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And, last of all, thy greedy self consumed,
THE WAGES OF SIN.
(Chapel Royal, June, 1864.)
Rom. VI. 21–23. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now
ashamed ? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death ; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
MHIS is a glorious text, if we will only
believe it simply, and take it as it stands.
But if in place of St. Paul's words we put quite different words of our own, and say-By 'the wages of sin is death, St. Paul means that the punishment of sin is eternal life in torture, then we say something which may be true, but which is not what St. Paul is speaking of here. For wages are not punish
ment, and death is not eternal life in torture, any more than in happiness.
That, one would think, was clear. It is our duty to take St. Paul's words, if we really believe them to be inspired, simply as they stand; and, if we do not quite understand them, to explain them by St. Paul's own words about these matters in other parts of his writings.
St. Paul was an inspired Apostle. Let him speak for himself. Surely he knew best what he wished to say, and how to say it.
Now St. Paul's opinions about death and eternal life are very clear; for he speaks of them often, and at great length.
He considered that the great enemy of God and man, the last enemy Christ would destroy, was death; and that, after death was destroyed, the end would come, when God would be all in all. Then came the question, which has puzzled men in all ages—How death came into the world. St. Paul answers, By sin. He says, as the author of the third chapter of Genesis says, that Adam became subject to death by his fall. By one man, he says, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. And thus, he says, death reigned even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression.
That he is speaking of bodily death is clear, because he is always putting it in contrast to the resurrection to life,—not merely to a spiritual resurrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness ; but to the resurrection of the body,—to our Lord's being raised from the dead, that he might die no more.
Then he speaks of eternal life. He always speaks of it as an actual life, in a spiritual body, into which our mortal bodies are to be changed. Nothing can be clearer from what he says in 1 Cor. xv., that he means an actual rising again of our bodies from bodily death ; an actual change in them; an actual life in them for ever.
But he says, again and again,-As sin caused the death of the body, so righteousness is to cause its life.
When ye were the servants of sin,' he says to the Romans, 'what fruit had ye in those 'things whereof ye are now ashamed ? For the
end of those things is death. But now being 'made free from sin, and become servants to 'God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the
end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is · death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is St. Paul's opinion. And we shall do well to believe it, and to learn from it, this day, and all days.
The wages of sin and the end of sin is death. Not the punishment of sin; but something much worse. The wages of sin, and the end of sin.
And how is that worse news? My friends, every sinner knows so well in his heart that it is worse news, more terrible news, for him, that he tries to persuade himself that death is only the arbitrary punishment of his sin; or, quite as often, that the punishment of his sin is not even death, but eternal torment in the next life.
And why? Because, as long as he can