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pearls before swine," and hath instructed me, that "there is a sin unto death," for which we are not commanded even to pray.
Brethren, "all unrighteousness is sin," and "there is a sin not unto death." May the great God, at whose absolute disposal you all are for eternity, convince you all of your unrighteousness, and lead you all to Him whom to know and trust is life eternal, even Jesus Christ, who suffered, the just one, for us the unjust, that he might bring us to God.
Consider the import of that solemn question, "what would it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" What would it profit any man among you, though he should gain all the honours, offices, and emoluments which can be heaped upon the most transcendent talents and unwearied industry, if, in the end, when the iron grasp of death shall have severed you from all these high attainments, you should lift up your eyes being in agony, and beholding afar off one of those humble believers whom you now deride as visionary simpletons, you should cry to him, in the bitterness of your anguish, and cry in vain, imploring him to dip the tip of his finger in water, and to cool your tongue, for that you are tormented in a fearful flame.
That such a scene may be, is among the true
sayings of God.
Hearken, therefore, to the timely warnings of God, oh ye wise ones of the earth. I speak to you words of soberness, not of enthusiasm; words of true affection, not of angry zeal, when I beseech you to consider your latter end, to reflect upon your unrighteousness, to tremble in the anticipation of a judgment to come, and to fly for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before you, the only hope for a fallen sinner, the cross of Jesus Christ.
For let us reason together concerning the righteousness which Paul preached. Righteousness is conformity to a rule of right, to the requirements of a given law. There are two laws, in the enactments, prohibitions, and sanctions of which we are deeply interested; the one is the law of this realm, the other is the law of God. The one is compiled from the proceedings of the various successive institutions of England, the other was proclaimed from Mount Sinai, in Arabia, with the awful accompaniments of the divine presence. The one has undergone, and may still undergo, many important alterations, each succeeding age profiting by and improving upon the experience of their ancestors; the other never admitted of any alteration, was never susceptible of any improvement. The one, like every thing connected with our fallen nature, grew by slow degrees to its present maturity, and is still im
perfect; the other, like the first man, knew nothing of infancy, but came in all its strength, direct from the hand of God, and, “lo, it was very good."
And here we may observe, in passing, how striking a proof this circumstance exhibits of the divine inspiration of the Mosaic records. For what nation has there ever been, which, in an infant, unsettled, and even migratory state, has composed for itself a code of laws, with such prophetic wisdom as to meet all the exigencies of their subsequent establishment and civilization? What comparison will the code of Numa bear to that of Justinian; or the regulations of our Alfred, to the present comprehensive wisdom of the digested statutebook? Moses alone, of all the founders of infant states, promulged a perfect law; and we assert no more than this single circumstance would be sufficient to prove, when we draw this obvious conclusion, that Moses was guided by more than human wisdom, or in scriptural language, that "he spake not of his own will, but as he was moved by the Holy Ghost."* But to
The enactments and prohibitions of the law of England and of the law of God, do, in some things, coincide, and in others materially differ, while their sanctions are altogether different;
* See Davison on Prophecy, Discourse iv.
those of the one resting in their hands who may imprison, banish, or kill the body, but after that have no more that they can do; those of the other belonging to him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast both body and soul into hell.
We are now about to witness the administration of justice according to the provisions of one of these laws. An acknowledged rule of right is set up, and the conduct of certain individuals, who are supposed to be transgressors, is to be examined; the accusations brought against them are to be investigated; evidences on either side are to be brought forward, and the obligations of an oath imposed. The facts of the case being so elicited, the law is to be expounded in its application to them; twelve impartial auditors are then to give their unanimous verdict, upon which finally solemn judgment is to be pronounced. These are confessedly most important occasions. Recurring at stated intervals, they meet and repel, year after year, the unwearied activity of human wickedness; they keep resetting, as it were,. the continually disjointed framework of society, before the breach has gone too far.
But if we can trace the hand of wisdom in these periodical circuits of justice and judgment through our land, we may no less clearly trace the hand of piety in the regulation which has
respect, at the same time, to the requirements of another and better law, and which renders the sanctuary of God the vestibule to the seat of judgment. About to enter a scene where one man is so highly exalted above another, it is well to pass before him, in whose sight all are upon a level, before whose bar all stand equally arraigned, and in reference to whose holy law, all are equally unjustifiable, equally condemned; "for there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
I would not be understood to mean that there are no degrees of unrighteousness in the sight of God, or of the severity of the punishment incurred by different transgressors. The doctrine of a graduated scale of both seems to be clearly maintained in Scripture, and few stripes or many stripes awarded in an equitable ratio of relative responsibility.* This might, indeed, seem to aggravate the guilt of those who have openly violated even human laws, and to imply somewhat of an extenuation to the more orderly members of our community; but when it is remembered that the all-seeing Judge will measure the guilt of each individual as much in reference to the opportunities and advantages which he has enjoyed, as to the actual quantum of the offences which he has com
*Luke xii. 47, 48.