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of God. The Bible assures us that even here, “ the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest;" that their momentary prosperity will but aggravate their future wo; and that finally, they will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”
Let the good man rejoice under the bright beams of " the Sun of Righteousness," who has arisen upon him “ with healing in his wings.” The Bible declares that he is the reconciled child of God - the object of his heavenly Father's love; that even here, his portion, is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding ;" and that his light afflictions which are but for a moment, shall only be the means of better fitting him for his eternal inheritance. In the world to come, he shall be made partaker of the fulness of joy; he shall shine "as the brightness of the firmament,'
as the stars forever and ever." To conclude, the light of Scripture respecting the moral government of God, and future reward and punishments, as well as respecting the law itself, far exceeds the light of nature, both in clearness and extent. Yet with that fainter, narrower light, it is in just accordance
-in perfect harmony. The analogy between the declarations of religion on these topics, and that which we see, and feel, and know, is palpable and undoubted. Well may we therefore conclude, that the objections which some men urge against the Christian doctrine of judgment to come, are founded on a fallacy. Well may we draw the inference that Christianity is indeed true, and that the God of nature, is the God of the Bible.
ON THE SINFUL AND ENSLAVED CONDITION OF MAN.
Many of the doctrines of revealed religion, although proposed to our faith on grounds satisfactory to reason, are far beyond the reach of our own powers either of reason or observation, But there is one truth discovered to us by Christianity, which, now that we know it, is so palpable and obvious, that we can hardly imagine how great would have been our ignorance on the subject, did we not possess the Scriptures. The truth to which I allude, is the universal sinfulness of mankind, and their consequent alienation from God.
That the conscience reproves for iniquity independently of the light of a written law, must indeed be fully allowed; and that mankind without Christianity are by no means destitute of a sense of transgression, may be inferred from the general use among the heathen, of expiatory sacrifices. But it is only through the medium of revealed religion, that we obtain a proper conception of the nature of sin, or are enabled to form a right estimate of the moral condition of mankind.
Although the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome pleaded for virtue, their views of sin were miserably defective. Socrates, in deed, declared his opinion that certain vices particularly injustice and ingratitude -- were breaches of those “ laws of the gods” which are known and understood by all men ;* but with most of these uninspired reasoners, sin was nothing more than a "missing of the mark," as it regards the good order of society, or the general fitness of things. Could the unassisted
* Xenoph. Memorab. lib. iv, 4.
powers of human reason have sufficed for the purpose, these moralists, so gifted with talents, so cultivated by study, would surely have discerned the true character of sin ; but they made no such discovery. Nor have those modern speculators been more successful, who dare to speak of sin, as if it were of small account casual and temporary evil, which will in the end be productive of greater good!
But what says the Bible on this subject ? It says that sin is the transgression of the perfect law of a holy God - an offence against the moral Governor of the miverse — which, although varying in its degrees, is so malignant in its nature, that it separates us from his favour, and forever exposes us to his wrath. “The law of the Lord is perfect,” and “ sin is the transgression of the law.” “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord.” "Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil; of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.".
Since Jehovah himself is the Being against whom all our sins are committed, their heinousness is greatly aggravated in our view, when. we reflect on his glorious attributes. To offend against omnipotence, is desperate folly; against perfect holiness — desperate pollution ; against unutterable goodness - desperate ingratitude.
Now it is in the Scriptures only that the attributes of our heavenly Father, are fully made known to us. And, therefore, it is only through the religion of the Bible, that we can obtain an adequate notion of sin. But the cardinal point revealed to us in Scripture, and only in Scripture, without a knowledge of which it is impossible for any man to form a full estimate of sin, is this — that God so loved us as to send his only begotten Son into the world, to be a sacrifice for our sins. How infinitely deep and malignant in the sight of God - how strangely different from the weak idea of int embraced by ancient philosophy or modern deism -must be that evil, which demanded so exalted a sacrifice; which called Immanuel from his throne of glory to take our nature upon him, and to suffer and die for sinners !
In like manner it is evident that our apprehension of that by which the law is transgressed, must be in proportion to our acquaintance with the law itself. Now where but in the sacred writings, shall we look for a full account