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confess that we “are justly punished for our of“ fences.” This confession contains two thingscause and effect. We shall begin with the latter.
That we “ are punished,” is a truth of which every man has the witness in himself. It requires no proof from the deductions of logic, or the demonstrations of mathematics. painfully furnished with experimental evidence, such as would arise from a body partly consumed in the flames in support of the existence of fire. That “man is born to trouble, as the “ sparks fly upward,” cannot then lie denied. No station, rank, age, country, or constitution, exempts a single individual of mankind from the common lot of fallen humanity. This confession therefore is suitable to the lips of every individual in every congregation. The penalty of transgression began to be inflicted on the first transgressors immediately after their fall. Adam had been warned, that, in the very day that he ate of the forbidden fruit, he should surely die; and in that very day he proved the veracity of the threatening. For he became mortal, liable to death, and all its train of preparatives and forerunners. He tasted the bitter fruits of iniquity, and discovered, too late, that " the wages
of sin is death.” And all his seed, who are by derivation of being naturally implicated in his guilt, are also partakers of his punishment. Sin and sorrow are correlatives. Sorrow cannot exist without sin, nor sin without sorrow.
The penalty of transgression is co-extensive with the transgressing nature.
Man is a compound being, consisting of a body and a soul; and both have joined in rebellion against God. The heart of Adam coveted the forbidden fruit, and his hand took it. The hearts of his children
are alienated from God, and the “ members” of their bodies are “instruments of unrighteous
Our souls and bodies are mutually corrupted and corrupters of each other. Both therefore feel the bitter consequences of sin in the present world; and both are exposed to its fearful reward in the world to come. There is a lake of fire prepared to torment for ever without destroying the body, and a worm that never dies to prey eternally on the lost soul. The soul however was the primary and is the chief agent in transgression, and therefore is the greatest sufferer both in this and the future life, if it depart hence in an impenitent state.
The corporeal sufferings of mankind in the present life are very great. They begin with our beginning, and continue to our death. Hunger and thirst, cold and heat, poverty, diseases, accidents, pain and death, all proclaim the righteous displeasure of God against sin, and are all designed to promote the humiliation of the guilty sufferer. That conviction of sin does not arise out of every day's experience, is a strong proof that the understanding of man is darkened, and that his reason is in an impaired state. For how natural is an inquiry into the cause of those sufferings which we hourly feel! And yet how generally is it neglected ! Did a wise, a good and almighty Being make us what we are? Could we, consistently with His perfections, come out of His creating hands in our present state of weakness, disgrace, and suffering ? For so soon as we begin to live, we begin also to die. The miseries of life are the agonies of death. Human life, from first to last, is a dying existence. Yet how many persons live as if no proofs of their fallen and guilty state existed! The grace
of consideration is no small favour from God; for it is usually the first fruits of an abundant harvest.
The punishment which is Divinely inflicted on the human soul, even in the present state, is still more grievous, and marks more strongly the displeasure of God on account of sin. Disappointments, bereavements, fears and anxieties, as wave after wave invades the shore in a continual succession, harrass and torinent the mind. The bosom of fallen man is like a troubled sea, sometimes lashed into violent agitations by storms to which it is ever exposed, and never perfectly at rest. In its calmest moments there is some undulation. No man but the Christian, whose conscience is pacified by faith in the Son of God, and whose heart has found repose in the hope of salvation through Him, and He only in some favoured seasons, can say, I am happy and contented, free from fear and anxiety, and replenished with consolation.
An antient mode of punishing criminals affords a striking representation of human life. The criminal was put into a barrel stuck with spikes, whose sharp points were directed inwards. The barrel was then rolled down a declivity. As the machine revolved, the miserable convict was continually receiving fresh stabs in every part of his tortured frame, till at length he expired under accumulated wounds. It was in a manner somewhat similar that the heroic Regulus, the Roman consul, was punished at Carthage. He was “put," says Rollin, “ into a " kind of chest full of nails, whose points
wounding him, did not allow him a moment's “ ease, either day or night.' The declivity is
* Rollin's Antient History, vol. 1. p. 211. In arcæ genus. stipatus, undique extrinsecus clavis confixus tot cruces sensit. Aurel. Vict. de viris illustr. Regulus Carthaginem reversus, omni suppliciorum genere conficitur. Nam præter caeteros cruciatus, domunculâ angustâ inclusus, quæ magnitudini corporis ejus responderet, intus crebris clavis ferreis transfixâ, periit: cum nec immotus stare posset et quieturus statu corporis utrumque inclinato, in ferreas cuspides incideret. Gell. lib. 6, cap. 4
the space of time between our birth and the grave.
As we roll along, we are continually receiving fresh stabs from afslictive occurrences, till at length we expire under the sentence of the Divine law. The infidel who denies the doctrine of the Bible and of our church on the subject of original sin, because in his estimation it is contrary to the dictates of justice, would do well to consider whether, if he steer clear of atheism, and admit God to be the moral governor of the universe, his reason will not be more puzzled, on his views of justice, to account for the natural evil which exists in the world, and which is experienced even by those “ who have not “ sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgres“ sion.” This is a difficulty which has never been solved, and never can be solved, on any other principle than that which Revelation lays down.
But the punishment which is endured in the present life is only “the beginning of sorrows." For the penalty of sin will be most severely exacted in the world to come, if guilt be not previously taken from our souls by faith in the Son of God. That the “ death” which is declared by St. · Paul to be “ the wages of sin,” is eternal cleath, appears from the other branch of his antithesis, wherein he states “ eternal life” to be “ the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And that this eternal death doth not consist in annihilation, appears from what our Lord says
respecting lost souls, viz. that their “ worm never “ dieth, and that the fire is not quenched." Absurd therefore is the hope of many persons who, while they live in the neglect of the great sacrifice for sin, seem to think that their present sufferings will so atone for it that they shall escape “ from the wrath to come.” If any personal sufferings of the transgressor could have been expiatory and purgatorial, the Divine Mediator might have remained in heaven, and have spared Himself the agonies which He endured on our behalf. To Him, and to Him alone, must our eyes be directed, if we would have “ these light s afflictions which are but for moment,” to “work “out for us a far more exceeding and eternal " weight of glory." Without an interest in Him the groans of mortality are anticipations of “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
The punishment, however, which sinners endure in the present life, is to be considered in a twofold light, and is distinguished by the state of the persons on whom it is inflicted, and by the intention of God who inflicts it. It is either destructive or corrective. Its object is either the excision or amendment of the punished party. It is the act of a just and angry Judge, or of a kind and gracious Father.
Now under one or the other of these aspects all national calamities, such as war, pestilence and famine, and all personal troubles, such as sickness, poverty, bereavements of various other kinds, and even death itself, are to be considered. Oh! what an important question it is, Under which of these views our present national visitations are to be classed !-whether in their object and end they resemble the punishment inflicted on the old world whose inhabitants were swept