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saying with amazing upconcern,
“ Death is a debt we must all pay to nature ?" Alas! This is granting the point; for if all have contracted so dreadful a debt, all are in a corrupt and lost estate, Nor is this debt to be paid to Nature, but to Justice; otherwise, dying would be as easy as sleeping, or any other natural action : But it is beyond expressiou terrible to thee, from whose soul the Redeemer has not extracted sin, the monster's sting: Aud if thou dost not see it now in the most alarming light, it is because either thou imaginest it at a great distance; or the double veil of rash presumption, and brutish stupidity, is yet upon thy hardened heart.
Or wilt thou, as the poor Heathen, comfort thyself with the cruel thought, that thou shalt not die alone?' Alas! dying companions may increase, but cannot take off the horror of dissolution. Besides, though we live in a crowd, we generally die alone: Each must drink the þitter cup, as if he were the only mortal in the universe.
What must we do, then, in such deplorable circumstances ? What, but humble ourselves in the dust, and bow low to the sceptre of Diviue Justice ; confessing that since the righteous God has condemned us to certain death, and in general to a far more lingering and painful death, than murderers and traitors are made to undergo, we are certainly degenerate creatures, and capital offenders, who stand in absolute need of an Almighty Redeemer,
Permit me now, candid reader, to make a solemn appeal to thy reason assisted by the fear of God. From all that has been advanced, does it not appear, that man is no more the favoured, happy, and innocent creature he was, wheu he came out of the hands of his iufinitely gracious Creator? And is it not evident that, whether we consider him as born into this disordered world, or dying out of it, or passing from the womh to the grave, under a variety of calamituus circumstances, God's provideutial dealings with him prove, that he is by nature in a corrupt and lost estate ?
A part, how smaill of this terraqueous globe
Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands,
We have hitherto considered inan as a miserable inhabitant of a wretched world. We have seen him surrounded by multitudes of wants; pursued by legions of distresses, maladies, and woes; arrested by the king of terrors; cast into the grave; and shut up there, the loathsome prey of corruption and worms. Let us now consider him as a moral agent; and hy examining his disposition, character, and conduct, let us see, whether he is wisely punished, according to the sentence of impartial justice; or wantonly tormented, at the caprice of arbitrary power.
We cannot help acknowledging, it is highly reason. able, First, that all intelligent creatures should love, reverence, and obey their Creator; because he is most eminently their Father, their Master, and their King : Secondly, they should assist, support, and love cach other, as fellow-subjects, fellow-servants, and children of the same universal Parent: And, Thirdly, that they should preserve their souls and bodies in peace and purity ; by which means alone they can be happy in themselves, profitable to mån, and acceptable to God. This is what we generally call Natural Religion, which is evidently founded upon eternal reason, the fitness of things, and the essential relation of persons.
The propriety of these sauctions is so self-evident, that 'the Gentiles, who have not the written law, are a law unto themselves, and do (but, alas ! how seldom, and from what motives !) the things contained in the
law:' thus 'showing that the work,' the sum and substance of the law, though much blotted by the fall, is still written in their heart.' Nor will it be erasel thence in hell itself; for nothing but a sight of the equity of God's law can clear his viudictive justice in the guilty breast, give a scorpion's sting to the worm that gnaws the stubborn offender, and arm his upbraiding conscience with a whip of bitiug serpents.
Since the moral law so strongly recommends itself to reason, let us see how universally it is observed or broken : So shall matter of fact decide, whether we are pure and upright, or polluted and depraved.
TWELFTH ARGUMENT. Those who reject the scriptures, universally agree that all have sinned;' and that in many things we offend all.' Hence it appears, that persons of various constitutions, ranks, and education ; in all nations, religious, times, and places ; are born in such a state, and with such a nature, that they infallibly commit many sins in thought, word, or deed.
But one transgression would be sufficient to render them obnoxious to God's displeasure, and to bring them under the fearful curse of his broken law: For, even according to the statutes of this realm, a man who once robs a traveller of a small sum of money, forfeits his life ; as well as the bloody highwayman, who for years barbarously murders all those whom he stops, and accumulates immense wealth by his repeated barbarities.
The reason is obvious : Both incur the penalty of the law which forbids robbery; for both effectually break it, though one does it oftener and with more aggravating cireumstances than the other. So sure then as one robbery deserves the gallows, one sin deserves death. "The soul that sinneth,' says God's law, and not the sonl that committeth so many sins, of such and such a heinousness, it shall die.' Hence it is, that the first sin. of the first man was punished both with spiritual and bodily death, and with ten thousand other evils. The
justice of this sanction will appear in a satisfactory light, if we consider the following remarks :
1. In our present natural state, we are such strangers to God's glory, and the spirituality of his law; and we are so used to drink’ the deadly poison of iniquity like water' that we have no idea of the horror which should seize upon us after a breach of the divive law. We are therefore as unfit judges of the atrociousness of sin, as lawless, hardened assassius, who shed human blood like water, are of the heinousness of murder.
2. As every wilful sin arises from a disregard of that sovereign authority, which is equally stamped upon all the commandments; it hath in it the principle and nature of all possible iniquity; that is, the disregard and contempt of the Almighty.
3. There is no proper merit before God, in the longest and most exact course of obedience, but infinite demerit in one, even the least act of wilful disobedience.( When we have done all that is commanded us, we are still unprofitable servants ;' for the self-sufficient God has no more need of us, than a mighty monarch of the vilest insects that creep in the dust beneath his feet: And our best actions, strictly speaking, deserve abso.. lutely nothing from our Creator and Preserver, because we owe him all we have and are, and can possibly do. But if we transgress in one point, we ruiu all our obedience, and expose ourselves to the just penalty of his broken law. The following example may illustrate this observation.
If a rich man gives a thousand meals to an indigent neighbour, he acts only as a man, he does nothing but his duty ; and the jndge allows him no reward. But if he gives him only one dose of poison, he acts as a murderer, and must die a shameful death. So greatly does one act of sin outweigh a thousand acts of obedience ! How exceedingly absurd, then, is the common notion, that our good works counterbalance our bad ones! Add to this, that
4. Guilt necessarily arises in proportion to the baseness of the offender, the greatness of the favours conferred upon him, and the dignity of the person offended : An insulting behaviour to a servant is a fault, to a magistrate it is a crime, to a king it is treason. And what is wilful sin, but an injury offered by an impotent rebel to the infinitely powerful Lawgiver of the Universe, no the kindest of Benefactors, to the gracious Creator and Preserver of men,-an insult given to the Supreme Majesty of heaven and earth, in whose glorious presence the dignity of the greatest poteutates and archangels as truly disappears, as the splendour of the stars in the blaze of the meridian sun? Sin, therefore, flying into the face of such a Lawgiver, Benefactor, and Monarch, has in it a kind of infinite demerit from its Infinite Object; and rebellious, ungrateful, wretched man, who commits it a thousand times with a thousand aggravations, may, in the nervous language of our Church, be said, in some sense, to deserve a thousand hells, if there were so many.
OUŘ natural depravity manifests itself by constant omissions of duty, as much as by flagrant commissions of sin, and perhaps much more. Take one instance out of many that might be produced. Constant displays of preserving goodness, and presents undeservedly and un. interruptedly bestowed upon us, deserve a perpetual tribute of heart-felt gratitude: God demands it in his law ; and conscience, his agent in our souls, declares, itfought in justice to be paid. But where shall we find a Deist, properly conscious of what he owes the Supreme Being, for his “creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life ?" And where a Christiau duly sen. sible of “God's ivestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ ?" A due sense of his ever-multiplied mercies would fill our souls with never-ceasing wonder, and make our lips overflow with rapturous praise. The poet's language would suit our grateful sensations, and without exaggeration paint the just ardour of our transports