« ForrigeFortsæt »
been over. Long has he enjoyed the glorious recompence of reward to which he had respect; and he will enjoy it to all eternity.
Will you not then, those of my readers who are come to years of diseretion, though young, be persuaded to make a similar choice? Will you not renounce the vanities of this present world, and the service of diverse lusts and pleasures, and make that happiness which will be permanent and soul-satisfying, the object of your most earnest pursuit ? Should you hereafter see innumerable others in the kingdom of heaven, and yourselves shut out, how bitter will be your lamentation and self-reproach? Be persuaded to have respect to such eternal consequences; to pay a serious attention to the one thing needful; and to choose the good part, which shall not be taken from you.
ON THE UNIVERSAL SINFULNESS OF MANKIND.
1 JOHN I. 8.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
IN nothing do we more hate the light, and
shut our eyes against it, than in regard to our own sins and yet, in nothing is it of greater importance to us, that we should come to the knowledge of the truth. Not only must the unregenerate be effectually convinced of sin, before they will in earnest attend to the gospel of their salvation; but it is very necessary that the renewed, and even the holiest saints on earth, should have an abiding sense of their remaining imperfections; and should see that sin still dwelleth in them, and often easily besets them. This is necessary to awaken them to constant watchfulness, and exertion in the spiritual warfare; to excite them to walk humbly with God, and to make them see their need of daily pardoning mercy, and of further sanctifying grace. Great care is therefore taken in the holy scriptures, to guard persons of all characters against trusting in themselves that they are righteous, or thinking more highly of their innocence than they ought to think.
Whether any in the days of the apostles, carried this self-flattery so far as to imagine themselves wholly free from sin, which gave occasion for the caution in our text, I am not able to say. Some such, however, it is said, there now are. I understand it is the professed opinion of one sect among us, who have compassed sea and land to make proselytes, that sinless perfection is attainable in this life; and that many of them vainly boast of being themselves already thus perfect.
But it is not merely with a view to them, or to the refutation of this tenet of theirs, that I have now made choice of these words. There are many other erroneous opinions, too common at all times and in all places, the tendency of which is to make sinners flatter themselves in their own eyes, and not see that their iniquity is hateful. And many who are not much erroneous in speculation, from mere carelessness and stupidity, often feel as if they were whole, rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. This short passage of scripture, given by inspiration of God, if duly attended to, may lead to a detection of all such delusions; and, it is hoped, may be profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, to all these sorts of persons.
That the truth of what the apostle here asserts may be more fully illustrated, I shall begin with a particular inquiry into what things are sinful, in a moral agent: Shall then show that it is a gross self-deception, for any of mankind in this world, to think they have no sin and lastly, shall consider, how it is to be understood that the truth is not in us, if we say thus.
Our first inquiry, is concerning the things which ought to be accounted sinful, in a moral agent: or, to answer the question, What is sin?
On this question we have been taught, and some of us still teach our children to answer: "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God." But the apostle John, in another chapter of this epistle, according to our translation at least, seems to have given a more limited definition of sin, He says, "Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth the law for sin is the transgression of the law." It is however to be observed, that his word, [anomia,] which our translators have rendered, "the transgression of the law," properly signifies, a deviation from law; whether by going beyond it, or not coming up to it. Want of conformity, as well as transgression, may therefore be comprehended in his meaning,
But we will consider sins of commission, in the first place; and then inquire whether there must not be sin in the heart, prior to these; and also whether we may not be guilty of sins of omission, besides these.
Respecting sins of commission, or transgression, it is to be observed,
1. That whenever our external actions are wrong, and such as God hath forbidden, we transgress the law, and commit sin.
Under this particular are comprehended all idolatry; all worshipping of false gods, or making graven' images, and bowing down before them: all profanation of the Lord's day, by spending any part of it in unnecessary secular labors, or idle diversions: all disobedience to parents, and undue disrespect to superiors, or any others: all murders, and unjust wars and contentions: all suicide, and intemperance: all lewd and lacivious conduct: and all robbery, theft, cheating, extortion and oppression in our dealings. Doing any of these things, is evidently transgressing,