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the most unbending integrity. It bids us lay tion or inducement to violate. But it is at our aside all malice, and guile, and hypocrisies, and peril that we bring down the high standard of envies, and evil speakings, and all lying, holding obligation from the strict requirements of the our neighbour's reputation as dear to us as our commandment which is spiritual and exceeding Finally, it requires of us that our conver- broad-the claims of which are founded on divine, sation be without covetousness, and that we be unchangeable righteousness, and which is stable content with such things as we have. And in as the pillars of Jehovah's throne, immutable and all these things it requires us to continue always, eternal as Jehovah's existence. Sooner shall heawith constant, unremittting, persevering diligence. ven and earth pass away, than one jot or one tittle It demands of us, that this perfect obedience be pass from his holy law; sooner shall the Deity cease perpetual, reaching from the beginning of life to to be than cease to demand a perfect obedience its close, the same in youth, in manhood, and in to that perfect law, by which satan is as much old age-the same under all circumstances of bound in moral duty to-day, as at his first createmptation, difficulty, and danger-the same in tion-however disinclined he may be to attend

our days of sickness and poverty, as in our days of health and wealth; and in addition to all this, it utters, with stern rigour, the announcement, He that once offendeth in one point is guilty of all;' because by that one act of offence he shows that he is destitute of that love to God, 'with all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind,' which is the fulfilling of the law.'

Now be it carefully noted, that this statement of the extent of the law's demand, cannot be at all affected by the question of the creature's inclination or disinclination, or his consequent ability or disability to fulfil what it requires. The provisions of the law are one thing-the character of those who may be under it is another; and be that character what it may, it cannot, in the least, impair the law's integrity, detract from its authority, nor relax its obligations. If their character be good, the law requires nothing more than obedience—if bad, it will be satisfied with nothing less. In matters of human legislation, shall we propose to ascertain what is legal or illegal by consulting, not the statute-book of the realm, but the diversified opinions and feelings, inclinations and conduct, of those for whose government the law is designed? The laws of man, indeed, are constantly undergoing change, and frequently prove inoperative in consequence of human imperfection; but as the Deity is perfect, we cannot suppose Him to promulgate an imperfect law, nor to be satisfied with imperfect or temporary obedi


Nor is there any part of his word, which gives the least countenance to the idea, that since the fall, or by reason of the death of Christ, the law is relaxed in its requirements, so as to be accommodated to the weakness of man. Had such an intimation been given, it is evident, that every man would have interpreted the latitude to which he might indulge in sin, according to his peculiar and besetting propensities; and the only thing which would have remained as law, would have simply been what nobody felt any strong disposi

to any one of its injunctions.

Such being the law's demand, let us now look at the penalty it threatens in the event of disobedience. It is a curse, even the curse which stands written at the end of the same book; Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them; and all the people shall say, Amen.' The curse is opposed to the blessing; and as a blessing implies the enjoyment of good, so a curse implies, not only the privation of good, but the endurance of evil. When He who is the Source and Bestower of all happiness blesses a man, that man cannot fail to be happy; and when He curses a man, even by simply withholding his blessing, that man cannot fail to be miserable. For the malediction of God is not a mere imprecation of evil, which, in the mouth of a creature, might be only a vain and impotent wish. As his curse is never causeless, so it is never fruitless. It always carries its effects along with it, and ensures every misery which it denounces or foretells.

Among the Hebrews, however, this word curse would call up certain more definite ideas of punishment, which took their rise in the irrevocable nature of votive offerings. When a gift was presented to the Lord by any worshipper, not only was the thing offered separated from a common to a sacred use, but it was pronounced to be irredeemable, and thus became as really lost to the offerer as if it had been actually destroyed. Hence arose the two ideas of separation and destruction, as connected with the word devoted or accursed; and both are included in the curse of the broken law. There is the curse of separation—the being excommunicated from God's holy and happy creation-the being expelled, like the first murderer, from the presence, and deprived of the friendship of God himself. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God.' And is there no curse in that?—to have him, who was our kindest Father, for our greatest foe-to be de

prived of a parent's blessing, driven from his | by having been himself made a curse upon the door, and left to wander as disinherited outcasts tree. far from our native home to hear the dread words, 'Depart, ye cursed!' and to see a great and impassable gulf fixed, cutting us off for ever from the society and the bliss of heaven-in a word, to be banished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.'

The allusion here is obviously to the kind of death which Jesus died, when he hung a selfdevoted victim upon the cross. Nothing had, at one time, been more unlikely, than that the people would allow him to be put to death at all; nor could it well have been anticipated, that, in the event of his being cut off by an oppressive judgment, he would suffer a punishment which was scarcely known among the Jews, but was peculiar

For there is the curse of destruction as well as of separation. A thing devoted was irrecoverably lost; and to prevent even the possibility of redemp-to the Romans, and was by them inflicted only tion, if it was a living thing, it was surely to be on robbers, rebels, and such like notorious put to death.' It is even so here. The man who criminals. It was a death held by the Jews in forfeits the favour of the God of happiness, is the greatest possible execration, being reckoned devoted to certain destruction. They who are not merely ignominious, but for a special reason far from God shall perish.' Not, however, that accursed. That reason is to be found in a proviwe are to understand by this the annihilation of sion of their criminal code, which, while it inflicted the sinner's being. No; but the annihilation of no punishments that would stamp perpetual dishis happiness, the destruction of that which alone grace upon the living, yet allowed in certain cases deserves the name of life, that which alone is a brand of infamy to be affixed to the bodies of worth the living for, namely, peace and enjoy- those who had been punished with death. One ment. Hence it is called the 'being lost,' the of these was the suspension of the corpse upon a dying the second death.' The exact quality of gallows or tree; and the person thus suspended the punishment we may be unable fully to under- was called the curse of God,' or the accursed of stand; its undefined nature invests it with un- God, being deemed an abomination in his sight. known horrors; but the plainest testimonies of In this the vilest class of infamous punishments God's word leave us no room to doubt, that it the Jews reckoned death by crucifixion, inasmuch will consist in inconceivable anguish both of soul as, after the body was dead, it 'hung upon a and body. And it will be coeval with the hap-tree.' piness of the righteous, for the self-same word is employed to describe the duration of both; that word is everlasting.

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How may we escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin? Can we deliver our own souls by any works of our own performing? No! we can hope for no redemption from the curse by our own doings, because we cannot obey perfectly and perpetually in the future, any more than we have done in the past; and even though we could, still our future obedience could no more atone for past sin, than the ceasing to increase a debt will cancel a debt already contracted. Nor can we hope for redemption from the curse by our sufferings, alty of one transgression is eternal death. any more than our doings, seeing that the pencould the most exalted seraph, the highest archangel, have redeemed us from the curse, for if he could have done so, God needed not to have sent his Son. None but Christ was sufficient for this great work, but he has proved all-sufficient. He assumed our nature, occupied our place, met all the claims of law, satisfied all the demands of justice. Did the law insist on complete obedience? He has yielded it, by working out and bringing in an everlasting righteousness. Did justice threaten us with the law's penalty, the curse? 'Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.'

Here is an assertion no less clear than authori- | expiation for sin; so that while in the one we tative, of the grand doctrine of substitution, im- see the curse of separation into an uninhabited putation, redemption by suffering and sacrifice. desert, in the other we see the curse of being deThat we might live Christ died; that we might voted to destruction. Now, in both these respects, be happy he became miserable; that we might Christ was made a curse for his people. 'He inherit the blessing, he submitted to the curse. his own self bare our sins in his own body on He was our Redeemer by becoming our Surety- the tree.' 'God made him to be sin for us who acting, enduring, dying for us, and that not merely knew no sin, that we might be made the righte in a general way as our Benefactor, but in our ousness of God in him.' 'As the bodies of those room and stead. beasts, whose blood was brought into the sanctuary by the high-priest for sin, were burnt without the camp, so Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.' As the scape-goat was sent forth into the wilderness, far from the commonwealth of Israel, so Christ, our substitute, was expelled from Jerusalem, the type of the congregation of the living, and was led forth to Golgotha, 'the place of a skull;' to Calvary, a hill of infamy, a desert of death. He was treated as one lying under the heaviest excommunication-as one who was accursed to the death-as not only unfit to live, but as unworthy to die within the precincts of the holy city, unworthy even to look with his closing eyes toward's God's holy temple.


'He that is hanged is the curse of God.' We found that the curse to which we are exposed as transgressors, includes separation from God, and destruction from his presence. To both these horrible evils was the innocent Lamb of God subjected on behalf of sinners. He was emphatically called the Nazarene, the isolated one,' the Joseph separated from his brethren. He left the seat of glory, his Father's house, his eternal home, and dragging himself away from its holy joys and high communions, became an exiled outcast in this world of misery. How often was he a solitary wanderer, spending whole nights alone upon the mountains, far from the busy haunts of men, who 'hid, as it were, their faces from him!' How few companions had he here below! and at the last, even they all forsook him and fled. And when the closing scene of his agony and death arrived, he looked for comforters, and there was none.' Not only was he driven forth from the holy city, and excommunicated from the congregation of Israel, but as he hung upon the accursed tree, severed at once from earth and heaven, he was excluded from the gracious presence and blissful fellowship of his Father, God; and while the surrounding dark-famy and death, in order that you might escape ness was a fit emblem of the state of his own soul, deprived of heaven's light, bereaved of heaven's comfort, he exclaimed, out of the depth of his forlorn desolation: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'

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Learn from this, Christian soul, that if the Christ was made a separated, devoted curse, it was for you; that voluntarily, and from the love he bore to you, he consented to be cut off from the communion of the blessed. He left Jerusalem, the city of peace, in order that you might enter in, and find there safety and establishment for ever. He went forth to Golgotha, the place of public execution, the spot where was raised the accursed tree, the dismal abode of in

eternal death and endless infamy, and be raised to life and honour everlasting. Yes! and it is even there, when surrounded with all death's hideous memorials, and when enduring death's severest pangs and most degrading ignominy, that he redeems his church from death's sting, which is sin, and from the curse of the strength of sin,' which is the law. Even then and there, with the cold dews of death upon his brow, he raises the standard of the once accursed but now honoured cross; for the very shame of the punishment serves but to evince the love and exalt the glory of Him who submitted to it—enduring the cross, despising the shame.

His, too, was the curse of destruction,' inasmuch as he was devoted to death, as well as to suffering. The Messiah was cut off, but not for himself;' he was cut off, not out of the congregation only, but 'out of the land of the living;' for the transgression of the people was he stricken. This grand truth had been typically represented under the ceremonial law, by what was done on the day of atonement. The high-priest took two goats; over one of them, called the scape-goat, he confessed all the sins of the people, putting them upon the head of the goat,' and sent him away into the wilderness; and the goat bore upon him all their iniquities into a land not in- love not the Lord Jesus, he shall be Anathema habited. The other goat was sacrificed to make | Maran-atha'—accursed at his coming!'

The enjoyment of this redemption, however, is not co-extensive with exposure to the curse. He only that believeth shall be saved. • Dost thou believe on the Son of God?' If any man


The wages of sin is death,' Rom. vi. 23. THE labourer is worthy of his hire, and the soldier of his wages; but the hire of iniquity is punishment, the wages of sin is death. When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.' 'What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed! for the end of these things is death?'

There is the death of the body. No sooner did our first parents commit sin, than they received in themselves the sentence of death, and that sentence has also been executed upon all their sinful offspring, with only two exceptions. The law of mortality is universal and unavoidable, because all have sinned.'

How frequently has a holy God inflicted instant death on the presumptuous transgressor in a way of judgment! Remember Lot's wife, and Korah and his company, and the sons of Aaron and Eli, and Ananias and Sapphira, and many others, whose awful fate is recorded in the book of God, and acknowledge, as you read, that verily there is a reward for the wicked as well as the righteous, that verily there is a God who judgeth on the earth! The same truth has been exemplified in the history of communities as well as of individuals. Look at the world before the flood, at the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, at the Egyptians who perished in the sea, and the Israelites who perished in the wilderness. They all toiled laboriously in the service of sin, and they reaped its stipulated wages.

And if we could trace the avenging progress of the angel of death now, we should find the destruction of many a sinner effected in the selfsame manner. Liar! swearer! Sabbath-breaker! glutton! drunkard!-what security have you that the next time you utter words of falsehood, or take God's name in vain, or profane his sacred day, or abuse his good creatures to the fulfilment of your base lusts—you shall not receive, in the very act of sinning, the just recompense of your deeds?

But even when sin is not immediately followed by death as a judgment from God, it often, in various other ways, does work out death as its certain consequence. There is a natural tendency in many vices to hurry on the perpetrator to an early, premature grave. We read in the bible that bloody and deceitful men do not live out half their days. Sometimes their passions impel them to the commission of crimes, which bring them to an untimely end by the hands of public

justice. Dissipation and licentiousness not only waste the substance, but ruin the health, clothe a man with rags, and bring him to a piece of bread. Habits of sensual indulgence visibly undermine the bodily constitution; and in the bloated countenance, the emaciated form, or the trembling gait, you at once read the sin in the punishment. To how many fatal accidents does intemperance expose its votaries? How many bodies are found dead or drowned, that are recognized as the bodies of drunkards, who have administered to themselves the slow but sure poison? Nor are these the only methods in which this life, so short at the best, is by the sinner rendered shorter still. Lazy inactivity and luxurious ease enervate the body as well as the mind, and are as prejudicial to health as to happiness. Envy,' says the wise man, is the rottenness of the bones.' Fretful peevishness, corroding worldly cares, and vexing anxieties, the habitual indulgence of anger, malice, revenge,

all these tend more or less to shorten life; for though the results may seem more remote and are less easily traced, the effect is no less certain. Not one in a thousand is supposed to die a purely natural death; the greater number either directly or indirectly hasten on their dissolution. How many have we known who, there is every reason to believe, would have lived a longer life had they lived a better! They might have enjoyed a good old age, had it not been for their dissolute youth, and their profligate manhood. Some, indeed, of a similar character you may see dragging on their miserable existence for years, but their appearance lamentably testifies that they are filled with the sins of their youth, which shall lie down with them in the grave. In all such cases, therefore, the sinner may justly be regarded as a self-murderer,-acting as if he wished to anticipate his final judgment,-forcing for himself a passage into hell, that in its flames he may be tormented 'before the time.'

For that, after all, is sin's final wages;-not the death of the body only, but the death of the soul, the destruction of both soul and body in hell-fire. That is the ultimate hire of those who toil to life's end in the service of iniquity; as is evident from its being here placed in contrast with the life eternal' given by God through Christ to those who, being made free from sin, become the servants of righteousness.

And what is the second death? We cannot tell. It is one of those tremendous realities, which must be experienced in order to be described; it is one of those facts which our faith admits without being able to explain. We do


merely the restoration of animal life and immortality to the body at the last day. Looking at the word in its fullest and highest acceptation, it must be held to include the spiritual life of the soul here, and the immortal life of soul and body in that glorious state of endless happiness which remains for the people of God; it is 'life eternal.' Death, we saw, is the wages or hire of sin, but it is not said that life is the merited wages, the deserved reward, of righteousness. No! it is a gift, a free gift of the grace of God. True, indeed, it is bestowed only on certain characters, but the formation of that character is itself the work of the Spirit of God, and to him, therefore, belongs all the glory. Now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.' Yet there is no proportion between the obedience of the highest saint, and the boundless, endless bliss of heaven, which could entitle him to any such reward. It is a reward not of debt, but of grace, and the very holiness which qualifies for its enjoyment, yea, and even the faith which humbly receives it, are not of ourselves-they are the gift of God.

not know-God forbid we ever should-the limited view, were we to regard this as implying feelings of the impenitent soul, as it passes out of the body through the gloomy valley of the shadow of death into the broad day-light of eternity, and discovers in the full blaze of that light -that it is lost! This only do we know, that it will be for ever dying without ever becoming extinct, that it will be for ever living in misery and for ever seeking annihilation, but shall not find it; for the punishment will consist not in the extinction of being, but of happiness and of hope. This death is as certainly due to the sinner as are wages to the labourer; it is sin's appointed and appropriate recompense. Were not this the due reward of evil deeds, the God of justice would not have assigned it; and were it not to be actually inflicted, the God of truth would not have threatened it. If we knew fully all the obligations sin has violated, all the excellencies it has insulted, all the dire effects it has produced, and will yet produce, throughout the universe, we should then have some adequate conceptions of its odious malignity and its deep demerit. But there is one who knows these things full well, and in his judgment respecting sin's exceeding sinfulness, namely, that they who do such things are worthy of death' let us humbly acquiesce, believing that it cannot but be according to truth. In the great day of the revelation of his righteous judgments, His awards shall be made known and vindicated before an assembled world; the convinced and condemned sinner will then be speechless; and the Judge of all the earth will be justified when he speaketh, and clear when he judgeth.


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The wages of sin is death.' Nothing our fancy can picture, or our fears apprehend, can exceed the amount of misery which is represented by the being bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth-where their worm never dies, and their fire is never quenched where they have no rest day nor night-and where the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever.' May the God of mercy have mercy upon every reader, that he die not the second death!

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The perfect freeness of this gift is farther apparent from the medium through which it is conveyed, viz., through Jesus Christ our Lord. 'As by man came death, by man also comes life.' 'This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son,' as a treasure sealed up and secured-life hid with Christ in God. And, therefore, as he who has the field has the treasure, as he who has the fountain has the water, as he who has the garden has the fruit, so he that hath the Son hath life.' Yes! it is a sublime and solemn truth, that the eternal Son of God is possessed in the highest and most important sense, not by the worlds that are upheld by his power, not by the heavens that display his glory, not by the angels that worship before his face, but by the lowly heart that bows to his grace, and rejoices in his salvation. To such he is the Resurrection and the Life-the resurrection of the body, and the life of the soul; for transforming the spirit by the energy of his grace, he shall, in due time, change the vile body also, and fashion it like unto his own glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.' Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!

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