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also, the obligations that sin tramples on. The obligations of children to parents, of subjects to their rulers, and of husbands and wives to each other, are such as to render the violation of them exceedingly sinful. But what are all these compared with our obligations to God; who is not a finite earthly ruler or parent, but the infinite Father of mercies, and Supreme Ruler of the universe.
Observe further, that sin deserves such a punishment in the judgment of God; and surely his judgment must be according to truth. We have this judgment not only in express declarations of Scripture, not only in the penal sanction of the law, but eminently in the death of Christ. If an infinite person must be laid under the wrath of God, stand in the sinner's room, and die for sins, what less does the sinner himself deserve than eternal wrath? No wonder, then, that the finally impenitent are to be forever tormented for their sins. For, if God, without reproach to his goodness, could permit his sinless, divine, and dearly beloved Son to suffer for others' sins, much more could he justly permit sinful, impenitent man, to suffer endless punishment. And not only in the judgment of God, but in the judgment of men also, does sin deserve
such a punishment. Notwithstanding the wild fancies of the heathen about a future state, they all admit the doctrine of endless punishment. Hence their poets represented Tantalus as doomed forever to be parched with thirst, standing in a river, of whose water he could never taste one drop; Prometheus was to have a vulture forever tearing his liver; Sisyphus was to be perpetually labouring to roll a huge stone, and Ixion, his wheel. And all the codes of human law prescribe perpetual imprisonment for some crimes, and death for others; which is a deprivation of life and all its advantages forever; and a deprivation of all opportunity of preparing for heaven. We might to this testimony add the acknowledgment of those who are punished. Whatever stupid sinners may think, when the Lord deals with men, and visits them with the terrors of an awakened conscience, convincing them of sin, they will subscribe to the justice of God, when he threatens eternal pain. It is not meant that they will be willing to be damned, but they will acknowledge that God would be just in thus punishing them. Even those who åre given up to the horrors of despair give the same testimony. Listen to the words of Spira : “I am sealed up to eternal wrath. I
you I deserve it; my own conscience condemns me; what need is there of any other judge? Though there were not another damned, yet God is just in making me an example to others; and I cannot justly complain. There is no punishment so great, but I have justly deserved it."
II. Consider, again, that God, in promulgating his laws, did clearly declare that he would thus punish transgressors. Sin and endless pain were then linked together. When it was required of Adam to keep the divine commands, it was also said to him, In the day that thou breakest them, “thou shalt surely die.” To suppose
that death here means annihilation, is contrary both to Scripture and reason. And if only temporal death were intended, it would be equivalent to saying, If thou disobey, thou shalt surely be rewarded with eternal life; which would be absurd. Spiritual, everlasting death, then, must be intended. But if this penalty is annexed to the violation of the divine law, there is great reason why it should be executed. For to what purpose would the penalty be threatened, if it were not designed to be enforced ? To suppose the contrary would be to cast reproach both upon the wisdom and veracity of God. Divine honour,
then, demands the execution of this law. Indeed, what is the business of an officer of justice, but to execute the laws ?
Justice requires the punishment of sinners. Justice to the law requires it. For if the law may be neglected in one part, why not in another? And if the threatenings of the divine law are not enforced, where is our assurance that the divine promises will be fulfilled ? Justice to the subjects of a law requires the
If in sin offenders go unpunished, we view it as a temptation to the obedient to transgress; it inclines us to view transgression as a light matter, and to call in question the competency of the Lawgiver. Justice to the divine faithfulness demands the same. For, if God does not faithfully perform all he has declared, eternal truth itself must lie open to suspicion. Indeed, all the divine attributes are engaged to see the laws executed, inasmuch as they are all attributes of the same all-wise and eternal Being.
III. We may show, further, that the connection of sin and punishment is most just and equal. If we adınit that God is just, we must admit, also, that all his words and works are just. God has made the sanction; therefore it is just. “Is God unrighteous who taketh ven
geance ? (I speak as a man) God forbid; for then how shall God judge the world ?” Moreover this punishment is just, because it was one of the terms of a contract; the substance of which was, do and live, sin and die. And all ground of complaint is removed by the fact, that man has had timely warning of the punishment. Suppose the lord of a manor to have made a precipice in some part of his land; and to have warned his servant that if he ventured to this precipice, it would surely prove his death. Now, if the servant should voluntarily go to this dangerous spot, and fall, and be dashed in pieces, after having been faithfully warned to keep away, would the owner of the land be guilty of his death? With as little justice can God be charged with the death of sinners, since they neglect his warnings, and thus destroy themselves.
Consider, too, the influence this threatening of punishment must have upon those who are saved. It moves ministers to preach. 6 Knowing the terrors of the Lord we persuade men.” And it moves men to accept of salvation. Hence the frequency with which our Lord mentioned it in all his preaching. And, finally, consider the necessity of this punishment in order to the government of the world. For if men are so