The Divine law, however, is more perfect; it looks inward, with a view to examine the state of the mind. It expects purity of design, sincere intentions, and upright motives, as well as perfect obedience to God, throughout our whole lives, before it can justify us. Whilst it demands truth, justice, and goodness without', it does not allow us to indulge any guile within. "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Thus we may learn, that, our actions, to be right and praiseworthy in the sight of God, must not only have a beneficial tendency and end, but also spring from good motives; otherwise, though they may appear ever so brilliant in the eyes of men, they will be defective, and expose us to punishment.

Moreover, there are many sins which are overlooked by the laws of men, either because they are not deemed punishable, or considered detrimental to society. Hence they provide no punishment for pride, ingratitude, passion, ungovernable anger, malice, and such like offences; except as they lead men to commit outrageous acts against the peace and welfare of the community. Here, again, the perfection of God's holy law is very conspicuous: The least, as well as the greatest departure from righteousness, it declares to be sinful. Many things which men think harmless, and free from guilt, the Divine law pronounces to be foul affronts offered to God. It condemns pride, as the source of all evil: malicious thoughts, and plans of revenge, are reproved by it with severity: and it dissuades us from wrath and causeless anger, as tending to endanger our everlasting welfare. Thus we perceive depraved in ginations, unholy desires, wandering affections, and "Mat. v; 22

1, Sam, xvi 7.

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wrong tempers, are as much sins, in the estimation of God, as those more outward and flagrant offences, to which, in general, a greater degree of criminality is attached.

2. The law of God pays a strict attention to our words; because they express the thoughts and intentions of the mind. The faculty of speech was given us, that we might praise God, and hold intercourse with one another. Therefore, indecent, lascivious expressions, which excite unchaste ideas, are forbidden by the Commandments of the Lord, which direct us to "let our speech be always with grace,, seasoned with salt, that we may know how we ought to answer every man." Lies, falsehood, and prevarication, are gross abuses of speech, censured in every part of the Divine Word. In like manner, words of a slanderous import, that tend to defame the reputation of others; together with every idle, useless, or improper expression; are prohibited by the law, which requires us to use our words with discretion.

3. Our actions come directly under the notice of the law, Nothing, however trivial, escapes its cognizance: it is so rigid and unbending in its demands, that it makes no allowance for what are called sins of infirmity, harmless offences, venial faults, and constitutional failings. It condemns every act, however applauded by men, which does not come up to its high standard. It censures an unprofitable life, and the non improvement of the several talents committed to our trust." In fact, it will not connive at sin in any form, but forbids, on pain of God's displea sure, every thing which is opposed to righteousness, justice, goodness, and truth. So absolutely perfect is the obedience required by the law of God, that it Col.iv. 6. Mat. xxv. 30%.

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does not permit a man to balance what he may deem his GOOD deeds, against his BAD ones; but treats him as a delinquent for a single crime. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all," he has thereby sinned against the authority of the Divine Lawgiver, as clearly as if he had broken the whole law. For, as a chain is marred, if but one of its links is broken; so the whole law is insulted by even a single breach of its commandments though the guilt of a single offence against it is certainly not so great, nor will it be visited with the same severity, as the violation of all its precepts.


The unsinning obedience which is exacted by the law must be continued, without intermission, from the time we are able to discern betwixt good and evil, to the day of our death. During childhood, the vigour of youth, and mature years, as well as in old age, we are obliged to honour the law, which admits of no relaxation, or abatement of its high demands**.

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4. Such are the terms on which the law of the Most High proposes to confer the rewards of an eternal life. Its language is, "This do, and thou shalt live. Break the commands, and thou shalt die." If any one can, by his own strength, punctually discharge all the duties imposed by the law, and render it an absolute, sincere, and unceasing obedience, he will be fairly entitled to its distinguished rewards; he may boldly stand forward at the day of accounts, and demand the ineffable bliss of heaven, as the just recompence of his righteousness. But where is the individual to be found, who, thoroughly acquainted with the spirituality and strictness of the holy law of God, and the depravity of his own heart, which ** Mat. v. 17-20.

* James ii. 10.

hourly betrays him into sin, will pretend that he has paid such perfect regard to its precepts? Where is the man that will have the temerity to affirm, "I have ever, from my youth up until this moment, rigidly observed and kept the Divine law, without swerving from any one of its injunctions: I have never, at any time, transgressed thy commandment, O Lord"? In reality, there is not one of the race of Adam that can justly make so bold an assertion; for all who impartially examine their thoughts, words, and actions, by the moral law, must confess they have kept no part of it: every one, who knows any thing of himself, will admit, that he has often violated the duties prescribed by the First Table; that he has not loved God, or served him as he requires; but has given up his affections "to vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver." A similar confession will be made respecting that class of duties which the Second Table enjoins. Every one, who is at all, conscious of the numerous defects which attend his daily walk, will say, "I am verily guilty concerning my brother," whom I have designedly or intentionally offended in some shape or other. I have not always observed (as I ought to have done) the law of love and kindness towards my neighbour. I have been wanting in my endeavours to promote the good of his soul, no less than in attention to his bodily necessities. For these reasons, I condemn myself as a transgressor of the law; which I have broken, not merely in one, but in a thousand instances. Such will be the admission of those who scrutinize their own hearts and conduct with an enlightened eye. Notwithstanding all this, there are persons to be found, who, through an overweening conceit of their own goodness, indulge proud thoughts of their ability to keep the Com

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mandments, and thus to merit eternal life;-a mistake this, which is not less fatal than it is common But the Scripture instantly checks such presumption, in the most decided language: "There is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." "For in many things we all offend." "Now we know, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God'.'


5. Thus we perceive that every one stands convicted of countless offences, which preclude the possibility of his being saved by the deeds of a law requiring absolute perfection. Does the law then tolerate, or pass over in silence, the insults which are daily offered to it? Does it allow men to dishonour its precepts with impunity? Certainly not! The moment it is in any respect violated, it demands satisfaction for the injury which it has received : like an enraged creditor, it claims, with rigorous importunity, the discharge of its debts; saying, to every transgressor, "Pay me that thou owest:" and it delivers up the offender to the tormentors, till payment be made ".

But we have abundantly proved the utter inability of fallen man, either to keep the law, or make reparation for his sins to the justice of God: and, therefore, he must endure the punishment it inflicts upon his transgression, unless the Divine Legislator will permit some one to become his surety, and suffer the merited wrath in his behalf. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them"." 6. But what is the specific nature of the curse, "Mat. xviii. 28-34. Gal. iii. 10.

Rom. iii. 9-24.

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