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ROMANS V, 20, 21.

"Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord."

It is good to mark, how, at certain intervals in the course of the apostle's argument, there is often the recurrence of some particular term, by which there may not only be evinced some reigning principle, which it is good for the reader to seize upon, but by which he may obtain a more connected view of the whole demonstration. In some former verses, the apostle insists on the mischief that was entailed upon our species, by the one offence of one individual-a mischief which fell even upon the heads of those who in their own persons violated no express commandment, as did Adam; and he now intimates to us the effect which an authoritative law, subsequently imposed upon mankind, had in turning the one offence into many offences, or in making the offence to abound-so that the power which restores us, must not only be of force enough to counteract the guilt of Adam's transgression, but be of force to counteract the guilt of all those innumerable actual transgressions, which are committed by those who sin against the known enactments of a rightfully proclaimed authority.

It sounds harsh to say of God, that He brought in a law, for the direct purpose of adding to the quantity of sin in the world; and it would soften this harshness, could we make it out to be the meaning of the apostle, not that there was any such design on the part of God-but simply that such was the effect of the law having been introduced among men. Moreover, the law entered, not with the intention by the Lawgiver of causing sin to abound, but with the consequence certainly among its subjects that sin did more abound. The law entered, and so sin became more abundant. In the Gospels we often read of a particular thing having been done, that it might be fulfilled what was spoken by some old prophet. It looks strange for the Saviour, to have gone out of His way, on purpose to bring about an adjustment of this kind, between the prophet in the Old Testament and the historian in the New, and therefore some translate the phrase thus-such a thing was done, and so was fulfilled what had been said by one of the prophets. In like manner, and to save the conclusion that God is the wilful author of sin, we would so render the passage before us-as that the law was brought in, not with the previous view of making sin abound, but only with this as the subsequent effect -"Moreover the law entered and thus sin did abound."

But it has also been alleged respecting the sense of this passage, that the law has made sin to abound, not by acting as a stimulant to sin, but merely as

the revealer of sin-not that it has made sin more abundantly to exist, but that it has made it more abundantly manifest. It has served as a mirror to set forth the deformity of sin. Paul was covetous, before he obtained such an apprehension of God's law as to make him feel that it was sinful to be so; but when the law came, sin revived, not that the law made Paul covetous, but made him sensible that, in consequence of being so, he was indeed a sinner. It is not the tendency, say some, to make a man sinful, but to show him to be sinful. It discovers the tinge of guiltiness where no such tinge was seen or suspected before. The effect of the commandment is not to create sin, but to convince of sin; and to make it evident to the conscience, that it is indeed exceedingly sinful. And we have no doubt, that this is one great purpose which has been served by the entering in of the law. It has shed a much stronger light on that contrast or diversity, which obtains between the character of God and the character of man. It has given a more plentiful demonstration of human guilt and human ungodliness. It has brought home with greater effect upon the conscience that great initiatory lesson-the learning of which is of such importance in Christianity, that the law which furnishes this lesson has been called a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. And this is certainly a most valuable purpose that is accomplished by the law. The application of an even rule to any line or surface, may not create the inequalities; but it

will make known the inequalities. And, in like manner, whether or not the law is in any way the cause of those crooked deviations from the even rule of rectitude which so abound in the character of man, it certainly is the discoverer of those deviations; and makes known to those, who are acquainted with the exceeding length and breadth and constancy of its obligations, how much more iniquities abound in the world, than men of unenlightened conscience and no moral delicacy are at all sensible of.

At the same time, we do think that the law has done more than reveal sin to the conscience. It has positively added to the amount and the aggravation of sin upon the character. It has laid a heavier responsibility on those to whom it made known its enactments; and, on the principle of "to whom much is given of them shall much be required," has a deeper guilt been incurred by those transgressors who do sin in the face of clear and impressive remonstrances from a distinct law, than by those who do it ignorantly and in unbelief. "Father forgive them," says the Saviour, "for they know not what they do." The man who lives under the light of a proclaimed commandment, has no benefit from such an intercession. They sin with their eyes open; and after having fought a pitched, and a determined, and perhaps a long sustained battle, with a conscience well informed. They may do the very same things and no more, than he who has nothing but the feeble guidance


of nature to regulate his footsteps; and yet their Sin may abound a hundred-fold, and that just be.. cause the law has entered with its precepts and its requisitions among them. And beside all this, we do further think, that the law may cause sin actually to abound in the world-not merely by investing forbidden crimes with a deeper hue of sinfulness than they would otherwise have had, but by positively and substantially deepening the atrocity of these crimes, and adding to the frequency and the amount of them. This is perhaps an effect unknown, or not easily conceived by those, who possess no tenderness of conscience; and are not feelingly alive to the guilt which attaches, even to the slighter violations of principle and propriety. But give us a man, into whose heart there has entered such a sense of the law, as to feel the discomfort even of a minutest aberration-whose force, or whose delicacy of conscience, are such, that what would bring no compunction into the hearts of other men, is sure to overwhelm his with a conviction of guilt in its darkest imagery, and its most brooding and fearful anticipations-who figures himself to have fallen, and perhaps irrecoverably fallen; and that by a slip, which, giving no concern to the feelings of ordinary mortals, would still leave them in possession of all the complacency and all the conscious uprightness that they ever had, or that they ever care for-We say of such a man, that, if without help and comfort from the gospel, the law, in all the strictness he sees to be in it, is

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