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where there is no mixture of good and evil, but where all are either elevated to perfection and happiness, or remain in a state of sin and misery for ever.
But while sin, by a natural and necessary consequence, thus leads to misery, the misery of which it is productive is greatly increased by the judicial inflictions of a penal kind which sin deserves. If the act of disobedience to the will of God, and of estrangement from him, does involve the sinner, independently of any interposing power from without, in sorrow and in suffering, how inconceivably must the sorrow and suffering be augmented when inflicted as the expression of divine displeasure, and as the punishment of sin. “ Who knoweth the power of thine anger! even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.” We know him that hath said, “ Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense saith the Lord.” “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The natural consequences of sin, consisting in the loss of the divine favour, in remorse and horror of conscience, in hardness of heart and blindness of mind, and in the corruption of the whole nature, are also penal consequences, and are alike unavoidable and necessary.That the whole punishment which sin deserves and requires is infinite, and that between sin and its adequate punishment there exists a connexion not arbitrary, but fixed and inseparable, a very little reflection on the character of God, on the nature of sin, and on its tendency and effects in regard to the honours of the Deity, and the interests of the universe, will satisfy us.
SectioN II. - Grounds on which this Connexion is
He against whom all sin is committed is the Fountain of infinite purity and perfection; in contrast with the brightness of whose spotless holiness the heavens are unclean, and the resplendent glories of cherubims and seraphims are obscured and darkened. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. Dwelling in the light of his uncreated and eternal purity, all moral defilement must be infinitely abhorrent in his sight. In his nature, therefore, there must be an unalterable opposition to sin ; indignation in the exercise of his hatred against it; and possessing the power of making his displeasure felt and known, all his attributes of justice, and truth, and holiness, the honour of his greatness and majesty as God, the sanctions of his law, and his authority as the supreme moral Governor and Lawgiver of the universe, require that he should award to the sinner the desert which is meet. Exalted as Head over all, and as the common Parent of all that lives, he cannot suffer that to go unpunished which is subversive of the interests of all his dominions, and which, by diffusion, might ultimately destroy the happiness of every creature. That this is the direct tendency of all sin is evident from its nature and its bearings in reference to God and to all dependent beings. In regard to ourselves, it deforms the excellency of the nature which was designed for immortality, obliterates the holy image of God, and turns into an instrument of rebel
lion that which was designed to be for glory and honour. In regard to God it is a violation of his righteous law, and a denial or contempt of his authority,—it is an assumption of the independency and right to govern which exclusively belong to Him ;it is a slighting of the power, and wisdom, and good. ness, and truth of the Deity, it is a virtual imputation of falsehood to the threatenings of his displeasure against transgression; and it is the exercise of a deep-rooted hatred to his character, and government, and throne. In regard to the universe, sin is a breach of its order and harmony; an attempt in defiance of omnipotence to subvert its prosperity and happiness, to spread the revolt that has covered a part with guilt and dishonour over the whole; to involve every intelligent being in a course of apostasy and alienation from God, and all the inhabitants of his dominions in ruin and in death. Every single act of transgression implies this much, and infinitely more than our earthly and impaired understandings can comprehend, and must surely be pronounced, even by us, to be “ deserving of God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come.” Its desert is thus the ground which renders the connexion between sin and suffering so fit, invariable, and necessary.
If sin deserves punishment, it is but meet that it should be punished as it deserves. If the spirit of enmity in the sinner against the character and happi. ness of God be culpable to an extent inconceivable to us, is it not proper that He who can estimate the guilt of a rebel against Him who is infinitely holy and great,
the only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, should award the adequate punishment? Does not this accord with the dictates of conscience, whose intimations, though they cannot inform us as to the full desert of sin, leave no doubt that its least desert is the loss of God's favour, and the infliction of suffering ? The sense of exposure to punishment, arising from a consciousness of guilt, is the testimony which conscience bears to the justice of God, and the judgment which, in spite of the sinner, it pronounces against him, is substantially the same with the righteous sentence which the law of God delivers. Thus, every mouth must be stopped, and the whole world declared guilty, and, consequently, liable to punishment before God. As his truth renders it impossible for God to lie, and his holiness that he should look upon iniquity, so the perfection of his nature disposes him to punish sin, and demands and obliges him to treat the offender according to his desert. This is the pure and eternal justice which speaks in the sentence pronounced on the first transgressors, and in every subsequent threatening of the law,--the justice upon which the throne and government of God are founded, which forms a bulwark around the order and the happiness of the universe, which nothing that worthless rebels could offer as an atonement, even were they willing to give it, could satisfy, and which necessarily, therefore, gives to every soul that doeth evil, the punishment which is due. Hence the natural and necessary connexion between sin and suffering.
Section III. - Instances in which this Connerion is
I shall attempt to trace this connexion, as illustrated in the history of man as an individual, and also in his social capacity. Here we have evidence sufficient to convince us, not only that this connexion exists, but that every sin, whether indulged in the heart, or in the life, is followed by a punishment suited to its own peculiar character. While all sins have qualities in common, and have the same principle of rebellion against God as their origin, they differ in the circumstances of their commission, and in their degrees of aggravation : but they do not differ more from each other than their retributive awards are also different. Malice, envy, pride, covetousness, and ambition, though alike in the misery to which they lead, are in some respects different in their nature and respective consequences. It is in this way that the iniquity of the men of the world, and the backslidings of the disciples of Christ, are made to chastise them, and are the means of deepening the practical conviction, that happiness is only to be retained by walking in all God's ordinances and commandments.
In the first place, there is a manifest connexion between the exercise of evil affections and misery. Sin has often the dominion in the heart, while there is nothing flagrant in the life; and the mind may be its undisturbed dwelling-place, when there is no apparent immorality in the conduct. But as it is hateful in every form and in every place to the eyes of a holy God, so is it in every place and in every form the ground of