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great must our sins be, considering the light and knowledge we have in this land of Bibles, and where there are so many godly ministers, who, like faithful watchmen, cry aloud, and point out to sinners their danger. Religious education tends greatly to aggravate the sins of those who continue in them; the sins of such persons are not like the sins of others who have lived all their days in careless, ungodly families; but, where the worship of God is maintained, day by day, and instruction afforded by pious parents, those who continue in iniquity, abusing such advantages, are sinners of the deepest dye. And when sins are committed against the special goodness and mercy of God, they are also greatly aggravated. This is the condition of many to whom God may say as to the Jews of old, "Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth, for I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." God is good to all,-"the earth is full of the riches of his goodness; he opens his hand, and supplies the want of every living thing:" but, O how is all this goodness of God abused! Let us consider what God has done for us, in making us rational creatures, capable of knowing and serving him, he has furnished us with all the members of body, and all the powers of the mind; has spread our table, and filled our cup, and rendered the whole creation tributary to our comfort; he has indulged us with a thousand delights; the clear shining of the sun; the pleasing light of the moon; the charming songs of the birds; the sweet fragrance of the flowers; the higher pleasures of domestic life, the attention and affections of our dear relations. He has also granted us time and space for repentance; we have received many faithful warnings, many kind invitations; we have repeatedly felt convictions of our sin and misery, with which we have trifled; we have made many resolutions of amendment in times of sickness, which we have as frequently broken; we have escaped dangers by land and by water; we have had many ad
monitions by the death of friends, and yet, perhaps we are continuing in sin to the present moment. how does sin abound!
Sin will appear to abound if you advert to the calamitous effects which it has produced. The great and blessed God would not suffer his creatures_to endure so much misery as they do, if he were not greatly displeased by their sins. The earth is cursed for man's sake; thorns and thistles it spontaneously produces; but bread must be produced by the sweat of his brow. How many are doomed to severe labour in the fields and in the mines! The mariner who ploughs the boisterous ocean; the wretched slave who toils in the burning field; all the labours and all the miseries of man prove that he is a sinful creature. Observe the disorder of the elements; the horrid glare of lightning; the terrific peals of thunder; the deluges of water; the sickening heat of sultry climes; the destructive winds; and the tremendous earthquake. Must not sin have abounded, to occasion these abounding mischiefs?
The prudence of man in framing human laws is another proof of the same truth. Why are bonds and oaths necessary in our affairs? Why must we have locks, and bolts, and bars to our habitations? Why must we have judges and magistrates, prisons and gibbets? The reason is that sin so much abounds.
Recollect also the numerous and painful diseases which invade the human frame; visit hospitals, sick chambers, madhouses, and other receptacles of human misery; and behold in them all a convincing proof that man has sinned, and that God is angry. Yea, brethren, look a little further, and contemplate the end of all men. There you have the strongest proof imaginable of the evil of sin; it has brought. death into the world; "it is appointed to all men once to die; the body must see corruption; must return to the earth from whence it was taken." then how does sin abound!
Before we proceed to the second part of the sub
ject, let us make a pause. Let us not dismiss this serious topic without feeling its weight; let us be concerned to know this humbling truth, and to know it for ourselves; let the general doctrine come home to our hearts with the message of Nathan-" Thou art the man!" Surely, if we admit the truth of the scriptures, we must confess that we are miserable sinners, and that in our own case, sin has indeed abounded. This disposition of mind is pleasing to God, for to this man, he has promised to look, "even to him who is of a humble and contrite spirit, who trembles at his word." Blessed is the man that is "poor in spirit," who mourneth for his sin. Fools only make a mock of sin, but those who are truly wise, have a most humbling sensibility of their abounding transgressions and unworthiness.
Let us now proceed to the second part of our subject. We have seen, (shall we say we have felt?) that sin abounds: let us now contemplate the superaboundings of grace. Grace is a term but little known and rarely mentioned except in a way of contempt. "Grace" signifies "the free favour of God" towards sinful and undeserving creatures; and it stands opposed in scripture, to the merit or wages of works performed, as in Ephes. ii. 8, 9. "By grace are ye saved-not of works, lest any man should boast." It is carefully distinguished from that which might be thought meritorious, as in Rom. vi. 23. "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." The doctrine of human merit is indeed flattering to the pride of man; but it is totally contrary to the grand principle of the gospel, which forbids all flesh to glory before God, and to ascribe the whole of salvation to pure unmerited mercy.
In the whole business of salvation, from first to last, grace abounds. It originates in the heart of God, who pitied us in our low estate; and devised
a plan of salvation, to us perfectly easy, to himself highly honourable. It was God, who, unasked, presented to the world that "unspeakable gift," his only begotten Son, in human nature; "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Grace is charmingly displayed in the glorious person, and the perfect work of the Son of God; "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich;" and because we, whom he designed to save, were partakers of flesh and blood, he partook of the same nature, and submitted to the deepest humiliation on our behalf. "The foxes," said he, "have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Such was his grace, that he patiently endured the contradiction of sinners against himself; and suffered, in a manner, which it is impossible to describe. Who can conceive what were the agonies of his holy soul, when he sweat, as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground? or, when bleeding to death on the cross, he exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In this obedience unto death of Christ, consisted that righteousness, by which all believers are justified; and which, in the 19th verse of this chapter, is opposed to the disobedience of Adam, in whom we fell. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.'
Thus grace may be said to abound in the Gospel of Christ, which, on that account, is itself called, "the grace of God." St. Paul, writing to Titus, "the says, grace of God that bringeth salvationteacheth us to live soberly," &c.-doubtless, he means that we are so instructed by the Gospel.
And in another place, writing to the Corinthians, he says, "We beseech you, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain," that is, that ye neglect not to accept, and improve by the Gospel preached to you. And well may the Gospel bear this name, for it is the principal design of God in the Gospel to display this wonderful grace, and to shew how richly it abounds in the salvation of sinners: every page is full of it; nor does that deserve the name of Gospel in which it does not obviously abound.
Further. Grace exceedingly abounds in the free and full justification of the sinner, who believes. St. Paul, describing his own case in the first epistle to Timothy, chapter the first, and the fourteenth verse, says, after mentioning his former depravity and guilt, "the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." He was surprised and astonished when he reflected on the free favour of God, bestowed upon so great a transgressor. And in the last verse of this chapter, wishing to extol the grace of God as highly as possible, he says, "that, as sin reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." Here he compares grace to a mighty monarch-Grace reigns, presides, and governs with majestic superiority, in the grand affair of human salvation, worthy of the highest honours.
One idea more is necessary; it is not only said that "grace abounds," but that it "much more abounds." We have endeavoured to show that sin does awfully abound; but the Apostle says, that though sin does abound, yet grace does "much more abound:" and he not only speaks of a likeness between the first and second Adam, but he also speaks of that which is not alike, verse 15. "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift: for if through the offence of one many be dead; much more, the grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto many: and not as it was by one that