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should we not do so? Why should we regard our sins very seriously? Why should we pray earnestly to be enabled to regard them more and more seriously, to be enabled to feel them deeply, perpetually? I will tell you why: because Christ died for us.
This does indeed speak to us in a language which it is not possible to express too strongly. But does it speak alone, or does it not confirm what the whole of the Old Testament declares from one end to the other? What is the story of this morning's lesson ; of the fourteen thousand and five hundred cut off by the plague for murmuring; of the two hundred and fifty burned with fire from the Lord for a breach of His ceremonial law only; of Dathan and Abiram, with their children,—for so it is expressly said,—with their children and all that belonged to them, going down alive into the pit, because they were in heart and in tongue,—for it can hardly be said that the sin had shewed itself in any flagrant act, — but because they were in heart and in tongue discontented and rebellious against God's appointments? All this we have in one single chapter, and I need not say how many other chapters speak the same lesson. Therefore the Old Testament speaks in no doubtful language, that sin is not a little thing, to be unnoticed by God, to be soon forgotten by us.
It tells us that sin is a very great
thing, and a lasting. It tells us that God will by no means pass it over. And what it tells us, that the death of Christ our Lord does indeed confirm in infinite measure. If sin were really a little thing, why should Christ have died ? I dare not attempt to dwell on the awfulness of that sacrifice, which neither word nor thought of created being can reach to. But only consider such language as this, and think whether it is possible to estimate it worthily. “God so loved the world that He
“ gave His only begotten Son, to the end that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,” and yet sin, which required such a sacrifice, we think may be no sooner committed than forgotten. Wherefore, when we promise in our baptism to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, and when we break this promise, as we do daily, and commit sins, both of the flesh and the world, it is not a little matter, but an infinitely great one; and the evil not renounced, but allowed to overcome us, is a thing which requires of us indeed a deeper thought and a deeper sorrow than to many of us may seem even possible. With this I would now conclude, for it is the point on which all that I hope to say hereafter depends. We shall not care to believe God's truths, nor shall we care to follow His holiness, unless we do earnestly desire to renounce
our evil, unless we watch for it everywhere, and fear God's judgment upon it, and believe that it is as great and as abiding as His word, and as the death of His Son declares it to be. May God's Holy Spirit therefore convince us of sin; convince us of what it is, and what it will bring us to; that so we may fear God indeed, and be of a humble and contrite heart, and feel the need of salvation, and so learn to believe in truly, and to love our Saviour.
April 18, 1841.
THE DEATH OF SIN.
ROMANS, viii. 10.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the
Spirit is life because of righteousness.
It would be vain to deny that in this verse, as well as in many other parts of the chapter from which it is taken, and which was read as the second lesson this afternoon, there is much and great difficulty. Whenever it is read, it is one of those parts of the Scripture which the mass of the congregation cannot be expected fully to understand. I do not mean only a congregation such as ours, where so many may be supposed unable to understand it owing to their youth; but it is true no less of congregations generally. Yet here as in other similar instances, while a common hearer may meet with much which he cannot understand, yet he will also meet with much which he can ; nay, I think that with moderate attention the general purpose of the chapter may be made out clearly, although the meaning and application of every particular passage may not be so. It will not be hard, I think, to perceive that the apostle is urging strongly the necessity of being ourselves like Christ if we would hope to be redeemed by Christ. It is evident that he dwells much on the difference between the flesh and the spirit, saying that the flesh is death, and that the spirit is life. Farther, it would I think be plain also, that by these terms, flesh and spirit, were meant something of the same sort with sin and holiness; so that the object of the chapter would be to show that however much God has done for us, yet we shall not really be benefited by it, unless we are such as God would have us to be, that is, spiritual and holy.
Yet, again, it is evident that there is in the chapter something more than this. It is not merely a warning that if we walk after the flesh we shall die. Other language there is in it, not of warning but of the highest encouragement, of encouragement so great that, as is well known, some have supposed it to do away with the necessity of all warning, and to inspire Christ's people with complete assurance. For the apostle, at it is said, sets before us the golden chain of God's grace, of which each link is by God's almighty power fast joined