Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

Divine teacher and strength within him who can brave the hostility of the world, and rest satisfied with the decision of conscience; but yet as an ultimate principle of action, self-respect and veneration for conscience is not sufficient. Whenever this has been the leading and ultimate principle of individuals, or communities, or nations, they have gone wrong, and have had no power to put themselves right. The law which man is to himself may become itself inverted and misconceived, and then there is no higher power to rectify the evil. The proud independence of mankind may speedily run up into an audacious independence of God. The indifference to human censure, and reverence for the language of our own heart and conscience, may be abused into forgetfulness that “God is gteater than our hearts, and knoweth all things.Self-respect may rapidly blossom into self-idolatry. It cannot be said by the proud self-conscious philosopher, " How shall we that have a most entire respect and overweening reverence for our own consciences, who care nothing for the opinion of others, but only seek to be true to ourselves; how shall we who have so satisfying a conviction of the wisdom of our own judgment, “ live any longer in sin ?” Because, an

? objector may at once reply, the very essence of sin is breaking a law which God's will has assigned to the government and restraint of that 'self' of which you are so proudly complacent. If you yourself are sinful to begin with, corrupt in your bias and tendencies, ever falling off from God, from heavenly, spiritual, and

D

eternal things, what proof is there that you are not

living in sin ?" This vaunted self-judgment may set its imprimatur on that which is hateful to God as well as to man, and prove the hopelessness of mere unaided conscience in destroying the “life of sin."

(4) “Death to sin” is not secured by orthodox creed, ceremonial exactness, or even religious zeal. These things are all occasionally confounded with it, because they are mistaken for the “ life of God in the soul.” It is obvious that the intellect may refuse to rebel against a most rigidly accurate creed through simple incapacity. The orthodoxy of millions is unintellectual assent to what is true. No difficulties are felt or surmounted, no perplexities ever arise to trouble them. They believe, they subscribe to, they defend their creed; they denounce those who do not agree with them; they may even be ready to suffer in the cause of orthodoxy; but at the same time there is no living connexion between these propositions and their daily life. Any other faith would do just as well. They do not understand their own creed sufficiently to make it bite hold of their passions or grapple with their conscience. The mere association of ideas is not living faith, nor “death to sin.”

It is trite and common-place, yet withal needful here, to assert that rigidly accurate doctrine, that scrupulous exactness in ceremonial requirement, that eagerness and zeal in religious matters may be compatible with a “life of sin.” The history of the Church is full of proofs that neither articles, nor

a

[ocr errors]

sacraments, nor profession, nor even great sacrifices for religion, avail to slay the sin of the heart, or undermine the force of temptation, or render the soul alive to God; so that it will never be reasonable for a zealous Christian to exclaim, How shall we who are sound in the faith, who are baptized into the name of Christ, who are zealous for the truth, who are eager to make proselytes from heathenism or schism, who are ready to devote money, time, and influence to the interests of the Church, how can we live any longer in sin ?'

By this process of exclusion we have brought the meaning of the phrase “ death to sin” to a much

" more limited group of experiences. It is neither fear of consequences, nor deference to public opinion, nor self-respect, nor veneration for conscience, nor orthodoxy, nor ceremonialism, nor zeal, which can be regarded as death to sin, or life unto God. Yet we see that the Apostle considers that he is nevertheless justified in identifying this “death to sin” which intervenes between the life of sin" and the « life unto God” with union to the Lord Jesus Christ, that which he sometimes calls “ faith in his blood," sometimes baptism into Jesus Christ," sometimes our “living by faith on the Son of God,” because “Christ liveth in us." We are not here prepared to discuss the bearing of the death of Christ upon the government of God, or the manifestation of the Father's heart; but simply to expound the way in which the closing of our whole nature with Christ

[ocr errors]

involves, includes within itself, the death-blow to sin. We have seen, from the very nature of forgiveness itself, that it is identical in its practical and experimental aspects with the supply of a new bias, the creation within us of a new life. No penalty of sin has been removed from us, unless sinfulness itself be undermined. Corruption and evil tendency are the grievous consequences which the law of nature imposes on sin and transgression. Christ is exalted to give repentance (uetavola), and therefore the new heart and right spirit. The great proof that His work of suffering and death is the objective fact and consideration by which the government of God is rectified or vindicated in shewing mercy, is that being by the right hand of God exalted, Christ sent forth the Spirit of quickening, conviction, and holiness upon the stricken, guilty souls who compassed His death. The gift of the Spirit by the exalted Christ is frequently urged by the apostles as the great pledge of the Messianic and redemptive work of Jesus. The bestowment and baptism of the Spirit is spoken of as “ the earnest of the purchased possession ;” the gage and the foretaste of the gracious remission of all the miserable consequences, and penalties, and wages of sin. “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” “If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Why the death and resurrection of Jesus was needed to precede the dispensation of the Holy Ghost? how the rending of the veil of His flesh was the only appointed way through which the great High Priest and representative of man could enter the holiest of all ? why the forgiveness of sins is made dependent upon the sufferings and blood of Jesus ? : what is the philosophy of the plan of salvation, we do not at this moment inquire. Our simple object is to know what the Apostle meant by our s being dead unto sin, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is clear that by this phrase he interpreted what he also calls our faith. The truth which he here lays down, and calls Roman Christians to recognize, is of vital moment to all Christians. It is the most conspicuous vindication of faith, and the most satisfactory evidence of the reality of Christ and His Church. Paul knew he was appealing to a safe and sure tribunal when he went right to the consciousness of his converts for a point-blank refutation of the charge that secularism, and scepticism, and antinomianism might bring against him. « Likewise reckon 'ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but

. alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.. It is certain that the Apostle would not have these Romans reckon thus unless it were true. Sad delusion it would be for men to make this reckoning, take this Divine renovation and arrest of curse for granted, when there was no truth or reality in it. Paul were the grimmest deceiver of his fellow-men if he sought to persuade these Romans by any mere

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »