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virtue of this authority, and for the manifestation of this dominion, God has prescribed laws to his reasonable "The LORD is our Lawgiver; the LORD "is our King." "There is one Lawgiver, who is able "to save and to destroy." In the law which he has given, he has not only expressed the good pleasure of his will, which cannot be otherwise than most holy,m but also proposed that Holiness which is natural to himself, as a pattern to man," whom he created after his own image. Now, all these obligations are violated by sin. It involves a contempt and renunciation of the dominion of God, defection, and shaking off the yoke. It is a revolt,* and a neglect of obedience, so that you omit the duties commanded; nay, even rebellion, so that you oppose his authority, and commit what is forbidden. "We have transgressed, and have "rebelled."—"The rebels, and them that transgress
against me."P-Again, sin is a transgression of the Divine Law. In fine, sin includes a perverseness, a crookedness,|| contrary to that rectitude, of which indeed there is a transcript in the law, but the archetype is in God himself,s and the living copy was in the first man. To this, that expression of Elihu refers: "I have perverted that which was right."u
IV. As there is criminality in sin, so it cannot but infer great misery to the sinning creature. Both are elegantly pointed out by a Hebrew word, which properly signifies wandering from the mark. It denotes infelicity, so that one comes short of what is proposed, and falls into the contrary, to wit, misery. The mark which man ought to propose to himself is true happiness, consisting in the fellowship and image of God. The sinner wanders from this mark, proposing something else to himself as his end; or not taking his aim aright, as to the object towards which, or the manner in which, he should have aimed. He acts a part, too, contrary to his incumbent duty; for he cannot without crime neglect or contemn the end for the prosecution of which he was created: and he renders himself miserable, because he not only deprives himself of his proper good, which consists in attaining the end of his existence; but brings himself under obligations to restore to Him who is his Chief end and happiness, that glory of which he has robbed him.
v. It is particularly proper, distinctly to consider in every sin, the Stain and the Guilt. The stain is that pollution with which sin defiles the soul, repugnant to the Divine purity, the image of which man ought clearly to exhibit in his heart and conduct. “These "are the things which defile a man.” "Thus were
they defiled with their own works." Hence sin is represented as an unclean thing, and as a leprosy. Guilt is an obligation to punishment. “The judg“ment, the guilt, was by one to condemnation." In
▾ Judges xx. 16.
* Ps. cvi. 39.
Ps. li. 7. comp. Lev. xiv. 4. et seq.
Mat. xv. 20.
y Is. lxiv. 6.
this view, sins are called debts, because they render men amenable, and obnoxious to punishment. According to the Apostle, to be "under sin," and to "be"come guilty before God," are convertible expressions. The Stain of sin has a reference properly to the unspotted holiness of God expressed in the precepts of the law, which it opposes; and hence arise the detestation and abhorrence in which God holds it, who "is of
purer eyes than to behold evil.” Guilt has a respect to the avenging justice of God: "Shall I not visit for "these things, saith the Lord? shall not my soul be
avenged on such a nation as this?"—And to the sanction of the law: "Cursed be he that confirmeth "not all the words of this law, to do them."s
VI. Further, guilt sometimes denotes the demerit of sin, by which, on account of its intrinsic evil and turpitude, it deserves to be punished; in reference to which the Apostle says, it is "the judgment of God, "that they which commit such things are worthy of "death" And sometimes it denotes actual obligation to punishment, which will be accompanied by condemnation itself, and the infliction of the punishment; "He that believeth not, is condemned already." In the former sense, guilt cannot be separated from sin. Every sin includes in it a contempt of the Divine Majesty, and there is therefore no imaginable sin, which is not deserving of punishment. Nay, it may be affirmed further, that there is no sin at all, which is not actually punished, either in the sinner himself, or in his Surety. Hence it follows, if we wish to speak
↳ Mat. vi. 12. comp. Luke xi. 4.
4 Verse 19.
Jer. v. 9, 29.
b Rom. i. 32.
• Rom. iii. 9.
e Hab. i. 13.
8 Deut. xxvii. 26.
i John iii. 18.
precisely, that even an actual obligation to the infliction of punishment is inseparable from sin. This obligation may be removed from the sinner, indeed, when sin with its guilt is transferred to the Surety, who makes satisfaction for him, in consequence of which, the principal debtor is absolved from making payment. It cannot be removed, however, from sin itself; for God, even when he pardons, doth " by no means clear "the guilty." In this sense the following words of Paul are to be understood: "There is, therefore, now "no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus."k The meaning is not, that there is no sin in them, or that their sin doth not merit condemnation, or that by a dispensation on the part of God, their sin is exempted from actual obligation to punishment. But, Christ having suffered condemnation in their room, the sin which was punished in the Surety, cannot be punished a second time in them. In short, all sin involves an actual obligation to punishment; but with this difference, that some, having no Surety, are bound to undergo the punishment themselves, whilst others make satisfaction, not in their own persons, but in the person of a Surety.
VII. The FORGIVENESS OF SINS, therefore, is, the absolution of the sinner from guilt which Christ took upon himself; or, the declaration of God the Lawgiver and Judge, that on account of the satisfaction made by Christ the Surety, the sinner shall not suffer the punishment which he has deserved. Since that satisfaction, too, was of necessity accompanied with a most complete righteousness, which obtains a title to fe, it follows, that he who is absolved from guilt and
Impɔmp: Exod. xxxiv. 7.
k Rom. viii. 1.
condemnation as if he had never committed any sin, has a right to eternal life adjudged to him, no less than if he himself had fulfilled all that righteousness which the law requires. They whose sins are forgiven, are accordingly pronounced blessed.1
VIII. Further, the forgiveness of sins may be considered either absolutely, as it is a blessing of the covenant of grace, equally pertaining to all believers in all ages; or under certain circumstances, which are diversified according to the varied economy of the covenant of grace.
IX. Even from the beginning, owing to the suretyship righteousness of Christ, sin, after having been committed, could not be imputed to believers, because it was charged on the Surety, and it was to be laid upon him, and exacted from him.m So that the will to punish the sins of believers on themselves neither was, nor indeed could be in God; for it is contrary to justice and equity that the same debt be twice demanded.
x. It pleased God, immediately after the fall, in the first promulgation of the Covenant of grace, to reveal to man, his merciful determination not to inflict on believers the punishment due to their sin. The same words in which he passed a condemnatory sentence on the devil, contained a promise of the grace of Christ unto righteousness.
XI. He also applied, brought home, and intimated that grace to individual believers, that they might know they were restored to a state of favour with God, and that their sins should not hinder them from possessing the heavenly inheritance;-that they might even delight in the love of God towards them, and
1 Rom. iv. 7. Ps. xxxii. 1, 2.
m Is. liii. 6, 7.