For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.…
I. THE REASONABLENESS OF AN UNRESERVED AND UNIFORM OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
1. Suppose a servant should only execute his master's orders when they fell in with his own humour, but should continually disobey him when they did not suit his fancy or convenience, could such a man be said to obey his master, or only to gratify himself?
2. People are not aware what they are doing when they indulge any one vice. For any one habitual bad quality will, in process of time, as effectually destroy everything morally good in us, as even many bad qualities. When it has thoroughly got possession of your heart it will soon draw the head after it.
II. THE FOLLY OF A PARTIAL OBEDIENCE. It is universally agreed that in works of art — architecture, for instance, painting and statuary — it is not one detached independent part, however ornamental, which we call beauty; it is a full result and well-proportioned union of all the several parts, which must have a noble and agreeable effect upon the whole. Thus in life it is not one single accomplishment, how excellent soever, that constitutes the beauty of a Christian life: it is the assemblage of all the moral virtues, as far as in us lies. What avails one glaring action or two, one shining quality or more, which is not of a piece with the rest of our conduct? It is but a purple patch sown upon a garment everywhere else despicably poor, and only serveth to upbraid, by its ridiculous splendour, the coarseness of all the rest.
III. ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS. Some think themselves excusable for the commission of any fault, however notorious, because nobody is free from faults. That is, because the best of men are sometimes liable to little inadvertencies, therefore they may indulge themselves in drunkenness, malice, dishonesty, etc. Nay, they have recourse to Scripture to patronise a wicked life. To as little purpose is it to allege the examples of several great men in the Old Testament in favour of vice. For either they were known sins, of which those men were guilty, or they were not. If the former, then the severity of their repentance bore proportion to the enormity of their guilt. And who would choose to catch a dangerous distemper because some of a strong constitution, after they have undergone very severe discipline, have, with much ado, recovered their former health? But if they were not known sins, such as perhaps were polygamy, concubinage, &c., what is that to us who have no title to the same plea in behalf of the favourite vice which we retain? One objection more remains to be obviated, viz., that it is inconsistent with the Divine goodness to consign any man who stands clear of all other vices to future misery for one habitual crime. To which, first, I answer that future misery is the necessary consequence of one habit of sin, since one habit of sin disqualifies us for the enjoyment of heaven. I answer further, that it is so far from being inconsistent with God's goodness to punish habitual sinners, that from this very attribute we may infer the doctrine of future punishments. For, if He be a Being of infinite goodness, lie must support the cause of virtue, which cannot be done without discouraging vice as well as honouring virtue.
IV. SOME PRACTICAL INFERENCES.
1. HOW necessary it is we should study the Scriptures and there inform ourselves what the will of our Maker is; otherwise we shall dignify with the name of reason whatever our craving inclination warmly pleads for.
2. A lame partial obedience, instead of an entire universal righteousness, is what we ought most to guard against.
(J. Seed, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.