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the saints do not sin at all; but that they do not commit sin with the full consent of the will; do not take pleasure and delight in it; do not make a trade of it, as unregenerate persons do; and do not commit the sin unto death, 1 John V. 17, 18.
Object. But seeing it is impossible to yield perfect obedience to the law, how is it consistent with the justice and wisdom of God to require of us that which we are not able to perform.
Ans. The laws of God are both possible and just; and there is no duty now required of us which he did not endow us with strength in our creation to perform. Yet in our fallen and corrupted estate, perfect obedience is become impractia cable through our weakness and aversion to duty. And there can be no injustice in God to require what is impossible for us to perform, when the impossibility solely arises from our own fault. It is not God, but we ourselves, that have made the perfect observation of his laws impossible; and though we have wasted our stock, and are become bankrupts, yet he may in righteousness exact from us that debt of obedi. ence which we justly owe him.
Object. But are not belivers delivered both from the com. manding and condemning power of the law, and how are they then bound to yield any obedience to it?
Ans. Believers are certainly delivered as well from the commanding as condemning power of the law, considered only as it is the covenant of works, which requires obedience
be the faith of God's elea, Tit. i. 1. The infinitive active or gerund, is ued for the paffive frequently, which phraseology our own language bears; as Gen. iv. 13. Psal. xlii. 4. 3d & cxix. 4. (5.) The time of their juftifi. cation not from eternity, but in the very inftant of their believing in his knowing. (6.) The nature of justification, viz. “ a declaring or pronouncing righteous, according to wbat is really found, and judicially imputed or reckoned, (Jatzdik tzaddik,) He shall make righteous a righteous one. (7.) The free access which all have to this privilege: For the words are not in rain ranged in this order ; In his knowing; my servant shall make righteous a righteous one, &c. This is a general truth, whosoever will know Christ shall be righteous, and legally made righteous, before the Lord : though ig the mean time, it is the many only who will know him eventually, Tamim, found. The import of this word is whole and entire, all of a piece unblemished: So by it is expressed a whole day, Josh. x. 13. and the quality of a sacrifice as without blemish, in the ordinary style of the law, as Lev. i. 3. and so is applied to God's work, Deut. xxxi. 4. and his way, 2 Sam, xxü. 31.
to it in order to justification; but they are by no means delivered from it as it is the law of Christ, or a rule of duty. For the moral law is the eternal rule of righteousness, a transcript of the divine perfections, which every believer is bound to copy after, and to apply to the blood of Jesus for pardon, so far as he falls short of obeying it: for without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Personal holiness is as necessary to the possession of glory, or to a state of perfect holiness and happiness, as is the morning-light to the noon-day warmth and brightness; as is a reasonable soul to a wise, healthy, strong, and full-grown man; as an antecedent is to a consequent; as a part is to the whole; and as motion is necessary.to evidence life. And the ten commandments, being the substance of the law of nature, a representation of God's image, and a beam of his holiness, behoved, for ever, unalterably to be a rule of life to mankind, in all possible states, conditions, and circumstances. Nothing but the utter destruction of human nature, and its ceasing to be, could divest them of that office; since God is unchangeable in his image and holiness. Hence their being a rule of life to Adam and his posterity, had no dependence on their becoming the covenant of work: but they would have been that rule, though there never had been any such covenant: yea, whatever covenant was introduced, whether of works or of grace, and whatever forın might be put upon them, they behoved still to remain the rule of life. No covenant, no form whatsoever, could ever prejudice this their royal dignity.
V. I shall give the reason of this dispensation. God could make the saints perfect in the moment of conversion. He does it not. So it seems good in his sight. Many things are said to account for this; but what is most satisfying is, that it doth exalt the freedom of grace and the power of it most, Eph. ii. 4, 7; · But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. The more sins are pardoned to a sinner, he is the deeper in Christ's debt. The faster the root of sin appears in one's nature, the more appears the grace in rooting it up. It is surely the glory of our great Pilot, that he brings the broken ship to land, through so many hazards.
Caution. Abuse not this doctrine, to think light of sin because of it. It is the worst of diseases which most men die in, and no man is perfectly cured of until death. Make not your way to hell the easier, because of the difficulties in the way to heaven : tor they that strive towards perfection here will get it at death, when ye sitting still at your ease will be carried down the stream to destruction.
Keep not ye some particular lust, because none are perfect: for all the saints are perfect in parts, though not in degrees; 60 far perfect, as to hate every known sin,' Psal. cxix. 128. Inf. 1. There is no justification, favour, and
peace with God, by our own works, Psal. cxliii
. 2. . In thy sight shall no man living be justified.' Far less can there be works of supererogation. We must be justified by the righteousness of Christ received by faith, or not at all.
2. Whatever your attainments be, be not proud of them ; your wants and defects may always keep you humble. The barren branches are towering ones, while the fruitful boughs hang down their heads.
3. Inexpressibly miserable is the case of unbelievers. They are without Christ; they must stand or fall by the law, and it is quite beyond their power to keep it.
4. Bear one another's burdens; for every man offends. We are in an hospital where most are dying of their disease, and the best but in the way of recovery.
Lastly, Let the struggling saints long for heaven, for there the perfection they would fain be at shall be attained, and not till then. And this may comfort them under all their failures, which they mourn over, that in the other world they shall arrive at full perfection in holiness.
OF SIN IN ITS AGGRAVATIONS.
Ezek. viii. 15.-Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see
greater abominations than these.
I a ,
F we look on sin absolutely, and in itself, as it is a trans
greater than any evil of suffering, which men can be exposed to : but if we look on sin comparatively, one sin compared with another, all are not alike, but some greater than others, as we see from these words. Wherein may be observed,
1. Great sins which the prophet had seen, shewn to him in vision by the Lord himself, who knows the sins of all men, with their nature and qualities, ver. 5. 11. 14.
2. Greater sins he was yet to see. He had seen the image of jealousy, namely, the image of Baal, set up at the gate of the altar, ver. 5; the chambers of imagery in some of the courts, and the ancients of Israel, at their idolatrous service, ver. 10, 11; the women weeping for Tammuz in the court of the women, or of the priests, by which the Lord's courts were turned into stews. These were great abominations, and yet greaterthan any of these was their worshipping of the sun, ver. 16. and that in God's account; for it was done in a more sacred place, at the very door of the temple ; it was more public, and had greater contempt of God in it, than the rest.
The text affords this doctrine :
Doct. All sins are not alike;' but some sins in them
selves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.'
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall shew, I. What is understood by the heinousness of sin. II. In what respect some sins are more heinous than others.
1. I am to shew what is understood by the heinousness of sin. Its great offensiveness is hereby understood. Sin may be offensive unto men; but we consider it here as sin, and offensive to God. So for sin to be heinous in the sight of God, implies,
1. That it is offensive to God, displeasing to him, and grieving to his Spirit, Jer. xliv. 4. - Oh! do not this abomi. nable thing that I hate.' He cannot away with it, he cannot endure it before his eyes, but shews his indignation against it. It is an abominable thing before the Lord; hence it is called filthiness, uncleanness, vomit, &c. all which provoke loathing; so Rev. iii. 16. it is said : I will spue thee out of my mouth.' It is contrary to his nature and will, and gives him displeasure and offence; and, if it were possible it would disturb his repose, as smoke doth to the eyes, Isa. Ixv. 5. . These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day' : 2. It is greatly offensive to God; for that also is implied in the notion of heinousness; every fault is offensive, but some faults are heinous offences. Such an offence is sin to God. It gives him great offence, Psal. v. 4, 5. • Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness : neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity.' Hab. i. 13. * Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. There is no sin that God is indifferent about, none that he can pass without a mark of his indignation on it: He will by no means clear the guilty,' Exod. xxxiv. 7.
Now here mark well two things.
1. That all sin is heinous in the sight of God, viz. greatly offensive. There are no small sins before God, though some are greater than others; but the least of them is great in itself, and great in his sight, Hab. i. 13. forecited. This is plainly implied, while it is said, “Some sins are more heinous than others.'
2. That there are degrees of heinousness. Though the sin which the blinded soul accounts but a mote, is a mountain in the eyes of God and of an enlightened conscience, yet all are not alike for all that; but as some mountains, so some sins are greater than others.