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with this law every thing must be accounted easy, whether it be to" love an enemy, or to banish from the mind all desire of revenge. To our imbecility, indeed, every thing is arduous and difficult, even the smallest point in the law. It is the Lord in whom we find strength: let him give what he commands, and let him command what he pleases. The state of Christians under the law of grace consists not in unbounded license uncontrolled by any law, but in being ingrafted into Christ, by whose grace they are delivered from the curse of the law, and by whose Spirit they have the law inscribed on their hearts. This grace Paul has figuratively denominated a law, in allusion to the law of God, to which he was comparing and contrasting it. Their dispute concerning the word law is a dispute about nothing.
LVIII. Of the same nature is what they have called venial sin; a term which they apply to secret impiety which is a breach of the first table, and to the direct transgression of the last commandment. For this is their definition, that "it is evil desire without any deliberate assent, and without any long continuance in the heart." Now I assert that evil desire cannot enter the heart, except through a deficiency of those things which the law requires. We are forbidden to have any strange gods. When the mind, assaulted by mistrust, looks around to some other quarter, when it is stimulated by a sudden desire of transferring its happiness from God to some other being; whence proceed these emotions, however transient, but from the existence of some vacuum in the soul to receive such temptations? And not to protract this argument to greater length, we are commanded to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our soul: therefore unless all the powers our soul be intensely engaged in the love of God, we have already departed from the obedience required by the law: for that the dominion of God is not well established in our conscience, is evident, from the enemies that there rebel against his government, and interrupt the execution of his commands. That the last commandment properly belongs to this point, has been already demonstrated. Have we felt any evil desire in our heart? we are already guilty of concupiscence, and arc become at once transgressors of the law;
because the Lord forbids us, not only to plan and attempt any thing that would prove detrimental to another, but even to be stimulated and agitated with concupiscence. Now the curse of God always rests on the transgression of, the law. We have no reason therefore to exempt even the most trivial emotions of concupiscence from the sentence of death. " In determining the nature of different sins," says Augustine, "let us not use deceitful balances, to weigh what we please and how we please, according to our own humour, saying, This is heavy,—This is light: but let us borrow the divine balance from the holy Scriptures, as from the treasury of the Lord, and therein weigh what is heavy; or rather let us weigh nothing ourselves, but acknowledge the weight already determined by the Lord." And what says the Scripture? The assertion of Paul, that " the wages of sin is death," (i) sufficiently demonstrates this groundless distinction to have been unknown to him. As we have already too strong a propensity to hypocrisy, this opiate ought by?no means to have been added to lull our consciences into greater insensibility.
LIX. I wish these persons would consider the meaning of this declaration of Christ: "Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." (i) Are not they of this number, who thus presume to extenuate the transgression of the law, as though it were not worthy of death? But they ought to consider, not merely what is commanded, but who it is that gives the commands; because the smallest transgression of the law, which he has given, is a derogation from his authority. Is the violation of the Divine majesty in any case a trivial thing in their estimation? Lastly, if God has declared his will in the law, whatever is contrary to the law displeases him. Will they pretend that the wrath of God is so debilitated and disarmed, that the punishment of death cannot immediately follow? He hath unequivocally declared, if they could induce themselves to listen to his voice, rather than obscure the plain truth with their frivolous subtleties: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die:" (/) and, which I have before
(0 Rom. vi. 23. (t) Matt. v. 19. (/) Ezek. xviii. 20.
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cited, "The wages of sin is death." (m) They acknowledge it to be sin, because it is impossible to deny it, yet they contend that it is not mortal sin. But, as they have hitherto too much resigned themselves to infatuation, they should at length learn to return to the exercise of their reason. If they persevere in their dreams, we will take our leave of them. Let the children of God know that all sin is mortal; because it is a rebellion against the will of God, which necessarily provokes his wrath; because it is a transgression of the law, against which the Divine judgment is universally denounced: and that the offences of the saints are venial, not of their own nature, but because they obtain pardon through the mercy of God.
Christ, though known to the Jays under the Law, yet clearly revealed only in the Gospel.
As it was not without reason, or without effect, that God was pleased in ancient times to manifest himself as a Father by means of expiations and sacrifices, and consecrated to himself a chosen people; there is no doubt that he was known even then in the same image in which he now appears to us with meridian splendour. Therefore Malachi, after having enjoined the Jews to attend to the law of Moses, and to persevere in the observance of it (because after his death there was to be an interruption of the prophetical office) immediately announces, that "the Sun of righteousness shall arise." (n) In this language he suggests, that the law tended to excite in the pious an expectation of the Messiah that was to come, and that at his advent there was reason to hope for a much greater degree of light. For this reason Peter says that " the prophets have inquired and searched diligently concerning the salvation" which is now manifested in the Gospel; and that "it was revealed to them, that not unto themselves, but unto
(m) Rom. vi. 23. (n)Mal.iv.2.
us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you." (o) Not that their instructions were useless to the ancient people, or unprofitable to themselves, but because they did not enjoy the treasure, which God through their hands hath transmitted to us. For in the present day, the grace, which was the subject of their testimony, is familiarly exhibited before our eyes; and whereas they had but a small taste, we have offered to us a more copious fruition of it. Therefore Christ, who asserts that " Moses wrote of him," (p) nevertheless extols that measure of grace in which we excel the Jews. Addressing his disciples he says, " Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." (y) "For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." (r) This is no small recommendation of the evangelical revelation, that God has preferred us to those holy fathers who were eminent for singular piety. To this declaration that other passage is not at all repugnant, where Christ says, " Abraham saw my day, and was glad." (*) For though his prospect of a thing so very remote was attended with much obscurity, yet there was nothing wanting to the certainty of a well.founded hope; and hence that joy which accompanied the holy patriarch even to his death. Neither does this assertion of John the Baptist, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him," (f) exclude the pious, who had died before his time, from a participation of the understanding and light which shine in the person of Christ, but comparing their condition with ours, teaches us that we have a clear manifestation of those mysteries, of which they had only an obscure prospect through the medium of shadows; as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews more copiously and excellently shews, that "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his
(o) 1 Peter i. 10—12. (p) John v. 46.
(-/) Matt. xiiL 16. (r) Luke z. 24.
(t) John viii. 56. (t) John i. 18.
Son." (v) Therefore that only.begotten Son, who is now to us " the brightness of the glory, and the express image of the person" (w) of God the Father, was formerly known to the Jews, as we have elsewhere shewn by a quotation from Paul, that he was the leader of their ancient deliverance from Egypt; yet this also is a truth, which is asserted by the same Paul, in another place, that " God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (*) For when he appeared in this his image, he made himself visible, as it were, in comparison with the obscure and shadowy representation of him which had been given before. This renders the ingratitude and obstinacy of them, who shut their eyes amid this meridian blaze, so much the more vile and detestable. And therefore Paul says that Satan, "the god of this world, hath blinded their minds, lest the light of the gio* rious gospel of Christ should shine unto them." (y)
II. Now I understand the Gospel to be a clear manifestation of the mystery of Christ. I grant indeed, since Paul styles the gospel, the doctrine of faith, (z) that whatever promises we find in the law concerning remission of sins, by which God reconciles men to himself, are accounted parts of it. For he opposes faith to those terrors, which would torment and harass the conscience, if salvation were to be sought by works. Whence it follows, that taking the word gospel in a large sense, it comprehends all those testimonies, which God formerly gave to the fathers, of his mercy and paternal favour; but it is more eminently applicable to the promulgation of the grace exhibited in Christ. This acceptation is not only sanctioned by common use, but supported by the authority of Christ and the apostles. Whence it is properly said of him, that he "preached the gospel of the kingdom." (a) And Mark introduces himself with this preface: " The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ." But it is needless to collect more passages to prove a thing sufficiently known. Christ then, by his advent, "hath brought life and immortality to light through the
(t>) Heb. i. 1, 2. (») Heb. i. 3.
(*) 2 Cor. iv. 6. (j) 2 Cor. iv. 4.
(3) 1 Tim. iv. 6. („) Matt. ix. 35.