« PreviousContinue »
ready dead in trespasses and sins, to one who daily cherishes his carnal mind, which is enmity against God, to one
who rejoices in iniquity ; to have his sin increased? This would be, to a proud and selfish heart, no punishment at all. In short, this idea of the penalty of the law utterly confounds and blends sin and punishment together, making them one and the same thing.
Again ; Others suppose, that the penalty of the law consists altogether in what is called eternal death. If so, whence come all other natural evils, which are equally the subject matter of divine threatenings ; and as distinctly so, as eternal damnation ? God has always threatened corrupt and idolatrous nations, and in many instances he has threatened individuals for their transgressions, with great worldly calamities; and with untimely, painful and disgraceful deaths. The human race, in their fallen state, are plunged in a deluge of evils, which terminate in death. 66 The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together." Death is said to be “ by sin, and death has passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Let it be admitted, that, to the saints, death is no curse, but is a happy release from a world of trouble. But would it not be happier still, like Enoch and Elijah, and like the generation of the saints at the last day, to be changed in a moment, and to escape all the pains of a lingering dissolution? On the whole, it is evident, that punishment consists in natural evils; and that without sin no natural evils would have taken place, under the holy government of God. Why may we not then consider every pain and sorrow as a threatened consequence of the fall of man, and as a part of the curse of the divine law ? Eternal death is indeed, infinitely the greatest part, and swallows up the whole of the punishment of transgressors.
All other evils, are as light offlictions for a moment, compared with eternal death, which is the consummation of the penalty of the divine law.* To me it appears, that the
* Do any query, with respect to the view which is here given of the penalty of the law, as implying natural death, whether the soul
no - of sh
events of divine providence, since the apostacy of man, explain the curse of the law. The immediate consequences of the fall were, that our first parents were filled with shame and remorse, terror and amazement. 'They sought to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord. God then arraigned them before him, and denounced on them many temporal evils, terminating in natural death. 66 Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." All these natural evils were manifestly included in the penalty of the law. Even the affliction's of the saints, as well as all other evils, are the fruits of the apostacy ; though, like all other things, afflictions work together for their good. Still they are evils, in themselves considered ; and like all other evils, brought on moral beings, they are expressions of divine displeasure. Of course, they belong to the penalty of the law.
of man, only, would have existed to endure eternal punishment, had the penalty been inflicted ? the answer is decidedly in the negative. As the souls and bodies of the finally impenitent are to be destroyed in hell forever, after the resurrection and final judgment; so the souls and bodies of Adam and Eve, would have been destroyed in hell, from the day of their apostacy, had the penalty been inflicted.
It is not to be supposed, however, that the natural, material and mortal bodies of fallen man would, or could have been the sub. jects of eternal punishment. Their mortal part must have undergone a dissolution, and must have put on immortality. But, "There is a spiritual body,” which is, in its nature, incorruptible and immortal ; and made capable of enduring eternal punishment. To possess this body, sinners are all doomed to die a natural death. Such is the divine constitution, that although a part of the snints, such as Enoch and Elijah, and the generation that shall be alive and remain at the coming of Christ to judgment, shall be changed in a moment, and never taste of death ; yet all sinners must die accursed; and their resurrection must be to shame and everlasting contempt.
Truly, the bodies of sinners, in a state of resurrection, will exist forever"; and, together with their souls, will suffer the penalty of the law, which is called the second deuth. Natural and eternal death, and all the natural evils which terminate in these, are sub. jects of divine threatenings, and are expressions of divine wrath and vengeance. All therefore belong to the penalty of the law.
Respecting the moral law, or covenant of works, it may be added, that the condition of eternal life was a perfect, sinless obedience. For one single transgression, the favor of God was forfeited forever, and man fell under the curse ; 6 Cursed is every one that continueth pot in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” And the law, both in its precepts and penalties, can never be relinquished, nor abated. Obey and live, disobey and die ; is the language of the law. 66 The law of the Lord is perfect;" and not one jot or tittle shall pass from it, till all be fulfilled. The penalty is as indispensable as the precept; and both are absolutely indispensable. The law knows no mercy nor forgiveness. Only the man that doth the things required by the law, shall live by them. 66 The soul that sinneth iť shall die.” This is the condition of the covenant of works.
In a review of what has been said on the moral law of God, or what is called the covenant of works, we learn how vain it is for fallen men, who are dead in trespasses and sins, and who are under an inevitable curse, to hope for salvation by their good works. We realize from the subject, if we seriously attend to it, what is said by the Apostle Paul," As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse." As many as trust to their own righteousness, are under the curse. But the general character of mankind, since the fall is, that they are selfrighteous, and seek salvation, if they seek it at all, by their good works. Paul was alive without the law once. Once he expected salvation by his works. “But when the commandment came, sin revived and he died.” All, hy nature, are under sin, and under the curse of God's law. How great must be the delusion of those, who rely on their works for salvation! To them the commandment has never come, sin has never revived in their conscien. ces, and they have never died. They are alive without the law, alive to sin, alive to self-righteousness; but without a well grounded hope ; and without God in the world. They are in the most delusive road to eternal death.... AMEN,
From a view of the moral law, or covenant of works, under which man was placed, by his all-wise Creator; we proceed to a consideration of his temptation and apostacy. This, of all events which have come to the knowledge of mankind, is the most mysterious, and the mnost gloomy. In itself considered, the heart sickens at the view of it. Could we not in some measure, trace the footsteps of infinite wisdom and grace, whereby this sad event is made subservient to the glory of God, and to the best interests of the moral system ; we might well despair of gaining relief in our minds, on the subject of man's apostacy: The mystery is, that man, so highly favored of God, and made lord of this lower world, should be so easily induced to apostatize. He was created, as we have found, in a state of perfect holiness. “God made man upright." He enjoyed also, the highest degree of felicity, of which he was capable, in the present state. And beyond a doubt, he anticipated an eternal state, inconceivably more glorious. As a test of his fidelity to his God, and as a probation for a state of confirmed holiness and happiness, both for himself and all his posterity, he was required to suffer but one small l'estriction of his natural desires. For a short time, perhaps forty days, which was the time of Christ's temptation in the wilderness; he was required to refrain from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This requirement was pronounced very solemnly and emphatically: “ In the day thou eatest thereof, Dying thou shalt die." The condition of avoiding this death, and consequently, of inheriting eternal life, was most easy and practicable ; and the motives to fidelity were inconceivably powerful. But, unaccountable as it may seem, the sad event took place. Our first parents partook of the forbidden fruit. “ They fell froin the state, in which they were created, by eating the forbidden
fruit." Seemingly with their eyes open, they yielded to the call of appetite, or curiosity; and renouncing their confidence in God, their Creator, they presumed to take and eat. They fell under the curse of a broken law
and involved the world in ruins. How was this thing possible ? And why was not the greatest of all evils, in this lower world, prevented, by a kind interposition of divine providence.
Hoping to gain some light on the great and mysterious subject of man's apostacy, avd of the introduction of sin and misery into this world; it is proposed to take a particular view of the historical account in the scriptures ; and then to attempt a solution of seeming difficulties.
The historical account is as follows : 56 Now the serpent was more subtil than any heast of the field, which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ?” By the serpent here, is to be understood, not merely the beast so named; but the old serpent, which is called the Devil and Satan ; the enemy of God and man; and he that was a liar from the beginning, and abode not in the truth; the arch deceiver, and the subtil adversary of souls. This was the being who, in the most crafty and delusive manner, assaulted the weaker vessel, who was the mother of us all. He craftily proposed his temptations, through the medium of the cominon serpent; which, in his original state, before he became the organ of Satan, was, probably, the most lovely and beautiful of all the brutal creation. It is supposed, that like man, he walked erect, with great vivacity; and lived on the most delicious fruits of the earth. All this indeed, appears evident, from his being doomed, after the fall of man, to go upon his belly, and, for his food, to lick the dust of the earth. Furnished with speecli, and rational faculties, in the view of the woman, which to her appeared miraculous, it is natural to suppose, that she began to listen to the wiles of the tempter. He commenced his temptation, as we have found, by insinuating, that it was not God himself, but some other being, who was very envious, and unfriendly to their happiness, who had