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may supervene even in a soul which has been living in sin.” Meanwhile, dear brethren, decide for yourselves whether you are living in known, unrepented, unhated sin, or whether you are “ alive unto God” in the workings of conscience, the speculations of reason, the blessedness of earthly love, the responsibilities of life, and the hopes of the Christian,
DEATH UNTO SIN.
ROM. VI. 2 and 11.
How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In a former discourse the two lives have been described and contrasted, life in sin and life unto God. It would be difficult to conceive of two modes of life more obviously opposed to one another. They cannot coexist in the same spirit. If sin is delighted in, God is dreaded. If sin is mocked at, extenuated and excused in self or others, if sin is regarded as venial, insignificant or harmless, the eye is blinded, the conscience is seared, and the faculty by which man can see God is rendered hopelessly imbecile. There is no tendency in human nature by means of which the evil can be remedied or undone. The great punishment of sin is death; that is, moral alienation of heart from God, sinful habit, bias, and tendency. Consequently every sin carries in itself its own perpetuation and the germ of further transgression, The constitution of human nature, which renders this reproduction and aggravation of sin as certain as the laws of growth and decay, is a beneficent arrangement. It cannot be altered or modified without a modification of those blessed and beautiful processes by which the righteous waxes stronger and stronger, and the path of the just brightens into perfect day. It is the peculiarity of nature by which all that constitutes character is evolved, and without which progress would be impossible in the education of the race, in the practice of virtue, in the divine life. If man did not by every one of his actions affect his own being, increase his powers or diminish them, augment or reduce some of the tendencies and dispositions which go to make up his earthly character, there would be no practical basis for virtue; his moral and intellectual nature would be brought to a stand, and responsibility be inconceivable. The natural consequence therefore of a “life in sin," the upshot and outcome of it, is death, separation from God. The sinner, left to the forces and bias which he is perpetually augmenting by sin,-like a planet that is losing its hold upon the central sun,-wanders farther and farther from the living God; blasphemes, and then forgets His name, and runs in imminent peril of eternal severance from the source of light, love, and blessedness.
A life unto God supposes a spirit to whom the nearness, the perfections, the work of the Lord are unutterable delights; to whom the whole universe is a transparent medium, through and behind which is seen the face of the Eternal God. The life unto God once begun within the soul, brings, by the same natural peculiarity of which we have spoken, its own reward with it. The eye that sees God at all, sees ever more of the eternal light, and becomes more apt to discern in the heaven above and in the earth beneath, in temporal blessings and inward struggles, in the mysteries of Providence and revelation, the handiworking and the glory of the Father.
The question recurs then with added interest, how shall those that are living in sin ever learn to be alive unto God ? Before proceeding to answer this question, let me remind you that the charge had been brought against the gospel of Christ, in the form in which it was proclaimed by Paul, that that gospel looked leniently on sin, that the grace of God in Jesus Christ overlooked the heinousness of transgression, that it was antinomian, and made light of the consequences and doom of the evildoer. Because a way of pardon was announced, because a complete and perfect righteousness was given even to the ungodly by faith in Christ, unbelief urged the ruinous accusation that it would be safe to continue in sin, cherishing meanwhile the hope that grace might abound through righteousness unto eternal life. The same objection has been often taken by those who have misunderstood the blood of Christ, by those who have dared to make the atonement an indulgence to future sin, by those who have failed therein to perceive the
deep sources of the heavenly life, and by those who have been ready with their imitations of its excellence, with their substitutes for its sanctifying power. The world, impregnated in Christian countries with Christian ideas, often acts upon this delusive supposition, summing up its faith thus: "We believe that our Saviour came into the world to save sinners, therefore we poor sinners may go on as we have done, and it will be all right at the last. Some theologians point to the impurity of the lives of Christians, and say that the gift of righteousness by a declarative act of God's justice and grace violates all moral proprieties, and they reiterate the charge, “ Ye go on in sin that grace may abound." There are other theologians, who represent the ground of acceptance at the bar of God as the holiness wrought within the soul by the grace of God, rather than the infinite worthiness of the blood and obedience of Christ; and they often reiterate the charge that the evangelic doctrine speaks merely of a fictitious salvation, and is, in other words, the craving of unregenerate hearts, that grace might abound although they continue in sin.
Now the Apostle boldly takes up the accusation, admits its seeming plausibility, anticipates its possible force, and answers it, not by withdrawing his broad statements touching the power of divine grace, not by lowering the standards of holiness, not by transferring the ground of justification from the cross of Christ to the infused righteousness of the regenerate, but by shewing what was involved in that