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A SERMON BY REV. Z. PADDOCK,
Of the Oneida Conference. Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all,' James ii, 10.
Law, in the widest sense of the term, simply means a rule of action. It always supposes a superior, which an inferior is bound to obey. GOD, being the creator, preserver, and, therefore, proprietor of all things, is the great source of all law.
The laws by which he governs his own Universe are divided into two general kinds or classes. The first are denominated physical laws, by which are intended those laws that govern mere matter, in all its endlessly diversified forms; including, of course, the irrational animal part of the creation. The second have the general designation of moral law, comprehending all those precepts which are designed to regulate the conduct of moral agents. These last constitute what we call God's moral government of the world.
Our Divine Saviour and infallible Teacher has seen fit to reduce the whole of the moral law, which, in the Old Testament, is amplified into various precepts, into two positive injunctions; namely, love to God and love to man. • Thou shalt,' says he, 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself,' Luke x, 27. It is most unquestionably to this condensed view of the Divine law that St. James refers in this section of his epistle. •If ye fulfil the royal law, according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.' Presuming that the leading sentiment of the text is now fairly before our hearers, we will proceed to show,
First, what is meant by the transgression of the law: and, Secondly, how it is that he who offends in one point is guilty of all.
I. We are first to show what is meant by the transgression of the law; or, in other words, what is necessary to constitute an offence against it.
1. In order to the criminal transgression of any law, the existence and requirements of that law must be known to the transgressor. Incolunlary ignorance precludes the possibility of crime. This not only accords with all our notions of moral justice, but is expressly VOL. VII.-April, 1836.