« PoprzedniaDalej »
the account of murder. (Matt. v. 22. 1 John iii. 15.)
Adultery also you will not confess. Why? because you were never taken, as the woman brought to our blessed Lord," in the very act.' (John viii. 4.) What of that? Say you have been really innocent of the grosser crime, have you never "looked upon a woman to lust after her?" Hath your hand, your tongue, your eye, never betrayed the unhallowed passion? Hath not your heart entertained contrivances to effect your gratification? or indulged desires of doing it, if in your power? Then you have certainly been an adulterer. (Matt. v. 21, 22.) Add the instances noted before under the temper of impurity, and tell me if you can say, "I am pure from this sin ?"
It is ignominious to be a thief: you will not acknowledge yourself to be subject to that imputation. But then hath not pride rather than duty kept you within bounds? And hath not self often passed the line of justice, and adjudged to you what was not properly your own? Have you always "done unto others as you would in a change of circumstances have expected from them?" The love of gain, hath it not often blinded your eyes, and covetousness laid a bias. on your integrity, In your dealings, labour, service, or whatever your respective employments may have been, when you begin to place things in the true point of view, you will see how swerving your walk hath been from the rule of right. Unjust gains, exorbitant profits, faulty or eye-service, impositions in merchandise, advantages taken of others' easiness, iguorance or necessities, with a thousand means. which worldly wisdom hath devised to carry on its grand design of getting and thriving, testify
the thief in the heart. Besides the numberless acts of injustice to God, the king, and the necessitous, which have not, it may be, ever come under your own cognisance or consideration, or been a subject of the least concern.
I will suppose you never to have perjured yourself before a magistrate, nor to have suborned others; but you may be "a false witness against your neighbour" notwithstanding. The tongue that never told a lie, would be a wonder which this world never produced: he only excepted "in whose mouth there was no guile." (1 Pet. ii. 22.) The designing lie, the pernicious, the exculpative, the marvellous, or the jocular, hath often, I fear, found a place in all our conversations. Who is wholly guiltless of slander, passing rash judgment upon others, of misrepresentation or of mis-report? "The tongue is a world of iniquity." (James iii. 6.) He would be a "perfect man indeed who could bridle it.? (James iii. 2.)
The concupiscence forbidden in the last place goes to the bottom of the heart, reaching the very first motions of sinful inclination towards the things of others. If we have offended in the rest but little, we shall be found herein to have offended much. For who hath not been conscious to numberless motions of concupiscence, which have scarce been formed into desire, and have never been brought into act?
These are the "transgressions and disobedience," which are threatened with a "just recompence of reward." (Heb. ii. 2.) The rule is before you. Try your conduct: can it stand this test? Guilty or not guilty, is the question.Who must not lay their hand upon their mouth? We have sinned. The fact is undeniable. Indeed what else have we done but sinned? What
one of the commandments have we kept? And so far from continuance in them all, what one day, yea, what one hour of our lives ever passed, without some deviation from them? What then can the law do? it must condemn us; it must "conclude all under sin, and the sentence of death eternal pass upon them, forasmuch as all have sinned." (Gal. iii. 22. Rom. v. 12.) But is every man under this state of condemnation ? Yes; the whole world is guilty before God." (Rom. iii. 19.) Is there then no plea? Yes, Guilty. But can we not escape the curse? No, not by the law. Must we then lie down despairing? Certainly for any thing we can do to help ourselves. "The law is the ministration of death. (2 Cor. iii. 7.) It is and can be in its nature no other. It is our only and eternal rule of duty, and we must keep it or perish, for any relief we can obtain from ourselves. I rest here to intimate,
First, the deplorable state of fallen man under a covenant of works. He is rolling up a stone which above his strength, and continually returns and crushes him. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom. iii. 20.) Yea, "the strength of sin is the law." (1 Cor. xv. 56.) And yet we are so strangely wedded to it, that we are continuing our impotent attempts to keep it, though the seamless garment of righteousness once rent can never be renewed by us, so as to cover our nakedness. It was the old leaven the devil infused and it is still working to make man seek his salvation by the works of the law. He knows his power is never so triumphant, and his captive so secure, as when this is the case. It was, I doubt not, on this very account that our Lord said, that publicans and harlots entered into the kingdom of heaven," whilst the apparent "children of the
kingdom," the devout, regular, self-justifying dependers on the exactness of their conformity to the rule of duty, "were cast out." (Matt. xxi. 31.—viii. 12.) Let us know ourselves, and lie down under our condemnation. To feel our misery, and to be reduced to self-despair, is to be at the gate of mercy.
Secondly, What an act of astonishing grace is it, that God hath made another covenant with us, "established on better promises;" (Heb. viii. 6.) wherein whilst the law is magnified by the obedience unto death of God's own Son, pardon and grace are purchased for us, and eternal redemption secured from all the destructive evils which a broken law denounces. A covenant of grace will be indeed "as fountains of waters, and streams from Lebanon," to every soul that sees his natural obligations, and his violation of them. I hope we shall ever keep this covenant in our view; by and by, through grace, I may be enabled to open to you its riches and fulness.
THE PENALTY OF DISOBEDIENCE.
GALATIANS III. 10.
CURSED IS EVERY ONE THAT CONTINUETH NOT IN ALL
HE sanctions of the divine law succeeded in
Unless enforced by
penalties it would be like a beardless arrow. The great Legislator hath therefore solemnly denounced them: His power is all-sufficient to fulfil them: His holiness requires it: His truth obliges him. The account given of the rule of our obedience is such as may justly alarm us. Our transgressions of it are numberless, great and aggravated. The law hath found us guilty. Justice must take its course. "Every transgression and disobedience must receive a just recompence of reward: Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
There is nothing we are more averse to receive than God's declared determinations to punish sin. As every man wishes for happiness, he would quiet his fears with promises of peace," though God hath said, there is no peace.” (Isai. xlviii. 22.) The curse of God is ever-terrifying thunder in a sinner's ears. He turns away from it. would soften the tone of vengeance. He would make a new Deity, all mercy, to overlook the dishonour cast upon his holy law, and out of