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2. Every sin is a breach of the law; and hè who breaks it in one point, is guilty of all, Jam. ii. 10. He who is guilty of all deserves the wrath of God both in this life and that which is to come.
The commands of the law have all one author, whose majesty is offended by whatsoever breach; they all meet in one command, viz. love, and every sin is against that; the law requires universal obedience.
3. Christ died for all the fins of all his elect, 1 Pet. iii. 18, 1 John i. 7. Wherefore, since he suffered God's wrath and curse for them, they certainly deferve it.
4. The least fin will condemn a man, if it be not forgiven, Matth. v. 19.; even idle words, Matth, xii. 36, 37.; and all must be forgiven graciously, Psal. ciii. 2. ; wherefore God might in justice not forgive them; and if never forgiven, they may be ever punished.
IV. I come to shew, why every sin deserves so much. The reason is, it is a kind of infinite evil ; and therefore, since the punishment is deservedly proportioned to the offence, it deferves infinite punishment. Sin is an infinite evil in two respects.
1. In respect that the guilt and defilement of it is never taken away, but endures for ever, unless the Lord himself in mercy do remove it. The party offended is the eternal God, whose being never comes to an end; the finner never being able to expiate and put away his offence, Rom. v. 6. it ever remains, unless the Lord himself do remove it, as in the elect, by his Son's blood; wherefore the party offended, and the offence ever remaining, the punishment must needs be eternal; for no unclean thing can ever enter heaven, there. fore the finner must be for ever excluded and punished.
2. In respect it wrongs an infinite God. It is evident among men, that the demerit of a crime rises and falls according to the quality of the person against whom it is committed; so that a crime against one's prince is punished with death, that would not be so, if against a person of meaner condition. Since God, then, is of infinite dignity and majesty, the offence against him deserves infinite punishment. And because the creature, being finite, is not capable of punishment infinite in value, therefore it is necessarily infinite in duration. There is a manifold wrong to God in the least fin.
(1.) It wrongs his infinite fovereignty, Jam. ii. 10, 11. He is Sovereign Ruler of his creatures ; his will must be their law, since by his will they were created. But every fin casts off the natural yoke of his sovereign authority, and sets up the sinner's will against it. So that it is accounted a fighting against God, Acts v. 39.
(2.) It wrongs his infinite goodness, Exod. xx. 1, 2. All the good, natural, moral, or spiritual, which the creature has, it has it from God, who is the fountain of all good. So that fin is a doing ill for good, the worst of ills for all the good one ever at any time enjoyed. Yea, it is a turning of the good received from God against him; as if one advanced from the dunghill by his prince, should use all his favours in rebellion against him. (3.) It wrongs his holiness, Hab. i. 13.
He cannot endure unholiness. He is omniscient and omnipresent; fo fin brings into the presence of the great King, that which by all things he cannot endure to look at. It sets up the worst of defilement before his spotless holiness; and does in its own nature tend to deface the glory of it.
(4.) Lastly, It breaks his law, the eternal rule of righteous. ness, 1 John iii. 4. It is all right, and of perpetual equity, and is the hedge which God has set about his rational creatures : but sin breaks down that hedge, and breaks over it. And the finner is a rebel against the King's law, 1 Sam. xv. 23.; and in effect sets God at defiance, inasmuch as it breaks the law, to which such a penalty is annexed.
I shall now deduce some inferences.
Inf. 1. Let this commend the love of Christ in dying for sinners, Rom. v. 8. O matchless love, which made him willing to be made a curse for us, that we might be delivered from the curse of the law.! Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse. What a flood of wrath behoved them to come on him, when he stood in the stead of a whole elect world!
2. Let this convince you of the ill that is in fin. There is more ill in the least sin than the greatest sufferings. Therefore never say, in compliance with a temptation, it is but a little one ; for the least fin will make you eternally miserable in hell: and can ye account that a little evil which exposes to God's curse here and hereafter ?
3. Inexpressibly terrible is the deserving of many sins, and
grofs fins, when the least of them deserves God's wrath. If one do so, how great must that wrath be, which thousands and millions deserve? If an idle word deserves God's wrath and curse, what must deliberate lying words deserve, but a deep footing in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.
4. Let believers admire free grace, pardoning mercy, and atoning blood, Pfal. xxxii. 1. that fecures them from bearing the desert of their fin. Let them live to the Lord, by whom they live. Think not little of your fins, O believer, though there be now no condemnation for you, being in Christ Jesus, Rom. viii. 1.; for every one of your sins deserves, though they cannot bring on, God's wrath and curse. Yet tremble at the thoughts of fin; for ye are like the three children in the fiery furnace, compassed with a fire of sin that would burn you up, but the effect of it is stopped by the mediation of Christ.
Lastly, Sinners, be convinced of your absolute need of Christ. Ye must be in him, or ye are ruined for ever. Can ye bear that wrath which incensed justice will inflict on all that are out of Christ? Can ye get free of it without him? Wherefore be alarmed, and exhorted to flee from the wrath that is to come, by fleeing to the Lord Jesus, who delivereth all his people from it.
OF THE MEANS OF SALVATION IN GENERAL.
Heb. ii. 3.-How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salva
Sinner having heard that fin deserves God's wrath
and curse, the question that natively follows, is, What way one may escape them? This is answered by the weighty question in the text, How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Which we may take up in these two things (1.) There is no escaping for sinners, if they neglect the great salvation; they perish without remedy. (2.) They that do not neglect it, shall surely escape. Here let us confider,
1. The danger sinners are in by their fin. They are in hazard of perishing under God's wrath and curse ; for that is the just recompense of every sin, Heb. ii. 2.; of God's wrath consuming them, and his curse binding them down under it for ever. He intimates, that all are liable to God's wrath and curse, while he says, How shall we escape, &c. 2. The
how they may escape ; namely, by not neglecting, but falling in with the great falvation. The words in. timate, (1.) That there is a possibility of escaping ; sinners are not shut up hopeless under the curse. (2.) The way of escape is not by fleeing from the Judge, and the execution of his sentence : nay, he is omniscient and omnipresent ; one cannot outwit him, or get away from his fight, or out of his reach. Nor is it by resisting, for he is omnipotent, and none can outbrave him, nor make head against him. But he may escape by falling in with the means of escape appointed by himself, and required by him to be made use of by us. He has provided us with a salvation, a great one ; i. e. the gospel, which teaches the way of eternal salvation. He requires us, not to neglect it, but to improve it for our escape. It is neglected by unbelief, impenitency, and not using the means prescribed. On the contrary, then, he requires of us faith and repentance, which are the substance of the gospel
, Acts xx. 21. “ Testifying to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" and he requires of us the use of the means by which the salvation held forth in the gospel is obtained, Prov. vii. 34. “ Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors :" for surely they neglect and light the gospel, who do not believe, repent, or use the ordinary means of obtaining the salvation.
The text affords the following doctrine. Doct. “ Whoso would escape God's wrath and curse, must
not neglect, but fall in with the great salvation.” Or, “ To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for fin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.”
For explaining of this, I shall shew,
I. The necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, in order to one's escaping the wrath and curse of God.
II. The necessity of repentance, in order to the same end.
III. Answer the question, Are faith and repentance in men's power, since God requires them of them?
IV. Shew the connection betwixt faith and repentance, and escaping the wrath and curse of God.
V. The necessity of the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.
VI. Deduce an inference or two.
1. I shall (hew the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, in order to one's escaping the wrath and curse of God due to him for sin. It is absolutely necessary; no man can escape God's wrath and curfe without it. For,
1. There is no pleasing of God without it, Heb. xi. 6. The reason is, because he is only pleased with Jesus Christ, and those who are in him, or united to him, Matth. xvii. 5. If one should weep for his sins till no moisture were left in his body, fast his flesh to a skeleton, and watch ever so carefully against his sin, if he have not faith, he is a loft man ; he cannot please God, but must lie for ever under his difpleasure.
2. It is the great duty of the gospel, whereby one is made partaker of the remedy provided, and without which neither your persons nor performances can be accepted. It is “ the work of God," John vi. 29. ; “ the command of God," 1 John iii. 23. Your persons will ever be under condemna. tion without it, John iii. 18. And all your other duties will be but ciphers in God's account, multiply them as ye will, if faith be not at the head of them.
3. It is that which enters one into the covenant of peace; unites him with Christ, and by which he comes to partake of all saving benefits. If ye would escape God's wrath, ye must be within the covenant; ye must believe, that is, consent to the marriage-covenant, John vi. 35. There is no escaping wrath without being in Christ, and united to him, Rom. viii. 1. That union is by faith, Eph. iii. 17. We must be justified, and that is by faith, Rom. v. 1.; and fanctified, which is by faith too, Acts xv. 9.
4. Salvation and damnation turns upon this very point. VOL. III. No. 26.