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dially approved of it as a rule of life. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law. — And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good, that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” He saw that the law is spiritual, but that he was carnal, sold under sin. He saw his heart in the glass of the divine law, which is exceeding broad, reaching to all the thoughts and intents of the heart, as well as to all the actions of life. This convinced him that the divine law condemned a thousand internal exercises and external actions, which the men of the world approve and applaud. He saw that every deviation from the divine commands, either in thought, word, or deed, was altogether and exceedingly sinful. He saw that just so far as he fell short of absolute perfection, he disobeyed God, and fell under the condemnation of the holy law of God, which he violated. He found, by comparing his heart with the divine law, it condemned him; and if his heart condemned him, God was greater than his heart, and knew all things, and must condemn him for much more than he condemned himself. The more holy the apostle was, the more he loved and delighted in the law of God after the inward man; and the more he loved the divine law, and made it the rule of duty, the more sensible he was of his numerous violations of it, and of the great criminality of violating it in the least degree. He knew his own heart better than the world knew it, and though the world saw little or no moral imperfection in him, he saw and groaned under a great deal of sin and guilt. And this is true of all, who sincerely desire to pay a universal and constant obedience to all the intimations of the divine will. When the commandment comes, and they compare their hearts with it, sin revives; they see more and more of their criminal imperfections and short comings in duty, which is a burden, and source of self condemnation and self loathing.
4. The apostle's sins were a heavy and distressing burden to him, because he had a clear and lively sense of their great aggravations. He saw his own sins to be far more aggravated than the same sins in others. He knew a vast deal more than other men and other christians. God had given him peculiar talents, privileges, and advantages to attain to high degrees in both human and divine knowledge; and he made great and rapid advances in mental improvements, both intellectual and spiritual. He was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, where he studied Moses and the prophets, and their learned expositors, and the writings of the pagan historians, philosophers and poets, before his heart was changed. This prepared him, as soon as he was brought out of spiritual darkness into spiritual light, to gain clear and extensive views of the great plan of redemption, and of all the peculiar doctrines and duties of Christianity. He was, moreover, divinely inspired, and in vision carried to the third heaven, where he heard and saw the unutterable things of the invisible world. He knew far more than any other man then in the world, about God, about the Bible, about the church of Christ, about the depravity of mankind, and about the happy and the miserable spirits in heaven and in hell. These peculiar and discriminating favors the apostle habitually remembered, and ascribed to the astonishing grace of God towards him. His holy and grateful heart constrained him to say, “ By the grace of God, I am what I am," and "less than the least of all saints;" that is, the most unworthy and ill deserving. Though he knew and said he was not behind the chief of the apostles in respect to holiness, he was less than the least of thern in respect to guilt. He was sensible that his sins were attended with the most aggravating circumstances, because he had sinned directly against God, against Christ, against the Holy Spirit, against the friends and cause of Christ, and against the greatest and most distinguishing blessings of providence and grace. It grieved him to the heart, that he had hated God, whom he then loved; that he had persecuted Christ, whom he then loved; that he had made havoc of the church, which he then loved; and that he then carried about with him the remains of moral corruptions which he hated, and which he had solemnly resolved and professed to renounce. He viewed himself as the most sinful and inconsistent man in the world, because he sinned against the greatest light, the greatest love, and the most endearing obligations, by which God had bound him, and he had bound himself. And a deep and pungent sense of his aggravated guilt caused him to exclaim,“ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” whose weight is so insupportable ?
5. Sin was a heavy burden to the apostle, because he desired and endeavored to restrain it. Sin is no burden to those who live in the habitual and allowed practice of sinning. The profane person, who indulges himself in profaneness, feels no burden of that sin lying upon him. The Sabbath breaker, who allows himself in profaning that holy day, feels no burden of that sin lying upon him. The worldling, whose habitual prac
tice is to love and pursue the world and the things of the world, feels no burden of the sin of worldly mindedness lying upon him. While the great mass of mankind live as they list, and lay no restraint upon the corruptions of their hearts, they know nothing about that burden of sin which christians feel, who keep their hearts with all diligence, and lay a restraint upon every selfish and sinful exercise and affection. It is a burden to the christian, who means to renounce the world, to find his heart so often rising to a supreme affection to it. It is a burden to the christian, who desires and resolves to keep the Sabbath holy, to find his heart wandering on that day, like the fool's eyes, to the ends of the earth. It is a burden to the christian, who means to practice every religious duty and moral virtue, to find that he so often, either externally or internally, violates his own resolutions, vows and engagements.
And this was the case of Paul, who meant to live soberly and righteously in this present evil world, and who laid a restraint upon all his external conduct and internal views and affections. He meant to covet no man's silver, or gold, or apparel, or any of the good things he enjoyed, but to keep himself unspotted from the world. But he acknowledges that he never arrived to that attainment. He says, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He labored habitually and ardently to get rid of the burden of his moral imperfections, which he hated and condemned, as displeasing to God and injurious to himself.
6. Sin was extremely painful and burdensome to Paul, because it interrupted him in the performance of duty. He loved his duty, and felt himself under strong obligations to do all things whatsoever Christ had commanded him. He had a great many arduous, dangerous, and self denying duties to discharge. He was eminently the apostle of the Gentiles, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; which exposed him to the enmity and opposition of their false philosophers, idolatrous priests, and infatuated followers, who were often instigated to persecute him, by the unbelieving Jews every where scattered among them. Hear his own account of his labors, trials, dangers and sufferings, in the cause of Christ, which his enemies constrained him to give. “ Are they Hebrews ? so am I. Are they Israelites ? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham ? so am I. Are they minis
ters of Christ ? so am I. (I speak as a fool;) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Amidst this multiplicity of labors, trials and sufferings, he complains of his moral corruption as obstructing and preventing him from a constant discharge of his duty. He says, “I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. I find then a law, that wben I would do good, evil is present with me." Sin was the only thing that prevented him from doing his duty constantly and perfectly, and therefore was a heavier burden than all the external labors and sufferings which he was called to experience. In tribulation he could rejoice; but to be obstructed and hindered in the discharge of his duty, was a burden too heavy to bear. It grieved his benevolent heart to think of neglecting his duty to God, to Christ, to christians, and to the souls of his fellow men.
7. Sin was extremely burdensome to Paul, because it interrupted his enjoyment of God. He loved God supremely, and delighted in his law, in his character, and in his government, while he exercised holy affections. He could say with David, 66 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” While his heart was united with God, in calling upon his name and doing his will, he enjoyed that peace which the world could not give, nor take away. But when sin reigned in his heart, his views were obscured, his holy affections cooled, and his highest happiness destroyed. The world and the things of the world could not supply the place of God, and afford him any spiritual enjoy. ment. He found that there was no fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness, and no communion between light and darkness. He found that just so far as he departed from God, God departed from him; and just so far as he grieved the Holy Spirit, he withdrew his gracious and comforting influence. And when he found himself sold under sin, he groaned, being burdened, and cried, “ () wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" And the more he grew in grace, and delighted in communion with God, the more he dreaded sin, which interrupted his holy affections, and his highest enjoyment of God. He was, therefore, like other christians, sometimes the most happy, and sometimes the most wretched of men.
1. It appears from the character and experience of Saint Paul, that there is an essential distinction between saints and sinners. This distinction does not consist in saints' being perfectly free from sin, while sinners are under the tire dominion of it. For saints are all more or less guilty of sin. Solomon declares that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” And the apostle John says in the name of christians, “ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." It likewise appears from what has been said concerning Paul, that he was not wholly free from sin, and had not arrived at complete perfection in holiness. But though it be true that saints sin, as well as those who have never been renewed and sanctified, yet there is still an essential distinction between saints and sinners. The saint hates sin, but the sinner loves sin. Though the holy apostle often transgressed the law of love, yet he hated every transgression. All his sins were a burden to him. He hated and loathed every sinful exercise of his heart. But this is not the case of sinners. It gives them no self loathing or self condemnation, that they hate God, disobey his commands, and abuse his mercies. They take pleasure in walking in the ways of their heart, and in the sight of their eyes, without any restraint. It is true, they pursue different ways of sinning; but every way of the sinner seems right in his own eyes, and consequently his own way of sinning is a pleasure, and not a burden to him. In this respect, there is an essential difference between every saint and every sinner. Some sinners, indeed, maintain a fair exterior, and apparently conform to the precepts and prohibitions of the gospel as universally and constantly as real christians; and they take pleasure in their self righteousness, and feel no pain or burden that their hearts are far from God, and bound up in some worldly object or pursuit. But it grieves every real christian to discover that his heart has departed from God, and cleaved to the world. There is, therefore, as real and essential a difference between the lowest saint and the least sinner, as there is between the best saint and the worst sinner. When christians discover their own sins, they hate them; but