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"The wages of sin is death." -- Romans 6:23.

THE death here spoken of is that which is due as the penal sanction of God’s law.

In presenting the subject of our text, I must --

I. Illustrate the nature of sin;

II. Specify some of the attributes of the penal sanctions of God’s law;

III. Show what this penalty must be.

I. Illustrate the nature of sin.

An illustration will give us the best practical view of the nature of sin. You have only to suppose a government established to secure the highest well being of the governed and of the ruling authorities also. Supposed the head of this government to embark all his attributes in the enterprise -- all his wealth, all his time, all his energies -- to compass the high end of the highest general good. For this purpose he enacts the best possible laws -- laws which, if obeyed, will secure the highest good of both subject and Prince. He then takes care to affix adequate penalties; else all his care and wisdom must come to naught. He devotes to the interests of his government all he is and all he has, without reserve or abatement.

But some of his subjects refuse to sympathize with this movement. They say, "Charity begins at home," and they are for taking care of themselves in the first place; in short, they are thoroughly selfish.

It is easy to see what this would be in a human government. The man who does this becomes the common enemy of the government and of all its subjects. This is sin. This illustrates precisely the case of the sinner. Sin is selfishness. It sets up a selfish end, and to gain it uses selfish means; so that in respect to both its end and its means, it is precisely opposed to God and to all the ends of general happiness, which He seeks to secure. It denies God’s rights; discards God’s interests. Each sinner maintains that his own will shall be the law. The interest he sets himself to secure is entirely opposed to that proposed by God in His government.

All law must have sanctions. Without sanctions it would be only advice. It is therefore essential to the distinctive and inherent nature of law that it has sanctions.

These are either remunerator or vindicatory. They promise reward for obedience, and they also threaten penalty for disobedience. They are vindicatory, inasmuch as they vindicate the honor of the violated law.

Again, sanctions may be either natural or governmental. Often both forms exist in other governments than the divine.

Natural penalties are those evil consequences, which naturally result without any direct interference of government to punish. Thus in all governments the disrespect of its friends falls as a natural penalty on transgressors. They are the natural enemies of all good subjects.

In the divine government, compunctions of conscience and remorse fall into this class, and indeed many other things which naturally result to obedience on the one hand and to disobedience on the other.

There should also be governmental sanctions. Every governor should manifest his displeasure against the violation of his laws. To leave the whole question of obedience to mere natural consequences is obviously unjust to society.

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