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is to count of yourselves, that in Christ your condemnation is discharged; that in Him your acceptance is granted. And the more steadfastly and constantly you keep by this business, the more certainly will you find to your blessed experience, that a new heart and a new history emerge from the doing of it. The hourly habit of reflecting upon the new condition in which Christ has placed you, will sustain an hourly influence, by which there shall gerininate and grow the new character that Christ proposes should arise in you. You have laboured long perhaps, after the life of God and of heaven in the soul; but this is just because you have been labouring long in the wrong track, or with wrong instruments. Turn you now unto that doctrine, which is as much the power of God unto sanctification here as unto salvation hereafter; and know, from this time forward, that the way of reaching the life of holiness you aspire after, is to live a life of faith in the Son of God.
I have already adverted to some of the moral influences, wherewith the consideration of our having been as good as dead for sin, is so abundantly pregnant; and even with a reiteration that might have fatigued, and over satiated some of you, did I, in remarking on the second verse, expatiate at great length on what struck me as the first of these influences. It is the same with that which
be addressed to a man, who has been put to death for a crime, and then made alive again. A most impressive lesson to him, of the genius and character of that government under which he lives; of its hostility to the wickedness for which he suffered; of its intolerance for a transgression, into which if he again fall, there may be no mercy and no readmittance from the sentence that will be surely in reserve for him. And, in like manner, the sinner, who, through Christ, has been restored from condemnation, learns, both in the sentence that was incurred, and in the atonement that was rendered, what a repulsion there is between sin and sacredness; and how, if the character of God be the same that it ever was, he, in sinning wilfully, dares over again the still unquelled antipathies of the Godhead -and, that if he gives himself up to the old service, which reduced him at first from the one rightful authority, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversary.
God forbid, that we should continue in sin, that grace may abound-or, because we have been brought back again within the limits of God's beloved family, we should fetch along with us that which before had banished us forth of a domainfrom which sin, of all other things, must be rooted out, because sin of all other things is that which most sorely and most grievously offendeth.
But he does not know all, if he only know of that inheritance to which he has been readnitted, that no sin is suffered to have occupancy there. This is only knowing the quality of that which is exiled from heaven's family; but it is not knowing the quality of that, which is welcomed and cherished, and carried to uttermost perfection there. It is only giving me to understand the character of the outcast; but it is not giving me to understand
the character of the guest. By being dead with Christ, the door of entry is again opened for me into the great household of the blest; and it is well to be solemnised into the impression, that I must shun the hateful thing which banished me therefrom. But I should also be led to aspire, and with all my earnestness, after that estimable thing which stamps the character and constitutes the honour and the delight of this rejoicing family. The disgraced felon, whose frauds had expelled him from society, when again introduced within its limits, is furnished by all his recollections with a strong and actuating motive, to put all the atrocities of his former life away from him; but not only so,-by his strenuous cultivation of the opposite virtuesby the scrupulous integrity of his dealings--by the high-minded disdain, in which he should hold even the slightest deviations from the path of honourby the sensitive nicety of an uprightness, on which no discernible flaw can be detected-he might regain a distinguished place in that living circle, the esteem and happiness of which he had before forfeited; and reach a status of positive credit and enjoyment, in room of that ignominy which before had covered him. And the same of heaven on the other side of death, and also of the road which leads to heaven on this side of death-the same of the habit and condition of paradise hereafter; and the same most assuredly of the habit of preparation for paradise here. He who is dead with Christ, and so freed from condemnation, is not ushered at once into the celestial regions: but he is forthwith set on the journey which leads to them. And, with
his eye full on the moral and spiritual glories of the place that is above, he will learn that sinlessness is not enough-that he must be strenuous in the pursuit of positive goodness—that to lay up treasure in heaven, he must become rich in all those graces that adorn and dignify the wearer--that to be received and welcomed as a member of the upper family, he must acquire the family likeness; or gather upon his inner man all those features of piety and love and humbleness and temperance and purity, which go to make up a portrait of affirmative excellence, and to stamp on every desire and on every doing the expression of holiness unto the Lord.
The starting-post at which this race of virtue begins, and from which this noble career of progressive and aspiring excellence is entered on, is your freedom from condemnation, through the death of Christ. It is your reckoning by faith upon this, which cuts asunder that load, by which the compressed and heavy-laden energies of the soul are restrained from bursting forth on a path of hopeful activity; and it is thus, that, with emancipated powers now awakened to life and to liberty, you press onward to that summit of perfection that is yet seen by you from afar, but to which
have bent your determined course, and are ever running, as for the prize of your high calling in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But to our progress on this great moral and spiritual journey, the reckoning of the text is indispensable. Without this reckoning, you are chained to the sluggishness of despair. With this reckoning the chain is broken; and the sluggishness is dissipated; and the faculties of the mind are not only freed, but they are urged and stimulated in a holy and a heavenward direction. For, among the thousand other guarantees for the faith of the gospel being indeed a purifying and an inspiring faith, mark it, my brethren, that a sense of pardon will never enter believingly into the sinner's heart, without its being followed up by a sense of obligation; and gratitude to Him who first loved you, will incite you to all that you know to be gladdening or acceptable to His bosom: And when you read, that He wants to rear all those creatures who are the travail of His soul, into so many illustrious specimens of that power
with which He is invested to adorn and to sanctify those whom He has savedhow can you refuse to be a fellow-worker with Him, in striving, by all the aids of His grace, to apprehend that holiness, for the sake of producing which in your spirit, you have been apprehended ? How can you refuse to gratify in your own person and performance, the taste of Him who ever rejoices to behold the verdure and the beauty that sit on the landscapes of materialism; and will much more rejoice to behold in the church of the redeemed, on which He is ever shedding the water of life from above, the unspotted loveliness of a new moral creation, that now teems and rises towards that full accomplishment, when it shall be holy and without blemish before Him?
Thus it is that the desire of Christ, and your desire, meet together in the one object of your sanctification. Let the sinner's desire for this
t itself in prayer; and let the desire of the