Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

thousand instances he has grossly violated? For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.'

· I take for granted that this law is founded in righteousness; that it enjoins nothing but what is perfectly just; that it prohibits nothing but what is destructive of our own happiness, and inimical to the holiness of God, and the honour of his government. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good -The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. If, therefore, it be allowed that these injunctions and prohibitions are founded in righteousness, so must the sanction by which they are enforced; for He, whose do. minion is a righteous dominion, could never constitute an unrighteous sanction the guardian of righteous precepls.

We are told by one who was well acquainted with the perfection and extent of the divine law, That it is summarily comprehended in love to God and love to man. Now if the love of Cou and of our neighbour be indispensable duties, the reverse of these must be capital crimes; and to execute the curse denounced in case of transgres. sion, is not an act of sovereignty but of justice.

For justice being a natural and necessary excel. lence in God, hath an unchangeable respect to the qualities which are in the creatures: that as the Divine goodness is necessarily exercised towards a creature perfectly holy, so Justice is in punishing the guilty, unless a satisfaction intervene. And if it be not possible, considering the perfection of the Deity, that holiness should be -unrewarded, far less can it be that sin should be unpunished: since the exercise of justice, upon which punishment depends, is more necessary than that of goodness, which is the cause of remuneration. For the rewards which bounty dispenses are pure favours, whereas the punishments which justice inflicts, are due. In short, since justice is a perfection, it is in God in a supreme degree, and being infinite it is inflexible."

No law, human or divine, founded in equity and given as a rule of moral conduct, can diss

pense with a breach of its commands. Were a desperate assassin to plunge a dagger into the bosom of his most inveterate enemy, the law of his country would demand his life as an atonement for the crime:—it could not do otherwise. It is allowed, indeed, that the murderous villain might escape the penalty of death by the intervention of a pardon; but for this pardon he would not be indebted to the benignity of the law, but to the unjust interposition of his prince.

The law would remain invariably the same: it must ever view him as a notorious transgressor; and unless its requirements be granted, or its violated honours amply restored, oppose all his efforts to obtain liberty or to preserve life.

Now thus it stands with sinful man and the righteous governor of the world. The law which was given as the standard of obedience, has, in numberless instances, been violated without remorse and without shame; and its language to the candidate for eternal happiness on the ground of human worthiness is, Pay me that, thou owest! — Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of

the law to do them.' This demand is founded in righteousness, and can neither be evaded nor complied with by the culprit; he lies under an arrest of justice; and unless the demands of the claimant be answered by the sinner himself, or by some one appointed in his stead, he mustremain perpetually a debtor, and feel the weight of its sentence for ever.

The holy and blessed God will not, nay, (let me speak with profound reverence) he cannot absolve a rational creature from obligation to moral precepts' given for the direction of his conduct; for this would be a practical declara. tion, That aversion from himself, and hatred of our neighbour, are not crimes. “God does not hate sin, because he has by his law forbid it, says the late excellent Robert Hall, but has forbid it, because it is what he lothes as contrary to his holy nature- Punishment of sin ariseth not from divine sovereignty, but from the essential purity, dignity, and rectitude of Jehovah's nature; there was a necessity for Christ, as the surety, to endure the penalty [of the law] in order to his people's enjoying a pardon; for sin

is so abominable in God's sight, so contrary to his pure nature, that punishment for it cannot be dispensed with; a sinner as such cannot be safe. Hence there was a necessity for Jesus the Saviour to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, to endure the curse that his people might be exempted from sin’s demerit, enjoy heavenly blessings, and wear the celestial crown.'

Mr. Lancaster observes, when speaking on this şubject in his vindication of the Gospel, • The holy law of God is the express stamp of the essential justice of God; God had not declared his justice if he had suffered the transgression of his law to pass without a satisfaction. That therefore God might declare his justice, every transgression against his law must receive a just recompense of reward, either by a Mediator, or by the law and the curse thereof passing through the justice of God upon all mankind. Now God hath redeemed his elect and justified ones, from the sentence of the law or first covenant; yet so that there is no impeachment of that justice manifested in the law, but rather a full declaration and vindication of it. Because he hath substi

M

« AnteriorContinuar »