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opposite doctrine. It is therefore not only allowable, it is absolutely necessary, to understand the proposition in the text with some qualification. The only question is, what this qualification shall be. Different expofitors have proposed different restrictions; and they who are content with these (as many probably are) have nothing further to seek. But as there are fome, I know, who still wish for further light on this subject; I shall beg leave to offer, what, upon the most attentive consideration of this confessedly difficult pafsage, appears to me the truest and most fcriptural sense of it. The question is certainly an important one, and well worthy our most serious attention. It is not a matter of nice, and curious, and unprofitable speculation. It is a point in which we are all most deeply interested, and the decision of it must be of great moment to every moral agent, who thinks himself bound by the precepts, or looks forwards to the rewards, of the Gospel *.


* The various senses, which have been given to the words of the text by diferent interpreters, are stated and explained

by It

may, in the first place, be necessary to premise, that by offending in one point is not meant a single casual transgreffion of duty, such as the best of men may sometimes fall into, but a wilful and constant violation of some divine command, a settled and determined babit of fin. In this there is no difference of opinion. And, fince it is also an agreed point that the full and unlimited fenfe of the text is indefensible, all that can be necessary to be proved is this : that he who lives in the habitual commission of any one acknowledged sin, will, in some material reSpects, experience the same consequences, and be treated in the same manner, as if he had been guilty of all. If this be clearly made out, and shown to be consistent with the dictates of justice, and the doctrines of the Gospel, it will fully justify St. James's declaration, and will at the same time be as near an approach to the literal meaning as can be made, without falling directly into it.

by Archbishop Secker, with his usual accuracy, judgement, and perspicuity'. The most common interpretation of them, which is well known, has been proved by Bishop Sherlock to be altogether inadmissible ; and in the room of it, that very able prelate has proposed another explanation f which may be found also in St. Austin; who has expressed the substance of it very concisely in these words :-Plenitudo legis est charitas; ac per hoc qui totam legem servaverit, fi in uno offenderit, fit omnium reus, quia contra charitatem facit unde tota lex pendet j. It is very conceivable that the bishop, without ever having met with this passage, may have fallen incidentally into the same train of thinking. But, notwithstanding the united authority of these two learned men, there are, in my apprehen, fion, insuperable objections to their opinion ; with whiclrs however, I do not thunk it neceffary at present to trouble the reader.

* Vol, vii. Sturm. 3.
+ Vol. i. Diis. 18. P.347•
1 August op, iwm. ii. Epift, 29. ad Hieronymum.

The next enquiry then of course is, in what respects he who offends in one point will be treated as if he had been guilty of all.

Now there are two effects, and those of a very important nature indeed, which will equally follow from partial and from total disobedience. The first of these is exclusion from heaven, or the loss of eternal life.

In this respect, our guilt, our demerit, our incapacity for future happiness, will be precisely the same, whether we offend in one point, or whether we offend in all. The gates of heaven are shut against unexpiated



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fin, under every form and in every degree. He who lives and dies in the violation of

any one divine command, shall have no more title to reward than if he had violated every command. And in this fenfe, by offending in one


great propriety and truth be said to be guilty of all. For the consequence to him, with regard to future happiness, will be the same as if he actually had been so. He will be as certainly and as effe&tually excluded from the kingdom of God, as if he had broken

every law, instead of one. Had this then been the whole of St. James's meaning in this place, it would have sufficiently authorized the strong expression he has made use of. But there is, I conceive, still another effect, which will equally attend disobedience in one point and disobedience in all, and that is, condemnation to punijkment. He who habitually and wilfully transgresses any one of the divine laws, will be as certainly doomed to fome degree of future misery as if he had transgressed them all. This indeed ieems to be the natural confequence of his being excluded from reward. In the great day of final retribution, there are



but two claffes into which all mankind will be divided; the wicked, and the good; those who are punished, and those who are rewarded. Between these there appears to be no middle rank, no neutral set of beings who are neither punished nor rewarded. Not the least traces or most distant intimations of

any such intermediate condition are to be met with in fcripture. In our Lord's representation of the last judgement, the sheep are placed on the right hand, and the goats on the left, but we hear of none who have a station assigned them between both *. They who do

go away into life eternal,” are ordered to depart into a state of everlasting punishment. And, since the offender in one point, cannot be


the first, he must necessarily be assorted with the last. In this then, as well as in the loss of heaven, he shares the fate of him who is guilty of all; with him he is cast into outer darkness, with him he suffers the infliction of actual pain. And, lince his condemnation to these sufferings is as certain and inevitable as if he had broken every command instead of



in this res

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• Matth. xxv. 31-46.


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