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Surely then it is of most commanding importance, that, if the language of Scripture on this point be precise and express, the truth should be painted in its just colours, all false conclusions should be exposed, all delusive surmises should be prevented. The real state of things, be it remembered, will not be altered by human belief or disbelief. The actual consequences of a wicked life will not be less terrible in event, because doubts are hazarded respecting their certainty or their continuance. Thousands may
be seduced by their hopes and wishes to yield an easy faith to these unfounded conjectures, and may cast off with fearless hardihood all restraints of religion. But the vengeance of an offended God, the misery of an eternal existence, will follow with a certainty not the less dreadful, because a rash and groundless disbelief of such consequences may have furnished the wretched encouragement by which the penalty is incurred.
And is it an aweful idea, sufficient to overwhelm the soul of man, that the unbending justice of the Almighty Governor will, at the great day of retribution, allot to every individual son of earth, according as he has deserved, a portion, whether of good or of evil, never to be changed? The thought, indeed, of the vast interests which are dependent on our present conduct, of the glorious recompense that may be gained, and, still more, of the fearful penalties that may be incurred, ought to awaken in all men the most serious consideration. It ought to generate, in the best of men, a habit of the most guarded watchfulness: it ought most especially to alarm the conscience of the hardened sinner, to rouse him from his insensibility, to conyince him of his danger, and so to work upon his soul as to produce repentance and reformation. But it should in no case give birth to gloomy apprehension and despair. The Almighty Being is indeed inflexibly just, a Master armed with terrors, a Sovereign clothed with the high attributes of stern authority; but He is also a kind, merciful, relenting Parent; One who will receive with open arms the sincerely repentant sinner, who earnestly desires that no soul of man should everlastingly perish; One who, under the Christian dispensation, has effected a gracious atonement for human sins ; has opened wide to all the portals of salvation; has promised the assistance of His Holy Spirit to those who strive with earnestness to obtain admission into His heavenly kingdom. Under these consolatory views, afforded in the Dispensation of Grace from Him who is the God of all mercy, there is to the true Christian, to the faithful minister of his Master's will, no room for despair ; there is every ground of humble
but stedfast hope. The fear of eternal punishment is lost in the cheering anticipation of everduring happiness; of happiness to be enjoyed in the immediate presence of God Himself, such as the heart of man, in his present imperfect state, is wholly unable to conceive.
ON MAN'S ORIGINAL CORRUPTION.
ROMANS v. 12.
By one man sin entered into the world.
That man is a being whose heart inclines to evil; that his fairest virtues are tainted with much corruption; that his fleshly lusts war against the spirit ; that his natural propensities too frequently dispose him, in spite of his knowledge of his best interests, and of his highest duties, to choose the worse, instead of the better part-these are truths which have in all ages of the world been deeply felt, and universally acknowledged. What, indeed, is the history of our race, in every relation in which that history can be viewed, but 'a fearful and a melancholy representation of the power of sinful passion over every better feeling and inclination ? And what does the personal experience of even the most perfect of human beings prove, but that our most zealous endeavours after holiness are languid and insufficient; that our hearts are easily drawn aside from the path of duty; that our purest affections and dispositions partake largely of infirmity, error, and corruption. Thus is it that, in the words of Scripture, “ there is no man that liveth and sinneth not;" that, if “ we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves ;" that “the o imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth ;" that “ the heart d of man is deceitful above all things;" that all men are “e shapen in wickedness, and conceived in sin."
It has been made a great question in all ages of the world, Whence cometh evil? In what manner are we to account for the existence of that large portion of evil, moral, intellectual, and physical, which taints the nature that we bear, is seen on every side of us, and is felt in every part of our present condition ? To give an answer to this question has been ever found to baffle the utmost endeavours of uninspired reason; and has led, in the Gentile world, to many wild and absurd speculations of self-called philosophy, which have only served to mark, by the strongest and broadest lines, the narrowness of those bounds
d Jerem. xvii. 9.
c Gen. viii. 21. e Ps. li. 5.