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precisely, the rules of judgment, as delivered in the sacred oracles.
It is most evident, that the scripture was intended principally for those who bestow pains to understand it and this obvious reflection illustrates the propriety of the descriptions there given of the great decisive day; for they certainly relate almost exclusively to those who profess the religion of the Bible. We cannot therefore infer any thing from these descriptions, concerning those who have not been favoured with revelation, or have rejected it: though other scriptures give some light on the subject. The holy law is the unalterable rule of right and wrong, in respect of all men however distinguished; nor is it possible, that God should judge of characters and actions by any other rule; for the law is the exact reflection of his infinite holiness, and he cannot deny himself. He can, however, pardon the guilty, and make allowance for unavoidable disadvantages. "They who know not the will of God and do it
not, shall be beaten with few stripes: but they "who know and refuse to do his will shall be "beaten with many stripes." It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah, than for those who heard the doctrines
1 Luke, xii. 47, 48,
and saw the miracles of Christ, and did not repent and believe the gospel.
The apostle therefore adds, a few verses after the text; as many as have sinned without law shall They have indeed violated the perfect rule of duty: but, as they had not the advantage of the written word, they will not be liable to so heavy a condemnation, as wicked Jews and Christians: yet as they acted against the dictates of their own reason and conscience, those remains of the law originally written in the heart, they "will perish without law." For "be
"also perish without law."
ing a law to themselves," their consciences may indeed excuse some parts of their conduct, but they must condemn others; especially in the day, when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ: so that " every mouth will be stop
ped, and all the world become guilty before God."" All, except idiots (who scarcely can be thought accountable creatures), know far better than they practise, and might know much more, were not their hearts set against the truth through love of sin. All men must therefore be condemned according to this rule and the number, and aggravation of their crimes, compared with the measure of their advantages, is the standard, by which their punishment will be ascertained, by the infinitely righteous Judge.
Rom. iii. 19.
What the Lord may do in mercy to any of his sinful creatures, it does not becomes us to enquire, beyond what he hath seen good to reveal: but we have no ground to suppose that any who die without spiritual religion can be happy in another world; and neither scripture nor history countenance the opinion, that the Lord gives his sanctifying Spirit, where he has not sent some measure of the light of revelation.-We are sure, however, that the state of pagans will be far better, than that of wicked Christians, so called. While we therefore rejoice in our privileges; we may tremble, lest they should increase our condemnation : and the state of the nations, who still sit in darkness and the shadow of death, should animate our endeavours, and excite our prayers for their conversion.
The apostle adds, "as many as have sinned un"der the law, shall be judged by the law." The Jews rejected the gospel, and sought justification by the works of the law. Deists discard revelation, and rely on their own moral conduct to recommend them to God; and various descriptions of professed Christians form a complex law of works, out of the religion of the new Testament. But whatever system, men favoured with revelation may adopt, if they put the event of the great decisive day, on their own works, as the ground of their confidence; they will be judged according to the holy law of God, and fall under its awful curse. "Christ is
"become of none effect to them: they are fallen "from grace, and become debtors to do the whole "law." The advantages such men enjoy, the crimes they commit, their proud aversion to the humbling salvation of the gospel, and the degree of their enmity and opposition to the truth, will determine the measure of their guilt and punishment, according to the decision of unerring wisdom, and infinite justice.
Some observations have already been made on the case of those, who allow the doctrines of Christianity, renounce dependence on their own works, and profess to expect pardon, righteousness, and eternal life, "as the gift of God, through "Jesus Christ our Lord." Such persons, when the Lord shall come, will be judged according to this profession; and if their faith be shewn to have been living and genuine, by its holy fruits, according to the discoveries which have been mentioned, they will as justified believers receive the reward of righteousness; and their future glory and felicity will be proportioned to the degree of their grace and obedience of faith. But if their conduct and dispositions have proved, that they were not true believers; they will remain under the condemnation of the law, aggravated by their abuse of the gospel; and so have their portion with hypocrites and unbelievers.
'Gal v. 1-6,
IV. Then let us make some particular applica tion of the subject.
It has been before remarked, that "we must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ" and let this reflection sink deep into every heart. Men voluntarily break the laws of their country, but dire compulsion takes place, when they are convicted and executed for their crimes. The young man, rejoicing in his vigour and flow of spirits, may give a loose to his passions; but let him remember that "for all these things God will bring him into judgment."-You may now forget God; but he will not forget you, or any of your works. You may affront his justice, and despise his mercy: but he will shortly say, "It is a people of no under
standing; therefore he that made them will have "no mercy on them." Now is the day of the Lord's patience; but the day of wrath and perdition of ungodly men approacheth: now he invites you to draw near to his throne of grace; shortly he will summon you to his awful tribunal. "Seek ye the "Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him, "while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his
way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and
"let him return unto the Lord, and he will have
mercy on him, and to our God, for he will
"abundantly pardon." "Strive to enter in at the
'Is. xxvii. 11,