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certain relation—the love of a Redeemer working to its ends. It represents the whole sum of the forces and influences by which the love that would redeem aims at the accomplishment of its hope. Its incarnation is Christ. The Lord Christ is the gift of grace; the glory of Christ is the glory of grace ; at His coronation-day grace will be crowned. “ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, how, though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be made rich.” Grace is the manifestation and action of that fatherly love-yea, to the prodigal and rebellious also—which could not rest in its native glory and blessedness, while one prodigal was wandering, hungry and footsore in the wilderness; while one tear was wept, one groan was uttered in the universe, which its suffering and sacrifice might spare. It is the love with which a father pities, and bears with, and seeks to bring home a truant ; with which a gracious king would kill treason at the heart. A pleading, patient, yearning love ; whose only measures are the weary journeys of the stricken form of the Man of Sorrows about this earth's sad pathways, and the tear-drops, the blooddrops, that bestain His steps; the agony of effort to endure a pressure which was beyond all mortal bearing; the horror of darkness which gathered round His spirit as the burden of the Cross fell on
Him; the anguish that rent, that literally burst His heart, as the prayer for His murderers broke from His lips, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Brethren, ye know the grace of the Lord Jesus, but the measure of it One only knows. That grace is the reigning conqueror of sin. That triumphs where law fails. That is the force, the overmastering force, which the Lord has won—I use the word with reverence, has won by sacrifice and suffering; whereby and wherefore He bears, or seems to bear, with such strange patience, all the wrong and the woe of the world. He bore it, He bears it, because He foresaw that where sin multiplied (the term abounding is kept for grace), grace would (not “much more,” the term is superlative, not comparative) very mightily, most mightily abound; so “ that as sin hath reigned unto death, grace shall reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
II. The relation between grace and sin.
1. Sin is the condition of its manifestation. No sin, no grace, and none of that special glory which grace alone can win—the glory of the Redemption of the world. We are on difficult ground here; but Paul treads with bold as well as careful steps. It is sin that calls grace to action. Through a lost world Christ is to win His most glorious crown. The thought may again rise here in some minds,
“ Then it is all God's work, both the sin and the salvation. He made the sin, that He might make the salvation. The two are His complete thought, the one essential to the other, as two hemispheres complete a world.” There is confusion of thought here ; God cannot make sin, for it would cease to be sin if He made it. He cannot make man to sin. Again, it would cease to be sin if it was the inevitable result of any act or thought of God. He made man upright and free; He saw the choice of freedom, He foresaw sin reigning unto death. He perpetuates man, and upholds the world in which sin riots, that grace may have time and room. Sin being born by man's will into the world, a higher order of things, a higher life for man, a richer glory for God, becomes possible, through the abounding wealth and power of that grace which, but for transgression, had ever remained pent up, without vent or flow in His heart. Grace and sin are the twin antagonists ; opposed as heat and cold, light and darkness, cosmos and chaos. If one reigns, the other is destroyed; and God suffers sin to be born because He knows that grace can conquer it, strip its spoils, and reign in triumph over worlds which His victory has glorified eternally.
2. There is a glory which no fiat of Omnipotence even can create, which grace, by the conquest . of sin, can win and wear through eternity.
No sin, no grace, and, in the highest sense, no glory. The joy of the prodigal come home, the joy of the father in his return; these are the glorious joys of earth, of heaven. Some of you have prodigals wandering far ; your love clings to them still, and draws them with a magnetism which, like all mightiest things, is all invisible, to your side. The moment when you clasp them once more and seat them by your hearth-fire, will be the culminating joy of your pilgrimage here. It is the earthly share of the great joy and glory of heaven. God Himself pictures it. The Father had two sons. His relation to the one is peaceful, happy, contented : " And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment.” Rights and claims are recognized on both sides, and duties are fulfilled. But there is no glow about it; the light is that of a cold wintry day; all is right, just, and sound, but there is no enthusiasm, no passionate exuberant joy filling the house with songs. We must turn to the other picture for that :-“ And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet : And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry : For this my son was dead, and is alive again ; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” There is a child who has learnt what a father's love is worth by the loss of it; the value of daily bread, by pining hunger; of the holy order of a home, by squalor, filth, and rags. He has learnt more. He knows now how long the fatherly heart can cling to the wanderer; how deeply the child's image is stamped into the father's love ; how quickly the aged eye lights up when the dear form, though in dust and rags, appears in the distance; how, even a great way off, the father's tenderness, with sobs and kisses, clasps him, and brings him, the reckless, guilty prodigal, home; how the house has a new joy, the home a new glory, when he enters it, rings out a welcome, and pours its treasures at his feet; and how the father and child restored in that solemn and holy union, of which the bands are a father's grace and a son's passionate tenderness and devotion, find that in each other of which the son, at any rate, had not dared even to dream.