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forbidden field but what may be easily surmounted. If he is but a little way within the unlawful territory, even upon its margin, the God who finds him there, will reckon and deal with him as a bold transgressor. In the words of the text,the Saviour has taken his stand on the mere dividing line between what is lawful and what is unlawful; and he gives us to understand, that the man who enters by a single footstep on the forbidden ground, immediately contaminates his person with the full hue and character of guiltiness. He does not make the difference between right and wrong to consist in a gradual shading of the one into the other; and thus obliterate the distinctions of morality. He allows no imperceptible intermixture between the nature and margin of virtue and vice; but gives a clear and decided delineation. It is not a gentle transition for a man to step over from honesty to dishonesty, and from truth to falsehood. There is between them a wall, rising up unto heaven: and the authority of Gọd must suffer violence, ere one inch of entrance can be made into the field of iniquity. The Saviour never glosses over the beginning of crimes. His object is effectually to fortify the limit, to cast a rampart of exclusion around the whole territory of guilt, and to rear it before the eye of man in such characters of strength and sacredness, as should make him feel that it is inpregnable.
Again: We may see, that he who is unfaithful in the least, has incurred the condemnation of him who is unfaithful in much; because the littleness of the gain, so far from lessening the guilt, is in fact rather a circumstance of aggravation. It is certain that he who has committed injustice for the sake of a less advantage, has done it on the impulse of a less temptation. He has parted with his honesty at an inferiour price, by bartering it for a mere trifle. And does this lessen his guilt? Certainly it proves how small is the price which he sets upon his eternity; and how cheaply he can bargain away the favour of God, and an inherita. ance in glory. And the more paltry the trafick is in respect of sinful gain, the more profane it may be in respect of principle. It likens him the more to profane Esau, who sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage. The piercing eye of Him who looketh down from heaven, and pondereth the secrets of every breast, perceives that the man who is abhorrent only in the view of flagrant acts of injustice, has no justice whatever in his character. It is at the precise limit between the right and the wrong, that the flaming sword of God's law is placed. This is strikingly evident in the instance of the first sin that entered the world. What is it that swells the eating of the forbidden fruit with a grandeur so momentous? How came an action, in itself so minute, to be the germe of such mighty consequences ? How are we to conceive that our first parents, by one act of disobedience, brought death upon themselves and their posterity? By the eating of the forbidden fruit, a clear requirement, or distinct prohibition was broken. A transition was made from loyalty to rebellion; and an entrance was effected into the kingdom of Satan. If the act itself was a trifle, it served to aggravate the guilt; that, for such a trifle the authority of God could be despised and set at defiance. Moreover, the truth of God was pledged for the execution of the threatening. And now, if for a single transaction, all the felicity of paradise had to be broken up, and the wretched offenders to be turned abroad upon a world, now changed by the curse into a wilderness; and all the woes with which earth is filled, be the direful consequence, let us not hesitate to believe, That he who is unfaithful in that which is least, contracts great guilt; and for the sake of a little gain, incurs an aggravated condemnation.
4th. We may also see, that he who is faithful in that which is least, is entitled to the highest praise. In respect both of righteous principle and practice, such an one is, and ought to be considered as being faithful in that which is much. Who is the man, my hearers, to whom you would most readily confide the whole of your property? He who would disdain to put forth an injurious hand on a single farthing. Of whom would you have the least dread of any unrighteous encroachment? He is the one, all the delicacies of whose principle are awakened when he comes within sight of the dividing limit, which separates justice, from injustice. Who is the man whom we shall never find among the greater degrees of iniquity? He who shrinks, with sacred abhorrence, from its smallest degree. Nobleness of condition in life, is not essential as a state for nobleness of character: Nor does a man require to be high in office, to gather around his person the worth and lustre of a high-minded integrity. Humble life may be as rich in moral grace and moral grandeur, as the loftier places of society and refinement. True dignity of principle may
be cherished in the breast of a man of the low. est drudgery, as well as in the bosom of him who stands entrusted with the fortunes of an empire. Moreover, that man has the brightest christian character who conscientiously observes all the punctilios of godliness. It is in a humble, and almost unnoticed walk, that he can most effectually prove to his God and his own conscience, that he is a Christian. Hence, the secret walk, the private acts of men, if noble, far the noblest of their lives. And to be faithful in those things that are little, gives the most incontestible evidence, that a man is faithful in that which is much; and consequently entitled to the highest esteem and commendation from his fellow men and the peculiar smiles and approbation of his God. imen.
Romans iii. 24.
Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption
that is in Christ Jesus. THE doctrine of justification is one of the main pillars, which supports the Christian religion. It is of great importance that it be rightly understood l; for it is essential to the system of divine truth, revealed in the sacred scriptures. And that we may have clear views of this fundamental article of Christianity, let us attend to the context. St. Paul, after showing that by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God, illustrates the present subject in the following manner. the righteousness of God without the law, is manifested; being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all, them that believe, for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
We are now naturally called upon to attend to the explication of the term, justification.
This word is adopted from the proceedings of ju. dicial courts; and denotes the acquittal of a person, tried by such a court, upon an accusation of a crime. The person accused, being upon trial, found innocent of the charge, is declared to be just in the view of the law; and by an easy and natural figure, is said to be justified: That is, he is made, or found to be just. As the allegations, with which he may be charged, cannot be substantiated against him, he is freed from indictment, and pronounced innocent.
Now, in this original, forensick sense of the term, it is obvious from the declarations of the context, that no human being can be justified by the law, before the bar of God. As all mankind have disobeyed this law, it is clear that he whose judgement is invariably according to truth, must declare them guilty.
Perfect beings are justified by their own obedience; since they fulfil all the demands of the divine law. To them, therefore, the religion of nature is amply sufficient to secure their duty, their acceptance with God, and their final happiness. And as such sustain the character of sinless perfection, their justification is according to a dispensation of perfect righteousness, that renders unto them rewards for personal merit.
But sinful beings cannot thus be justified; because they have not rendered that obedience, which is the only possible ground of justification by law. Consequently, some other ground of justification is absolutely necessary for them, if they be ever accepted and rewarded.
Still the scriptures teach us, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. It is however certain, that justification, when extended to returning sinners, must in some respects, be a thing widely different from justification under the law. A