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directly on the original object embraced in the very design of the precept, awards that kind of punishment which is best calculated to work repentance and reformation, which is the object of punishment, and administers it until the desired effect is produced. It seems impossible to extend punishment any further, unless we arm it with weapons hostile to its own requirements. That the hearer may see this subject, if possible, still plainer, we will ask, for what possible purpose can justice require any punishment to be inflicted on the sinner that does not tend to the sinner's benefit? As no one's interest is the object of the precept, except those on whom it is binding, why should the punishment for disobedience seek any other interest than that which is aimed at by the precept? We know it is said that it is necessary to punish an offender, as a terror to others, to prevent their committing offences. But if this be allowed, in room of its making at all against our argument, it goes directly to establish it; therefore it is admitted.
Do you ask how this is ? Answer: If it be right and reasonable to punish an offender for the benefit of others
, it supposes a common interest exists between the one punished and those for whose benefit we say the punishment is inflicted. This being the principle on which the punishment is administered, it cannot be inflicted beyond the limits of this common interest.
If we are correct in this reasoning, we have the increased felicity sought, for it will be seen at once that divine love as much requires this punishment as justice does ; for love cannot require less than that which is for the good of its object. O the beauty! The glory of the scene which here opens on our wondering eyes! Divine truth, a golden line, appears lovely beyond description, and mercy lies parallel from the begining to the end.
To conclude; The imperfect view we have been able to take of the immense subject of this discourse, seems amply sufficient to give elevated thoughts of the divine character, thoughts calculated to raise our af
fections from every meaner object, and place them on God. With what gratitude do we turn our eyes towards heaven, and realize that God who is love, is our Father; that all his infinitely glorious attributes harmonize in love ; that they all work in unison, aiming at the highest possible improvement and felicity of all moral beings. With what pleasing reflections do we behold each other. Children of the same Father, heirs of the same inheritance, pilgrims on the same journey, and
bound to the same eternal home.
How reasonable it is that we should love, sincerely love the God of love. How reasonable is it that we should love one another. Our pretensions to religion, without love, are but frauds practised on ourselves. “ He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" Love is a “fountain of living waters, a place of broad rivers and streams,” to which we are invited in the following divine language, with which I close;" Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money : come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but
of him who hath subjected the same in hope.
By creature in our text, the Apostle evidently means the same as he does by the “whole creation” in the
In this connexion the whole created humanity is three times called “the creature ;” and once, "the whole creation.” The subject of the Apostle's labor in the place where our text is found, seems to be that of presenting to view one of the most pleasing, consoling, and encouraging subjects, on which he delighted to dwell. In the 16th verse he notices the testimony of the divine Spirit, that we are the children of God. From this he proceeds to show our heirship in God, and our joint heirship with Christ. The consideration of the infinite riches and glory to which mankind are entitled, seemed to call into notice the present state of suffering to which man is subjected in this mortal life ; concerning which he speaks as follows; “ For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope ; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; and not
only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan
within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. By our body the author means the same as he does by creature, and by the whole creation. Believers who have the first fruits of the spirit are distinguished in the foregoing quotation from the rest of the one body, called the creature and the whole creation, but in such a way as to show that they were in the same condition with the rest, groaning and waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the whole body. And it is worthy of special notice, that by first fruits of the spirit, the Apostle evidently intimates that the redemption of the whole creature which was made subject to vanity was considered as the whole or general harvest.
As under the law a few only partook of the first firuits, but all were fed of the general harvest; so but a few seem to be partakers of the first fruits of the spirit, while the whole human family is entitled to the redemption of our body.
The vanity to which the creature was made subject may comprehend all the imperfections incident to our mortal state, but especially and particularly the sufferings which the author mentioned in the context. He was not made subject to vanity on account of his own will, for he could have had no will until he was created; but he was made subject to vanity by reason of him who subjected him in hope. The opinion, therefore, that man was constituted in flesh and blood, first a perfectly holy being, but was made subject to vanity by sin, is as contrary to the plain declaration of our text as it is repugnant to the dictates of reason.
We shall now proceed to examine the common doctrine called the fall of man, and to show the want of both scripture and reason for its support. Such language as the following ;. “ before the fall, since the fall, the fall of man, in Adam's fall we sinned all,” is common among christian people, and is so much used by authors and preachers that people in general suppose it to be Bible language, and feel confident that the scriptures justify such representations. But notwithstanding all that has been written and spoken on this
subject, and without calling the sincerity of any in question, it seems necessary to inform the hearer that no such language was ever used by the lawgiver of Israel, the prophets who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, the Lord Jesus, or his Apostles. We read nothing in the scriptures of Adam's falling from the state in which he was created, no more than we read of Cain's falling from the state in which he was created. We are informed that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, and we are informed that Cain slew his brother, but we are not told that they did these things in one constitution of nature, and fell into another constitution by so doing. If Adam had not been constituted in an imperfect state how could he have sinned in that state? It is not supposed that Adam fell out of the state in which he was created before he sinned, therefore he must have sinned in the state in which he was formed of the dust of the ground. If he sinned in the state in which he was first formed, then it is evident that he was possessed of no perfection or holiness that secured him against sin. What alteration was there effected in the constitution of Adam by what is called the fall? It seems according to the account given in Genesis, that Adam was not very dissimilar to men in all ages of the world; he was led into sin by his companion. She who was formed and given to Adam for a help-meet was the means of leading him into sin ; and how many thousands in all ages of the world have been led into sin by this kind blessing of heaven! Nor does it appear from any account we have in scripture, that Adam was any more inflexible than his posterity in general. We have no account of his withstanding strong temptations for a long time; it seems the first temptation was successful. If we should carefully compare the conduct of Adam with what we read of Joseph, candor would conclude at once in favor of the latter. The former did sin, but Joseph did not. But here we should do great injustice if we should contend that there was such a difference in the constitutions of the two as to produce the difference
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