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estates. You invaded God's possessions; he will cast you out of yours. This is the usual punishment of rebellion. In primeval innocence, man was in possession of a fair estate. He had a paradise furnished with the riches of uncorrupted nature; a body free from pain ; a soul happy in communion with God; delicious fruits in spontaneous abundance; and all crowned with the blessing of Heaven. To this we may add the expectation of everlasting happiness in the paradise above. But all this has been forfeited by sin. Nor is it of any avail to say that, as you have houses, lands, food, raiment, and other things, you have therefore lost nothing; for a rebel sentenced to die is allowed food and raiment, and other things necessary for the support of life, till the time of his execution arrive. Thus God allows man the means of subsistence till he sees fit to put the sentence of death in execution. The grant by which innocent man held his possessions was the covenant of works. This, too, was the ground upon which he looked for the rewards of the future. But by the breach of that covenant was lost all right to any enjoyment. And with the title, you have lost the sweetness of the things you are yet permitted to use. What profit is there of all your labour under the sun? you labour,
but are never satisfied, and the day of your execution draws nigh.
Second. But there will not only be this forfeiture, satisfaction will also be had in the death of the offenders. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." "The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “ The wages of sin is death.” Nor is this limited to natural death; it includes endless pain in a future state. Innocent man had a natural life, which consisted in a most delightful and harmonious union of soul and body. He had a spiritual life, which consisted in the union of his soul to God, in a manner suited to the happiness of his condition; and he had a fair prospect of eternal life, in uninterrupted communion with his Maker. But these bright hopes were blasted by sin. The sinner is already condemned to die. “ He that believeth not is condemned already." Nay, more; the execution is already begun. Those who are not savingly changed by the Holy Spirit are spiritually dead; "dead in tres
As a dead body cannot perform the actions of a living one, so you cannot perform any of the actions of spiritual life. Natural death, which consists in the separation of the soul and body, is also begun in you. Every disease that invades the body is like the posts that run to meet one another, " to show the
passes and sins.”
king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end.” Every pain you feel makes a breach in your walls, and forebodes their speedy ruin. Your life is nothing but a succession of dying. Every day and hour is wearing it away. Every fresh attack on your bodies is routing their guards, battering the ramparts of your flesh, and threatening the very citadel of life. You are the mark at which justice is aiming its
Do you not see that the arrow sometimes flies above your head, and slays one above you? Sometimes it lights at your feet, and slays a child; sometimes it flies on your left, and kills an enemy, at whose death you may, perhaps, wickedly rejoice; sometimes it pierces the friend on your right hand; and who has assured you that the next one may not strike you dead, and hurry you into hell ?
Third. This is not all; rebels are commonly shorn of their honour; and so with the sinner. Innocent man enjoyed a high dignity; he was the friend, as well as the subject of God. But now hear his sentence; “ Thus saith the Lord God, remove the diadem, and take off the crown !” Tell me, reader, do you not already feel the direful effects of this part of the punishment? The beasts, once subject to man, are now his enemies, because he is the enemy of
God. Even those that are most serviceable and obedient often rebel. The horse throws his rider; the ox gores his owner; wild beasts make inroads upon the flocks, fields, and fruits, and fill men with terror; and even insects often insult and vex you, and sometimes inflict a wound which destroys life. Nor is the disgrace confined to the individual. It is handed down to posterity. And not only inborn corruption, but the contagion of your evil example must produce its desolating effects upon those who come after you. God has declared himself “ a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children." Nothing which sinners have used can be spared. The very ground upon which they tread must undergo the fires of the last day, before it can be freed from the bondage of corruption. “This is thy lot, the portion of thy measure from me, saith the Lord, because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.” Such is the satisfaction required of sinners.
SECTION V. Reasonableness of this Satisfaction.—That the satisfaction demanded of sin. ners, or the punishment inflicted, is reasonable, will be evident, if we consider,
I. The demerit of sin. Consider against
whom sin is committed. We measure offences, in some degree, by the character of the persons against whom they are done ; and so it is in the laws of God. For some offences, the daughter of the high-priest was to be burned without mercy; which was not the punishment of others for the same offences. He that cursed his father or mother was to be put to death; but no such punishment was inflicted upon any one for cursing his equals. On the other hand, God is the “high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity;” before him all nations “are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity." What punishment, then, does reason show to be just for the sins of man against God? True, we cannot injure our Maker, as a rebel may injure his prince. “If thou sinnest, what dost thou against Him? or if thy transgression be multiplied, what dost thou unto him?" We cannot scale the walls of heaven, and force our way to the Almighty's throne; yet men are said to “rob God." The depth of the guilt of sin is, that it is committed against a holy God. Every sin reflects upon God's holiness, tramples on his authority, brands his wisdom with folly, denies his goodness, and bids defiance to his power.
Can endless punishment be too much for such crimes ? Consider,