صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


compensation : repentance can be no compensation: it may change a man's dispositions, and prevent his offending for the future ; but can lay no claim to pardon for what is past. If any one, by profligacy and extravagance, con,

a debt, repentance may make him wiser, and hinder him from running into further distresses; but can never pay off his old bonds ; for which he must be ever ac. countable, unless they are discharged by himself, or some other in his stead.' As, therefore, a continuance of happiness was conditionally annexed to perfect and perpetual obedience only; that happiness cannot be enjoyed without entire conformity to the conditions on which it was promised. The scriptures positively assert, that the, whole world is become guilty before God—that, by the deeds of the law, there shall no Alesh be justified in his sight: for, by the law is the knowledge of sin. If, therefore, righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain!'

But to make this matter, if possible, more plain. Let it be considered that man either is,

or is not dependent on God. If dependent, which is the fact, for independence is peculiar to Jehovah, he must be a subject of moral government; for no reasonable creature can exist without being subject to some law expressed or implied; nor can there be a law without a penal sanction. This is absolutely impossible : because the law that requires supreme love to any object as a duty must, as it cannot be framed on principles of compassion to guilt,' necessarily condemn hatred or opposition to it as a crime. If, therefore, it was right, in the first instance, that man should love his Creator, and conform to the precepts given as the standard of obedience, it must be right to inflict the penalty annexed to transgression.

If, then, it be allowed that man is accountable to the Almighty for his conduct; that the rule of duty is founded in righteousness; and that he has violated this rule ; it is, I think, demonstrable that, if salvation by Jesus Christ be rejected, he must suffer the penalty of the law-or, in other words, he must inevitably


perish. This conclusion appears to me indisputable.

to man.

The moral law, which is a transcript of the divine purity, is, we are told by one well acquainted with its perfection and extent, summarily comprehended in love to God and love

It enjoins nothing but what is absolutely good in itself-what is adapted as much for the creature's happiness, as for the glory of the beneficent Creator: nor does it prohibit any thing but what is positively evil-what is naturally ruinous to the soul and body, as well as derogatory to the supreme Governour of heaven and of earth.

Now, in attending to this incomparable law, there is no fear of excess. In the love of God,' says one, “there can be no possibility of exceeding, while there is no limitation in the command: nor are we in danger of loving our neighbour better than ourselves; and let us remember that we do not go beyond, but fall short of our duty, while we love him less.'

The holy and blessed God will not, nay, he cannot absolve a rational creature from obligation to the precepts of the moral law: for this would be a practical declaration, that aversion from himself, and hatred of our neighbour, are no crimes. It is therefore a capital mistake to imagine that the righteous Legislator of the universe may, or may not, punish sin. Punishment is, in this case, not an act of sovereignty, but necessarily results from the supreme perfection of God. Sin is the abominable thing that his soul hateth: it cannot exist but in opposition to the purity of his nature and the rectitude of his government. While, therefore, it is suffered to remain in his dominions, it must be the object of his abhorrence; and, what, as Ruler of the world, he cannot but punish either in the person of the sinner, or in his substitute. Were a consideration of this awful fact suffered to impress, the mind as it ought, we should see our situation to be dreadfully calamitous--that in ourselves we are utterly undone. The necessity of a Saviour would be at once apparent : and instead of attempting to extenuate the guilt of

sin, or of cavilling against the infliction of punish- ment for it, we should adore the wisdom and the grace that devised and promulgated the means by which it is forgiven.

It must be obvious to him who shall duly consider the perfection of the divine nature, and the rectitude of the divine government, that the law under which our first parents were, both as a covenant and as a rule of duty, must be perfectly fulfilled, previous to the bestowment of heavenly blessedness on their apostate descendants : for without such fulfilment, this blessedness never could, consistently with the rights of holiness and of justice, be enjoyed. The law could never remit its claim to universal obedience, nor, as such, suffer the offender to escape with impunity.

It is, however, proper to remark, that mere obedience, were it absolutely perfect, could not, circumstanced as we now are, be viewed as an adequate reparation for the insult and injury done to the divine government. The penalty connected with disobedience must also

« السابقةمتابعة »