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earth may pass away, but one jot or tittle of what has been thus spoken shall in no wise fail. If the divine threatenings might fail, then the divine promises might fail; and the least suspicion, on this point, would be sufficient to destroy the foundations of happiness throughout the universe. God has required us to believe, that the most awful denunciations of his word will be realized in the doom of those who persist in doing evil,—and he cannot have required us to believe a lie. The view of his character and government which the scriptures place before us, will not fail to commend itself to him, and to all obedient natures, when the last fire shall be performing its work of desolation, and time shall be no more, as much as at this hour. And no less certain is it, that amid the wonderful revolutions which the ages of eternity may bring to pass, nothing can transpire to render the divine dispensation, in regard to this world, either less approved by the Creator, or less grateful to the creature-He is a rock, his work is perfect, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
Nor should it be overlooked, that the connexion between sin and suffering is evidently inwrought with the existing order of things; and that the occasional exceptions, sometimes so much magnified, only serve to confirm the doctrine which they are adduced to disprove. These instances all show the incompleteness, the unfinished character, of the present scene, and thus point to an
intimate moral connexion between a state that is, and a state that shall be.
Where, then, will the accused, convicted man discover a ground of hope? He may say, I will Repent, and make supplication to my Judge. But it must be remembered that to his being justified, it is necessary that he should be acquitted from all the charges brought against him as a sinner. The word justification implies nothing less than this. Repentance, however, is a confession that the charge of his having sinned is just; and the law, as we have seen, knows nothing of a sinner beyond the fact of his being such, and inevitably pronounces its curse upon him. Repentance, therefore, however sincere, however ingenuous, or deep, would be of no avail toward gaining a state of justification.
But the offender will not only repent. He will make the most costly Sacrifices to obtain the lost favour of God. He would offer thousands of rams, and rivers of oil, were they at his command, and were they still required. In the place of such services, he is, perhaps, resolved to abound in charitable works. He will become known as the protector of the defenceless, the benefactor of the needy. But it will still behove him to remember, that this is far from being the whole of the obedience required by his Maker's law, and that nothing short of an obedience commensurate with the whole claim of that law, can be the ground of that honourable acquittal which is meant by the word justification.
The sacrifices necessarily involved in becoming the support of the weak, and the friend of the destitute, may not be trivial. But were the penitent to add to these the many other privations of personal enjoyment, and all the inflictions of personal suffering, to which monks and hermits, and the superstitious in every age, have resorted, it would still be true that if he say he has no sin, he deceives himself; and if, on the other hand, he shall confess that he has sinned, the law prepares to inflict its doom upon him.
But the alarmed transgressor will perhaps do more than this. He will not only add to his repentance expansive charity, and to expansive charity much self-mortification and abasement;-he will attempt a sincere Reformation of his conduct and character. He will no longer be the same man. Suppose then, that in virtue of this resolve, he should become at once holy as an angel of God; and suppose this state of sanctity to be continued to the moment of his death. Still there are the sins of the past; and it behoved him as much to have been holy through the past, as it does to be so through the future. A life of perfectness during the space to come, would only meet the claims of the law upon him for that space; the deficiencies of the past, would still remain a matter of accusation against him. And every one must perceive, that the individual who owes ten talents, does not honour the demand of his creditor by the payment of five. He is a debtor still. And we should be still farther from admitting, that the fraudulent
deed of yesterday, may be obliterated by the barely honest action of to-day. Our case, however, is even more hopeless. It is evidently vain to expect, even for a moment, that the character of our future life will be what the law of God requires. On the contrary, added to the innumerable offences already chargeable upon us, will be the deficiencies and transgressions inseparable from every movement of our future course;-our best doings, instead of being confided in as an atonement for our worst, needing themselves to be repented of, because of their sinfulness.
Here, then, the question returns upon us with increased force,-How shall man be just with God? and again we ask of the convicted offender, where is thy hope? To trust in any of the expedients we have now adverted to, will be to lean upon a spider's web. You may repent, and with a bitterness of soul exceeding all that humanity has ever known; and still, as the law does not call for your repentance, does not accept your repentance, as it insists on that perfect obedience which must render all penitent feeling inappropriate, and even impossible, you must be found wanting. You may abound in works of charity; of you it may be said, that you are eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and a father to the poor; that the cause which you knew not, you searched out; that you brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth; and still, as the law does not allow the soul to be redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and
gold, nor admit of the costly performance of some duties, as superseding others, higher and more sacred, you must be found wanting. You may expose yourself to much personal suffering; you may resort to self-inflicted tortures of a kind surpassing any thing that the sternest laws of superstition have required; and still, as the heaviest chain, the deepest dungeon, the most accumulated sufferings of the wretched on earth, are a sort of paradise when compared with the doom of the lost, with that torment the smoke of which ascendeth for ever and for ever,-you must be found wanting. You may purpose, you may even accomplish a reformation of character, outvieing every thing that man has wrought for himself; and still, as the law accepts not of future obedience as an atonement for the past, or of a part in the place of the whole,you must be found wanting. Yes, and as every thing we know with respect to eternity, forbids the slightest thought of any second state of trial; the men who are found wanting, when they leave the earth, must be found for ever wanting. Trembling, perishing man!-there is an expedient, and one expedient only, by which your recovery to the forfeited favour of God may be secured!
The adorable Redeemer has magnified that law, both in its precept and its penalty, which we have so dishonoured. His obedience, as Jesus of Nazareth, and as the second Adam, included every thing that the divine precepts had claimed; and his sufferings equally testified his approval of the