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RoM. VI. 2 and 11. How shall we, that are dead to rni, live cmy longer tJterem ? .... Likewise rechon ye also yourselves to ie dead indeed wnto sin, but alive imto Ood through Jesus Christ owr 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 Hfe 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 prmishment 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.
DEATH U TO SI . 25 The constitution of human nature, which renders this reproduction and aggravation of sin as certain as the laws of growth and decay, is a heneiicent 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
26 SERMO 11. 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 imgodly by faith in Christ, unbelief urged the ruinous accusation that it would be safe to continue in sin, che-
rishing 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
DEATH U TO SI . 27 deep sources of the heavenly life, and by those who have been ready with their imitations of its excellence, with their stlbstitutes 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 wiU 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. ow 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 g^ace, 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.
28 SERMO II.
faith which justifies the soul. "How/' says he, ''shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein ?"..." Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead unto sin through Jesus Christ our Lord.'" In other words, he shews that there is a process in the beginning of the divine life which is much more than the sense or conviction of sin against a holy Godj — which is identical with faith in the blood of Christ, and which he has a perfect right to call death unto sin. The life imto God, of which we have spoken, can never supervene in a soul which has been living in sin, " except," says he, " through a death unto sin." The justification, the righteousness of God when given to a sinner, implies the removal of the penalty of sin, the non-imputation of iniquity, the gracious and supernatural obUteration of the curse of transgression, the exhaustion of the sting of death, the annihilation of the wages of sin. But we have seen that the curse of sin is in part sinfulness, that the ' death' which foUows upon sin is the bias and tendency to sin ; that the imputation of iniquity is at first the alienation of the heart from God, is the beginning of the second death. Therefore, if God takes away this curse, and forgives our sin, the very first application to our heart of His grace, the fact that occurs in our consciousness, the thing that is done in us, is, the extinction of the evil bias, the obliteration by sovereign grace of our sinful tendencies, the impartation of the new heart and the right spirit, the beginning of a new life in cm' soul, even life unto
DEATH U TO SI . 29 Grod. The infusion of righteousness in us, the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, the new heart, the repentance towards God which Christ is exalted to give, is, the form in which the remission of the chief and first penalty of sin takes place. Our new and holy life is not the ground of our justification, — which is, alas ! the hopeless doctrine of certain extremes of theological opinion, — nor is it, strictly speaking, the consequence of our pardon and acceptance with God; but it is in one sense the pardon itself, it is the way in which the Holy Ghost slays that enmity within us which was the great curse of
sin, and actually undoes the penal consequences of our original, actual, and habitual sins. " How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" The righteousness of which Paul speaks, is, when operating in the heart of the sinner, a death to sin and a life unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. As far as his illustration is concerned, the Apostle states a truism when he says that one who is dead to sin cannot live any longer therein. A man who is dead to sin may be carried away from his standing-ground by some terrible and novel blast of temptation. Such a man may be over-credulous of the flatteries of prosperity ; may be weak under the fierce lashes of pain ; may be overtaken by a fault ; haunted into despondency by some vivid remembrance of sin ; driven by the malice of the devil into antagonism and rebellion : but if he be " dead to sin," it is irrational, it is a contradiction in terms, to assert that
30 SERMO II. he can "live in sin'' in any of the senses in which we have interpreted the phrase. What then is meant by the words ? What is the moral change that can deserve so great a name, and how is the change effected ? (i) " Death to sin'' is not a desperate fear of the consequences of sin. Take an extreme case, — obvious fear of consequences, although vivid and agonizing, fails to repress gross vice and crime. There are no cowards so g^eat as those who often make violent assault on the life and property of others. They choose darkness that they may avoid detection ; they are armed to the teeth when they go against feebleness and womankind. They are afraid before the fear cometh, and tremble at the shaking of a leaf. There are hundreds, thousands of drunkards in England, and of opium-eaters in China, who know and fear the doom of the intemperate, and still " live in sin." A clear knowledge of their certain ruin fails to quench their desire for the flame which is to consume them.
Multitudes fear the wages of sin, know that they are treasuring up to themselves wrath against the ,day of wrath and perdition, and yet never turn from their evil way. They tremble at the preaching of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, but sin as if they never trembled. Dear brethren, fear may have kept you back from the commission of sin, and warned you to paths of sobriety, purity, honour, and Usefulness, and yet never have slain the
DEATH :U TO SI . 31 desire after what is hateful to God. Many from fear of disease^ bankruptcy,, starvation, or eternal torment, are restrained from the commission of certain classes of sins, after which their heart is nevertheless craving. Mere abstinence from a lawlessness for which the soul is secretly longing is not " death to sin.'' If all that Christ has effected for us is limited to the creation of trembling and fear, if it be possible still to covet that which He has doomed with His displeasure, if we fear the suffering more than the sin, if the wrong is determinable by the misery it can inflict, and if our sense of right has received no higher baptism nor been , elevated into a higher region, then we cannot assume that in Christ we are " dead to sin," nor base on our experience any argument so great as this. The illustration will not hold, and we are open to the charge of the sceptic or the worldling. (a) " Death to sia" is not respect to the opinion of the world. The good opinion of our fellow-citizens, glory (bo^o) as the Greeks conceived it, is a powerful motive to virtue. A member of a community of noble natures is like the young sapling of the forest, drawn upward, made erect and strong together, with its companions and surroundings. But if our only reason for honourable conduct is to secure the approbation of fellow-man, the smile of the fortunate, the coniidence of those who are about us and below us, or the good opinion of society, there is nothing eternal in our virtue. Then if our circumstances were changed, we should change also. Let us be put back to times
32 SERMO II. when a lower honour prevailed in business or in society, on the exchange and in the cabinet, we should be ourselves forced back to the undeveloped morality of the past, and "live in'' the practice of what we now see to be " sin." " Death to sin" means vastly more than embracing the current morality of the Christian community, since the Christian faith has brought into that community multitudes who have never passed from death to life. The voice of the corporate conscience of renewed humanity itself falls short of the holy will of Christ as revealed in each believer's ^oul by the ministry and witness of the Holy Ghost. It cannot be said. How shall we who yield to the law of the Christian community, and are implicitly governed by the good opinion of good people, "live any longer in sin ?" (3) "Death to sin" is not identical with self-respect. There are those who are careless about the world's opinion or respect as long as they can secure their own ,• who say, ' We would rather be satisfied with ourselves than secure the plaudits of our generation.' This reverence for conscience; this recognition of an authority higher than the decisions of courts or cabinets, of family circles, or of Christian communities ; this superiority to fashion and clique ; this independence of the judgment of others, though that judgment be backed by the thunders of angry priesthoods and the curses of ignorant mobs; this power to stand alone against the world is closely akin to the highest virtue. That man must have the
DEATH U TO SI . 33 Divine, teacher and strength within him who can brave the hostility of the world, and rest satisfied with the decision of cojiscience ; hut 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 ''Grod is greater than our hearts, and knowetli 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
34 SERMO II. 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 miUions is unintellectual assent to what is true. o 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
DEATH U TO SJ . 35 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," some^ times 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 Tather's heart; but simply to expound the way in
which the closing of our who^e nature with Christ
36 SEBMO II. involvesj 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. o 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 [iieTavoia) , 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
DEATH U TO SI . 37 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 hlood of
Jesus ? what is the philosophy of the plan of salvation, we do not at this moment inquire. Our simple ohject is to know what the Apostle meant by our "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. " lAhemse reckon ye also yov/rselves 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
38 SERMO II. self-assurance, or self-magnetization^ to believe a lie concerning themselves. Observe, it is not merely that they are to reckon that Christ died for their sins, but they are also to reckon that they too ar« dead unto sin through Jesus Christ. The faith in Christ's blood is therefore more than the intellectual process, or they would have no right to conceive that they were "Aead unto sin" and imable to live any longer therein. ow, Christian brethren, the appeal which Paul liiade to those Romans I venture to make to your Christian consciousness : " Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The illustrations of St. Paul are twofold; based on the union between Christ and the true believer in His passion and His resurrection. I. The union between Christ and the believer in
His passion. Faith in the crucified Christ is spoken of as a crucifixion. " By the cross of Christ," says the Apostle, " the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world ;" '< I am crucified with Christ ;" " If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him." We are "buried with Him by baptism into His death." The thought often recurs that our faith in Him nails our own hands to the cursed tree, closes and films our eye on worldly pageant and glory, crowns us with thorns, exposes us to contumely and shame, makes us the spurn and the butt of devilish malice, taunts pur agony with a cup which we cannot drink.
DEATH U TO SI . 39 buries us away out of sigbt of the world, rolls a stone to the door of our sepulchre, shuts us up in darkness, makes us see to the uttermost the misery, the shame, the cowardice, the miscreant humour, the, curses, the consequences, the wages of sin. If we have taken up this thought, not only into our intellects, but into our entire spiritual nature, so that it has entered into the very essence of our being, that " Christ died for our sins,^' then we are dead. We have gone through the shame and humiliation of His death. As we find that He has taken upon Himself, our iniquities, and borne our infirmities; that He, the infinite representative, the compendium of human nature, sufiers the approach of temptation, and wrestles with the dii-e enemy of man ; suffers for us, from the nearness of evil to His spotless mind, an agony that our words will not attempt to pourtray, we -bear His reproach. When we know that He is voluntarily tasting our bitterness that He may sympathize in our mystery and misery, that He has come into our flesh bringing a new life into it, arresting the curse, stanching the putrefying sores, and staying the consequences of the first fall, and of all the other consequent falls of our poor humanity, we are fairly beaten, mortified, crushed with the measureless ttiercy. As we come to know, to feel, that He is the end of the law and the revelation of the law, the complete exhibition of the Father's ideal of human life, and that Christ is
"the way, the truth, aid the life" of our humanity; as we thus see the strange perplexity and apparent
40 SEBMO II. paradox of the innocent suffering for the guilty^ — a glaring fact which we cannot dispute ; as we behold the Living Law writhing under the transgressions which his* fathers and his brothers had committed; as we find that though He is the well-beloved Son, there is no sorrow like unto His sorrow, for it pleases the Lord to bruise Him, and to put Him to grief; as we see in His death the curse of broken law written on the whole of humanity ; as we hear in His dying, cries the melting and breaking of the perfect heart of the God-man over all sin, and therefore over our sin; as we are taught by apostles to see in this provision something more than the awful risks of goodness, we do not learn from it to burn and storm with indignation against the murderers of the Lord, or to sicken with despair for our miserable race, which after stoning its prophets and ostracizing its noblest sons, and chasing its beautifullest spirits up to heaven, at length set with dsemoniac fury upon the best and most perfect of all, crying, "It is not fit that He should live" — but on the contrary, we mourn and mortify our nature, knowing that this life of humble obedience, of heroic resignation, that this death of cruel perplexity, is the great grief of God over sin, the great revelation of a crushing pity, and of the overflow of the bursting heart of the Eternal God. As we become alive to what the death of Christ really is and means, how it prepares the only way by which a new life could enter our race, and a new spirit be given to transgressors, by which God could
DEATH U TO SIF. 41 justify the ungodly, and still be justj as all this, and very mucli more than this, is partially felt by the simplest mind when it " closes with Christ," (as the old divines expressively said,) it is not difficult to understand that faith in Christ, that union to Christ,
involves dying with Christ to sin; that it involves our being crucified and buried with Christ, that it is the mortification of sin, the sharing of His agony, and the participation of the soul in His death. " They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts/' A true and deep faith in Christ, a recognition by mind and heart of the work of Christ, is such an intuition of law, such a sense of God, such a revelation of the evil of sin, such a burning of the heart against self and the flesh, and the world and the devil, that the Apostle was justified in saying, that through faith in Christ our Lord, Roman Christians might reckon themselves dead unto sin. II. The union between Christ and the believer in His life and resurrection. (i) This is more obvious, for Christ is the revelation of the Father, the organ and chief minister of God ; the highest manifestation of the righteousness, of the mercy, of the wisdom and truth of God. By faith in Him we have the highest opportunities for the recognition of the character and nature of God. Christ is not a rival to the God of nature and providence ; if He were so, if the Christian consciousness had made of Him a second God, if the Catholic Church had suffered the Gnostic schism in the Di-
42 SERMO II. vine manifestation and attributes to have stolen into its creed, if the Arian delusion had not been driven off from the Church by deeper views of both God ahd man, the language of my text would have been very perplexing. As it is, Christ is no rival to God. The Divine element in the Christ is the eternal Son of God; the whole of the Divine nature manifests itself to us under the aspect of the eternal Son, God is manifest therefore in the flesh. The Word that is God has been incarnate, and ''we have beheld His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace amd truth." It is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are alive to God, because it is in Him that we can "see the Father," and because " no man knoweth the Son but the Father ; and no
man knoweth the Father but the Son, and He to whom the Son wiU reveal Him." (a) Faith in Christ is, further, a resurrection with Christ from the death unto sin. The illustrations which Paul draws from the resurrection of Christ to throw light on our divine life, are very numerous. The new life of the soul is a resurrection-Hfe, chai-ged with all the associations and aspirations which would be possessed by one who had passed, through dying, from death to life. (3) The life unto God flows out of the life of God in the soul. It cannot be that the life of the soul will be characterized by these deep perceptions of God, that the delighting in God, resting in God, hoping in God, of which we intend to speak to you.
BEATS U TO SI . 43 can be tte characteristics of the human spirit unless God Himself create within us the new life by His Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is the dispensation of the exalted Christ. The new germ of life in our humanity is planted there by the risen Jesus. The new vision of God is the work of Him Who is the life of our life, the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever.
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