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and not die in sorrow? Blessing him for the indulgence, would you not go forth free and easy, and say, “ well, no longer will I be detained from worldly dissipation—my heart has been always in it. No longer will I avoid slander-I always found it the salt which gave a relish to conversation. I will now grind the faces of the poor, and debase myself even to hell, to get wealth–I loved money equally well before; but it was dreadful to think that no covetous man, who is an idolater should have any inheritance in the kingdom of God—but 0 delightful! I can be covetous now, and go to heaven too."
Turn we to the Christian. Of the Redeemer's subjects it is said, “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”—and among other things, they are willing to part with sin, with all sin, even with their dearest sins. His present hatred is greater than his former love. He now sees, not only what sin has cost him, but also what it cost the redeemer. “Can I ever call that sweet, which we found so bitter, or that light which he found so heavy? Can I ever be a friend to his enemy?—to a monster that killed him, who is all my salvation, and all my desire ?" A Christian may be surprised by sin, but he can never be reconciled to it. He has sworn eternal hatred against it, and he took the oath under the cross.
But is this all ? Is he held in bondage by a tyrant he detests? No. Jesus “ opens the prison to them that are bound. He saith to the prisoners, go forth.-Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Thus sin is dethroned—not only in the heart, but also in the life. By the influence of his Holy Spirit he increasingly mortifies
their corruptions and enables them to “lay aside all malice and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil-speakings, and as new-born babes, to desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” The means of grace are now prized ; and as they are used with an humble dependence, and a holy purpose, they are not used in vain. In waiting upon him their “ strength is renewed; they mount up with wings as eagles, they run and are not weary, and they walk and are not faint." Losses and trials, and all the dispensations of Providence are now also under a gracious agency, and made to “ work together for their good.”
But while the reign of sin is thus destroyed, the remains of it continue: and these are deplored and felt as the greatest distress of the Christian's life" wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death !” In these circumstances, iwo things relieve his mind, and animate him to the warfare.--The one is, that his Saviour is “ able to keep him from falling :" and the other is, that “ he will present him faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy." Then will he “ shake himself from all his dust,” and “put on his beautiful garments" of complete holiness. What a blissful change ! When he examines himself, he can find no ignorance, no pride, no unbelief, no weaknesshe is become a part of a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing !”.
But this respects only the soul-yonder still lies the poor body. Death is the consequence of sin, and while thie body is in the grave, the believer is not saved from all the natural effects of sin.
But Jesus comes, “the resurrection and the life. He will change this vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able, even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Behold the work of the Saviour perfectly accomplished, and the deliverance of his people absolutely complete. Behold him “delivering up the kingdom to God, even the Father," and hear him saying, “ All these I engaged to save from their sins ; and—there they all are, and there they all are sinless."
To conclude, let us observe, I. If his name be called Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins—how awfully deceived are those who hope to be saved in them! And yet, a degree of this confidence too commonly prevails. There are few indeed but entertain some expectation of going to heaven when they die, however unholy they may live. Hence, though conscious that they love sin, and indulge themselves in the practice of it, they feel nothing like despair or distress. But upon what principle is your hope founded ? Did you never read, that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord ? Know ye not, that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ?" Did the Saviour come to give you a license to sin with impunity ? His coming was designed to make sin appear exceeding sinful: his aim, as you have heard, was to save us from it. " He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” And what notion have you of salvation, unaccompained with a deliver
ance from sin ? This is like saving a man from drowning, by keeping him under the water which is destroying him: or like recovering a man from sickness by leaving him under the malady which constitutes the complaint. Were it possible for you to be pardoned, and not sanctified, you could enjoy no communion with God, and God could derive no service from you : you would remain strangers to peace and pleasure ; and the cause of your misery would be left behind. Sin and sorrow are inseparable. God himself cannot separate them: he can only destroy the one by removing the other. He makes men happy by making them holy-there can be no other method.
Besides these thoughtless creatures which I have mentioned, there are some who are more systematically wrong with regard to this subject. They profess to glory in the cross, but they will have nothing to do with the sceptre. The righteousness of Christ is their darling theme, but they mean by it, a fine robe to cover a filthy back. They are fond of the assurance of faith, but they intend by it, a speculative persuasion of their safety, underived from, and unconnected with any gracious operations and qualities as evidences. They consider it as a species of unbelief, even to question their being the people of God, but they retain the love of the world in their hearts, and discover the same unsubdued tempers as others. They think it would be wrong to allow sin either to distress or alarm them—sin cannot hurt a believer-indeed, sin has not the same evil when found in them, as when found in others : " He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel.” This error does
not, like many others, arise from mere ignorance. And therefore the apostle Jude calls those who hold it “ ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” And they would do well to remember that another apostle says, that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And that the Saviour himself says, “ But these mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” The character here given of the Lord's people is, that they are saved from their sins. And this is what every truly awakened soul desires,
Therefore, II. Here is relief and consolation for those who are sensible of the evil of sin, and are asking, “ What must I do to be saved ?" Though deliverance appears so unspeakably desirable, you feel that you are wholly unable to accomplish it yourselves. Nothing in your sufferings, or doings can wash away the pollution or subdue the influence of sin. But such despair as this makes way for the hope of the gospel. The convictions which you feel so painful and alarming, are necessary to enable you to perceive the meaning, and to feel the importance of this glorious dispensation. And these also prepare you to welcome the approach of such a peculiar saviour. So that to you it is not only " a faithful saying, but worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ is come into the world to save sinners.” Open then your hearts, and let me pour into them the delightful message—“ Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord! He is come to seek and to save that which was lost. He has come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly. The sun of