and since no single day, not a single hour, passes in which he does not sin either inwardly or outwardly, what sane and enlightened mind can hold that God will pardon all these numberless offences, and will not in any way punish sinners? For, were He not to exact punishment, His justice, and holiness would be defective, and His law and commandments also useless and profitless. If, therefore, the sinner were to be as acceptable as the saint in God's sight, of what use would the divine law be? It would not even be known that sin was unpleasing and hateful to God. For if God forgave all sins and did not punish them, then—a thing which may God forbid—it would be thought that He was pleased with sin and with the transgression of His own commandments, although such an absurd idea is absolutely contrary to God's attribute of holiness and is thoroughly blasphemous. And although God is merciful and gracious, forgiving and benign, yet it is impossible that He should have no regard for His own attributes of justice and holiness, but through mercy alone should forgive sins. For His love and mercy can never at any time be devoid of holiness and justice, nor can they be separated therefrom. His holiness and justice, like His love and mercy, are perfect and infinite. Hence it is morally impossible that God should do anything which would be in opposition to justice and holiness, or to any single one of His divine attributes. Otherwise there would


occur contrariety in the divine nature, which is impossible.

It should be understood that, though God is Almighty and though His power and wisdom are infinite, yet it cannot be that He should ever approve of anything, or perform any act which is contrary to His own nature and attributes. But, were He not to punish sinners, this conduct would be contrary to His justice and holiness and to His commandments, and to the law which He has revealed in man's heart and taught clearly in His own word; for there it is declared that God will requite each deed as it deserves and inquire into every sin. Wise and thoughtful men, therefore, see clearly that it is certain that God, in accordance with His justice and holiness, will assuredly punish every sin.

When we are considering the question of the punishment of sin it must not be forgotten that sin is in large measure its own punishment. As has been pointed out in the second section of chapter i, sin degrades the sinner's whole character, alienating him from God, and in many respects reducing him to a lower level than that of the brutes. As the Lord Jesus Christ has said in the Gospel, 'Everyone 1 that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin.' Many of us know how terribly severe is this slavery to evil habits and desires, which get the mastery over a man, and the chains

1 John viii. 34.