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of God; for what if there never was a Christain on earth who “perfected holiness in the fear of God," would this prove that such a thing is impossible ? Especially when God had commanded it ? That the generality of Christians live very
far below the standard of Bible religion is a me lancholy fact; and that many bave mistaken the dead form. ality of the generality of professors, for Bible religion, is equally true. But to the law and to the testimony, and there we shall find that Israel may be redeemed from all his ini. quities—and that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin—and that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness—and that herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of Judgment; because as he is, so are we in THIS WORLD. I conclude then, that what. ever be the standard of general experience, we may, and ought to be redeemed from all spiritual death in this life, and if we are not, the fault is our own, not the Lord's. Nay, it is a melancholy fact, that many who have a name to live, are yet so far “ of the works of the law, that they are yet under the curse." But the character described, Rom. viii. 1, &c. was delivered from spiritual death, as appears from the following words :-“ For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death,”—and in the latter part of the sixth chapter, the Apostle speaks of being made free from sin, and of having our fruit unto holiness. Having started, then, upon a false principle of reasoning, the argument is without weight.
The substance of his second argument runs thus : - If spiritual death be the penalty of the law, then our crime, and our punishment, are the same thing." p. 83. This, like the former argument proceeds upon a mistaken principle; from a wrong view of spiritual death, Indeed, lie seems to have
fallen into the same unhappy dilemma, into which he supposes his opponents are fallen-that of confounding cause and effect. I understand spiritual death to be that state into which the first transgression plunged our first parents, and all their posterity. Transgression was the cause, spiritual death the effect. These, by Mr. H., are confounded together, when he intimates, that spiritual death is a crime; I mean that which was inflicted in consequence of the first offence. The state into which the first transgression brought the whole human race, was a state of total depravity. By this I mean total destitution of holiness, total darkness, as to spiritual things, and total weakness as to any moral action that is good; i, e. that all are born into the world in this depraved and destitute condition. But are they to blame for being born in this situation ? No more than for their birth itself. We grant that if the scriptures, and the opinion of the greatest part of the Christian Church, from the earliest ages of it, to the present, are all to bend to the notions of Mr. H. in relation to original or birth sin, then, to be sure, the depravity of our natures in which we are born may be our crime, but not otherwise.
The third argument, proceeding upon the supposition that the depravity of our natures, with which we come into the world, is our own personal fault, of course will admit of a similar answer. We shall have occasion, also, to examine this sentiment when we come to treat of the doctrine of ori. ginal sin---see next chapter.
Having made these remarks, by way of answer to the objections brought by Mr. H. we shall now present the reader with what we find in the scriptures, as direct proof that spiritual death, the evils of the preseut life, and natural death, belong to the curse of the law. And first of spiritual death, “And the Lord God commanded the man saying,
of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat : but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Gen. 11, 16, 17. Here, 1. The law is given, thou shalt not eat of it. 2. The curse annexed,—thou shalt surely die. 3. The time when the threatening should be executed,—in the day that thou eatest thereof. The declaration was peremtory. No language could be more explicit. We all agree, however, that the execution of the sentence of eternal death was suspended ; God having designs of mercy towards the human family. If then they did not die an eternal death, nor temporal death, it must have been spiritual death. As the image of God, in which man was created, consisteth in righteousness and true holiness, when he sinned he lost both, and in this sense died a spiritual death. This part of the threatening was experienced on the day, yea, doubtless at the very moment they sinned, they felt an universal change throughout the whole man. This is evident, 1. From the shame they felt. 2. From their fear to meet God. 3. From the gross folly of their attempt to hide themselves,
Again--sin, throughout the scriptures, is represented as being productive of spiritual death-as blinding and hardening the heart. But it may be said that these are the natural conséquences of sin, not the curse of the law. No doubt they are the natural consequences of sin, but does this prove they are not punishments still? Who determined that sin when it should be committed, should have these natural effects? Was it not God? And why? And for what purpose ? Surely they appear to partake of the nature of punishments after all.
In the next place, let us see if there is any thing to warà rant the belief, that the evils of the present life form a part
of the curse of the law. “ Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrows and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, “ Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it: CURSED is the ground for thy sake ;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns, also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee : and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Gen. 111., 16, 19.
I presume none will deny but here are the evils of the present life, clustering in swarms around our wretched path. Neither can it be denied but they are curses, while God himself denominates them such. Our only inquiry, then, is, whether these are inflicted as a punishment for the breach of the law or not? To this God will answer, Because thou hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, THOU SHALT NOT EAT OF IT : CURSED is the ground for thy sake. These are not " a few insulated passages," of scripture; they speak full and explicit on the subject. But let us next see if there is any thing to prove that temporal death is a branch of the curse. The last of the items of the abovementioned texts, contain the following words -.“ For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” ver. 19.The reason which God assigns for pronouncing this sentence, is the breach of his law. I see not how we can avoid the conclusion, unless we can prove that the sentence does not mean temporal death. I believe, however, that it is univer sally admitted that it does. Again" By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men ; for that all have sinned.” It is not said that the sentence only, but death itself, passed upon
Now if eternal death be all the curse, then it must have passed upon all men, which is not true. Yet that he speaks of the curse of the law, the following words seem to shew_" For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam's trangression.”— Rom. v. 12, 13. 14.
Let us now briefly examine the arguments of Mr. H. by which he would prove that eternal death only is the curse of the law. The first is very goou, touching that part of the curse which is eternal death. The second runs thus ;6 Nothing, short of eternal death, will express the opposition of an infinitely holy Being towards sin.” p. 86. Very true—but add temporal and spiritual death, and the ten thousand evils of the present life, to it, and it will express it still The same remarks
be made on the third and fourth arguments. The fifth is as follows_“ Eternal death is threatened as the punishment of sin, throughout the Bible. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.'--Here, that death which is the penalty of the law, is set in opposition to eternal life." True; "and this is eternal life, that we believe on him whom he hath sent; which shows that the wages of sin is spiritual, as well as eternal death. For that spiritual death which appears to be a part of the curse of the law, is here set in opposition to that eternal life which consisteth in believing on Jesus Christ.
The next question on the moral government is the follow. ing—“If eternal death be the penalty of the law, what are natural evils : which mankind experience in the present world?” To this question Mr. H. answers" They are the natural consequences of sin. When sentence of death is