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are full of adultery, that their feet are swift to shed blood,-yet whence, even in the case of these, are the angry passions so often indulged; and whence this absorbing solicitude about what they shall eat, what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed? Whence this ever-weaning anxiety, as to a variety of earthly things; and, at the same time, so marked an unmindfulness of the word, the house, the service, the abode of the Eternal? Do not these things supply a direct contrast to the indications of that state of mind which the Searcher of hearts has demanded? And do they not leave all who are chargeable with them, in immediate exposure to the destruction threatened by his violated law?
A man may possibly persuade himself that the divine law, as we have now explained it, is much too spiritual, and severe, in its requirements, to be at all suited to the present state of human nature; and he may, in consequence, have learnt to suppose, that his deficiencies will not render him liable to the awful penalties we have noticed. But is there no mistake here? In what respect is the law too spiritual, or wherein consists its unrighteous severity? From its Author, we receive our natural life, the reason we exercise, and the affections which have their home within us; and there is nothing demanded of us beyond the employment of these properties, which we evidently possess, and possess from his hand, in a way that may be to his praise, and to our own well-being.
The obedience which the divine law requires from the reason and affection of men on earth, is strictly that which it obtains from the reason and affection of natures like our own in heaven. It appeals to the same capabilities, and a proper employment of these, according to the degree in which they are possessed, is the whole of its claim.
Nor should the amount of attachment to God and to man which is thus insisted on be matter of objection. It must be shewn that Jehovah is not the infinitely great and good, and that man has no means of knowing this, before it can be deemed safe to withhold from him, or from our fellow-men, the obedience which this rule has prescribed. While man shall continue to be what he is in relation to us, and while our obligations with respect to God shall be infinite, the utmost claim of the divine law must continue to be that of pure justice. A less amount of obedience, would be less than is necessarily due to the divine perfections; and less than is required to preserve that system of created happiness which the Creator has devised. It follows, accordingly, that an obedience less comprehensive, or less entire, could not be sanctioned by any law from Jehovah, as this would be to make him a patron, not only of the weakness, but of the sin of his creatures. In such a case, the all-just, and all-benevolent Monarch of the universe, would appear to be satisfied with less than is justly due to his own excellence, and with less than is strictly
necessary to the harmony and blessedness of his works.
What we want, is not a new law, for that which we possess is holy, and just, and good; and to be conformed to it, is to partake of its divine properties. Neither do we need any new faculties in ourselves, since we at present possess all that ever have been, or ever will be conferred upon human nature. These faculties, we admit, are now in an impaired state; but they are still within us, cast down it may be, but not destroyed. The whole difficulty therefore is a moral one, not a natural one; our sinfulness clearly resulting from the want of a better disposition, not from the want of other powers. The unregenerate mind is without holiness, not because it is an impossible attainment, but simply because the heart has been given to its opposite, and has become enslaved in that direction. To ask is to receive, to seek is to find, and to knock is to have the door of a newness of life opened unto us. But ye will not come unto me, said Jesus, that ye might have life. This, therefore, is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men have chosen darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. These important scriptures, very plainly teach, that the want of an inclination toward goodness, though in a manner born with us, is a sin. By this it must be meant, that such a state of mind is ours, not so much from inherent depravity, as from deliberate indulgence,--the result, in
a greater degree, of our own agency, than of any thing done on the part of our progenitors. We may have been born in sin; but it has been our own act to nourish the seeds of evil into the fruits which bring forth death. And is this to be excused? The drunkard, who should labour to excuse his drunkenness, by urging that he has so long, and so fondly cherished the vicious habit, as to have made it a part of his nature, would labour in vain. The depredator, who should plead before his judge, that he has been so long habituated to plunder, as to find the temptations to it irresistible, would not thereby obtain a mitigated sentence. The wretch who may show that he has been so accustomed to idleness, and to its vices, as to have found it easier to hazard his life, by perpetrating the most atrocious crimes, than to return to the paths of honest occupation, is not spared on the ground of such a defence. It is the same with all the corrupt tendencies which habit has confirmed. The plea of custom may aggravate our condemnation, but can never lead to our acquittal.
Such then is the accused party :-and now there is THE JUDGE. With respect to him, it is important to remember, that he is one who may not be Deceived. Judges on earth, are often left to found their decision on mere circumstances, conflicting probabilities, or, at best, on the testimony of others. Not so this Judge. He has been with us in our down-sitting and our up-rising,
in our coming in and going out; he has compassed all our paths, and known our thoughts even afar off. He is therefore said to have placed our iniquities before him, our secret sins in the light of his countenance. There they are, gathered together by his infinite knowledge,-not one of them is wanting. And there they are seen in all their dark and odious colours, from being placed before the full brightness of his excellencies who is glorious in holiness-so glorious, that he looketh upon the sun and it shineth not, on the heavens and they are not clean. On the day when the throne of this Judge shall be visibly set up, our sins will all meet us again; and the circumstances which attended them, will all come forth with the freshness of yesterday.
As there is no room to found a hope of escape on the possible ignorance of the Judge, so neither is there the least ground to anticipate that he will exercise an unpromised clemency, or evince the shadow of a turning. On the contrary, it is certain, that the Judge who may not be Deceived, is one who cannot Change. Nothing can take place in connexion with the last judgment which has not been present with him from before the foundation of the world. And as the statements of scripture, relative to that day, were made with a distinct foresight of all possible occurrences, there is as much certainty in them at this hour, as there will be when the last prediction shall have received its accomplishment. Heaven and