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PAGE 144

against the law of their mind; which too often brings them into captivity to the law of sin, and this will be their burden, under which they will groan, as long as they are in the flesh; for if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Hence the spiritual warfare, the severe conflicts of the divine life; hence the necessity of putting on the whole armour of God; and hence the repeated exhortations to watch, stand fast in the faith, and be strong; to look unto Jesus, who is the finisher as well as the author of faith; and through him to obtain the victory. - But there is no promise which secures them, when they yield to temptations, from the possibility of backsliding, or even from falling into such sins as wound the reputation of religion and give great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. Can therefore their conduct, which ought to be a practical comment upon the divine law, when it becomes the reverse, disannul the obligation to obedience? Will their personal piety justify their deviations from the commandments of God, or will it be right and safe for others, to take encouragement from their backslidings to commit the same crime?

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David was a pious man - but could the sins of which he was guilty abrogate the decalogue, or recommend such enormous transgressions to the imitation of others? Peter was a pious man - But could his denial of his Lord frustrate the divine law or suggest any argument to render falsehood and profanity innocent and commendable? Let God be true, but every man a liar. The law of God is the rule of conduct. Not the acts of men, not even of the most advanced saints. Sin, wherever it exists, and by whomsoever it is perpetrated, is that abominable thing which God hates and will assuredly punish. This awful and interesting truth is confirmed by the divine procedure in the instance of David. The humble penitent was pardoned, but a train of desolating judgments afflicted his family, and filled his cup with bitterness. So far from lessening the evil, when committed by his own people, it becomes enhanced, and sin in them, is exceeding sinful. If they be indeed regenerate and pious, the Lord "will take away their sin; they shall not die. There is redemption through the blood of Christ: even the forgiveness of sins." Grace will prevail; and when the obstacle to their being received again into communion shall be removed, either by the


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