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covet. The poor man may desire moderate relief from the rich: but


he must not hanker after his afflu- On Man's Situation as a Sinner in
ence, or repine, even if do not re-
lieve him. Men exposed to equal

this present World.

hazards, may agree to a proportion- THE apostle defines "sin to be the
able contribution to him that suffers transgression of the law” (1 John,
for it accords with the law of iii. 4); and whatever in any respect
love to help the distressed; and or degree deviates from this perfect
this exculpates insurance when rule is sin, and exposes a man to
fairly conducted; but all gaming, condemnation. "By the law,"
public or private*, is coveting our therefore, "is the knowledge of
neighbour's good to increase our sin" (Rom. iii. 20): the better we
wealth by his loss, and is therefore understand the holy, just, and good
a direct violation of the command. commandments of God, the more
In fine, discontent, distrust, love of enlarged will be our acquaintance
wealth, pleasure, and grandeur, de- with the vast variety of sins that
sire of change, the habit of wishing, are continually committed, as well
and every inordinate affection, are as with the evil and desert of every
the evils here prohibited; and we transgression; and a comprehensive
know them to be the sources of all knowledge of our whole duty is es-
other crimes, and of man's misery; sential to a just estimate of our own
and the command requires modera- character, or our situation in respect
tion in respect of all worldly things, to the eternal world.

submission to God, acquiescence in But we should not only attend to
his will, love to his commands, and the requirements and prohibitions
a reliance on him for the daily sup- of the divine law; its sanctions also
ply of all our wants, as he sees demand our most serious consider-
good. We cannot close this expli-ation. Indeed, the law, strictly
cation of the law (in which we find speaking (as distinguished from the
nothing redundant, defective, or in-gospel), is merely a rule and a
jurious, but all things holy, just, and sanction: a rule formed by infinite
good) more properly, than by the wisdom, holiness, and goodness, and
words of our church service, "Lord enforced by supreme authority; a
have mercy upon us" (forgiving all sanction to be awarded by immuta-
our past transgressions)," and write ble justice and almighty power, ac-
all these thy laws in our hearts, we cording to the declarations of eternal
beseech thee."
truth. Repentance and amendment
are right, and accord to the spirit
*Not excepting lotteries, or even ton- of the commandment; but they
tines, these latter constitute a kind of com-
plicated wager about longevity, to be de- make no compensation for trans-
cided by Providence in favour of the sur-gression, and are not noticed by the
vivors; and must, therefore, be equally law: and the mercy exercised by
culpable with other games of chance.

Coveting other men's property, contrary the lawgiver has reference to the
to the law of love, and enriching the sur-
vivors, commonly at the expense of the provisions of another covenant. Per-
relatives of the deceased, are intimately fect obedience is the uniform de-
connected with them; whilst they lead

men into strong temptations secretly to mand of the precept; condemnation
wish for the death of others, for the sake of inevitably follows transgression.
advantages, which they inordinately desire, Whosoever shall keep the whole
and irregularly pursue.
law, and yet offend in one point, he
is guilty of all" (James, ii. 8-11);

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even as a man is condemned for vio-lence, and the body executes its purlating one of the many statutes of pose: so that it is reasonable to supthe realm, in a single instance, pose, that the soul will at least share though no other offence be charged the punishment which the law deupon him. The apostle, therefore, nounces against the offender. When, declares, that "as many as are of therefore, the apostle reminded his the works of the law are under the brethren of their obligations to the curse; for it is written cursed is Lord Jesus, he says, "who delivered every one that continueth not," us from the wrath to come (1 (during his whole life)" in all things Thess. i. 10): whence it is evident, which are written in the book of the that he considered himself, and all law to do them" (Deut. xxvi. 15-the Christians in the world, to have 16; Gal. iii. 10): and the moral law been previously exposed, not only must be included at least in this to present effects of the Divine disgeneral language. They alone who pleasure (from which Jesus does not have at all times perfectly kept the deliver his people), but also to fuwhole law, are entitled to the re- ture condemnation. The original ward according to it; for" the man transgression (through which by that doeth them shall live in them," one man sin entered into the but the soul that sinneth shall die;" world, and death by sin") was inand "as all have sinned, and come deed a violation of a positive injuncshort of the glory of God" (of ren- tion; but love to God, himself, dering to him the glory which is and his posterity, absolutely redue to his name); so in this respect quired Adam to obey it, and there"there is no difference," but " every fore by disobedience, he fell under mouth shall be stopped, and all the the curse of the law: and the event world shall become guilty before sufficiently proves, that all his posGod" (Rom. iii. 9-23); though terity were interested in that transan immense difference subsists be- action, and fell with him; for it is tween some men and others, in re- an undeniable fact, that men are spect of the nature, number, and universally prone to break the law aggravations of their offences. All of God, and universally liable to attempts, therefore, in a sinner to pain, suffering, and death. All that justify himself, must result from ig- believe the Bible will rest satisfied norance of God and his law, and of with the Scripture account of this himself; or from a disposition to mysterious subject: others will neimpeach the strictness of the law, ver be able to account for the state and the justice of the lawgiver. Our of the world on any principles that Lord explains the import of the are more rational: and the proper curse of the law (from which he re- answer to those who object to an deemed his people, by becoming a evident fact, as inconsistent with curse for them), when he forewarns divine justice, wisdom, and goodus, that he will say to the wicked ness, has been already given by the at the day of judgment, "Depart apostle, "Nay, but O man, who art from me, ye cursed, into everlast-thou that repliest against God?" ing fire, prepared for the devil and But our situation as sinners in his angels;-and these shall go this present world, will not here be away into everlasting punishment" considered so much the effect of (Matt. xxvi. 41-46). We are Adam's sin, as of our personal transconstituted of body and soul; the gressions; for whatever we might soul purposes the act of disobedi- argue concerning those "who have

not sinned after the similitude of If men argue, that all this results
Adam's transgression," by willingly from education, habit, and example,
and knowingly preferring their own we might inquire how it came to
inclinations to God's express com- pass, that bad education, example,
mandment, such as are capable of and habits became so general, if the
reading this Essay will hardly pre-nature of man be not bad also? But
tend that they never once sinned in the impossibility, in the ordinary
this manner. It is evident, that "it course of things, of " bringing a
is appointed to all men once to die;" clean thing out of an unclean,"
the sentence "dust ye are, and to shows us how the world comes to
dust ye shall return," overtakes be so full of all vice and wicked-
every one; no vigour, power, wis-ness.

dom, learning, wealth, efforts, or But (however this may be deter-
virtue, can rescue any man from this mined) it must be allowed, that
common lot of our fallen race: only men in general, in all parts of the
two exceptions have hitherto been earth, are very different in their
made to the general rule, no more dispositions and conduct, to what
are to be expected till the coming the law of God requires them to be.
of Christ; and few have ever been It is also most certain, that they are
so absurd as to think of eluding or liable to a vast variety of miseries
overcoming this universal conqueror. and pains; that anxiety, vexation,
But" after death is the judgment;" disappointment, and dissatisfaction,
and though few are willing to believe are inseparable from every earthly
the solemn truth, yet it would have condition, pursuit, possession, and
been found equally impossible for connexion; that life itself is short
any sinner to escape condemnation and uncertain; that the approach
at the decisive season, had not mercy and stroke of death must be con-
brought in another hope by Jesus nected with grievous sufferings, if
not with terror and dismay that
If we judge of dispositions and every earthly pursuit and enjoyment
actions by the holy law of God, we must shortly be thus terminated;
shall not long be able even to doubt, and that the body (however active,
but that men are born in sin, and vigorous, comely, pampered, or de-
by nature propense to evil and corated it may now be) must then
averse to good: that which is be consigned to the dark and noi-
born of the flesh is flesh;" and the some tomb, there to moulder to its
carnal mind, which is natural to us, original dust. All this would be
is "enmity against God" (Rom. very gloomy and dreary, even if it
viii. 5-9). It is the universal law could be certainly known that no-
of the whole creation, that every thing farther was to be apprehend-
plant or animal possesses the pro-ed; but a future state of righteous
perties of that from which it was retribution must exceedingly en-
derived. When Adam became a hance the horror of the prospect,
sinner, he begat sons"in his own to such persons as are condemned
likeness;" that which the Creator at the bar of their own consciences.
had pronounced very good soon be- The expectation of a future state
came very bad; "the imagination seems congenial to the human mind;
of men's hearts was only evil con- and the arguments of various kinds,
tinually;" "the earth was filled which have been urged in proof of
with violence" and wickedness, and the immortality of the soul, and
so it evidently continues to this day. other doctrines connected with it,

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are so cogent, as to evince such ex- and folly. The Greeks were a spepectations to be the result of serious culating people, and could not but reflection, and not the offspring of have the idea of duration without credulity, superstition, or impos-end (and this is all the idea of eterture; nay, facts manifestly show, nity to which we can attain): the that no ingenuity or efforts can strongest words in that copious lanwholly erase the idea, even from guage are employed by the sacred the minds of such persons as are writers on this subject; and I apmost deeply interested, and most prehend that the expression transearnestly desirous, to find it a mere lated for ever and ever, always means groundless imagination. eternal in the strictest sense of that But as this expectation of a future word: however, he that should make state is too vague and confused to the trial would scarce find more answer the practical purposes of energetic phrases in the whole com that doctrine, so the ignorance of pass of the Greek language, as aumen in general concerning the cha- thorised by the example of ancient racter, commands, and government writers, to express the idea of eterof God, united to the self-flattery nal misery, than are to be found in that is natural to us all, preserves the New Testament. The same them from that terror which the words are used on this awful subthoughts of a future judgment would [ject, by which the eternity of heaotherwise inspire, if considered apart venly felicity, and the eternal exfrom the gospel of Jesus Christ; so istence of God are expressed, and that the more men know of God and in the same manner. The repeated of themselves, the greater horror declarations concerning the wicked, will be associated with the prospect that "their worm never dieth" of death and judgment, except it be (which must denote eternal conovercome by "peace and joy in be-sciousness and self-reflection); that lieving" (Rom. xv. 13). "their fire shall never be quenchThe immortality of the soul, the ed," with the words "eternal puresurrection of the body, a future nishment," "the blackness of darkjudgment, and a state of righteousness for ever," most obviously imply retributions, are doctrines most evi- this alarming doctrine. It may dently confirmed to us by " the sure hereafter be shown, that sinful createstimony of God" and so clear tures must continue guilty and poland explicit are the Scriptures on luted, yea, must increase in evil these topics, that scarce any thing propensities, and multiply crimes to but the consciousness of such con- all eternity (whatever they suffer), duct, as weakens the hope of eternal unless they are changed by an exfelicity, connected with reluctance ertion of almighty power, and parto admit the dread of eternal misery, doned by an act of free mercy: not seems sufficient to induce men to the most remote hint is given through deny or argue against the real eter- the whole Scriptures, that mercy or nity of that state, which commences grace will be vouchsafed to any who at death, and shall be confirmed and die in their sins, or that God will completed at the day of judgment; ever annihilate his rebellious creawhilst the absurdity of reasoning tures, but every thing warrants the against the justice or goodness of opposite conclusion. It evidently those things which God hath done, answers the purpose of the enemies or declared he will do, seems the of our souls, and forwards their summit of man's pride, presumption, work of temptation and destruction,

to persuade men that they will not ways, two descriptions of men, and
be finally miserable, though they two places, to which they are re-
continue impenitent and indulge moved at death; and never inti-
their lusts till death: and the folly mates a middle path, state, or cha-
and madness of those who profess racter (though there be degrees
to believe the Bible to be the word both of happiness and misery):
of God, yet sin on, in hopes of find- nor does it mention any alteration
ing all the denunciations false or in the condition, either of the righ-
unmeaning, which it contains to teous or the wicked, except as the
this effect, and who bolster up their resurrection will reunite their bo-
own and other men's confidence dies to their souls, and display to
with vain reasonings and sophisti- the whole world the justice and
cal arguments, is great beyond ex-mercy of God in his dealing with
them. All purgatories, therefore,

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As our sentiments will not alter whether before or after the day of the purposes of God, so it is as irra- judgment, are wholly unscriptural; tional as uncandid to charge those all reasonings on this subject are with want of sensibility, compassion, vain and presumptuous attempts to or philanthropy, who explain such "remove the great gulf which God Scriptures in their most obvious hath fixed," calculated to take men meaning; and who warn and per-off from preparing seriously for that suade men, by "the terror of the day, when "the wicked shall go Lord," to repent and seek the sal-away into eternal punishment, and vation of Christ. If several persons the righteous into eternal life." were fast asleep in a house that was It appears, therefore, that every on fire, we should best express our man lies under a two-fold condemcompassion for them by alarming nation for his sins: he is sentenced them speedily, and even violently, to various temporal sufferings, to be and so forwarding their escape, not terminated by death, and to eternal by leaving them to sleep on, lest misery in another world: and if any they should be too much terrified. one should object to this, on the They who really believe that all supposition that his sins do not meimpenitent and unbelieving sinners rit so tremendous a punishment, I will be for ever miserable, suppose would inquire, whether human lesuch men to be in a condition infi- gislators and judges ever think the nitely more tremendous than the criminals themselves competent to persons alluded to, and they cannot decide on the equity of their stabut endeavour to convince them of tutes and decisions? And whether their danger, ere it be for ever too we are capable of determining the late; the more they love them, the degree of evil contained in rebelgreater will be their earnestness in lion against the authority of the inwarning them to flee from the finite Creator, and what punishwrath to come;" and they often ment the glory of his name, and the show their philanthropy, by spend- everlasting advantage of the whole ing their time in incessant labours, creation, may require him to inflict and by distributing their property upon transgressors? In respect of in relieving the miseries of mankind, the former part of this sentence, and sometimes by laying down their alleviations and respites alone can lives for their good. be expected; but we may hope for the entire abolition of the latter, as we live under a dispensation of

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We may also observe, that the Scripture uniformly speaks of two

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