures before. It restores
the life of God to the soul, by restoring to man the influences of the
TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE
For godly sorrow worketh repentance not to be repented of; but the
sorrow of the world worketh death. II Cor. 7:10
In this verse which I have taken as my text, the Apostle Paul speaks of
two kinds of sorrow for sin, one working repentance unto salvation, the
other working death. It is high time professors of religion were taught
to discriminate much more than they do in regard to the nature and
character of various religious exercises. Were it so, the Church would
not be so overrun with false and unprofitable professors of religion.
The cause is doubtless a want of discriminating instruction respecting
the foundation of religion, and especially respecting true and false
I. WHAT IS TRUE REPENTANCE
It involves a change of opinion respecting the nature of sin, and this
change of opinion followed by a corresponding change of feeling towards
sin. Feeling is the result of thought. And when this change of opinion
is such as to produce a corresponding change of feeling, if the opinion
is right and the feeling corresponds this is true repentance. It must be
right opinion as God holds respecting sin. Godly sorrow, such as God
requires, must spring from such views of sin as God holds.
1. There must be a change of opinion in regard to sin.
(a) A change in opinion in regard to the nature of sin. To one who truly
repents, sin looks a very different thing from what it does to him who
has not repented. Instead of looking like a thing that is desirable or
fascinating, it looks the very opposite, most odious and detestable, and
he is astonished at himself, that he ever could have desired such a
Impenitent sinners may look at sin and see that it will ruin them,
because God will punish them for it; but, after all, it appears in
itself desirable; they love it; they roll it under their tongue. If it
could end in happiness, they never would think of abandoning it. But to
the other it is different; he looks back upon it and exclaims, "How
hateful, how detestable, how worthy of hell, such and such a thing was
(b) A change of opinion of the character of sin as respects its relation
to God. Sinners do not see why God threatens sin with such terrible
punishment. But when they are strongly convicted, many a sinner sees its
relation to God to be such that it deserves eternal death, but his heart
does not go with his opinions. This is the case with the devils and
wicked spirits in hell. Mark then! -- a change of opinion is
indispensable to true repentance, and always precedes it. There may be a
change of opinion without repentance, but no genuine repentance without
a change of opinion.
(c) A change of opinion in regard to the tendencies of sin. Before, the
sinner thinks it utterly incredible that sin should have such tendencies
as to deserve everlasting death. He may be fully changed, however, as to
his opinion on this point without true repentance, but it is impossible
a man should truly repent without a change of opinion. He sees sin, in
its tendency, as ruinous to himself and everybody else, soul, and body,
for time and eternity, and at variance with all that is lovely and happy
in the universe. He sees that sin is calculated in its tendencies to
injure himself and everybody else, and that there is no remedy but
(d) A change of opinion in regard to the desert of sin. The word
rendered repentance implies a change in the state of the mind including
all this. The careless sinner is almost devoid of right ideas. Suppose
he admits in theory that sin deserves eternal death, he does not believe
it. But the truly awakened and convicted sinner has no more doubt of
this than he has of the existence of God. He sees clearly that sin must
deserve everlasting punishment from God. He knows that this is a simple
matter of fact.
2. In true repentance there must be a corresponding change of feeling.
The change of feeling respects sin in all these particulars, its nature,
its relations, its tendencies, and its deserts.
(a) The individual who truly repents, not only sees sin to be detestable
and vile, and worthy of abhorrence, but he really abhors it, and hates
it in his heart.
(b) In relation to God he feels towards sin as it really is. And here is
the source of those gushings of sorrow in which Christians sometimes
break out, when contemplating sin.
(c) Then as to the tendencies of sin, the individual who truly repents
feels it as it is. When he views sin in its tendencies, it awakens a
vehement desire to stop it, and to save people from their sins, and roll
back the tide of death. It sets his heart on fire, and he goes to
praying, and labouring, and pulling sinners out of the fire with all his
might, to save them from the awful tendencies of sin. When the Christian
sets his mind on this, he will bestir himself to make people give up
(d) He feels right as to the desert of sin. He has not only an
intellectual conviction that sin deserves everlasting punishment, but he
feels that it would be so right and so reasonable, and so just, for God
to condemn him to eternal death, that so far from finding fault with the
sentence of the law that condemns him, he thinks it the wonder of
heaven, a wonder of wonders, if God can forgive him. He is full of
adoring wonder that this whole guilty world has not long since been
hurled to endless burnings. And when he thinks of such sinners being
saved, he feels a sense of gratitude that he never knew anything of
until he was a Christian.
II. THE EFFECT OF GENUINE REPENTANCE
1. If your repentance is genuine, there is in your mind a conscious
change of views and feeling towards sin. Of this you will be just as
conscious as you ever were of a change of views, and feelings on any
other subject. Now can you say this?
2. Where repentance is genuine, the disposition to repeat sin is gone.
If you have truly repented you do not love sin; you do not now abstain
from it through fear, and to avoid punishment, but because you hate it.
3. Repentance, when true and genuine, leads to confession and
restitution. If you have cheated anyone, and do not restore what you
have taken unjustly; or if you have injured anyone, and do not set about
rectifying the wrong you have done, so far as you are able, you have not
4. True repentance is a permanent change of character and conduct. It is
repentance unto salvation, "not to be repented of." In other words,
repentance so thorough, that there is no going back. The love of sin is
III. FALSE REPENTANCE
False repentance is said to be worldly, "the sorrow of the world." It is
sorrow for sin arising from worldly considerations and motives.
1. It is not founded on such a change of opinion as I have specified to
belong to true repentance. A person may see the evil consequences of sin
in a worldly point of view, and it may fill him with consternation. He
may see that it will greatly affect his character, or endanger his life;
that if some of his concealed conduct should be found out he would be
disgraced. It is very common for persons to have this worldly sorrow for
2. False repentance is founded in selfishness. It may extend to
fear--deep and dreadful fear--of the wrath of God and the pains of hell,
and yet be purely selfish, and all the while there may be no such thing
as a hearty abhorrence of sin, and no feeling of the heart going out
after the convictions of the understanding, in regard to the infinite
evil of sin.
IV. HOW THIS FALSE REPENTANCE MAY BE KNOWN.
1. It leaves the feelings unchanged. The feelings as to the nature of
sin are not so changed, but that the individual still feels a desire for
sin. It works death. It leads to hypocritical concealment. Instead of
that ingenious, openhearted breaking forth of the sensibility, and
frankness, you see a palavering, smooth-tongued, half-hearted mincing
out of something that is intended to answer the purpose of confession
and yet to confess nothing.
2. False repentance produces only a partial reformation of conduct. The
heart is not changed. Observe that young convert. If he is deceived, you
will find that there is only a partial change in his conduct.
3. Ordinarily, the reformation produced by false sorrow for sin is
temporary, even in those things which are reformed. The individual is
continually relapsing into his old sins. The woman that loved dress,
loves it still; and gradually returns to her ribands and gew-gaws. The
man who loved money, loves it yet, and soon slides back into his old
Go through all the departments of society, and if you will find people
with thorough conversions, you will find that their most besetting sins
before conversion are farthest from them now. The real convert is least
likely to fall into his old besetting sin, because he abhors it most.
4. It is a forced reformation. The reformation of one who has true
repentance is from the heart; he has no longer a disposition to sin. He
experiences that the Savior's yoke is easy and His burden is light.
5. This spurious repentance leads to self-righteousness. The individual
may know that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of sinners, and may
profess to believe on Him, and to rely on Him alone for salvation, but
after all, he is actually placing ten times more reliance on his
reformation than on Jesus Christ for his salvation. It leads to false
We see why sinners under conviction feel as if it were a great cross to
become Christians. They think it a great trail to give up their ungodly
companions, and to give up their sins. Whereas, if they had true
repentance, they would not think it any cross to give up their sins.
Sinners do not see that when their young friends become Christians, they
feel an abhorrence for balls and parties, and sinful amusements and
follies, that the love for these things is crucified.
I once knew a young lady who was converted to God. She used to be very
fond of dress, and the dancing school, and balls. After she was
converted, her father would force her to go to the dancing school. He
used to go along with her, and force her to stand up and dance. She
would go there and weep, and sometimes when she was standing up on the
floor to dance, her feelings of abhorrence and sorrow would so come over
her, that she would turn away and burst into tears.
See why backsliders are so miserable. Perhaps you will infer that I
suppose all true Christians are perfect, from what I have said about the
disposition to sin being broken up and changed. But this does not
follow. There is a radical difference between a backslidden Christian
and a hypocrite who has gone back from his profession.
FAITH AND UNBELIEF
The term, faith, has diverse significations, and is used in the Bible
sometimes to designate a state of the intellect, in which case it means
an undoubting persuasion, a firm conviction. This however is not its
evangelical sense. Evangelical faith cannot be a phenomenon of the
intellect, for the plain reason, that when used in an evangelical sense,
it is always regarded as a virtue.
Faith is a condition of salvation. It is something which we are
commanded to do upon the pain of eternal death. But if it be something
to be done, a solemn duty, it cannot be a merely passive state, a mere
intellectual conviction. The Bible distinguishes between intellectual
and saving faith. There is a faith of devils, and a faith of saints.
One produces good works or a holy life; the other is unproductive. This
shows that one is a phenomenon of the intellect merely, and does not
control the conduct. The other must be a phenomenon of the will, because
it manifests itself in the outward life. Evangelical faith, then, is not
a conviction. It is not a feeling of any kind; that is, it does not
belong to, and is not a phenomenon of the sensibility.
Saving faith is represented in the Bible as an active and most efficient
state of mind. It works, and "works by love." It produces "the obedience
of faith." Christians are said to be sanctified by the faith that is in
Christ. Indeed the Bible, in a great variety of instances and ways,
represents faith in God and in Christ as a cardinal form of virtue, and
as the main-spring of an outwardly holy life. Hence it cannot consist in
any involuntary state or exercise of mind whatever.
I. WHAT EVANGELICAL FAITH IS.
Since the Bible uniformly represents saving or evangelical faith as a
virtue, we know that it must be a phenomenon of the will. It is an
efficient state of mind, and therefore it must consist in the embracing
of the truth by the heart or will. It is the will's closing in with the
truths of the Gospel. It is the soul's act of yielding itself up, or
committing itself to the truths of the evangelical system. It is a
trusting in Christ, a committing the soul and the whole being to Him, in
His various offices and relations to men. It is a confiding in Him, and
in what is revealed of Him, in His Word and providence and by His
The same word that is so often translated, faith, in the New Testament,
is also rendered, "commit," as in John 2:24, "But Jesus did not commit
Himself unto them, because He knew all men." Luke 16:11, "Who will
commit to your trust the true riches?" Faith is the act of confiding in
God and in Christ, as revealed in the Bible and in reason. It is a
receiving of the testimony of God concerning Himself, and concerning all
the things of which He has spoken. It is a receiving of Christ for just
what He is represented to be in His Gospel, and an unqualified surrender
of the will, and of the whole being to Him.
III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN EVANGELICAL FAITH.
1. It implies an intellectual perception of the things, facts, and
truths believed. No one can believe that which he does not understand.
2. Evangelical faith implies the appropriation of the truths of the
Gospel to ourselves. It implies an acceptance of Christ as our wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The soul that truly
believes in Christ, believes that He tasted death for every man, and of
course for it. It apprehends Christ as the Saviour of the world, as
offered to all, and embraces and receives Him for itself. It
appropriates His atonement, and His resurrection and His intercession,
and His promises to itself.
Christ is thus presented in the Gospel not only as the Saviour of the
world, but also to the individual acceptance of men. He saves the world
no further than He saves individuals. Evangelical faith implies a
personal acceptance and appropriation of Christ to meet the necessities
of the individual soul.
3. Faith is a state of committal to Christ, and of course it implies
that the soul will be unreseveredly yielded up to Him, in all His
relations to it, so far and so fast as these are apprehended by the
4. Evangelical faith implies an evangelical life. This would not be true
if faith were merely an intellectual state or exercise. But since, as we
have seen, faith is of the heart, since it consists in the committal of
the will to Christ, it follows, by a law of necessity, that the life
will correspond with faith. Let this be kept in perpetual remembrance.
5. Evangelical faith implies repentance towards God, that is, a turning
from sin to God.
6. Evangelical faith implies a renunciation of self-righteousness. It is
impossible for one to embrace Christ as the Saviour of the soul, any
further than he renounces all hope or expectation of being saved by his
own works, or righteousness.
7. Of course it implies peace of mind. In Christ the soul finds its full
and present salvation. It has found its resting-place in Christ, and
rests in profound peace under the shadow of the Almighty.
8. It implies hope, as soon as the believing soul considers what is
conveyed by the Gospel, that is, a hope of eternal life in and through
9. It implies joy in God and in Christ. St. Peter speaks of joy as the
unfailing accompaniment of faith, as resulting from it.
10. Present evangelical faith implies a state of present sinlessness.
Observe: faith is the yielding and committal of the whole will, and of
the whole being to Christ. This, and nothing short of this, is
evangelical faith. But this comprehends and implies the whole of
present, true obedience to Christ. This is the reason why faith is
spoken of as the condition, and as it were, the only condition, of
salvation. It really implies all virtue.
When contemplated as an attribute of love, it is only a branch of
sanctification. When contemplated in the wider sense of universal
conformity of will to the will of God, it is then synonymous with entire
present sanctification. Contemplated in either light, its existence in
the heart must be inconsistent with present sin there. Faith is an
attitude of the will, and is wholly incompatible with present rebellion
of will against Christ. This must be true, or what is faith?
III. WHAT UNBELIEF IS NOT.
1. It is not ignorance. Ignorance is a blank; it is the negation or
absence of knowledge. This certainly cannot be the unbelief everywhere
represented in the Bible as a heinous sin. Ignorance may be a
consequence of unbelief, but it cannot be identical with it.
2. Unbelief is not the negation or absence of faith. This were a mere
nothing--a nonentity. But a mere nothing is not that abominable thing
which the Scriptures represent as a great and damning sin.
3. It cannot be intellectual skepticism. This state of the intellect may
result from the state of mind properly denominated unbelief, but it
cannot be identical with it.
4. It cannot consist in feelings or emotions of incredulity, doubt, or
opposition to truth. In other words, unbelief as a sin, cannot be a
phenomenon of the sensibility.
In short, the unbelief that is so sorely denounced in the Bible as an
aggravated abomination, cannot consist in any involuntary state of mind
IV. WHAT UNBELIEF IS.
The term as used in the Bible, in those passages that represent it as a
sin, must designate a phenomenon of the will. It must be a voluntary
state of mind. It must be the opposite of evangelical faith. Faith is
the will's reception and unbelief is the will's rejection, of truth.
Faith is the soul's confiding in truth and in the God of truth. Unbelief
is the soul's withholding confidence from truth and the God of truth. It
is the heart's rejection of evidence, and refusal to be influenced by
it. It is the will in the attitude of opposition to truth perceived, or
Intellectual skepticism or unbelief, where light is proffered, always
implies the unbelief of the will or heart. For if the mind knows, or
supposes, that light may be had on any question of duty, and does not
make honest efforts to obtain it, this can only be accounted for by
ascribing it to the will's reluctance to know the path of duty. In this
case light is rejected. This is the sin of unbelief.
All infidelity is unbelief in this sense, and infidels are so, not for
want of light, but, in general, they have taken much pains to shut their
eyes against it. Unbelief must be a voluntary state of attitude of the
will, as distinguished from a mere volition, or executive act of the
will. Volition may, and often does, give forth, through words and deeds,
expressions and manifestations of unbelief. But the volition is only a
result of unbelief, and is not identical with it. Unbelief is a deeper
and more efficient and more permanent state of mind than mere volition.
It is the will in its profoundest opposition to the truth and will of
V. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN UNBELIEF.
1. Unbelief implies light, or the perception of truth. For example: the
heathen who have never heard the Gospel are not properly guilty of
unbelief in not embracing it. They are indeed guilty of unbelief in
rejecting the light of nature.
2. It implies obstinate selfishness. Selfishness is a spirit of
self-seeking. It consists in the will's committing itself to
self-gratification or self-indulgence. Now unbelief is only selfishness
contemplated in its relation to the truth of God. It is only the
resistance which the will makes to those truths that are opposed to
3. Where any one attribute of selfishness is, there must be the presence
of every other attribute, either in a developed state or waiting for the
occasion of its development. The nature of unbelief proves that the
unbelieving heart is not only void of all good, but that every form of
sin is there.
4. The nature of unbelief implies that its degree depends on the degree
of light enjoyed. It consists in the rejection of truth perceived. Its
degree or greatness must depend upon the degree of light rejected.
5. The same must be true of the guilt of unbelief.
6. It implies mortal enmity against God. Unbelief rejects the truth and
authority of God, and is, of course, and of necessity, opposed to the
very existence of the God of truth. It would annihilate truth and the
God of truth, were it possible. We have an instance and an illustration
of this in the rejection and the murder of Jesus Christ. What was this
but unbelief? This is the nature of unbelief in all circumstances.
All sinners who hear and reject the Gospel, reject Christ; and were
Christ personally present to insist upon their reception of Him, and to
urge His demands, remaining unbelieving, they would of course, and of
necessity, sooner murder Him than receive Him. So that every rejecter of
the Gospel is guilty of the blood and murder of Christ.
VI. THE GUILT AND ILL-DESERT OF UNBELIEF.
The guilt of sin is conditionated upon, and graduated by, the light
under which it is committed. The amount of light is the measure of guilt
in every case. This is true of all sin.
The guilt of unbelief under the light of the Gospel must be indefinitely
greater, than when merely the light of nature is rejected. The guilt of
unbelief in cases where special divine illumination has been enjoyed,
must be vastly and incalculably greater, than where the mere light of
the Gospel has been enjoyed without a special enlightening of the Holy
Spirit. Those things that are implied in unbelief show that it must be
one of the most provoking abominations to God in the universe.
VII. NATURAL AND GOVERNMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF BOTH FAITH AND
1. One of the natural consequences of faith is peace of conscience. When
the will receives the truth, and yields itself up to conformity with it,
the conscience is satisfied with its present attitude, and the man
becomes at peace with himself. The soul is then in a state to really
respect itself, and can, as it were, behold its own face without a
2. Self-condemnation is one of the natural consequences of unbelief.
Such are the constitution and laws of mind, that it is naturally
impossible for the mind to justify the heart's rejection of truth. The
conscience necessarily condemns such rejection.
3. Faith will develop every form of virtue in the heart and life, as
their occasion shall arise. It consists in the committing of the will to
truth and to the God of truth, and as different occasions arise, faith
will secure conformity to all truth on all subjects, and then every
modification of virtue will exist in the heart, and appear in the life,
as circumstances in the providence of God shall develop them.
4. Unbelief may be expected to develop resistance to all truth on all
subjects that conflict with selfishness; and hence nothing but
selfishness in some form can restrain its appearing in any other and
every other form possible. For example, avarice may restrain
amativeness, intemperance, and many other forms of selfishness.
5. Faith naturally and necessarily results in all those lovely and
delightful emotions and states of feeling, of which they are conscious
whose hearts have embraced Christ. I mean all those emotions that are
naturally connected with the action of the will, and naturally result
from believing the blessed truths of the Gospel.
6. Unbelief naturally results in those emotions of remorse, regret,
pain, and agony which are the frequent experience of the unbeliever.
7. Faith lets God into the soul to dwell and reign there. Faith
receives, not only the atonement and mediatorial work of Christ as a
redeemer from punishment, but it also receives Christ as king to set up
His throne, and reign in the heart. Faith secures to the soul communion
I. WHAT IS GOSPEL JUSTIFICATION.
It consists, not in the law pronouncing the sinner just, but in his
being ultimately governmentally treated as if he were just, that is, it
consists in a governmental decree of pardon or amnesty -- in arresting
or setting aside the execution of the incurred penalty of law -- in
pardoning and restoring to favour those who have sinned, and those whom
the law had pronounced guilty, and upon whom it had passed sentence of
eternal death, and rewarding them as if they had been righteous. It is
an act either of the lawmaking or executive department of government,
and is an act entirely aside from and contrary to, the forensic or
judicial power or department of government. It is a practical, not a
literal, pronouncing of him just. In proof of this position, I remark:
1. That this is most unequivocally taught in the Old Testament. The
whole system of sacrifices taught the doctrine of pardon upon conditions
of atonement, repentance, and faith. St. Paul informs us what
justification was in the sense in which the Old Testament saints
understood it. Rom. 4:6-7, "Even also as David describeth the
blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without
works saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and who
sins are covered." This shows what both David and Paul understood by
justification, to wit, the pardon and acceptance of the penitent sinner.
2. The New Testament fully justifies and establishes this view of the
3. Sinners cannot possibly be justified in any other sense.
II. CONDITIONS OF JUSTIFICATION.
In this discussion I use the term, condition, in the sense of an
indispensable condition, a "not without which." A condition as distinct
from the ground of justification, is anything without which sinners
cannot be justified, which, nevertheless, is not the procuring cause or
fundamental reason of their justification.
The vicarious sufferings or atonement of Christ is a condition of
justification, or of the pardon and acceptance of penitent sinners. It
has been common to represent the atonement and work of Christ as the
ground, as distinct from and opposed to a condition of justification. In
treating this subject, I find it important to distinguish between the
ground and conditions of justification and to regard the atonement and
work of Christ, not as the ground, but only as a condition of Gospel
By the ground, I mean the moving, procuring cause; that in which the
plan of redemption originated as its source, and which was the
fundamental reason or ground of the whole movement. This was the
benevolence and, merciful disposition of the whole Godhead, Father, Son
and Holy Spirit. This love made the atonement, but the atonement did not
beget this love. The Godhead desired to save sinners, but could not
safely do so without danger to the universe unless something were done
to satisfy public, not retributive, justice. The atonement was resorted
to as a means of reconciling forgiveness with the wholesome
administration of justice.
Failing to make this distinction, and representing the atonement as the
ground of the sinner's justification has been a sad occasion of
stumbling to many. Indeed the whole questions of the nature, design,
extent, and bearings of the atonement, turn upon, and are involved in,
this distinction. Some represent the atonement as demanded by the
inexorable wrath of the Father, leaving the impression that Christ was
more merciful, and more the friend of sinners than the Father.
Others again, assuming that the atonement was the ground of
justification in the sense of the literal payment of the debt of
sinners, and that the Scriptures represent the atonement as made for all
men, have very consistently become Universalists.
That Christ's sufferings, and especially His death, were vicarious, has
been abundantly shown when treating the subject of atonement. Although
Christ owed perfect obedience to the moral law for Himself, yet He owed
no suffering to the law. He could therefore suffer for us. That is, He
could, to answer governmental purposes, substitute His death for the
infliction of the penalty of the law on us. The doctrine of
substitution, in the sense just named, appears everywhere in both
Testaments. For example:
Lev. 17:11 "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given
it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls; for it is
the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."
Isa. 53:5-6 "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised
for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with
His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the
iniquity of us all."
Matt. 26:28 "For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed
for many for the remission of sins."
1 Pet. 3:16 "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for
the unjust, that He might bring us to God."
2. Repentance is also a condition of our justification. It must be
certain that the government of God cannot pardon sin without repentance.
This is as truly a doctrine of natural as of revealed religion. Until
the sinner breaks off from sin by repentance or turning to God, he
cannot be justified in any sense.
3. Faith in Christ is, in the same sense, another condition of
justification. It should never be forgotten, that the faith that is the
condition of justification is the faith that works by love. It is the
faith through and by which Christ sanctifies the soul.
John 1:12 "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the
sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
Gal. 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works
of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
4. Present sanctification, in the sense of present full consecration to
God, is another condition of justification. Some theologians have made
justification a condition of sanctification, instead of making
sanctification a condition of justification. This is a mistake.
To sanctify is to set apart, to consecrate to a particular use. To
sanctify anything to God is to set it apart to His service, to
consecrate it to Him. To sanctify one's self, is voluntarily to set
one's self apart, to consecrate one's self to God. It is a state of
consecration to Him. This is present obedience to the moral law. It is
the whole of present duty, and is implied in repentance, faith, and
The word, sanctification, is sometimes used to express a permanent state
of obedience to God. In this sense it is not a condition of present
justification, or of pardon and acceptance. But it is a condition of
continued and permanent acceptance with God. It certainly cannot be true
that God accepts and justifies the sinner in his sins. I may safely
challenge the world for either reason or Scripture to support the
doctrine of justification in sin, in any degree of present rebellion
The Bible everywhere represents justified persons as sanctified, and
always expressly, or impliedly, conditionates justification upon
sanctification, in the sense of present obedience to God.
1 Cor. 6:11 "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are
sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by
the Spirit of our God."
Rom. 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
By sanctification being a condition of justification, the following
things are intended:
(a) That present, full, and entire consecration of heart and life to God
and His service, is an unalterable condition of present pardon of past
sin, and of present acceptance with God.
(b) That the penitent soul remains justified no longer than this
full-hearted consecration continues. If he falls from his first love
into the spirit of self-pleasing, he falls again into bondage to sin and
to the law, is condemned, and must repent and do his "first works," must
return to Christ, and renew his faith and love, as a condition of his
5. Perseverance in faith and obedience, or in consecration to God, is
also an unalterable condition of justification or of pardon and
acceptance with God. By this language in this connection, you will of
course understand me to mean, that perseverance in faith and obedience
is a condition, not of present, but of final or ultimate acceptance and
I have tried to understand the subject of justification as it is taught
in the Bible, without going into laboured speculations or theological
technicalities. If I have succeeded in understanding it, the following
is a succinct and true account of the matter: --
The Godhead, in the exercise of His adorable love and compassion, sought
the salvation of sinners through and by the means of the mediatorial
death and work of Christ. This death and work of Christ were resorted
to, not to create, but, as a result of the merciful disposition of God,
and as a means of securing the universe against a misapprehension of the
character and design of God in forgiving and saving sinners. To Christ,
as Mediator between the Godhead and man, the work of justifying and
saving sinners is committed. He is made unto sinners, "wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." In consideration of
Christ having by His death for sinners secured the subjects of the
divine government against a misconception of His character and designs,
God does, upon the further conditions of repentance and faith, that
imply a renunciation of their rebellion and a return to obedience to His
laws, freely pardon past sins, and restore the penitent and believing
sinner to favour, as if he had not sinned, while he remains penitent and
believing, subject however to condemnation and eternal death, unless he
holds the beginning of his confidence steadfast unto the end.
III. THE FOUNDATION OF THE JUSTIFICATION OF PENITENT BELIEVERS IN
1. Our own works or obedience to the law or to the Gospel, are not the
ground or foundation of our justification. That is, neither our faith,
nor repentance, nor love, nor life, nor anything done by us or wrought
in us, is the ground of our justification. These are conditions of our
justification, in the sense of a "not without which," but not the ground
of it. None of these things must be omitted on pain of eternal
damnation. Nor must they be put in the place of Christ upon the same
2. Neither is the atonement, nor anything in the mediatorial work of
Christ, the foundation of our justification, in the sense of the source,
moving, or procuring cause. This, that is the ground of our
justification, lies deep in the heart of infinite love. We owe all to
that merciful disposition that performed the mediatorial work, and died
the accursed death to supply an indispensable condition of our
justification and salvation.
3. Nor is the work of the Holy Spirit in converting and sanctifying the
soul, the foundation of our justification. This is only a condition or
means of bringing it about.
4. But the disinterested and infinite love of God, the Father, The Son,
and the Holy Spirit, is the true and only foundation of the
justification and salvation of sinners. God is love, that is, He is
infinitely benevolent. All He does, or says, or suffers, permits or
omits, is for one and the same ultimate reason, namely, to promote the
highest good of universal being.
5. Christ, the second person in the glorious Trinity, is represented in
Scripture, as taking so prominent a part in this work, that the number
of offices and relations which He sustains to God and man in it are
truly wonderful. For example, he is represented as being: King, Judge,
Mediator, Advocate, Redeemer, Surety, Wisdom, Righteousness,
Sanctification, Redemption, Prophet, Priest, Passover, or Lamb of God.
The Bread and Water of Life, True God, our Life, As dying for our sin.
The Resurrection, The Good Shepherd.
LOVE IS THE WHOLE OF RELIGION
The two principle forms of love, as far as religion is concerned, are
benevolence and complacency. Benevolence is an act of the will. It is
willing good, or a desire to promote the happiness of its object.
Complacency is esteem or approbation of the character of its object.
Benevolence should be exercised towards all beings, regardless of their
moral character. Complacency is due only to the good and holy.
I. THE NATURE OF HOLY LOVE
1. Love may exist either as an affection or as an emotion. When love is
an affection, it is voluntary, or consists in an act of the will. The
virtue of love is mostly when it is in the form of an affection. When it
is an emotion it is involuntary; feelings or emotions are involuntary.
They are not directly dependent on the will, or controlled by a direct
act of will. The happiness of love is mostly when it is in the form of
an emotion. If the affection of love be very strong, it produces a high
degree of happiness, but the emotion of holy love is happiness itself.
No man can exercise the emotion of love by merely willing it. And the
emotion may often exist in spite of the will. Individuals often feel
emotions rising in their minds which they know to be improper, and try
by direct effort of will to banish them from their minds; finding that
impossible they conclude that they have no control over these emotions.
But they may always be controlled by the will in an indirect way. The
mind can bring up any class of emotion it chooses, by directing the
attention sufficiently to the proper object. They will always be certain
to rise in proportion as the attention is fixed.
2. Ordinarily, the emotion of love towards God is experienced when we
exercise love toward Him in the form of affection. But this is not
always the case. We may exercise good will towards any object, and yet
at times feel no sensible emotions of love. It is not certain that even
the Lord Jesus Christ exercised love towards God, in the form of
emotion, at all times.
A husband and father may be engaged in labouring for the benefit of his
family, and his very life controlled by affection for them, while his
thoughts are not so engaged upon them as to make him feel any sensible
emotions of love to them at the time.
3. Love to God naturally implies love to our neighbor. "Owe no man
anything but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath
fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt
not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou
shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly
comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love they neighbour as
thyself." The love of complacency towards holy beings naturally implies
love to God, as a being of infinite holiness.
II. LOVE IS THE WHOLE OF RELIGION
1. All that is required of man by God consists in love, in various
modifications and results. Love is the sum total of all. The Scriptures
fully teach that love is the sum total of all requirements, both of the
law and the Gospel. Our Saviour declares that the great command, "Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, soul, mind and
strength, and thy neighbour as thyself," is the sum total of the Law and
the Prophets, or implies or includes all that the whole Scriptures, the
Law and the Gospel, require.
2. God is love, and to love is to be like God, and to be perfect in love
is to be perfect as God is perfect. All God's moral attributes consist
in love, acting under certain circumstances and for certain ends. God's
justice in punishing the wicked, His anger at sin, and the like, are
only exercises of His love to the general happiness of His kingdom.
So it is in man. All that is good in man is some modification of love.
Hatred to sin, is only love to virtue acting itself out in opposing
whatever is opposed to virtue. So true faith implies and includes love.
The faith that belongs to religion is an affectionate confidence in God.
III. SOME THINGS THAT ARE NOT ESSENTIAL TO PERFECT LOVE
1. The highest degree of emotion is not essential to perfect love. The
Lord Jesus Christ very seldom had the highest degree of emotion, yet He
always had perfect love.
2. Perfect love does not exclude the idea of increase in love or growth
in grace. The growth of mind in knowledge to all eternity, implies
growth in love to all eternity.
3. It is not essential to perfect love, that love should always be
exercised towards all individuals alike. We cannot think of all
individuals at once.
4. It is not essential to perfect love, that there should be the same
degree of the spirit of prayer for every individual, or for the same
individual at all times. The spirit of prayer is not always essential to
pure and perfect love. You may love any individual with a very strong
degree of love, and yet not have the spirit of prayer for that
individual. That is, the Spirit of God may not lead you to pray for the
salvation of that individual. The spirit of prayer depends on the
influences of the Holy Ghost leading the mind to pray according to the
will of God.
5. Perfect love is not inconsistent with those feelings of languor or
constitutional debility, which are the necessary consequences of
exhaustion or ill health. The Lord Jesus felt this weariness and
IV. WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO PERFECT LOVE
1. It implies that there is nothing in the mind inconsistent with love.
No hatred, malice, wrath, envy, or any other malignant emotions that are
inconsistent with pure and perfect love.
2. That there is nothing in the life inconsistent with love. All the
actions, words, thoughts, continually under the entire and perfect
control of love.
3. That the love to God is supreme, and so entirely above all other
objects, that nothing else is loved in comparison with God.
4. That love to God is disinterested; that God is loved for what He is,
not for His relation to us, but for the excellence of His character.
5. That love to our neighbour should be equal. His interests and
happiness should be regarded by us of equal value with our own, and he
and his interests are to be treated accordingly by us.
V. SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF PERFECT LOVE
1. Self-denial for the sake of promoting the interests of God's kingdom
and the salvation of sinners. The Lord Jesus enjoyed more solid
satisfaction in working out salvation for mankind, than any of His
saints can ever enjoy in receiving favours at His hands. He testified
that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The Apostle Paul did not count it a grief and a hardship to be hunted
from place to place, imprisoned, scourged, stoned, and counted the
offscouring of all things, for the sake of spreading the Gospel and
saving souls. It was his joy.
Other individuals have had the same mind with the Apostle. They have
been known who would be willing to live a thousand years, or to the end
of time, if they could be employed in doing good, in promoting the
kingdom of God, and saving the souls of men.
2. It delivers the soul from the power of legal motives. Perfect love
leads a person to obey God, not because he fears the wrath of God, or
hopes to be rewarded for doing this or that, but because he loves God,
and loves to do the will of God. Perfect love will lead to universal
3. The individual who exercises perfect love will be dead to the world.
He will not be influenced by public sentiment, or what this and that man
will say or think. See that woman! What is she not willing to do from
natural affection to her husband? All that her friends can say against
the man of her affection, has not the least influence on her mind, only
to make her cling the more closely to him.
So far as the working of mind is concerned, the perfect love of God
operates in the same way. The mind that is filled with perfect love, it
is impossible to divert from God, while love continues in exercise. Take
away his worldly possessions, his friends, his good name, his children;
send him to prison, beat him with stripes, bind him to the stake, fill
his flesh full of pine knots and set him on fire; and then leave him his
God and he is happy. Cases have been known of martyrs who, while their
bodies were frying at the stake, were so perfectly happy in God, as to
love the sense of pain.
I recollect hearing a friend say, often, "I don't know that I have one
thought of living a single moment for any other purpose than to glorify
God, any more than I should think of leaping right into hell." This was
said soberly and deliberately, and the whole life of that individual
corresponded with the declaration. What was this but perfect love?
4. It is hardly necessary to say that perfect joy and peace are the
natural results of perfect love. In 1 Cor. 13, the word translated
"charity" means love. "Thou I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a
tinkling cymbal." "Thou I have all faith so that I could remove
mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." Love "is kind," or
affectionate in all intercourse with others, never harsh or rude, or
needlessly giving pain to any. "Is not puffed up" with pride, but always
humble and modest. "Doth not behave itself unseemly," but naturally
begets a pleasant and courteous deportment towards all. "Seeketh not her
own" or had no selfishness.
"Is not easily provoked." To be easily provoked is always a sign of
pride. If a person is full of love, it is impossible to make him
exercise sinful anger while love continues. He exercises such
indignation as God exercises, at what is base and wrong, but he will not
be provoked by it. "Thinketh no evil." Show me a man who is always
suspicious of the motives of others, and I will show you one who has the
devil in him, and not the Holy Ghost.
Love "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." See a man
who exults at his neighbour's fall, or cries out, "I told you so"; and I
tell you that man is far from being perfect in love. "Believeth all
things." Ready to believe good wherever there is the least evidence of
it, and "hopeth all things."
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour." Mark that, NO ILL! Perfect love
never over-reaches, nor defrauds, nor oppresses, nor does any ill to a
neighbour. Would a man under the influence of perfect love, sell his
One other effect of perfect love: it uniformly shows itself in great
efforts for the sanctification of the Church and the salvation of souls.
There may be much light in the mind concerning religion, without love.
Those individuals who have much religious knowledge and zeal, without
love, are most unlovely and dangerous persons. They are always
censorious, proud, heady, high-minded. They may make a strong
impression, but do not produce true religion.
Perfect love cannot speak in a rough or abusive manner, either to or of
others. The zeal that is governed by perfect love will not spend itself
in contending for or against any forms of religion, nor attack minor
errors and evils. Love leads to laying stress on the fundamentals in
religion. It cleaves to warm-hearted Christians, no matter of what
denomination they may be, and loves them, and delights to associate with
them. Find a man who loves to attend ecclesiastical meetings, and enters
into all the janglings of the day, and that man is not full of love.
How much that is called religion, has no love. It ought to be better
understood than it is, that unless love is the mainspring, no matter
what the outward action may be, whether praying, praising, giving, or
anything else, there is no religion in it.
Those religious excitements which do not consist in the spirit of love,
are not revivals of religion. When persons profess to be converted, if
love is not the ruling feature in their character they are not truly
See what the world will be, when mankind are universally actuated by a
spirit of love. We learn that the time will come, when there shall be
nothing to hurt or destroy, and when the spirit of love will universally
prevail. What a change in society! What a change in all the methods of
doing business, and in all the intercourse of mankind, when each shall
love his neighbour as himself, and seek the good of others as his own.
Could one of the saints of the present day revisit the earth at that
period, he would not know the world in which he had lived, all things
would be so altered.
The thing on which the Lord Jesus is bent, is to bring all mankind under
the influence of love. Is it not a worthy object? He came to destroy the
works of the devil, and this is the way to do it. Suppose the world were
full of such men as Jesus Christ was in His human nature: compare it
with what it is now. Would not such a change be worthy of the Son of
God? What a glorious end, to fill the earth with love!
It is easy to see what makes heaven. It is love: perfect love. And it is
easy to see what makes heaven begun on earth, in those who are full of
love. How sweet their temper; what delightful companions; how blessed to
live near them; so full of candour, so kind, so gentle, so careful to
avoid offense, so divinely amiable in all things!
And is this to be attained by men? Can we love God, in this world, with
all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind? Is it our privilege and
our duty to possess the Spirit of Christ: and shall we exhibit the
spirit of the devil? Beloved, let our hearts be set on perfect love, and
let us give God no rest until we feel our hearts full of love, and until
all our thoughts and all our lives are full of love to God and man.
Oh, when will the Church come up to this ground? Only let the Church be
full of love, and She will be fair as the moon, clear as the sun and
terrible to all wickedness, as an army with banners.