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first parents of our race ungratefully rebelled against their bountiful Creator, and disobeyed his express and easy command. Thus "by one man "sin entered into the world, and death by sin; " and so death passed upon all men, for that all "have sinned." The holy image of God was also effaced, and from that time man was naturally incapable of spiritual felicity, dead in sin, and prone to every kind of evil.
When the root of our race thus fell, all the branches fell with him, and became mortal and sinful; from the heart of fallen men evil thoughts, words, and works, continually proceed and the natural effect of their crimes unites with the righteous indignation of God, in rendering this life a scene of labour and sorrow: and, as "it is ap
pointed to all men once to die, and after death the 'judgment;" still more terrible miseries may justly be dreaded in a future world. A criminal may suffer many things previously to his trial and condemnation, but his principal punishment folfows afterwards. And, as the human soul is subject to sinful passions, corresponding to the diseases of the body: we not only must inevitably be exposed to condemnation at the tribunal of God; but we also carry in our lapsed nature the seeds of misery and destruction.
We have, however, another view given us, in the sacred oracles, of our actual condition, still more suited" to stop every mouth, and to bring "in all the world guilty before God." We are doubtless, as reasonable creatures, accountable to our supreme Governor and Judge, for every part of our conduct; and his holy law is the rule, by
which every disposition, word, and action must be tried. Now who does not feel that he has in many instances violated the reasonable and righteous commandments of God? who has not heard that "cursed is every one that continueth not in all "things written in the book of the law, to do "them ?"
Thus "the scripture hath concluded all under "sin" and it was not without cause, I hope not without meaning, that we this morning added, after each of the commandments, Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep 'this law.'
The man, who carefully compares his past and present conduct with this most strict and spiritual standard, will soon find his own conscience bring in a verdict against him: "and, if our heart con"demn us, God is greater than our heart and "knoweth all things." No repentance or amendment can compensate for past offences; because we cannot in any instance exceed our present duty; and our debt increases in proportion as we still fall short of perfect obedience. Nor can we estimate the intrinsic evil of our sins against the infinite majesty of heaven, or the punishment we deserve for our ungrateful rebellion.
When we attempt to frame our conduct by the holy law of God, we feel a surprizing reluctance and backwardness to this most reasonable service, and a strong propensity to disobedience. Evil dispositions, though common to all, are in some exceedingly strengthened by habit, and rendered ungovernable by peculiar temptations. Such men, therefore, as have serious thoughts and form good
purposes, commonly find their resolutions enervated, and their endeavours baffled and after some fruitless efforts they return to their former course of life, unless relieved by the gospel of Christ.
When these things are seriously considered, the condition of mankind appears truly deplorable. Related to God and an eternal world; exposed to death and a future judgment; already guilty of many heinous crimes, and propense to increase the number; liable to final condemnation, and "ves"sels of wrath fitted to destruction ;" what can any one do to rescue or ransom himself or his brother from the awful sentence already published by the Judge, "Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire, "prepared for the devil and his angels ?" It is in vain to reason and dispute against facts, and the şure testimony of scripture. "Who art thou that "repliest against God? Shall not the Judge of all "the earth do right? Shall mortal man be more "just than God? Shall a man be more pure than "his Maker ?"
Let us rather submit to his righteousness, and seek that relief which his gospel proposes to us. The Lord, against whom we have rebelled, hath revealed himself to us as "merciful and gracious, 'forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin ;" and hath made way for the exercise of his boundless mercy, in harmony with infinite justice and holiness, in the person, redemption, and mediation of his beloved Son. And the divine Saviour, having made a complete atonement for sin, "brought in
1 Job iv. 17.
"everlasting righteousness," and triumphed over all our enemies, now reigneth Lord of all worlds, and is able to save to the uttermost all them "that come to God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
The proposal of mercy and grace, "without money and without price," to the chief of sinners; the pressing invitations, and persuasions with which God doth by his ministers "beseech us to be re"conciled" to him; the actual pardon and complete justification of every true believer; the gift of the Holy Spirit to renew and sanctify our souls ; the exceeding great and precious promises, privileges, and engagements of the new covenant: and the present comfort and future inheritance of the Lord's adopted children, might be particularly insisted on, in discussing the subject. These are in all respects good news, glad tidings; most needful for us, suited to our case, sufficient for our happiness, springing from love unspeakable, and terminating in the everlasting salvation and glory of all who obtain an interest in them. This is the gospel of Christ; the most rejoicing report that ever reached the ears of mortal man. Little indeed has been said on such a subject: yet that little may serve to introduce an attempt,
II. To shew that this gospel, when rightly understood and truly believed, will produce a correspondent conduct and conversation.
This will appear if we consider the information given us on the most interesting subjects, and such as are most intimately connected with our judgment and practice. "That God, who com"manded the light to shine out of darkness, hath
"shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the "knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus "Christ." The discoveries made to us in the gospel, concerning the mysteries of the Godhead and the harmony of the divine perfections, are suited to excite our highest admiration, adoration, and love; and to make us exclaim, "How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!" And hence we may perceive that God is worthy of all possible love, worship, confidence, and obedience; that happiness consists in his favour; that his image is beauty and excellency, and his service perfect freedom.
The view which the gospel of Christ gives us of the holy law of God, as worthy to be honoured, both in its requirements and its sanctions, by the obedience and atoning sacrifice of him whom all angels worship, is suited to impress our minds with the deepest sense of its excellency and authority. The clear revelation of an eternal state of righteous retributions, and of the unmingled happiness or misery which succeeds this present life, is sufficient, when truly believed, to swallow up all our anxiety about this vanishing scene; and to make the eager pursuits of worldly men appear as frivolous as the sports of children, or as infatuated as the mirth of condemned criminals, in a state of intoxication.
The gospel shews us also the evil of sin in the most affecting light. "We know that the judg
ment of God is according to truth:" and here we especially learn his judgment in this important concern. The language of the gospel is that of infinite and everlasting love and mercy: yet it