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14. Next to contrition, we must apply the remedy, which God, in his mercy, has appointed for sin. After we feel ashamed of our transgressions, let us remember that their pollution must be cleansed by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; for though sorrow for sin is, when genuine, pleasing to God, yet it can never wash away the guilt of sin, or atone for the smallest offence. God pardons the penitent soul freely, fully, everlastingly not for the sake of his repentance, but Christ's all-sufficient satisfaction and merits. Seek, then, by faith in Jesus, to mortify sin in all its actings on your souls. A beholding of Him, fixed on the cross as an atonement for transgression, is the only remedy for the corruption of the heart, and for sanctifying it to the service of God and His righteous cause
Do we desire to avoid sin in all its appearances? Is it our wish" to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord ?" Come, then, daily to the Cross of Christ, to arm yourselves with motives, which cannot fail, in proportion as you are influenced by them, to induce you to "deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to make you live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world"."
Isa. xlii. 21. liii. 11, 12. "Gal. vi. 14. Tit. ii. 12, 13.
ON THE MISERABLE CONDITION OF MAN, AS A SINNER BY NATURE AND PRACTICE.
Ephesians ii. 3. And were by nature the Children of wrath, 1. even as others.
THE view which has been taken of human depravity,
is truly affecting. We have seen, that the soul, which was once a faint representation of the Deity himself, is become the deformed abode of every species of wickedness: so that, like a once-magnificent palace now lying in ruins, there are only some weak traces left, by which we may form an opinion of its pristine grandeur.
Painful, however, as it is to contemplate the degraded condition of mankind, yet the fearful consequences attached thereto render it still more deplorable. Guilt and sorrow, by the decree of God, are inseparably connected. Where sin reigns, the bosom must be an entire stranger to peace and satisfaction. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked"". The subject of man's misery, as a sinner, is so copious, that, in the short limits of a lecture, we can only touch upon its most prominent features. We shall range our remarks under four heads; and exhibit it, as a state of bondage, condemnation, presentsuffering, and expectation of future wrath.
1. It is a state of bondage to the Law of God. The law exacts a perfect obedience; and, in case of failure, inflicts its dreadful penalty: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them"." Sinful man is hourly transgressing this law, both in its letter and spirit. He dislikes its precepts, as if they were unreasonably strict, and intended to deprive him of real pleasure. Hence he makes no scruple in disobeying the commands of God. The law, therefore, after convicting sinners of innumerable offences, passes its fearful sentence upon them; Isa. lvii. 20, 21.. Gal. ili 10..
which is nothing less than the wrath of God both here and hereafter: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.' Under this solemn curse of the violated law, every person in an unregenerate state remains, till, repenting of his numerous sins against God, he flies for refuge to the Saviour, who is both able and willing to grant him deliverance. "Christ hath
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us d." Christ is the end (or fulfilment) of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth.". With what earnestness, then, should anen seek to be released from the heavy yoke of the law, by obeying the compassionate exhortation of our crucified Lord-"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'.'
2. Man is in bondage under sin. God made us free and upright. The exercise of liberty by our first parents consisted in an unconstrained choice of good, and an aversion to evil. This holy freedom, as we have already seen, was soon exchanged for a slavish subjection to depraved inclinations: the posterity of Adam, partaking of the same corruption, are, as he was, under the dominion of sin their powers, both of body and mind, are enslaved by it. The soul of man, under every advantage of education, savours not the things that are of God, but those which are earthly, and suited to its vicious taste: "that which is born of the flesh, is flesh":" it constantly tends towards, and always centres in, fleshly objects.
The body shares in this degrading thraldom: it is "tied and bound with the chain of sin." It unites with the soul in committing iniquity, with a shame
Mat. xxv. 41.
4 Gal. iii. 13.
• Rom. x. 4.
less alacrity. How sincerely, therefore, should each convinced sinner pray, that God, through" the pitifulness of his great mercy, would loose him, for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocateh!".
3. The natural man is under bondage to Satan. The agency of Satan on the human mind is denied by many, who pride themselves on the superiority of their intellect, and affect to despise those truths which the generality of men believe as "the true sayings of God." As the Evil Spirit influences the heart in various ways, the pride, disdain, and contempt, with which infidels treat the sacred doctrines of religion, afford as striking proofs of that influence on themselves, as the most glaring acts of wickedness do on those who commit them. "Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?" It ascribes thei mpiety of men to the agency of Satan, acting on the depravity of their hearts: "Wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience'." Yea, it furthermore maintains that every impenitent sinner is in bondage to him: "That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captive at his will ".
In the first instance, men freely choose the vassalage of Satan forsaking, without provocation, the delightful service of God, they willingly enlist under the banners of the deadly foe. They accept of him as their leader, and cheerfully submit to his hateful yoke; and thus concur in all his rebellious projects against the Lord of Glory. Of each of his slaves, Christ says, "Ye are of your father the Devil, and i Eph. ii. 2, 3. ii 2 Tim. xi. 26.
b Evening Prayer.
the lusts of your father ye will do.". But when once they have consented to put themselves under his authority, he rules over them, like a merciless despot, with a cruel rigour. Even the iron bondage of the Israelites in Egypt, which made death preferable to life, was comparatively easy to the tyranny and oppression which the Wicked-one exercises over his subjects. He constrains them to activity in the promotion of his diabolical cause; and engages them daily in fresh acts of sin, in order to confirm their enmity to God, and ensure their perdition. Through the medium of temptations, adapted to gratify the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," he rivets on the fetters which more closely bind them to his interests.
That vast multitudes pay a voluntary homage to Satan, may be seen, not only from the tenor of men's lives', but from the alarming declaration of the Apostle: "The whole world (except real believers), lieth in wickedness "1" or under the dominion of the Wicked-one.
4. Sinners are under bondage to the fear of death. Many, urged by a desire of transmitting their natnes with honour to posterity, will shew an heroic contempt of death, in the field of battle, or in prosecuting an important enterprise. Most men, however, dread the ordinary approach of death, which even the courageous are averse to meditate on. It may be granted, there is something in the dissolution of our mortal frame that may momentarily affect the mind, even of the righteous, who possess a well-founded hope" of the resurrection unto eternal life:" yet this must not be confounded with those fearful forebodings of death, which harass and overwhelm the * John viii. 44. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. 1 John iii.6-11. ib.v. 19.