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OF MORAL LAW, OBLIGATION, ACTION AND CHARACTER:

AND

OTHERS.

CALVIN, 1. The will of God is the mo- 1. “ The moral lawt is the ral law of man; and from his declaration of the will of God to being a creature, the property mankind, directing and binding of God, results his obligation to everyone to personal perfectand obey. “ They consider not perpetual conformity and obedithat true religion ought to be ence thereunto, in the frame framed according to the will of and disposition of the whole God, as by a perpetual rule: man, soul and body, and in perand that God himself abideth formance of all those duties always like himself, and is no of holiness and righteousness imagined apparition or fancy, which he oweth to God and that may be diversely fashioned man ; promising life upon the

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power to excite motion. They attribute to his providence higher praise, than could be derived from the regulation of machines. Before they will suppose God to regulate moral beings, as an artificer manages the hands of a clock, they will assert, that God rules, that man is ruled ; that God is sovereign, that man is free; and then freely confess their ignorance of the mode of divine operation.

* It is granted by all Calvinists and Hopkinsians, that the providence of God has respect to all the conduct of every accountable creature; to the first sinful volition of the angel who first rebelled, to the lapse of man, and all the subsequent actions of Adam and his posterity. But how does the divine providence respect the moral actions and character of angels, devils and men ? This is an important question. Much is said, on one side, at least, about the manner of providential government. Before we can treat of this subject, we must examine into the nature of moral action, which is the object of this divine controul. Moral action is said to regard a moral law, in consequence of a moral obligation, and to constitute the character of the elect and the reprobate. It seemed necessary, therefore, to introduce a chapter upon these topics, in this place, to prepare the way for an exhibition of that part of the two systems, which relates to the pro. vidence of God in the formation of moral character.

+ See note A. at the end of this chapter.

CHAPTER VI.

OF MORAL LAW, OBLIGATION, ACTION, AND CHARACTER.

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HOPKINS,

AND

OTHERS. 1. The moral law is the rule 1. “Every thing has a nature of right and wrong, which is which is peculiar to itself, and founded on the reason and na- which is essential to its very ture of things. Syst. Vol. 1. p. existence. Light has a nature, 290, and Vol. 2. p. 68. “This by which it is distinguished law did not, strictly speaking, from darkness. Sweet has a make it their duty to exercise nature by which it is distinand express this love ; but re- guished from bitter: Animals quired and commanded it, be have a nature by which they cause it was their duty.Syst. are distinguished from men. Vol. 1. p. 251. “ This, neces- Men have a nature by which sarily supposes a rule of right, they are distinguished from or that there was a right and angels. Angels have a nature wrong in moral character and by which they are distinguishe conduct: and that God did and ed from God. And God has a could not but require or com- nature by which he is distinmand that which is morally guished from all other beings. right, and forbid the contrary.” Now such different natures lay Syst. Vol. 1. p. 260. This law a foundation for different oblirequired nothing but right ex- gations; and different obligaercises, or love to God and our tions lay a foundation for virtue neighbour. Syst. Vol. 1. th. 289. and vice in all their different

degrees. As virtue and vice; therefore, take their origin from the nature of things; so the difference between moral good and moral evil is as immutable as the nature of things, from which it results. It is as impossible in the nature of things, that the essential distinction between virtue and vice should cease, as that the essential dis.. tinction between light and dark.

AND

CALVIN,

OTHERS. after every man's liking." Inst. fulfilling, and threatening death B. d. ch. 4. sec. 3.

upon the breach of it.”
Larger West. Cat. Q. 93.

« God gave to Adam a ļaw, « Forasmuch as thou art his as a covenant of works, by which creature, therefore thou art of he bound him, and all his posteright subject to his authority.” rity to personal, entire, exact

Inst. B. 1. ch. 2. sec. 2. and perpetual obedience ; proThey who regulate their con- mised life upon the fulfilling, duct by any thing but the re- and threatened death

upon

the vealed law of God, worship an breach of it; and endued him unknown God, and are by with power and ability to keep Christ's mouth, John iv. 22.

it.” Con. P. C. U. S. p. 90. pronounced guilty.

Con, C. Scot. ch. 19. sec. 1. and B. 1. ch. 5. sec. 12. Say. Plat. p. 62. with this ad

dition, “God gave to Adam a

law of universal obedience « Now whereas the Lord written in his heart, and a par. giving a rule of perfect righte- ticular preceptof not eating the ousness, bath applied all the fruit of the tree of knowledge parts thereof to his own will, of good and evil, as a covetherein is declared that nothing nant," &c. &c. is to him more acceptable than God gave man the moral law, obedience, which is so much and made him capable of permore diligently to be observed forming it. as the wantonness of man's

Heidelbergh Cat. Q. 9. mind is more ready to devise God expressed his will by now and then divers sorts of the moral law; and man before worshipping to gain his favour the fall was able to keep it. withal.”

Latter Con. Helvetia." ch. 9 B. i. ch. 8. sec. 5. and 12.

2. Moral obligation results The law requires conformity from a right to command. Con. in thought and action as well as C. Scot. ch. 2. sec. 2. Con. Pa affection.

C. U. S. ch. 2, sec. 2. and Say. B. 1. ch. 8. sec. 6. Plat. ch. 2. sec. 2. Larger Cat. 2. “Now when thou hearest Ques. 99. 6 God manifests his judgment universally named in sovereignty, as being Jehovah, the difference of good and evil, the eternal, immutable and al

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HOPKINS,

AND

OTHERS. With this moral law, man, ness, bitter and sweet should being made a moral agent, ca- cease. These distinctions de pable of discerning the right not depend upon the bare will and wrong in the nature of of the Deity; for so long as he things, was not made acquaint- continues the nature of things, ed by revelation ; nor was he no law or command of his can formally put under it, because change light into darkness, bitthat was entirely needless. * ter into sweet, nor virtue into

Syst, Vol. 1. p. 261. vice." Emmone, p. 62 and 63.

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2. Moral obligation, there.

2. “ As moral agents we are fore, results from the right and capable of knowing the relation wrong in the nature of things, in which we stand to our Creafrom natural powers to discern tor and moral governor, and this moral fitness, and from the how he ought to treat us." possession of natural faculties “ But the truth is, we are as to love it. Syst. Part 1. ch. 4, capable of knowing, when God's 7 and 8. passim.

treatment of us is just and right, as when a creature's is

Mass. Miss. Magazine, Vol. 3. p. 347. God has given

so.”

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* Calvin admits that God has planted so much knowledge in the minds of men that they are inexcusable. They have, he says, « a certain conscience of good and evil,” or so much of the law written on their hearts, that their conscience either accuses or excuses them before God." There. fore the end of the law natural is, that man may be made inexcusable. And it shall be defined not improperly thus ; viz. That it is a knowledge of conscience which sufficiently discerneth between just and unjust, to take away from men the pretence of ignorance, while they are proved guilty by their own testimony.” Inst. B. 2. ch. 2. sec. 22. This knowledge, how. ever, he does not consider an uncorrupted relique of the fall, but the gift of God.

AND

OTHERS.

CALVÍN think it not very sound and per- mighty God; having his being fect judgment."

in and of himself, and giving * Inst. B. 2. ch. 2. sec. 24. being to all his words and “ Our understanding is al- works,” and “therefore we are together impotent and blind ex- bound to take him for our God cept it be by grace illuminated alone, and to keep all his comnot once but continually in eve- mandments." Larger Cat. Q. ry divine and heavenly thing 101. 66 Because God is the which we have to learn." : Lord, and our God and Redeem

B. 2. ch. 2. sec. 25. er, therefore we are bound to 3.1“ To extend the power of keep all his commandments.” man to the commandments of

Shorter Cat. Q. 44. the law, hath indeed long ago 3. Complete inability to obey begun to be common, and hath the law, produced by the apossome speciousness; but it pro- tacy, does not release any man ceeded from most rude igno- from moral obligation. Larger rance of the law. For they that Cạt. Q..94, 95, 149. Shorter think it a heinous offence, if it Çat. 39, 40 and 82. Say. Plat. be said that the keeping of the Con. C. Scot. and Con. P. C. U, law is impossible, do rest for- $. ch.7. sec. 3, and ch. 19.8ec. 2, sooth upon this most strong argument, that else the law was given in vain.”

B. 2. ch, 5. sec. 6.

* “Now it is easy to understand what is to be learned by the law, that is, that as God is our Creator, so of right he hath the place of Father and Lord, and that by this reason we owe to him glory, reverence, love and fear.” Inst. B, 2. ch. 7. sec. 2.

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| “Neither may we pretend this excuse that we want power, and like wasted debtors are not able to pay. For it is not convenient that we should measure the glory of God by our own power : for whatsoever we, be, he always remains like to himself, a lover of righteousness, a hater of wickedness. Whatsoever he requireth of us, (because he can require nothing but that which is right) by bond of nature we must of necessity obey: but that we are not able is our own fault.” Inst. B. 2. ch. 7. sep. 2.

How natural imbecility became a crime is exhibited in the chapter on the apostacy.

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