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requisition of obedience and denunciation of wrath. Now these are topics which no finite understanding can fully comprehend, and much less the feeble and diseased mind of corrupted creatures who occupy this mole-hill the earth. But what reason cannot determine God hath made known in His word, and “we know that “ the judgment of God is according to truth.” The punishment which sin, in all cases, hath “ worthily deserved,” is declared to be eternal in its duration, and tremendous in its nature. Scripture images afford us some faint ideas of it; but all the ideas that we form of it must necessarily be very inadequate to the reality. However, the demerit of sin and the extent of the punishment which it deserves, as they are manifested by the denunciations of Divine wrath in the Scriptures, by the nature of the remedy, which hath been provided, by the forebodings and foretastes which some impenitent sinners have felt and expressed in the present life, and by the tortures of an awakened conscience under the teaching of the Holy Ghost, are calculated to rouse our fears to the highest pitch of intenseness, and to hasten our escape “from the wrath " to come.”
The second question relates to the meritorious cause of the punishment which we deprecate. This has, of necessity, been already pointed out, but it requires a more particular consideration. An answer to it is suggested in our collect, in which we avow that “we deserve to be « punished for our evil deeds.” “And it is to be observed that our church, in order that there might be no possibility of prevarication or evasion in the language of her members, has added to the verb in which the confession is couched an adverb of the same meaning, for the purpose of strengthening the avowal of guilt, and of pointing out more fully the condign nature of that punishment which is threatened and to which we are all exposed. “We worthily de“ serve to be punished.” All sin, as being a breach of the Divine law, justly incurs the threatened curse by which that law has been sanctioned. Adam, by his first transgression, “worthily “ deserved” it for himself; and, as a federal head, for all his posterity. And though the act of which he was guilty may appear to have been of small consequence, it was a contempt of Divine goodness, a denial of Divine veracity, a rejection of Divine authority, and an invasion of Divine prerogatives. It comprehended within itself every species of sin which has since been committed, and was a complicated violation of all the precepts of both tables of the law. Our derived pollution moreover exposes us to the penalty of the Divine law, for “ concupiscence 6 and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.” But our collect only notices our actual transgressions, and among these only wour evil deeds”, because these are sufficient to prove us guilty and leave us in self-despair. “ We have done what we “ ought not to have done." It is not necessary that the reader should charge himself with murder, adultery, theft, or drunkenness, in order to justify the confession which he makes; for all tendencies to an act prohibited by the law are included in the prohibition, and incur the penalty annexed to it. “Whosoever is angry with “ his brother without a cause is in danger of or the judgment; and whosoever looketh on a of woman, to lust after her, hath committed
« Impenitent and unpardoned sinners shall lie eternally in prison and be eternally satisfying the offended justice of God; but in all that eternity there shall never be that moment wherein they may say, as Christ did in His making satisfaction, It is finished, the debt is paid, and justice hath received as much as was due from me. No, that satisfaction must be eternally making; and therefore the punishment must be eternally lasting. For every sin, even the least sin, is committed against an infinite God; and therefore the punishment of it must be infinite: for offences take their measures, as well from the dignity of the person against whom they are committed, as from the heinousness of the fact itself considered. As a reviling word against the king is treasonable, against our equals but actionable; and therefore by the same proportion, the same offence against the infinite majesty of the great God, must needs carry infinite guilt in it; that is, exposeth to infinite punishment.
“ Now then, O sinner, think with thyself, what satisfaction thou canst make to God that can bear a proportion to thy infinite offences. Thou canst not at once undergo an infinite measure of punishment, for thy nature is but finite. Could'st thou do this, then indeed there were hope, yea certainly of relief for thee; for Divine justice will not exact more than its due. But because this is impossible, thy woes and torments in hell must be eternal, that they may be some way infinite as the justice is which thou hast offended ; infinite, if not in degrees, yet in duration and continuance.
“ And O what dreadful despair will this cause in thee, when thou shalt have been in hell under
most acute and insufferable torments millions of years, and yet the payment of all that sum of plagues and woes shall not be of value enough to satisfy for the least of thy sins, nor to cross out of God's book the least and smallest of thy debts: but thy account shall be as great, and as full as it was at thy first plunging into hell, and still an eternity of torments remains to be paid by thee!
" And now, wretched creatures that we are, whither shall we turn ourselves ? What hope, what relief can we find ? Shall we flatter ourselves that God will not require our sins at our hands? No: they are debts, and therefore He may; and He is a just God, just to Himself and to the interest of His own glory, and therefore He will. God hath beforehand told us at what rate we must expect to take up our sins, and · what we must pay for them at the last. He hath told us, as plainly as the mouth of truth can utter it, that “ the wages of sin is death."'*
That “the wages of sin is death” eternal, is plainly taught in the Scriptures and in the articles and homilies of our church. O that these were better known! They would afford the best comment on our liturgy, and would prove who are churchmen and who are not. The ignorance of the standard-writings of our church which generally prevails is a reproach to those who boast of their attachment to her constitution.
Before we proceed to consider the second part of our collect, let us pause and inquire whether we have felt the force of our own confessions or not. “For our evil deeds we worthily deserve -“ to be punished.” Doth this correspond with
inly taught ilies of our hey wo
* Bishop Hopkins on the Lord's Prayer, p. 85.
the conviction of our consciences and with the habitual frame of our minds ? O let us not deceive ourselves in the use of “a form of sound « words," for God searcheth the heart. How awful are the general insensibility and hypocrisy which prevail in our church! We repeat creeds, make confessions, and utter prayers, with as much carelessness as we read an anecdote in a newspaper, or recite some trifling occurrence in which we are utterly uninterested. Confession without contrition, and prayer without desire, are a mockery of God. · Our collect, in the second place, contains an earnest request founded on the foregoing confession. We pray “that by the comfort of Di“ vine grace we may mercifully be relieved, " through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Distress of conscience, arising from a sense of guilt and obnoxiousness to punishment, is evidently supposed in all those who offer up this prayer; for to this the relief which is implored relates. Are our consciences then wounded by a conviction of sin? And are we indeed solicitous for relief? It is a scriptural axiom, that “ they who are whole need not a physician, but “ they” only “ who are sick.” If the reader's confession has been sincere, the use of our collect will prove “an outlet of trouble, and an « inlet of consolation.”
The relief which we implore is a deliverance from guilt and the fear of punishment, including a restoration to peace with God and an assurance of His favour. And Oh, how important a request! for in God's favour is life, and in nothing else. And this relief is asked of God with the highest propriety, since He only can afford it. Of the maxims of philosophy, the