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HATEFUL NATURE OF SIN. From the scheme of man's redemption we learn that sin must be something far more hateful in its nature, something of a deeper malignity, than is generally understood. It could be no inconsiderable evil that could require such a remedy as the humiliation of the second person in the Godhead. It is not to be supposed, that any light cause would move the merciful Father of the universe to expose even an innocent man to unmerited sufferings. What must be the enormity of that guilt, which God's mercy could not pardon till the only begotten Son of God had undergone its punishment ? How great must be the load of crime, which could find no adequate atonement till the Son of God descended from the bosom of the Father, clothed himself with flesh, and being found in fashion as a man, submitted to a life of hardship and contempt, to a death of ignominy and pain?
From this scheme we learn further, that the good or ill conduct of man is a thing of far more importance and concern in the moral system than is generally imagined. Man's deviation from his duty was a disorder, it seems, in the moral system of the universe, for which nothing less than divine wisdom could devise a remedy,—the remedy devised nothing less than divine wisdom and power could apply. Man's disobedience was in the moral world what it would be in the natural, if a planet were to wander from its orbit, or the constellations to start from their appointed seats. It was an evil for which the regular constitution of the world had no cure, which nothing but the immediate interposition of Providence could repair.
FORGIVENESS OF SIN.
The forgiveness that is with God is such as becomes him-such as is suitable to his greatness, goodness, and other excellencies of his nature—such as, that therein he will be known to be God. What he says concerning some of the works of his providence, “be still, and know that I am God,” may be much more said concerning this great effect of his grace, still your souls, and know that he is God. It is not like that nar
difficult, halving, and manacled forgiveness that is found amongst men, when any such thing is found amongst them; but it is full, free, boundless, bottomless, absolute such as becomes his nature and excellencies. It is, in a word, forgiveness that is with God, and by the exercise whereof he will be known so to be. If there be any pardon with God, it is such as becomes him to give ;-when he pardons, he will abundantly pardon.-Go with your half-forgiveness, limited, conditional pardons, with reserves and limitations, unto the sons of men; it may be it may become them-it is like themselves ;—that of God is absolute and perfect, before which our sins are as a cloud before the east wind and the rising sun. Hence he is said to do this work with his whole heart and his whole soul, freely, bountifully, largely, to indulge and forgive unto us our sins, and to cast them unto the bottom of the sea-unto a bottomless ocean, an emblem of infinite mercy.
THE SOUL INVALUABLE.
An infidel philosopher has observed, that “ the damnation of one man is an infinitely greater evil than the subversion of a thousand millions of kingdoms.” This is a testimony which he has borne against himself, and against all in every age, who make light of the well-being of that imperishable spirit which the Almighty has breathed into the human frame. “ The subversion of a thousand millions of kingdoms !" Ay; he might have converted his kingdoms into worlds, and his thousand millions into countłuss myriads, and still might he have said, that the damnation of one man is an infinitely greater evil. They are to one immortal soul as less than the small dust of the balance. With all the marks of divine perfection enstamped on them, they have yet no conscious existence—and are susceptible neither of pain nor pleasure—and are but the material instruments which God has created for the gratification or the improvement of the intelligent beings that inhabit them. It is their fate to pass away as if they had never been ; but the soul shall endure: and after they shall have been blotted out from the wide expanse of universal nature, as having served the purposes of their formation, the soul shall still survive, and stretch out its existence into everlasting ages, and spend that eternity to which it is destined, either under the burden and the anguish of a just condemnation, or in the enjoyment of exalted, unmingled, and never-ending bliss.
EXCELLENCE OF THE HUMAN MIND.
Mind is the source of all that is great and beautiful, and mind is the proper subject of beauty and of grandeur. It is the infinite mind which, beaming through this material frame, diffuses a radiance over it; and the indications of infinite intelligence, power, and goodness, constitute the beauty and grandeur of the material world. And it is mind in man which recognises these indications, and, like a mirror reflecting the sunbeam, refers them to their great original. What would the noblest conformation of material things, and the most exquisite disposition of their parts, avail to the glory of God, or to any purpose worthy of infinite wisdom, if there were not intelligent beings to experience and appreciate their happy results ? It is mind which marks the order, harmony, and consistency of nature; which traces the connexion and design of its parts ; which combines them in new associations, and draws from them endless stores of thought and reflection ; extracting, by its peculiar powers, from inanimate and senseless things, the observations of the naturalist, the deductions of the philosopher, and the enchantments of the poet.
The simplest faculties of the human mind, and those which are earliest in operation, I mean the faculties of external perception, may well awaken our admiration of the divine power to which we owe them. The bodily organs, by means of which they are exercised, are so exquisite in their structure, that they form one of the most interesting subjects of human investigation : but there is something far more wonderful behind; the power which, hy means of these instruments,
perceives the sensible qualities of external things. There is no necessary connexion between my opening my eyes and receiving intimations of the various objects around me; and yet I no sooner draw up the little curtain of my eyelid, than I behold, at a glance, the wonders of nature, the works of art, the persons of my fellow-men, and perhaps, depicted in their countenances, the inmost feelings of their hearts. These powers of perception are the gift of the Almighty ; and they reside, not in the eye, which is only a telescope of divine construction, but in the mind. If, indeed, the telescope be injured, the exercise of vision is obstructed; but, however perfect the instrument, its use is obviously limited to the transmission and refraction of the rays of light, and it were absurd to attribute to its lenses and its retina, the phenomena of perception and discernment, which imply principles of an entirely different and infinitely nobler kind.
The higher faculties and nobler operations of the human mind, I must not attempt to enumerate, far less to analyse ; but contemplate for a moment some of their vast results. Behold that feeble creature man, by his superior intelligence, subduing animals of strength and activity far surpassing his own, and employing their powers in his service; see him controlling the vegetative powers of the earth, directing its fertility, and changing the barren wilderness and impenetrable forest into a fruitful field; see him overleaping the boundaries of country, and guiding his bark through the trackless waves of boundless unfathomable ocean; see him, not satisfied with the ample disclosures of nature, subjecting her to experiment, and forcing her to reveal her secrets ;