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for the lowest degree of sin or guilt, where the law of God is suffered to take its proper course in executing the penalty ; for the mere loss of life is a less punishment than the continuance of it in any degree of misery.
IV. “ There is scarce any actual, that is, willal sin, but carries with it some particular aggravations, and these deserve such further positive punishments as the wisdom and justice of God shall see reason to iuflict. Hence arises the penal continuance in life with the loss of all the comforts of it, that is the pains and sorrows of the future statet. God is the righteous Governor of the world, his justice weighs in the nicest balances every command of his own law, and every grain of the sinners' offences, with all their circumstances of guilt and aggravation; and strict justice distributes sorrows in proportion to sins : This appears in the punishment of Babylon; Rev. xvii. 6. God hath remembered the iniquities of Babylon, and rewarded her as she rewarded his saints : Double vengeance unto her, according to her double malice and persecution: How much she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously, so much torment and sortow give her. And this proportion of sorrow to sin will terribly appear in the last judgment and the final punishment of sinners in the world to come*. It is time now to conclude this discourse with some few reflections.
Reflection I.-Is the law of God in perpetual force, and is every transgression of it so heinous an evil? Then let “us take a survey how wretched and deplorable is the state of mankind by nature. We have all broken the law of our God, which we have been all bound to obey; we are still bound to obey it and are still breakers of it. Our daily thoughts, our words and our deeds sufficiently shew us that we are transgressors, and there is in our nature a perpetual propensity to trangress. Where is the mortal that has lived according to the purity and perfection of this law? There is none righteous; no, not one; Rom. ii. 10, 12. Where is the son, or daughter of Adam, that is not pronounced guilty and condemned by it? Every mouth is stopped, and all the world is guilty before God. What a miserable region is this earth, overspread with sinful inhabitants, criminal creatures, who are all transgressors against the law of the God that made them, and by the sentence of that law stand condemned to death, considered in their natural state?
+ This is usually called eternal death, or the panishment of hell.
* Now from the desert of sin and the punishment due to it being set in this light, I would humbly enquire, whether we may not better learo the meaniog of the apostle ; Rom. v. 12-14, when he says, Death entered into the world by sin , and passes upon all men, for thal all have sinned; that is, sin is imputed to all, and death reigos over them, even over those that have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, which is generally interpreted conceroing infants, who have committed no actual personal sin as Adam did : Yet here is a forfeiture of life and its blessings derived to the children of Adam, and they come under a sentence of death by original imputed sin, which we may suppose to be the lowest kind of guilt. But in Rom. ii. 8. 9. Indignation and wrath, tris Bulation und anguish ere denounced ugainst every soul of man that doth evil, that is, that doth commit wilful actual sin, because there are special aggravations, some of a greater and some of a lesser kind, that belong to all actual iniquities.
Whether therefore sin has any particular aggravation attending it or no, there is an everlasting forfeiture of life incurred by it, and an eternal loss of the blessings of 'it; and whatsoever further aggravations the sin carries in il, so much further pain or anguish does it deserve in body, or in mind, or in both ; that is, it requires so much further coptinuance in life and being, as to sustain that degree of anguish and sorrow which is due to the sidner; and therefore the life of a wicked soul is continued in sorrows, in the other world after the death of thé. body as a punishment for sin ; and therefore also at the last day shall be raised again, that all wilful aud impenitent sinners may sustain puoishments accordiog to the various dispensations of God under which they bave lived; and the several aggravations of their sins; and all these things shall be perfecily adjasted in the wisdom and righteousness of God, who is the Judge of the whole earth, and a ways does what is right; Gen. xviii. 25.
II. Is the moral law of such constant obligation, and is death the due recompence of every transgression of it; “ Then it is necessary for ministers to preach this law, and it is necessary for hearers to learn it.” We should all know our duty and our danger. Not the best of christians are arrived at a dispensation above the knowledge and the practice of this law. There is no honour done to the gospel by explaining it in such a manner as to release us from the duties of the moral law; for it is one great design of the gospel to restore us again to a chearful and regular obedience to it. To release christians from the precepts of the law is to make Christ the minister of sin, and to turn the grace of our God into wantonness, which the apostles Paul and Jude speak of with detestation and abhorrence ; Gal. ii. 17. Jude verse 4. To pretend that obedience to the moral law is necdless for christians who believe the gospel, is to deny and destroy, as much as in us lies, the great end for which Christ and the gospel cane into the world ; which is to redeem us from all iniquity--that we might be zealous of good works; Tit. ii. 14. To deliver us from the curse of the law, and the condemnation of it, that we miglit love the precepts of the law, and practise them with delight and newness of heart.
It is not therefore our preaching of the law to promote the gospel, that deserves the reproach of a legal sermon; but to preach the law instead of the gospel, or to preach the gospel as à law of works. Christ and St. Paul well understood the gospel, and yet they both preached the law in the commands and terrors of it. We must learn the law if we would be acquainted with our own guilt and danger, or if we would know our duty and practise religion and virtue. By the law is the knowledge of sin, and by the law our feet are guided into the paths of righteousness. It is in the glass of the law of God that we see the sinfulness of our hearts and lives : It discovers every blot in our souls; and every blemish in our conversation : It lays us under guilt, it makes us know our misery, it humbles us to the dust before God, and is made use of by the blessed Spirit to drive us out of ourselves, and all our own pretences to righteousness, that we may seek the appointed salvation of Jesus, and fly to our better liope.
III. " What a holy regard and jealousy has God shewn for the honour of his everlasting law, and what a sacred indignation has he manifested against sin, when he sent his own Son to obey this law, and to suffer for our disobedience to it?” Not the Son of God himself when he came into flesh and blood was exempted from the duties of this law, and he magnified it and made it honourable by his practice of it in perfection : And when so glorious and divine a person condescended to become a sacrifice for our transgressions against this law, he gave the highest instance of his own veneration for it as well as of the just resentment of God his Father against every sin. The great and glorious God, the Governor of the world, thought it more necessary and becoming his Majesty that the Son of his love should be put to a painfal and shameful death to make a propitiation for our sins against this law, than that any one transgression should be pardoned without an atonement. These awful sentiments should be an everlasting caution to us against entertaining slight thoughts of the evil of sin. It is no trifling matter to indulge the least sin, when it awakens the resentment and wrath of the eternal God. Fools are they indeed that make a mock of sin ; Prov. xiv. 9. when the Son of God must die, before it could be pardoned.
IV. “ How glorious is the wisdom and the mercy of tbe gospel, which does honour to the law in every respect, which prepares a honourable atonement and pardon for guilty rebels who have broken this everlasting law, and provides grace and power to renew our nature according to the demands of it.” It not only pardons returning transgressors, but it promises to write this law in the hearts of men, that it may be better observed and obeyed. A double and complete salvation. Read the language of the gospel and rejoice in it; Heb. viii. 10. This is the covenant, saith the Lord, that I will make with men; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no
And it is repeated in Heb. x. 16, 17. The law of God requires universal and everlasting obedience, and it is an unspeakable blessing to have this obedience made natural and easy by sanctifying grace.
V. “ Happy is the world above, where such natural and
such easy obedience is for ever paid to this law of God without the least transgression.” The moral law carries all its demands up to that blessed country, and whatsoever other laws are in force there, it is this eternal law that gives authority to them all, and every inhabitant answers all the demands of it by a free and chearsul obedience. Happy world indeed, where so pure and so perfect a law of the Creator cannot charge one creature with transgression and guilt! A world without sorrow and without sin! A strange unknown blessedness to creatures such as we, who were born and brought up in this dark region of sins and sorrows! It is the office of the law here on earth to give us the knowledge of sin; but there it shall lose this office, it shall convince us of sin no more; for it shall dwell in us, to discover the beauty of holiness, and to make us for ever holy, O when will that day come, that we shall be sanctified in this complete degree? When shall that blessed state commence, and the law be wrought into our nature with such power, and be practised with such perfection, that it will be able to bring no charge of sin against us either in thought, word or deed for ever? While we groan here, being burdened under the remains of corruption, while the law of God which works in our consciences gives us many a severe reproof and heart-ache, let us look forward with hope and desire toward that state, where our hearts shall be moulded into the very form of this law by the eflicacy of divine grace, where sin shall be banished from all the powers of our souls, and pains, and sorrows, and death, and all the bitter fruits of sin, shall be done away, and shall be found no more. for ever. Amen.
The Lord's-day, or Christian Sabbath.
Gen. ii: 3.–And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that
in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made. In the history of the creation of the world and the beginning of mankind, Moses gives us an account of the appointment of a sabbath, or one day in seven that should be sanctified or separated from the common affairs of this life, devoted to the purposes of religion, and receive a peculiar blessing from God. I think it cannot reasonably be supposed, as some writers have done, that the sacred historian would take such special notice in this place of a certain day, which was not appointed at that time, but which should be appointed and sanctified and blessed among the Jews two thousand four hundred years afterwards. It is probable that the most ancient patriarchs did, according to this early appointment observe it as a day of rest from labour and of the worship of God, their Creator. And it is very evident that if it were lost among the nations, it was renewed again by Moses to the people of Israel, with many particular sanctions : and there is still one day in seven continues in the New Testament to be a day of christian worship, observed by the apostles and first disciples. So that upon the whole survey of the dispensations of God to men, as they are recorded in the bible, “ it seems highly probable, that there is some sabbath or one day in seven divinely appointed both for the rest of man and the worship of God, which has run through all dispensations both before and after Moses, and which must remain to the end of the world."
It is impossible, in the compass of one short sermon, to run through all the reasonings* that are necessary to confirm this doctrine; yet that I may give some short hints toward the proof of a sabbath running through all ages, I desire you will consider the following particulars :
1. “ What was the time when the first appointment of a sabbath was given to men, and who were the persons to whom
* For these reasonings see “ The Holiness of Times, Places and Persons under the Jewish and Christian Dispensation Considered and compared."