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through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The next words compose our text. "What shall we say then ? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound ?”
Now rises up the objector, and says, “Paul, if your doctrine be true, I may go on and commit sin, and grace will abound much more; and I might as well, and better too, go on indulging in sin.” This was the objection which the enemies of the doctrine of Jesus, brought in those days. Paul knew it, and you, my hearers, are familiar with the same objec tion, which our opposers urge against us now. Their language is, “If we believed as you say you do, we should not care how we lived; we should unbridle our passions, and go on indulging in sin.” I have not a doubt that they think they would. I charitably be lieve they are sincere. But they are greatly deluded. They do not understand the doctrine they oppose. Before any person is a suitable judge of the consequence of believing, a doctrine, he must believe it. Let our opposers first believe the doctrine we preach, and then let them say whether they are disposed to commit all kinds of sin.
You see the position I am obliged to take. We state, that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds, resulting in justification unto life eternal Thus, grace through Christ, is as positive, universal, and efficient, as was sin and condemnation, through the medium of the first man Adam. And what I have to show, if I succeed in my undertaking, is, that an understanding of the superabounding of grace beyond all sin, does not necessarily or naturally lead people to commit sin ; but leads them away from sin; and that the Apostle here gives the only ration
al answer which can possibly be given to the objection. “How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" There is nothing that can prevent man from continuing in sin, but becoming dead to sin. He who is dead to sin, has no disposition to perform a sinful act.
I shall illustrate this subject, by reference to certain facts recorded in the Scriptures. I do it because the facts to which I shall refer, are amply sufficient for the work. I do it more particularly, lest the hearer should say the speaker is a contriver of his own arguments. I desire you to notice, that I make use of no arguments which the Scriptures themselves do not furnish; and I hope the congregation will bear me witness, that I rest my argument on the testimony of the Bible, that if there be any deception, it is to be attributed to the Word, which we, as Christians, take to be our guide.
The first instance to which I shall refer, to illustrate the doctrine advanced, is the case of the abominable wickedness of Joseph's brethren. And while I do this, I desire the hearer to keep an eye on the several points. First, the abounding of sin. Give your thoughts free scope; do not undertake, in any instance, to diminish the heinous nature of sin. Give to it all the latitude it naturally takes; and when you have looked carefully at the abounding of sin, look with equal care on the other hand, and see grace abounding much more than sin. In this instance we shall either show, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, or we shall fail to gain our point. Then we shall speak as to the consequences—that is, are those with whom grace much more abounds in
duced to go on and commit more sin? Or does it make them dead to sin? We can certainly keep these three points in our recollection.
You have read the history of Joseph and his brethren, and it is familiar to you all. For that reason I select it as an illustration. I am sure that none of you are ignorant of the wicked conduct of Joseph's brethren towards him. Could hearts on earth be harder than their's ? They knew how their venerable father loved that child-how tenderly and affectionately he regarded him; and they knew he was their brother,-and yet in an evil hour, being moved by envy and deadly hatred, they tore him from the bosom of their father-they sold him into slavery; and, in their purposes, they bade their brother Joseph an eternal farewell ! Now observe how they endeavoured to cover their iniquity. They took his coat of many colours, and rent it, so that it should not appear to have been done by design. This coat they dipped in the blood of a kid, to make it appear that some evil beast had devoured the child. Then they coolly took the coat, carried it to their father, and spread it out before him. Their language was, “Father is this thy son's coat? We found it." No sooner did the venerable father behold the bloody garment, than he exclaimed, “Surely Joseph is torn in pieces; an evil beast has devoured him.” The dear old man did not suspect his children of being concerned in such an outrage; yet they could stand by, with hearts hard enough to see their father in such anguish, and not relent. They tried to comfort him, to be sure; but he refused all comfort, and said, "I will go down into the grave unto my son mourn. ing:"-But I must make this story short, for two reasons: First, I shall not, if I detain you longer on this part of the subject, have so much time to refer to other particulars; and secondly, your recollection of the whole story precludes the necessity of enlarging. You recollect that Joseph was soon raised to authority, and became governor of Egypt, and stood next in authority to Pharaoh the king. He had foreseen in a dream which Pharaoh had, that there would be seven years of plenty throughout the land, succeeded by a severe famine of equal duration. He was therefore appointed by the king to be lord over Egypt; and he prudently stored the abundance of the products of the seven years of plenty, to serve during the seven years of fainine, which were to follow.
Now, my friends, you have a right, and so have 1, to believe, that while Joseph was doing this work, and storing up the corn in Egypt, he very frequently thought of his brethren. With what intention did Joseph labour until the time of the famine? He believed that the famine would compel his brethren to come down into Egypt. With a kind and friendly heart, no doubt, he thought of and intended the benevolence which he afterwards displayed. He thought the time would soon arrive, when he should be enabled to supply the wants of his brethren from his own stores. The
of famine came, and multitudes from the adjacent country rushed into Egypt, and Joseph was looking out from day to day, to see his brethren. His heart was ripe for it-he was full of
grace towards them. He desired to see them, and by and by they came, and he knew them, but they knew not him.
Let me pause a moment: I can hardly proceed
with this account, without remarking how exactly it answers to our beneyolent Jesus, who was the inte bread of God, who came down out of heaven to give ut life to the world. How often have I contemplated, Eren with a grateful heart, heaven's unbounded love to the human race; and how ardently have I prayed that all, all might become the happy and blessed pared takers of this bread of life, which Jesus brought to mankind. Did Joseph know his brethren before they knew him ? Yes, yes, my hearers; and Jesus knows us before we know him. Jesus knows the Nel transgressors, and knows them to be the objects of love, grace, and mercy, while he is yet a stranger to them.
After Joseph had passed his brethren through certain trials and afflictions that were necessary to make them sensible of their wickedness and when he was under the necessity of retiring from their presence that he might weep in secret for the love he bore them, it came to pass at last, as he could no longer hide himself from them, that he dispersed the Egyptians, and stood confessed before them. "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt." And they were troubled at his presence. How surprised were they to think that they stood before the lord of the land of Egypt ! Joseph could now do what he pleased with them; they could not resist him—they were now in his hands. He was once in their's, and they maltreated him, and sold him as a slave.
They are now in his hands, and at his entire disposal. And what does he do ? Hearken, my hearers, hearken to the words of mercy which fell from the lips of the benevolent Joseph. Are they not enough to break the heart, though it were of