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with us in a manner suited to our nature. Reason is given to man; and his limits he cannot pass, without abandoning his highest interest.
Third. The great Lawgiver has annexed rewards and punishments to his laws. The authority of God cannot be disregarded with impunity. His glory he will not give to another; and therefore his laws are guarded with suitable rewards and punishments. under no obligation to give any reward for obedience, beyond that which flows from obedience. And this is sufficient; for in keeping his commandments “ there is great reward.” But such was his goodness, that he promised to reward obedience with eternal life. Now this reward is greater than obedience deserved, and suited only to the bounty of the giver. On the other hand, a dreadful penalty is annexed to disobedience. God has not made it impossible for us to break his laws, if we choose to do it; but if we do, the curse is inevitable, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.”
Fourth. These laws have a fourfold property. “ Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.” “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal,
sold under sin." The law is holy. It is an exact transcript of the holy will of God. There is nothing in it unworthy of Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. The law is just. It is given as the rule of justice among
It renders to God his due, as well as to
Man has no title to any thing, but from this law. Beyond what this grants, nothing can be justly claimed. The law is good. It was made with regard to the welfare of those who live under it; and not to gratify the lusts of the wicked. And with this regard to our good in time and eternity, our duty and interest are made inseparable; and disobedience and punishment are alike inseparable. The law is spiritual. It is not like human laws, which extend only to outward actions ; but it is spiritual, reaching to all the thoughts and intents of the heart. This made the Psalmist exclaim, “I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad."
SECTION II. Nature, Extent, &.c., of Sin.First. Sin is a want of conformity to the law, of which we have already spoken. This law regards not only actions, but the principle from which they proceed. It not only enjoins holy
thoughts, words, and actions; but it moreover requires that the habitual temper of our hearts be holy. If we come short of this, we sin. The tree must be good, or the fruit cannot be good. And our services must be performed with all the strength and heart and mind.
Second. Sin imports also a transgression of the law. “For sin is the transgression of the law." Indeed, transgression, in its widest sense, comprehends all sin ; but it is frequently restricted to actual sins, as the former branch of this description is restricted to sins of omission. Sin is opposition to the law of God. God commands us to arise and work, but man refuses and sits still : God forbids specified sinful actions ; but man disregards the prohibition and performs them.
Third. Hence, sin in its nature implies contempt of God; for it flows from a secret enmity against him. Men may be so blinded as not to view it in this light; but God makes breaking and contemning the law to be the same thing. “ Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away
the punishment thereof, because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err,
after the which their fathers have walked." In the view of most men, sin is a harmless thing ; but when seen in its true nature, it is far otherwise; since it is nothing less than trampling on the authority and goodness of God, and endeavouring, as it were, to dethrone him.
Fourth. But for the further elucidation of this subject, notice a twofold inseparable property or adjunct of sin. First, sin is the defilement of the soul. The beauty and glory of man consists in his conformity to the holy law of God; and so far as he deviates from this standard, he is polluted and defiled. God has said of sin, “Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.” Secondly, sin is also attended with a liability to punishment. of sin is death." “ Cursed is every one tha. continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them."
II. But the word all, in the phrase “ all have sinned," has a very extensive import.
First. It implies that persons of all ages are involved in the same common misery; the child, as well as the old man who is stooping into the grave. If children have not sinned “ after the similitude of Adam's transgression,” they have derived sin enough from Adam to
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defile them. The aged need not envy even the infant of days; for the youngest has sin enough to render it depraved, vicious, and guilty.
Second. Persons of all professions and all ranks are sinners. The apostle speaks of all mankind in two classes, Jew and Gentile, and proves them all to be sinners. Even those very men who have so far forgot themselves as to fancy that they are above all law, are, like others, liable to punishment, for violating the law of God.
Section III. Import of the phrase, “ Come short of the glory of God.”—First. Man has fallen short of the glory he had by the conformity of his nature to God. In his first estate he was indeed “ the image and glory of God.” How wonderfully did the mind of innocent Adam, full of light, represent that God is light, and that in him is no darkness at all! Other creatures had some fainter representations of the divine glory, wisdom, and power, but man alone, in this lower world, was capable of representing the holiness, righteousness, purity, and other moral perfections of his Maker; and on this account man was “the glory of God." God, as it were, gloried in him as the master