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is pressing upon it for admittance. Bid the sinner reckon in the former way; and you bid him feel that to be a reality within him, which has no existence. Bid him reckon in the latter way; and you bid him fetch from the abiding realities which are without, a conviction that will carry light and peace and comfort into his bosom-you bid him elose with the overtures of the gospel-you bid him appropriate to himself what is said of the power of Christ's blood, and the purpose and effect of His sacrifice. But it is not an appropriation which carries him beyond the exercise of a legitimate faith—because not an appropriation beyond the real meaning and application of the terms, that I have just adverted to. By reckoning himself personally dead unto sin, and personally alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, he would outrun the reckoning of his own conscience. But by reckoning himself forensically dead unto sin, and forensically alive unto God, he does not outrun the reckoning of the Bible. He gathers no more out of the field of revelation, than what he finds to be lying upon its surface; and laid there too, just that he
may fall in with it and take it home. Without the terms, 'whosoever, and all,' and 'any,' and 'ho, every one, it might not have been so; but, with these terms, he may reckon of himself that forensically he is dead with Christ—and yet believe no further, than the terms in question give him the fullest warrant for.
And what is more. You will not acquire a virtuous character, by barely imagining that you have it when you have it not. But there is another
way, in which it is conceivable that a virtuous character may be acquired. Not by any false reckoning about your actual character; but by a true reckoning about your actual condition. A mistaken sense as to the principle that inspires your heart, will never be the mean of bringing a right principle there. But a correct and habitual sense as to the place you occupy, may, by its moral influence on the feelings, have the effect both of introducing and of nourishing the right principle. It is not by imagining I am a saint, that I will become so; but by reflecting on the condemnation due to me as a sinner—on the way in which it has been averted from my person-on the passage by which, without suffering to myself, I have been borne across the region of vindictive justice, and conclusively placed on the fair and favoured shore of acceptance with God—The sense and the reckoning of all this, may transform me from the sinner that I am, into the saint that I am not. The executed criminal, who has been galvanized into life again, may be sent forth upon society; and there exposed to the temptation of all his old opportunities. It is not by reckoning of himself, that he is now altogether dead to the power of these temptations—it is not by reckoning himself to be an honest man, that he will become so. It is not by reckoning falsely of his character, that he will change it into something different; but by reckoning truly of his condition, he may bring a moral consideration to bear upon his heart, that will transform his character. How shall I who for theft have passed through the hands of the execu
tioner, recur to the very practice that destroyed me? And how, in like manner, says the believer, shall I who have virtually undergone this sentence of the law, that the soul which sinneth it shall die -how shall I, now that I have been made alive again, continue in that hateful thing, of whose malignant tendencies in itself, and of whose utter irreconcilableness to the will and character of God, I have, in the death of my representative and my surety, obtained so striking a demonstration ? It is not the sense or reckoning that you are a sanctified man—it is not thus that the work of sanctification is done. It is the sense or reckoning that you are a justified man—it is this which has the sanctifying influence—it is this which does the work, or is the instrument of doing it.
Mark then, my brethren, the apostle's receipt for holiness. It is not that you reckon yourself already pure; but it is that you reckon yourself already pardoned. It is not that you feel as if the fetters of corruption have as yet been struck off ; but that you feel as if altogether lightened and released from the fetters of condemnation, and that you may go forth in the peace and joy of a reconciled creature. And somehow or other, this, it would appear, is the way of arriving at the new spirit and the new life of a regenerated creature. And how it should fall with the efficacy of a charm on a sinner's ear, when told, that the first steppingstone towards that character of heaven after which he has been so hopelessly labouring, is to assure himself that all the guilt of his past ungodliness is now done away—that tb ransom of iniquity is paid—and that by a death the pains of which were never felt, the penalties of that law he so oft has broken shall never reach him. It is indeed levelling the mountains, and making the crooked paths straight, when such a high way of access is thrown across the gulph of separation that is between sin and sacredness; and never, my brethren, will this transition be made good, -never will the sinner know what it is to taste of spiritual joys, or to breathe with kindred delight in a spiritual atmosphere, till, buried in another's death, and raised in another's righteousness than his own, he can walk with the confident peace of one who knows that he is safe, under the secure and ample canopy of the offered Mediatorship.
So that the apostle tells us here, and in the imperative mood, to reckon that our death by sin is over and gone by; and this too, you will observe, for the purpose of bringing about our sanctification. What a powerful and practical outset does he afford to his career ? He dreads no antinomianism. He fearlessly bids the people to count, that one man has died for them all; and he bids them habitually reckon upon this, recur to it, keep it in memory, always be acting and holding fast the confidence that they begun with, and not cast it away. The man who is called upon to reckon that he was dead unto sin personally, would often feel as if out of his reckoning; and many a misgiving would visit him; and he might thus spend his life in the tossings of anxiety. But the man who is called upon
to reckon that he is dead unto sin forensically, is presented with a solid foundation in that which Christ hath done for him ; is simply bidden count upon that as a settled point, which has indeed been settled fast; and, when like to be abandoned by hope, he has only to feel for the solidity of his ground, and, in so doing, will find that it is a rock of strength which he has got to stand upon. And all this as the first step to a life of new obedience. All this as a primary command, among those which the apostle afterwards delivers, for the purpose of securing our transition from sin unto holiness. All this as a staff to support us on the narrow way of discipline and duty, as provision for our journey to the land of uprightness. And what I bid you remark in the first place, is the very peculiar instrument which the apostle puts into the hands of his disciples, for the purpose of making them regenerated creatures, -even a trusty reckoning, on their part, that they are already reconciled creatures; and what an evidence here of God's desire that you should feel at peace from the apprehension of His wrath, when it is this very peace that He proposes as the means of making you the partakers of the worth and purity of His nature !
But, in the second place, will the means be really effectual ? It was so with Paul. He gloried not in himself—not in his crucifixion to sin—not in his resurrection to holiness; he gloried in the cross of Christ, and the crucifixion to sin came out of this glorying. Thereby the world was crucified unto him, and he unto the world. The personal result came out of the forensic reckoning; and not a believer after him, who will not experience the same result out of the same reckoning.