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That all men are sinners against God, and obnoxious to his everlasting displeasure, are truths generally admitted. This concession however is not always followed by contrition. For though there be ample ground for dismay, it rarely happens that men are sufficiently alarmed to think themselves in much danger of perdition; and, of course, they are not anxious for safety. Should conscience disturb their quiet, and the fear of punishment prompt them to flee from the wrath they have provoked ; instead of searching the scriptures to find the way of
escape, they frequently attempt
to palliate their guilt; or if not, they perhaps form a wrong estimate of the conduct and character of God, and hastily conclude, That though their sins be great, the mercy of God is much greater ; and that, after compunction for the past, and the promise of amendment, it would detract from the goodness of God to suppose that they should not ultimately meet with accept
That the mercy of God is infinitely great, is a delightful and consolatory truth. But it should ever be remembered that, as the righteous Governor of the world, He cannot, in the exercise of this mercy, act inconsistently with himself—that his glory is as much concerned in maintaining the rights of holiness and of justice, as it is in the display of his goodness and mercy. Were this consideration suffered to have its due weight, it would be seen that the mercy of God could never be manifested but in perfect harmony with all the other perfections of his nature.
There is' hardly any thing more inimical to human happiness than erroneous conceptions of God's moral government of the world. As a creature, man is dependent on him for his being and his blessedness. He is the subject of a law promulgated for the regulation of his conduct. To this law is annexed a penalty, for the violation of which he must, if grace prevent not, inevitably suffer : and if men would reason impartially on this subject as they sometimes do on others of little moment, they would soon discover that transgression has rendered them obnoxious to its curse. The contemplation of this awful fact would at once evince the necessity of the vicarious work of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to forgiveness. In his substitutionary undertakings, all the divine perfections are seen in perfect harmony; and in reference to the salyation of man, we may say with the devout Psalmist, ' Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.'
If it be allowed that the law of God, which is the rule of duty, is founded in righteousness, and that men are sinners; the curse threatened in case of transgression must stand as an insuperable bar to their happiness. Hence the necessity (if they are to be saved) of the incarnation of the Son of God, and of his satisfaction with a view to atonement. This satisfaction is however by some persons boldly denied, and, in perfect consistency with this denial, it is said, That our blessed Lord was not punished : for it is easy to see that, if the doctrine of satisfaction be allowed, punishment must of course follow; for without