« AnteriorContinuar »
deposited with them, renders it as imprudent as it is sinful in the adventurers; for every individual stakes three to two on an even chance, if a covetous appeal to providence may be called chance. Even Tontines seem not wholly excusable, as they constitute a kind of complicated wager about longevity, to be decided by providence in favour of the survivors; and must therefore be equally culpable with other games of chance. Coveting other men's property contrary to the law of love, and enriching the survivors, commonly at the expense of the relatives of the deceased, are intimately connected with them: whilst they prove a strong temptation secretly to wish the death of others, for the sake of advantages, which are inordinately desired and irregularly pursued.-In fine, discontent, distrust, love of wealth, pleasure, and grandeur, desire of change, the habit of wishing, and every inordinate affection, are the evils here prohibited; and we know them to be the sources of all other crimes, and of man's misery. And the command requires moderation in respect of all worldly things, submission to God, acquiescence in his will, love to his commands, and a reliance on him for the daily supply of all our wants as he sees good.
We cannot close this brief explication of the divine law, in which we find nothing redundant, nothing defective, nothing injurious, but all things holy, and just, and good,) more properly, than by the words of our church-service : 'Lord have mercy upon us, (forgive all our past transgressions,) and 'write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech othee.'
| Prov. xvi. 33.
ON MAN'S SITUATION, AS A SINNER, IN
The apostle has defined sin to be “ the transgres“ sion of the law," and whatever, in any respect or degree, deviates from that perfect rule is sin, and exposes a man to condemnation.
“ By the law “ therefore is the knowledge of sin :"? the better we understand the “ holy, just, and good” commandments of God, the more enlarged will be our acquaintance with the vast variety of sins which are continually committed ; as well as with the evil and desert of every transgression: and a comprehensive knowledge of our whole duty is essential to a just estimate of our own character, or of our situation in respect to eternal judgment.
But we should not attend only to the requirements and prohibitions of the divine law; its sanctions also demand our most serious consideration. Indeed, strictly speaking, the law, as distinguished from the gospel, is merely a rule and a sanction : a rule formed by infinite wisdom, holiness, and goodness, and enforced by supreme authority ; a sanction to be awarded by immutable justice and almighty power, according to the declarations of eternal truth. Repentance and amendment are right, and accord to the spirit of the commandment; but they make no compensation for transgression, and are not noticed by the law; and the mercy exercised by the lawgiver has reference to the provisions of another covenant. Perfect obedience is the uniform demand of the precept; condemnation inevitably follows transgression. “Whosoever “ shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one “ point, he is guilty of all;"! even as a man is condemned for violating one of the many statutes of the realm in a single instance, though no other offence be charged upon him. The apostle therefore declares, that“ as many as are of the works of “ the law are under the curse ; for it is written, “ Cursed is every one, that continueth not” (during his whole life,)“ in all things which are written in “the book of the law, to do them :"2 and the moral law must at least be included in this general language. They alone, who have at all times perfectly kept the whole law, can have any claim to the reward which it proposes : for “ the man that “ doeth” the commandments “ shall live in them,” but “ the soul that sinneth shall die.” “And, as “ all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (of rendering to him the glory due to his name ;) so, in this respect, “ there is no diffe
!1 John, iii. 4.
2 Rom. iii. 20.
Every mouth shall be stopped, and all the “ world become guilty before God:"3 though an immense difference would be found between some men and others, in respect of the nature, number, and aggravations, of their offences. All attempts, therefore, in a sinner to justify himself must result from ignorance of God, of the divine law, and of his own character; or from a disposition to im
2 Gal. iii. 10. Deut. xxvii. 15–26.
James, ii. 8-11. 3 Rom. iii. 9_23.
peach the strictness of the law, and the justice of the lawgiver.
Our Lord himself explains the import of “ the “ curse of the law,” (from which he redeemed his people, “being made a curse for them,”) when he forewarns us, that he will say to the wicked at the day of judgment, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and “ his angels :-—and these shall go away into ever
lasting punishment.” In reflecting on this awful subject, we should recollect that man is con-. stituted of body and soul ; and that the soul purposes the act of disobedience, while the body executes its purpose : so that it is highly reasonable to conclude, that both soul and body will be involved in this awful condemnation. When, therefore, the apostle would remind his brethren of their obligations to the Lord Jesus, he says, “Who delivereth
us from the wrath to come :"2 whence it is evident, that he considered himself, and all the Christians in the world, as having been exposed, not only to present effects of the divine displeasure, (from which Jesus does not deliver his people,) but also to future condemnation. The original transgression, when “by one man sin entered into the “world, and death by sin," was indeed a violation of a positive injunction ; but love to God, to himself, and to his posterity, absolutely required Adam to obey it; so that by disobedience he fell under the curse of the law, which doubtless existed and was in full force from the creation, in respect of its essential requirements. And the’event sufficiently
Matt, xxv. 41-46.
? 1 Thess. i. 10.
proves, that all Adam's posterity were interested in that transaction, and fell with him : for it is an undeniable fact, that men are universally prone to break the law of God, and universally liable to pain, suffering, and death. All who truly believe the Bible will rest satisfied with the scriptural account of this mysterious subject : others will never be able to explain the state of the world on any principles that are more rational: and the proper answer to those who object to an evident fact, as inconsistent with divine justice, wisdom, and goodness, has been already given by the apostle, “Nay “ but, О man, who art thou, that repliest against “God ?"
But our situation, as sinners, in the present world, will not here be considered so much as the effect of Adam's sin, as of our personal transgressions : for, whatever we might argue concerning those who have not sinned after the similitude
of Adam's transgression,” by willingly and knowingly preferring their own inclinations to God's express commandments; such as are capable of reading this Essay will hardly pretend that they have never once sinned in this manner. It is evident then, that “it is appointed to all men once “ to die;" the sentence, “Dust ye are, and to dust
ye shall return,” overtakes every one: no vigour, or power, or wisdom; no learning, or wealth, or efforts, or virtue, can rescue any man from this common lot of our fallen race. Only two exceptions have hitherto been made to the general rule : no more are to be expected: and few have ever been so absurd as to think of eluding, or overcoming, the universal conqueror. But, “after death is the