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mitted; when it is remembered that the cities of Galilee shall experience a more intolerable doom than even Sodom herself; it will, perhaps, be admitted, that the highly educated man of business, who avails himself of the tricks of his calling, to deceive or defraud his neighbour; or the accomplished man of fashion, who avails himself of unsuspecting friendship to rifle the brightest jewel of domestic happiness; although they may never be arraigned before the bar of their fellow man, although they may still be admitted and even courted in society, will yet have but little cause to boast over the more ignorant felon, the hungry thief, or even the exasperated murderer. But woe, woe to those who, with the light of Capernaum shining around them, are guilty of the practices of Sodom. Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, storm and tempest shall be poured upon them to the uttermost: woe, woe unto them!
This, however, I would be understood to mean, because this the inspired Apostles unequivocally assert, that for any one offence against the divine law, (though it be a solitary one,) a verdict of guilty is pronounced, and that however the punishment of impenitent sinners may vary in severity, there will be no difference in duration. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is
guilty of all;" and, again, "Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." The love of sin, and hope of final impunity, which are so natural to man, have suggested many ingenious objections against the eternity of this curse: but as there is nothing in the nature or progress of a sinner's punishment, which can so change his character as to make him love the hand that smites him; and as he, therefore, who dies unholy must be unholy still, it follows, by necessary consequence, that he who dies unhappy must be unhappy still; and it would not be difficult to prove, that his misery must not only be eternal, but also eternally increasing, as his hopeless, desperate enmity will increase against the tormenting power which he can neither fly from nor resist.
What then does the law of God require?
Its letter demands undeviating rectitude of conduct; and its spirit demands untainted purity of principle. These must go together, for it is only the perfection of the motive that can stamp acceptableness upon the service. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
These are the requirements of the law in general terms. Some of its details are thus expressed, in an exposition supplied by the Lawgiver himself. "Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in, danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that whosoever shall be angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment. Whosoever hateth his brother is a
"Again, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
"Again, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain upon the just and on the unjust. . . . Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
The heart is the main-spring of all; as the
source is, so are all the streams; and, therefore, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." And, therefore, outward obedience, without love, whatever it may be called among men, is still unrighteous in the eye of God.* And, therefore, conformity to the letter of the law, proceeding from pride, or selfishness, or eagerness in the pursuit of human approbation, requires forgiveness no less than actual transgression itself, and can never therefore stand in the judgment to come.
This is rigorous: who may abide it? Yet the law is inexorable. It makes not the slightest provision for failure. The wages of sin, of any sin, of but one sin, even in thought, is death. Sorrow for sin can make no atone ment: behold the criminal convicted at the bar of human justice; will his sorrow, however sincere, his heart-rending cries and tears, arrest the execution, of his sentence? If so, would not his trial be mere mockery? And is Jehovah's law, then, to be trampled under foot, and his righteous sentence so lightly reversed? Amendment of life, even if it were possible to perfection, (which it is not,) can make no atonement: tell your creditor among men, that you are determined to run no farther in his debt; and prove the sincerity of your determination,
*Luke xvi. 15.
by a long course of ready payments, will he, on that account, give you a receipt in full for all arrears? 66 Pay me that thou owest," is the language of the divine law.
But God is merciful! Yes, IN CHRIST JESUS God is indeed merciful; justice is satisfied. Blood-shedding hath accomplished perfectly what repentance and reformation never could have accomplished. In Christ Jesus crucified, God is all merciful: but, as the great Creator and Lawgiver, armed with the vindication of his own justice against every unbelieving sinner, he is still what he has always been, "a consuming fire."
And have we indeed been transgressors of his holy law?
Nay, rather, is there an individual among us, who for one day, or one hour of his life, has been obedient to this law? This question is strikingly answered by our Apostle, in the course of his reasoning upon righteousness, in his Epistle to the Romans. Let us attend to that answer in detail. "There is none righteous, no not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Human learning is well understood, human honours and pleasures are eagerly sought after; but, mark this charge of universal ignorance and alienation, as touching him who ought to reign supreme in the head and heart of every man, "there is