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as contained in the Ten Commandments. If his eyes are opened by the Spirit of God, he sees that “ the law is spiritual,” and reaches to the secret thoughts of his heart; and that having broken the law, he is under its curse. Thus, though before he was “ alive without the law,” the commandment comes with power to his conscience; sin revives, and he dies : that is, he now sees he is a dead man in law; justly condemned to eternal death on account of his sins.
But the law alone is insufficient to destroy the power of sin. The Gospel is the instrument employed by the Holy Spirit for this purpose. Sin never appears to the believer so sinful as when he beholds Christ crucified for it. Jesus Christ, as crucified for sin, was the grand subject of apostolic preaching. The first minister of Christ, “determined to know nothing among the people but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” And oh, how glorious were the triumphs of the cross ! It was this which subdued the hearts of poor, · wretched, beastly, devilish men, among the heathen.
Those who had wallowed in the filth of sin, and reduced human nature to the most degraded state, became holy, humble, chaste, temperate, honest, pious, gentle, useful men. This it was that changed St. Paul from a bloody persecutor of the saints to a humble disciple and zealous preacher of Christ. So he says, Gal. vi. 14. 6 God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” So that every believer may say and sing,
“It was the sight of thy dear cross
And taught me to esteem as dross
And this shows that the very first business of a convinced sinner, who 6 hungers and thirsts after righte
ousness," is to come to Christ. We have no strength and ability in ourselves, by nature, to become holy and subdue our sins; we must begin to live to God in a new way, by faith in Christ. The efforts of a natural man towards holiness are all forced and unnatural; we must have a new nature and new powers; and these we can have only in and from Christ, and by virtue of union to him, through faith. Christ dwells in the hearts of believers, and they dwell in him. They are “members of his body, and are so joined to him as to become one spirit.” They are branches of Christ the tree; separate from him they can do nothing; but from union to him proceed all their good works, and sincere, acceptable obedience. Thus the soul is brought to cleave to Christ with purpose of heart, to hate every false way, and to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world. This is the great change that grace makes.
III. We proceed to speak of the reasonableness of this change.
The time past, (says our holy apostle), the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles.” Not as if sin was entitled to any portion of our short and mortal lives. No. A moment given to sin is a moment too much. But it may well be said “the time past” may suffice; for,
Sin is a dreadful waste of precious time. Life is very short. Time flies on swift wings; and when once gone, is gone for ever. We can never recall a lost hour. And yet how is time squandered away ! Oh, visit dying-beds, to learn the value of time. What would some dying people give for a few weeks, or a few hours! There have been instances of rich men who have offered physicians half their estates, if they could prolong their lives for a few weeks! And
what is the 6 worm that never dies,” but the horrid remorse of a damned sinner, reflecting with intolerable anguish upon the loss of his time, and abuse of his mercies in a life of sin ?
Sin is also a useless thing. 6 What fruit had ye ?” said St. Paul to the converted Romans: 6 What fruit had ye, then, in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ?” What profit, honour, or pleasure did ye find in your former sinful courses, even while pursuing them? Were they not attended with remorse trouble, mischief, and stings of conscience ? And what bitter fruits do they produce in reflection : as holy Job says, “ Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the sins of my youth.”
Sin is extremely hurtful and dangerous to ourselves and others. The sinner is like “ the madman, who casteth abroad fire-brands, arrows, and death, and saith, Am I not in sport?” You would shudder to see a child playing with a razor, or with the fire; or standing on the brink of a deep precipice on the sea coast! Yet such is the state of every man in his sins. Such was once our state ; and may not the time past suffice to have wrought the will of the flesh, yea, the will of the devil, who was aiming at our destruction ? “ for the end of those things is death ;" the direct tendency and due desert of these sinful practices, is nothing less than death temporal and eternal. How dreadfully mischievous is the sinner to his neighbour ! He cannot be content to perish alone. Like the devil, he labours to bring others into the same condemnation with himself. He is a soul-murderer. What a melancholy reflection to a considerate mind“ Perhaps there are souls now in hell, who perished by my means !” It was the dread of such a reflection that probably made Dives wish that a message might be sent to his five brethren, to prevent their coming to that place of torment; for it is likely they had been
led into sin by his infidel counsel and wicked example ; and he knew that if they came there, they would upbraid him as the author of their ruin. Now surely the time past may suffice to have been so hurtful to ourselves and others.
It is also reasonable to forsake sin, “because it is so highly dishonourable to the blessed God.” Surely God deserves to be loved and obeyed by all his creatures; but sin is an act of robbery ; it defrauds God of his just rights, and transfers to Satan the obedience due to him. It is an act of treason and rebellion against the Majesty of heaven. Yea, it is a kind of atheism ; for in vain we profess“ to know God, if in works we deny him:" if we live in sin, we live 66 without God in the world.” .
Once more, a life of sin, is directly contrary to our Christian profession. Why do we call ourselves Christians, if we neither obey nor resemble Christ? Why call we him Master and Lord, if we do not the things which he commands ? Were we not baptized unto Christ? and does not our baptism signify “a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness ?" a renouncing the world, the flesh, and the devil ? To be a Christian indeed, is to be a follower of Christ, to have the same mind in us that was in him, and to walk even as he walked; but what a horrid contradiction there is in such names and characters as these -a drunken Christian—a lying Christian-a lewd Christian--a profane Christian. I remember to have read of Alexander the great, that he had a soldier in his army of his own name, but understanding that he was a base cowardly fellow; he called him into his presence, and reproaching him with his cowardice, said, “ Either change your name or fight better !" And how properly might the great and holy Redeemer say to wicked men professing to be Christians, “ Renounce the name of Christians, or live better !"
How reasonable, then, is it to forsake sin, seeing it is such a waste of precious time; so useless; so hurtful to ourselves and others : so dishonourable to God, and so contrary to our holy profession as Christians. Rather let us obey the exhortation of St. Paul, Rom. xii. l: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service;" it is fit and right, as we are the creatures of God, the Author of all our powers, and especially if we are partakers of his grace and love in Christ Jesus ;– for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen!"
IV. Lastly, we are to consider the usage which a changed person may expect to meet with from a wicked world ; 6 they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you;" they wonder what is come to you, that you have so suddenly forsaken their company, and their pleasures; they cannot account for such a strange alteration, and they despise you as stiff, unsociable, foolish creatures, or as mad enthusiasts.
Now here observe, that, where such a change as this takes place, it is visible; for if the world did not see it, they could not hate it. And, indeed, when persons who have lived in open sin become serious and holy, the change cannot be hid. It is said of Barnabas, that " when he came to Antioch, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad :" the grace of God, as a spiritual principle in the heart, cannot be seen by bodily eyes : but the effects of it in a holy life and conversation must and will be seen. Christians, however humbled and retired, are like “ a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid;" they are like “a candle that giveth light unto all that are in the house;" and their 6 light must so shine before men,
Barn the graceitual printill the effeill be seike - a city