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looking at the broad world, the shadow masters the sunlight. Life is tragic. The daily lives of millions of our brother men is such that we should shudder at the prospect of living it. Take one day's honest service with a city missionary even in Christian England, and judge for yourselves. Nay, look behind the robes of the noblest peers and mightiest princes, and see with what heart-weariness they drag themselves through the round of their accustomed toils. “ Sin reigns unto death.” There is the “struggle for life” everywhere; but Death, if want, disease, and misery, are his lictors, everywhere wins the mastery, and parades the symbols of his reign.
Death is the broad term which covers the whole work of sin. Death is but the culmination of a process, all that leads to it is a part of the dying. The sickness, the weakness, the faintness of the
powers, physical or spiritual; the dulling of the sensations, the collapse of the faculties, the satisfaction with lower and yet lower objects and pleasures, each of them exhausted in turn, as body and soul drop down to a still lower grade; the gradual extinction of all the energies and affections; the eclipse of everything which makes life worth the living, worth the having—this is death, and death is the hallmark of sin, and you may trace it broad and deep over the whole human world. A world dead in
sin, yet doomed never to die for existence under such conditions is the most awful of all dooms. And there is no refuge, save for a moment, in the thought that God is merciful, and will not by too heavy a hand of punishment make existence an eternal curse to the souls who but dimly knew the will they defied. But what is the punishment of a spirit? What matters a lighter or heavier burden to a man, whose chief torment is himself—the sin which is in him, and which reigns in him unto death. All the tortures whose forms Dante ever chiselled in word, or Orcagna ever preached in colour, would be gladly welcomed by the poor lost spirit, if they could but heal the welling wound, or soothe the gnawing misery within. The sinner carries his torment with him-a life poisoned at the springs, a life which God will not suffer him to lay down; though he pray with an agony of
prayer to be rid of it, it is his, and he must bear it eternally. Hence the raging passion, the bitter strife, the burning hate, the weary misery, that wastes the world. It is all the hell-born reign of Death.
And Paul has the daring sentence, “ The law, sent of God, entered that the offence might abound.” Many, startled, try to soften the words. « God hath sent the law to correct, but its result was the increase of sin," is the sense to which they would modify it. But the words will not bear it, and the
argument refuses to adopt it. God sent the law that the offence might abound, knowing that it would abound, and intending that it should abound. Not sin—that is, the sinful thought and purpose—but the offence, the act and manifestation of sin. God intended it to abound. The poison there, it should not lurk there; it should be fostered, pressed into full development; it should break out in the plague-sores of vice and misery which overspread the world ; while within, deep in the fountains of the life, He would be embreathing by grace that quickening power which would drive it forth, not to the surface, but through the surface, and cast it out
This is the apostle's thought; and its affirmation is conspicuously sustained by history.
« The law entered.” " The Mosaic law,” say cautious commentators, “ with all its minute regulations, difficult and impossible to fulfil, which made men despair of legal obedience, and prepared them to receive the righteousness which is by faith.” I think the larger view the true one. All law, all · manifestation of God's commandment, in any form, in a sin-loving, God-hating world, has for its first fruit the insurrection of human passion and self-will. Every declaration of the character and the will of God to sinners seems at first but to madden the spirit and blacken the tone of their
transgression. “Sin by the commandment becomes exceeding sinful.” It is true of all dispensations of law, and all revelations of God, even the highest. When men saw the Father in the Son they hated Him; and the hatred of the generation to which the revelation was made, broke out in the most deadly, damning crime in the history of the. universe. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know : Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked bands have crucified and slain.” The revelation reproved, and by reproving maddened the sinner. Only when the grace, the love, with which the revelation was charged, penetrated, as light, and air, and heat, and dew, can penetrate, the hard crust of their natures—a grace and love made conspicuous by the abounding offence, by the master-crime, in which the transgression culminated-only then could men begin to understand the counsel developed in the text.
< Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin bath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Every manifestation of
light at first seems but to reveal darkness. Every manifestation of God at first seems but to deepen and darken sin. The great revelation developed the great transgression, and through that, “grace has reigned, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is the
It is the way of God; like all His ways, wonderful and past finding out. Transgression driven to act itself out, and brought thereby more fully within reach of healing influences. The great transgression being the great crisis, the grand turning-point in the moral history of the world. It was over the prodigal—was it not ?—the poor, barefoot, feckless prodigal come home, and not over the correct and calculating elder, that they sang, “ It is meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy son was dead, but he is alive again ; be was lost, but he is found.”
Let us consider as follows:-
IV. The complete and final end of God.
Here are the two antagonists—grace and sin. Both would be kings; one only has the power to reign. Grace is not just synonymous with love, though love is at the heart of it. It is love in a