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clearly appears from the subject I am considering ; and because these errors are zealously propagated near us and all around us, and thousands and thousands in New-England and in the United States are imbibing them with great avidity, at the risk of their eternal interests. It becomes every minister and every church to contend earnestly for great and essential truths ; and to guard themselves and to guard others against all false and dangerous errors in religion.
4. If every selfish exercise is a transgression of the law and every transgression of the law is sin ; then every sin deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come. The least sin is an act of rebellion against God, the supreme Sovereign and Lawgiver of the universe. Though some sins are more heinous in the sight of God than others; yet every sin is real rebellion against him and deserves the weight of his eternal wrath. One sin is as real a transgression of the law as another; and as justly deserves the divine displeasure. Accordingly we find that God has threatened in his law, to infliot everlasting punishment for every transgression and consequently, for the least transgression. For it is written,“ the wages of sin is death ; and cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” If what the law requires be right, then what it threatens is just. One reason, why so many are apt to think the penalty of the law is unjust, is because they do not think, that every selfish affection and action is a real sin, or transgression of the law; for it is essential to every law human, or divine, to threaten punishment to every transgresor of it. The law of God threatens death, eternal
death to every transgressor, because every transgression of the divine law renders every transgressor deserving to be punished forever. For his guilt will forever remain, and as long as his guilt remains, he continues to deserve to be punished. The divine law is the infallible measure of duty, of guilt and of punishment. The moral governor of moral agents is absolutely bound to treat them according to the holy and righteous law he has given them. And we know that the law, which God has given to men, is holy, just and good in its precept and penalty. It is, there
, fore, as certain that every transgressor of his law deserves eternal death, as that he has actually threatened to inflict that punishment for the least transgression.
5. If the law of God forbids all selfish and sinful affections upon pain of eternal death ; then mankind are all naturally in a very guilty and wretched condition.--If their character and condition are to be measured by the divine law, then they are by nature in a state of perfect guilt and complete condemnation. They do nothing but what is a transgression of the divine law, which condemns them to eternal death, for every transgression. They have done nothing but sin every day since they were born, and consequently, have been eontinually treasuring unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath ; and nothing prevents God from executing the penalty of his holy law upon them, but his mere sovereign, unpromised mercy. Their feet stand on slippery places and may slide any moment that God sees fit to determine. This is the plain, simple truth, with respect to every sinner. And this plain, simple truth is more alarming and tremendous to an awakenod sinner, than all the thunderings and lightnings,
which attended the giving of the law at mount Sinai. Those displays of the divine displeasure were transitory and momentary ; but the sentence which the law passes upon every transgressor is a sentence of eternal death. But why do you attempt to alarm our fears by representing sin as a transgression of the law; and the law as threatening death for every transgression ? We have often heard all this before ; and are prepared to hear it again, without any painful fears and apprehensions. But perhaps you are mistaken, as thousands of others have been, who were as stout-hearted as you are now. I will mention one instance. It is that of Paul. He was a man of as much knowledge, as much courage and fortitude as you are. But he tells us, that he could not stand before the requirements and threatenings of the divine law. "I was alive without the law once : but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained unto 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, just and good.” I think I see what you have often seen, poor guilty sinners bowed down, hopeless and helpless, in the utmost anguish and distress, crying, what must we do to be sav. ed ? And I think I see one and another of you, who
I are most stout-hearted, sinking down in dismay and despair. I ask you, what is the matter ? claim---We have sinned against God; we have transgressed his law; we deserve his curse ; his dreadful wrath abides upon us ; we cannot stand before him ; we fall by our own sin and guilt into the endless torments of hell.
ISAIAH, XLVIII. 8—And wast called a transgressor from the womb.
In order to see the propriety of this declaration, it is necessary to look into the context and see the method God takes to convince his ancient people of the native corruption of their hearts, which they were unwilling to acknowledge and endeavored to conceal.--. “ Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah ; which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel.” This was the noble profession they made, with a view to conceal the native corruption of their hearts. But the Lord of hosts tells them, “I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth and I shewed them ; I did them suddenly and they came to pass. Because I, knew that thou art obstinate ; and thy neck is an iron sinew and thy brow brass ; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee ; before it came to pass I
I shewed it thee : lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them ; my graven image and my molten image, hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this;
and will not ye declare it? I have shewed the new things from this time, even hidden things and thou didst not know them. They are created now and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not ; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them. Yea, thou heardest not ; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened : for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously and wast called a transgressor from the womb.” God here traces all the insincerity, stupidity, obstinacy, ignorance and unbelief of sinners to the native deprayity of their hearts, which led them to disregard his commands and to disbelieve his predictions. The text in this connection naturally leads us to conclude,
That mankind begin to sin, as soon as they become capable of sinning. I shall,
I. Show what we are to understand by sin ;
III. Show that they do sin, as soon as they become capable of sinning ; And,
IV. Show why they always have sinful exercises before they have any holy ones.
I. I am to show what is to be understood by sin. The apostle John has given us a concise and just definition of sin. “Sin is a transgression of the law.” if then we can determine what the law requires, we can determine what a transgression of it is ; and if we can find what a transgression of it is, we can find what sin is. The law, we know, requires true love to God
True love is the fulfilling of the law. And true love consists in disinterested, impartial, universal benevolence. The transgression of the law, therefore, must essentially consist in something, which is directly