Sin (4)

That witness is true. For my part I am persuaded the more light we have, the more we see our own sinfulness; the nearer we get to heaven, the more we are clothed with humility. In every age of the church you will find it true, if you will study biographies, that the most eminent saints - men like Bradford, Rutherford and M'Cheyne - have always been the humblest men.

On the other hand, I ask my readers to observe how deeply thankful we ought to be for the glorious gospel of the grace of God. There is a remedy revealed for man's need, as wide and broad and deep as man's disease. We need not be afraid to look at sin and study its nature, origin, power, extent and vileness, if we only look at the same time at the almighty medicine provided for us in the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. Though sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded. Yes: in the everlasting covenant of redemption, to which Father, Son and Holy Ghost are parties; in the Mediator of that covenant, Jesus Christ the righteous, perfect God and perfect Man in one Person; in the work that He did by dying for our sins and rising again for our justification; in the offices that He fills as our Priest, Substitute, Physician, Shepherd and Advocate; in the precious blood He shed which can cleanse from all sin; in the everlasting righteousness that He brought in; in the perpetual intercession that He carries on as our Representative at God's right hand; in His power to save to the uttermost the chief of sinners, His willingness to receive and pardon the vilest, His readiness to bear with the weakest; in the grace of the Holy Spirit which He plants in the hearts of all His people, renewing, sanctifying and causing old things to pass away and all things to become new - in all this (and oh, what a brief sketch it is!) - in all this, I say, there is a full, perfect and complete medicine for the hideous disease of sin. Awful and tremendous as the right view of sin undoubtedly is, no one need faint and despair if he will take a right view of Jesus Christ at the same time. No wonder that old Flavel ends many a chapter of his admirable Fountain of Life with the touching words: 'Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.'

In bringing this mighty subject to a dose, I feel that I have only touched the surface of it. It is one which cannot be thoroughly handled in a paper like this. He that would see it treated fully and exhaustively must turn to such masters of experimental theology as Owen and Burgess and Manton and Charnock and the other giants of the Puritan school. On subjects like this there are no writers to be compared to the Puritans. It only remains for me to point out some practical uses to which the whole doctrine of sin may be profitably turned in the present day.

to be continued