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angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power
What, then, can be more dreadful than the state in which man is plunged by his departure from the Living God? No imagination can fully conceive, no tongue can adequately express, its awful nature. Before we can know the full extent of the evil, we must explore the regions of the damned; hear the groans and cries and lamentations of the unhappy spirits confined therein; and see those vials of Divine wrath which are poured upon them without measure, and which occasion the smoke of their torment to ascend up before God for ever and ever".
The view we have taken of this melancholy subject, from the Bible and experience, is sufficiently appalling to the serious mind. Under the most grievous bondage to sin, Satan, the violated Law, and to Death; lying under a sentence of condemnation, which may be put in execution in a few moments; afflicted, as it regards their souls, with gross darkness; and visited, as to their bodies, with pain, disease, poverty, want, and a train of evils which they cannot avoid: add to this accumulation of woe, harassed with guilty fears, and with a dread of the approaching judgment, unpardoned sinners are now in a most deplorable condition, which, without conversion, must have a tragical issue.
Oh that all, who are in the woeful state which has been described, may ponder these things in their hearts; till, conscious of the misery in which sin has already involved them, and the vengeance to which * 2 Thess. i. 7-10. Matt. xxx. 30. * Rev. xiv. 10,11.
it hereafter exposes them, they may feel the necessity of seeking that grace, mercy, and forgiveness, which can absolve their offences, reconcile them to God, transform them into Children of Light, give them a title to, and the possession of endless life and happiness!
Pray fervently, O sinners! that God would liberate you from the disgraceful bondage of iniquity, and bring you into the glorious liberty of his Children": then your present sorrow will be turned into joy; and, on the hour of your arrival in heaven, "God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes."
22 Rom. viii. 21.
ON THE NATURE AND REQUIREMENTS OF THE MORAL
Rom. iii. 12. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no
THE precepts enjoined by the Law of God bespeak at once their origin and excellence". Were they generally complied with, vice would cease to produce its deadly fruits, and every species of virtue would flourish and abound.
The moral law is to be considered as a transcript of God's holiness and perfections. It shews us what He is; and what we should endeavour to be, if we feel any desire to please him, or to attain his blessing. All the grand outlines of the law were originally impressed on man's heart; and some indistinct traces of it are still to be found in all, however they a Psalm xix.
may have been weakened by the Fall. "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which shew-the work of the law written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing, one another.
Every one is bound to honour the law of his Creator; and is placed under its cognizance, as a covenant of works, whose conditions must be perfectly. fulfilled by those who expect to be justified by their own righteousness. It is true, the Law was first delivered to the Israelites; yet its injunctions were not restricted to THEM, but were designed to be equally binding on ALL; as is manifest, from its enjoining duties, which no time, or place, or circumstance, can release us from. To love God and their Neighbour, is a duty that will be incumbent on men, as accountable creatures, as long as the world endures.
The form of the precepts, in each of which the singular number is used, is intended to remind us, that they respect each person singly, and all men collectively. Indeed, even believers in Christ, who, through grace, are dead to the law" as a system of life, and are freed from its penal curse, are not exempted from an obligation to regard it as a complete rule of life and manners. Gratitude to Jesus, for his great love in answering the demands of the law in their behalf, should constrain them to regulate their lives by its holy dictates dd. And, certainly, the nearer any one approaches in spirit and practice to this model of perfection, the more will he resemble God, and the greater will be the degree of his fitness for the enjoy
Rom. ii. 14, 15.
Gal. iii. 10-12.
2 Cor. v. 44, 15.
inent of the heavenly inheritance. "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." And what is righteousness, but a conformity to the Divine law.
The great perfection of the law appears from the extent of the duties which it prescribes. The object of the law is, to secure the honour due to God, to consecrate all the powers of man to His service, to govern the heart, and describe the beauty of righteousness. The Commandments have an extensive meaning; and the exposition given of some of them by Christ himself, proves that every one of them reaches the intents and secret motions of the heart.
"The First commandment requires supreme and unrivalled love for God; that sensual pleasure, honour, riches, and every earthly comfort, compared with Him, should be vile in our eyes. The Second obliges us to take heed that we conceive of God as he has revealed his own nature, neither adding to, nor diminishing any thing therefrom; that we worship before him secretly, and in the congregation, according to the rule he hath himself appointed; offering to him spiritual prayers, praises, and thanksgivings keeping at a distance from every appearance of idolatry. The Third requires us to be mindful, at all times, of God's Majesty; conscientiously avoiding, in our conversation and thoughts, every thing savouring of irreverence towards him; that we observe faithfully the religious profession we make before him; and with the form of godliness join the power. The Fourth obliges us to lay aside every worldly occupation on the Lord's day; that the worth of the soul, and things of a spiritual nature, may take up our thoughts, and more strongly affect our minds. The Fifth requires us, as soon as we can understand our e 1 John iii. 4. ee John iv, 24. Deut. x. 20.
duty, to pay a cheerful obedience to our parents; testifying the sense we have of our debt to them, under God, for the preservation of our life, for much tenderness and care over us in the helpless state of childhood, and numberless benefits besides. The Sixth commandment not only restrains our hands from murderous violence, but condemns every degree of wrath, hatred, or want of love in the heart, towards men. The Seventh not only condemns the whoremonger and the adulterer; but even the looking upon the countenance of a person with impure thoughts, as the adultery of the heart. The Eighth is a barrier! against every injurious encroachment which self-love: would lead us to make upon our neighbour's property or rights it forbids every species of fraud, however prevalent, or palliated by plausible excuses. The Ninth exacts from us an inviolable regard to truth, and the character of our fellow-creatures; a victory over the tongue, "that world of iniquity"-the tongue, so impatient of restraint from the law of kindness. The Tenth condemns every covetous wish, allinordinate love to the things of the world, and every degree of discontent at our appointed station."
That perfect conformity to the will of God, which the law requires, extends to the thoughts, words, i and actions.
1. The law being spiritual in its nature, has respect to the thoughts of men, as may be seen from the exposition given of it in St. Matthew". The heart and all its secret movements are open to its notice. Human laws cannot sit in judgment on the motives of an offender, except as they imperfectly shew themselves inste overt act, which they principally regard, and punish, according to the malignity of its appearance. 'Matt. v. 28.
ff ib. c. v.