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THE EFFICACY OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST CONSISTENT WITH THE NECESSITY OF A GOOD LIFE: THE ONE BEING THE CAUSE, THE OTHER THE CONDITION, OF SALVATION.
ROMANS, vi. 1.
What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.
THE 'HE same Scriptures, which represent
the death of Christ, as having that which belongs to the death of no other person, namely, an efficacy in procuring the salvation of man, are also constant and uniform in representing the necessity of our own endeavours, of our own good works, for the same purpose. They go further.
They foresaw that in stating, and still more when they went about to extol and magnify the death of Christ, as instrumental to salvation, they were laying a foundation for the opinion, that men's own works, their own virtue, their personal endeavours, were superseded and dispensed with. In proportion as the sacrifice of the death of Christ was effectual, in the same proportion were these less necessary; if the death of Christ was sufficient, if redemption was complete, then were these not necessary at all. They foresaw that some would draw this consequence from their doctrine, and they provided against it.
It is observable, that the same consequence might be deduced from the goodness of God in any way of representing it: not only in the particular and peculiar way, in which it is represented in the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, but in any other way. St. Paul, for one was sensible of this: and, therefore, when he speaks of the goodness of God even in general terms, he takes care to point out the only true turn which ought to be given to it in our thoughts —
"Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" as if he had said, With thee, I perceive, that the consideration of the goodness of God leads to the allowing of thyself in sin; this is not to know what that consideration ought in truth to lead to: it ought to lead thee to repentance, and to no other conclusion.
Again; when the apostle had been speaking of the righteousness of God displayed by the wickedness of man: he was not unaware of the misconstruction to which this representation was liable, and which it had, in fact, experienced; which misconstruction he states thus, -"We be slanderously reported, and some affirm that we say, let us do evil that good may come." This insinuation, however, he regards as nothing less than an unfair and wilful perversion of his words, and of the words of other Christian teachers; therefore he says concerning those who did thus pervert them, "their condemnation is just;" they will be justly condemned for
thus abusing the doctrine, which we teach. The passage, however, clearly shows, that the application of their expressions to the encouragement of licentiousness of life, was an application contrary to their intention; and in fact, a perversion of their words.
In like manner in the same chapter our apostle had no sooner laid down the doctrine, "that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," than he checks himself as it were, by subjoining this proviso: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Whatever he meant by his assertion concerning faith, he takes care to let them know he did not mean this, "to make void the law," or to dispense with obedience.
But the clearest text to our purpose is that undoubtedly, which I have prefixed to this discourse. St. Paul, after expatiating largely upon the "grace," that is, the favour, kindness, and mercy of God, the extent, the greatness, the comprehensiveness of that mercy, as manifested in the
to his reader :
Christian dispensation, puts this question What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" which he answers by a strong negative-God forbid." What the apostle designed in this passage is sufficiently
evident. He knew in what manner some might be apt to construe his expressions; and he anticipates their mistake. He is beforehand with them, by protesting against any such use being made of his doctrine: which yet he was aware, might by possibility be made.
By way of showing scripturally the obligation and the necessity of personal endeavours after virtue, all the numerous texts which exhort to virtue, and admonish us against vice, might be quoted; for they are all directly to the purpose; that is, we might quote every page of the New Testament. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." In both these texts the re