ing them; and too numerous to be recapitulated in this place. Can it therefore consist with the law of God, “ Thou shalt not covet," or with the character of a Christian, to concur in such an iniquitous and nefarious system, from a vain desire of irregular gain? Whatever argument proves it unlawful for two or three men to cast lots for a sum of money, or to game in any other way, much more strongly concludes against a million of persons gaming publicly by a lottery for a month or six weeks together, to the stagnation, in a great measure, of every other business ;* whilst the gain made by government and by individuals, from the stakes deposited with them, renders it as imprudent as it is sinful in the adventurers; for every individual stakes three to two on an eden chance, if a covetous appeal to Providence may be called chance.t-Even Tontines seem not wholly excuseable, as they constitute a kind of complicated wager about longevity, to be decided by Provi. dence in fayour 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.

* Many alterations have, since this was written, been adopted, to prevent the mischief; and perhaps these may-have some effect : but the whole concern is radically and deeply evil, and nothing can possibly render it any other than evil, atrociously evil.

+ Prov. xvi. 33.

We cannot close this brief explication of the di. vine 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 thee.'

[ocr errors]

On Man's situation as a Sinner, &c.



On Man's situation as a Sinner, in the present world.


The apostle has defined sin to be “ the transgression 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 :'t 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 that 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 declaration 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

* 1 John ii. 4.

† Rom. iii. 20.

; 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:"f 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 him the glory due to his name :) so in this respect " there is no difference :"

Every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world

* James ü. 8-11.

+ Gal. ii. 10. Deut. xxvii. 15-26.

become guilty before God;"* though an immense difference will 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 impeach 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 everlasting punishment.”+ In reflecting on this awful subject; we should recollect that man is constituted 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 suppose, that the soul will at least share the punishment which the law denounces against the offender. 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;"! 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,

* Rom. üi. 9-23.

# 1 Thess. i. 10.

+ Mat. XXV. 41-46.

« VorigeDoorgaan »