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tion to destruction, because they would not submit to the restraints of his law, will he make more account of the impenitent man? By no means.
The heavens and earth shall pass away, before God will sacrifice his law, and accommodate himself to the rebellious inclinations and wishes of the wicked.
IV. THERE IS NO PROOF THAT GOD HAS EVER ALTERED THE PROVISIONS OF HIS MORAL LAW, OR EVER WILL. The law, given on Mount Sinai, and published by an audible voice in the ten commandments, was not then for the first time enacted. The law is coeval with our race, and is wisely, wonderfully, and benevolently adapted to the nature of man. It has been enacted for the express purpose of promoting the happiness of mankind. A deviation from it he declared, in the very infancy of our race, would be ruinous. Its violation would be followed with death, and death has followed in one regular and steady flow from the first parent of the race till the present hour. It is true, that the specific form in which God presented his law was that of positive statute, prohibiting Adam and Eve from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil ; but this was a mere circumstance, intended to put to the test the obedience of the first pair. It was so prescribed, and they stood in such a relation to God, that its violation was equivalent to the violation of every precept of the decalogue. The violation of a positive statute, which was made the test of obedience to an entire code, would not fail to be regarded as the violation of all; and indeed the principles of a man's conduct, which are too weak to prevent him from violating the law in one respect, cannot be safely relied on in any other, where temptations are equally strong, and circumstances equally favorable to sin. Hence the Spirit of God has declared, “He that offends in one point is guilty of all.” It was the same law, enjoined on man in innocence,
that now asserts its claims and authority over man in guilt and rebellion. God punished the violation of that law, in the first instance, with death, and death yet reigns over the guilty children of men. The constitution remains inviolate on the part of God, although broken on the part of man. actment of the moral law on Sinai, and the explicit and peculiarly pointed and solemn exposition of that law by Jesus Christ, show plainly, that whatever man may think and hope, God has not changed the code under which we live.
The apostle Paul has shown that the heathen world are all under the same law, and that far as the race is found, God is
pursuing, in the infliction of death upon transgressors, the vindication of the honor and authority of his law. Death is the wages of sin, and death reigns and triumphs with as much uniformity, and as certainly, in consequence of sin, as physical evil comes, on the violation of the laws of nature. Men do not expect a change in the latter ;-they see the uniform results that flow from their violation, and whether they will, or not, the instincts of their being command their respect for them. Why then, when age after age, and generation after generation, they see death sweep over our guilty race, will they anticipate a change in God's moral constitution ? The laws of nature have been occasionally changed by miraculous interpositions of divine power, but where is there an example of a sinner ever having escaped from death, save Enoch and Elijah, whom he exempted from the execution of this law of his moral government? What right or reason can the sinner have to hope for escape from the punishment so justly due to his sins? Will God alter his law for his convenience? Where is the pledge or proof the sinner has, that he either will or can do so ? Are we directed to the scheme of redemption ? We reply:
V. THE SALVATION OF JESUS CHRIST NEVER WAS INTENDED TO INVALIDATE IN
“I came," says Christ, “not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.” By his own example of perfect and perpetual obedience, he has magnified that law, and shown how God and all holy beings regard and honor it. And can it be, that after having set such an example having labored and suffered so much to vindicate the good and holy law of God, he will grant the sinner permission to violate it, or look with allowance on his sins? He has indeed atoned for our sins, and rendered it consistent for God to forgive those their sins who will repent and turn from their transgressions. But all this does not affect the claim of God's law, or render void our obligations to it. The very design of his redemption is to bring men off from their rebellion, and to establish them in the love and observance of his law-to make all who will accept the proffered pardon zealous of good works, and conscientious in their observance of the commands of God. If, therefore, the sinner has learned to hope in his mercy, and can live in the indulgence of any one sin, or the neglect of any duty, he is perverting the grace of
God into licentiousness.
He is expecting what God declares shall never be.
It is indeed true, that the sinner's obedience is not required in order to merit heaven, nor to establish a plea of justification before God, on the ground of personal obedience. But if God offers pardon freely through Christ, and declares that he will justify all transgressors freely through the redemption which there is in him, provided they believe, how can that affect their natural and rightful obligations to do his will ?. He that says he believes and hopes in the mercy of God for salvation, through Jesus Christ, while he does not conscientiously keep the commandments of God, shows that his mind is blinded, and his conscience defiled. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for God to suffer the wicked to pass to heaven, who claim the privilege of being saved without a diligent, faithful, and conscientious observance of his will.
VI. GOD AFFORDS PROOF IN THE EXPERIENCE OF EVERY UNCONVERTED SINNER, THAT HE DOES NOT RECEDE FROM HIS LAW, AND WILL NOT ALLOW HIM TO VIOLATE IT WITH JMPUNITY. Although he may think, that impunity thus far may afford presumptive ground to hope for it in all time to come, yet will he find his mistake erelong. “ Although a sinner do evil a hundred times,” says the wise man, " and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he feareth not before God.” The retributions of a God of justice will overtake him. Of this, God furnishes abundant proof long before the hour of awful and signal vengeance.
Take the transgressor, of whatever character, and interrogate him in relation to the thoughts of his mind and the feelings of his heart. What painful forebodings, what agitation and perturbation of spirit! What seasons of gloom and dejection oppress and distress him! To the
he seems gay and full of glee, but could we enter his heart, what crowds of envyings, and fears, and jealousies, should we find distract him in his retirement! The youthful drunkard does, indeed, as he quaffs his cups, and raises the lewd and lustful song, vainly think himself happy; but when recovering from his debauch, and beginning to reflect on his conduct, who would envy him his feelings? How does his eye drop before the gaze of purity and innocence, and his cheek grow red with blushes, when re
minded of his bacchanalian exploits! How often does remorse torment him, and his conscience fill him with self-reproach, when he reaps the pain which his excess secures in his own body, or the misery which it inflicts on his wife, and parents, or children, whom he has disgraced and degraded by his crimes! His stomach, gorged and sickened by excess, does not more loathe its food, than does he loathe himself. Unhappiness attends him at every step. His friends desert him-his children despise him-his neighbors refuse to trust him-his property slips from his grasp—his debts accumulate and molest him—and the further he pursues his soul-destroying appetite, the more does he sink degraded in his own estimation. What is all this but the voice of God, proclaiming to him, that he cannot thus violate his laws with impunity?
In like manner, the gambler and seducer, the avaricious and fraudulent, the proud and revengeful, the lustful and unclean, have all their inward woes, at times, when the keen and cutting reproaches of conscience overwhelm them. These are the proofs which God is giving, that his law must be honored, and that he will not compromit its claims. All the misery in the world is the result of its violation. Some wise and gracious design must be had, by a Being infinite in his benevolence, in thus filling the earth with wretchedness. He delighteth not in unhappiness." He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” He would rather it were otherwise, but it is all intended to show the value he puts upon his law, and how unalterably he will adhere to all its provisions. Thus do the sorrows and woes of men speak to the Christian's faith, and proclaim the Almighty's determination to visit the sinner's iniquity
The skeptic will probably say, that the disease and wretchedness of the youthful sensualist, result from his violation of those physical laws, which God has ordained for the preservation of the health of the human body; and are to be assigned to natural, and not to moral causes. But the economy of nature, as it has been shown, is subordinate to the moral government of God. He ordained the laws of man's physical constitution, and those which regulate his susceptibility of excitement. And these laws were all intended to promote the great purposes of morality. The natural an uniform result, in due season, of suffering and wretchedness from immoral causes, only shows the wisdom and immutability of God's moral constitution, and
how subservient natural causes are made to its great interests. Impenitent men have proof enough of God's respect for his law in their sorrow and anguish, in the keenness of their self-reproach, and the discontented, fretful state of their minds consequent on their sins. They who live in the habitual violation of the law of God, pursue the very course to subvert the natural economy designed of God, and calculated to promote human happiness; and are, themselves, the authors of their own misery and ruin. Their painful convictions, and secret fears, and torturing reproaches of conscience, and restless inquietude, and dissatisfaction with every thing around them, are but the voice of God, assuring them, that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one tittle of the law to fail.
VII. THE RETRIBUTION OF THE GREAT DAY WILL CLEARLY AND FULLY DEMONSTRATE THAT GOD HOLDS THE ENTIRE ECONOMY OF NATURE SUBSERVIENT TO HIS MORAL GOVERNMENT. Then the heavens and the earth shall literally pass away ;--the elements shall melt with fervent heat; and the earth, and all things in it, shall be consumed with the fires of his wrath; but his law shall abide forever. The flames of an expiring world shall prove to his rational universe, how impossible it is for God to set aside his law. To its honor he once sacrificed the world, for its vindication, he poured down the lightnings of his fury from heaven, and consumed the cities of the plain. One nation after another has he swept with utter destruction, and caused their very name and memorial almost to perish, because they kept not his law. His own beloved Son, too, must be sacrificed, before ample atonement could be made, and he could impart forgiveness. And the heavens and earth, which are now, are kept in store reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
The scoffer does, indeed, smile at such declarations, and turns away from the warning voice that calls men to repentance: but the history of the past affords presumptions of truth too strong to be resisted by a rational mind. The laws of nature are no guarrantee for absolute and everlasting safety. The very elements, so essential to life, can be casily converted into the sources of death, and often have been, where God has sent his wide-spread and desolating judgments through the earth. He wants not agents in nature to accomplish his will, for he knows all its constituent elements, and can touch at will the springs of life or death. The chemist knows full well that it