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impotence, the other a natural and a physical. They cannot pay the one debt, because they will not; but they cannot pay the other, no not though they would. When man was in innocence his hands were sufficient for him: sufficient to do all that the covenant required, but his back was never able to bear all that it threatened. Created strength cannot bear all the weight of infinite wrath : cannot bear it away. The reason is obvious, the one is finite, the other infinite, and betwixt these there is no proportion: no not so much as between a drop and an ocean.
Such the natural meanness of the creature at its best estate, that it can never satisfy for the indignity offered to the Creator by sin. And therefore let the sinner's capacity for suffering be ever so much enlarged, let the vessel of wrath be ever so much fitted to destruction, and let his punishment be continued myriads and millions of ages, still di. vine justice must be unsatisfied, and cry, Give, give, as when the sinner first fell a victim into its hands.
But such is the misery of those under the covenant of works, that they not only cannot do what they would, if by an impossible supposition they were will. ing, to satisfy for their sins; but they cannot even will what they should. They cannot will to love and obey the Lord who made them. Their carnal mind is enmity against him: it is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be, Rom. viii. 7. therefore they cannot please God, verse 8. In this respect they are without strength, Rom. v. 6. They cannot change their own dispositions. Their heart being enmity, can no more change itself in a moral sense, than a piece of matter can work upon itself, and change its form, and its qualities. As soon may the rough stone hewn out of the quarry, work itself into a smooth and splendid statue, as the corrupt heart sanctify itself. The one cannot oppose the statuary's hand, but the other resists the Holy Spirit of the Lord. Strong and lively is the scripture representation of the sinner's inability for any thing truly good. It calls him a servant, but such a servant who cannot provide for himself by flight, be
Cause he is a captive; a captive who cannot pay the price of his redemption, because he is overwhelmed with debt; a debtor who did not become miserable as by chance, for he is guilty, being all covered with crimes; not only guilty, for sometimes the guilty is in health, and rejoices; but he is seized with a mortal disease; not such a diseased one who can call the physician, but is sunk in a deep sleep; not a sleeper only, who may awake, but dead; not a dead person who cannot offend, but such a dead one who is a rebel and an enemy against God, Tit. iii. 3. Eph. iv. 18. Col. i. 21 t. How humbling every line of the sinner's character! He is a bond servant, a captive, a debtor, guilty, sick, sleeping, dead, an enemy and an open rebel. Therefore,
3dly. Such as die under the covenant of works must perish for ever. Being neither justified, nor sanctified in this world, they must be for ever miserable in that which is to come. They are not sanctified, inasmuch as they are not conformed to the preceptive part of the covenant; nor justified, being subjected to its penalty; and continuing in this state, what but damnation can be the end? The curse, not causeless, will at last come as an armed man, and like a whirlwind it shall hurl the sinner into destruction, He may sleep, but it lingereth not. It shall drive him away in his wickedness, cut off his presumptuous hopes like a spider's web, and cast him into hell. At two different periods it shall lay its iron hands upon him, viz. at death, and judgment.
1st. At death it shall arrest him and tear him in sunder; throwing his carcase into the grave, and his guilty soul into unquenchable fire. Death, as a most unwelcome messenger, shall sieze him in virtue of a broken covenant. It shall put a writ of summons into his hands, charging him to appear before the Judge of all the earth, to answer for all that he has done. The summons must be obeyed. The sinner could snuff at
+ Pictet. Compend, p. 257,
the gospel-offer, and jeer at those who brought it, but with this pale-faced messenger he must go. Rise he must, sccure as he sat in his own apprehension, and bid an everlasting farewell to every thing in which his soul delighted. Through the dismal valley of death, he must go unaccompanied, unless with devils, and the ghosts of his guilt. At the dread tribunal of the Lord he must stand, covered with all his crimson crimes, and receive the sentence due. No shifts no evasions now. The Judge is all eye, and cannot be blinded; all justice and cannot be bribed; all power, and cannot be disobeyed. And, ah! now hell follows as on the heels of death, Rev. vi. 8.
2dly, At the general judgment, the curse of the covenant shall fall as in all its weight upon the sinner. Then he shall be brought forth of the grave, not in virtue of Christ's mediation, as shall the saints; but in consequence of the curse of the broken covenant: brought forth as from a prison, to the dreadful execution of the legal sentence. The body that joined in violating the covenant, shall also be a partner in the awful punishment. How the soul shall shudder at the thought of reunion with its body, knowing that thereby its capacity of pain shall be dreadfully enlarged, that it shall be a fitter subject for the gnawings of the deathless worm, and fitter fuel for the fire that can. not be quenched. But enter the body it must, and therein appear the second time before an angry God. All the sinner's guilt shall then be read aloud, before the whole intelligent crcation, his own conscience be. ing as a thousand witnesses against him. Seeing no. thing but wrath in the Judge's face, indignation in an. gels and saints, scorn in devils, and utter confusion in the wicked, he shall hear the irreversible sentence from the throne, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And now it is said, It is done. The breath of the Lord hindles a fire around them, which shall burn to the lowest hell. The flaming sword avenges the quarrel of his covenant, the fiery law hcaps burning coals on
their head, and casts them into a pit, whence they shall never, never rise.
And now all ye who are under the covenant of works, this shall be the portion of your cup, if ye die in such a state. But who, will some say, is under that covenant? Why, all ye, who never saw your wretchedness by nature, who never fled to Christ for righteousness and strength, who live as ye list, and not as the law directs. It is you, it is you whom the curse shall overtake, and whose foot shall slide in due time. Be wise, therefore. Suffer the word of exhortation, and flee from the wrath to come. Flee from the covenant of works to that of grace. The one is such a weak, and broken vessel, that it cannot bear the weight of one sinner. The other, having the cross of Christ for its bottom, and himself for its pilot, can carry all the seed of Adam, would they go on board of it. It is the only vessel bound for Immanuel's land. In it therefore ye must be, else ye shall never, never see heaven. In this ark of the covenant ye shall ride out every storm; but despising it, ye shall be engulfed as in a sea of wrath. And will ye sinners, will ye still despise? That ye may not, I shall suggest two motives only, and have done.
1st. Consider who it is that warns you to flee unto the new covenant. The whole Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are all engaged here. This is the Father's commandment, that they should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, 1 John iii. 23. He has sent his Son, the highest messenger heaven could give, and he expects that him ye will reverence. Having made the covenant with him, he sent him to reveal it to sinners, and to solicit their acceptance. He is now say. ing, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear
him. Beware of him, obey his voice, and pro. voke him not, for my Name is in him, and my covenant he brings near to you.
The Son, the Mediator, the Messenger of the Co. venant, Mal. iii. 1. is standing as at its door, and saying, to each of you, Come thou, and all thy house into the ark. He came to our world to reveal the new covenant, and to fulfil its condition. Thus he dealt with both parties, God and sinners. With him as a Priest, with them as a Prophet. He staid till he had finished his work. He was employed in beseeching sinners, as long as he could, for he staid till it was expedient that he should go away, John xvi. 7. and therefore he could tarry no longer.
The Holy Ghost is beseeching your acceptance of Christ and his covenant. He saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, Heb. iii. 7. The constitution of the covenant belonged to the Father, the revelation to the Son, and the application of it to the Spirit. In pursuance of this his office, he is now striving with sinners, in mercy conquering some, and in awful judgment leaving others. He is standing and knocking as at your door
, and ah! if once he depart, wo, wo, unto you. Death, and devils, and hell following the pale horse, shall en. ter next. Therefore,
2dly. Consider what will be the unavoidable consequence if ye reject the covenant of grace. There is no escaping, if ye neglect the great salvation, Heb. ii. 3. If ye appeal to Cæsar, to Cæsar ye must go. If ye will remain under the covenant of works, by that covenant ye shall be judged. If ye will not flee to the sanctuary, ye must be haled to the tribunal. If ye despise the healing waters, ye must face consuming fire. Yet a little, and the draw-bridge of the covenant, so to speak, shall be taken up, the olive-branch of peace shall wave no more, but the black flag of ven. geance be hung out, and sinners irreversibly sealed up to destruction. Now is the gospel-day, and it is but a day; the night, the night, the black, the dark, the everlasting night, approaches fast. Mercy, so long a suppliant, will get as from her knees, wipe her tears and retire; and Justice, flaming justice, shall take the field against obstinate sinners. Against these briars and thorns it shall march, and burn them up together.
Ye who now despise shall perish then. The higher