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if it means salvation from the commission of sin in the future? Where will we find a people who have never committed sin? Not in this world. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 3: 23. No man who has, or may hereafter commit sin, can be said to be saved, if by salvation the non-commission of sin is meant. It is obvious then that Christ saves His people from sins that have been committed, and this implies deliverance from the punishment of sin. Sin, after its commission, admits of no salvation, except from its guilt and punishment. A man cannot be saved from an act after it is committed; an act once performed can never be recalled. He may be saved from its consequences, but not from the act itself. There is nothing else that he can be saved from. Let me illustrate this idea. A man violates the laws of his country by murdering his neighbor. He cannot be saved from this sin. It has been committed and cannot be recalled. He can be saved from its punishment. The Governor may pardon his offence and save him from the penalty. This is all that he can be saved from. Thus it is with the sinner. He may be saved from the penalty, but not from the act of past sin.
The idea that sinners are not saved from the punishment of sin, destroys the Scriptural doctrine of salvation by grace. Here is a man who robs his neighbor of one hundred dollars. He is arrested, cast into prison, in due time is tried, found guilty, and is sentenced to five years hard labor in the State prison. He works his time out, meets the demands of the law, and is set at liberty. Is he saved by grace? No. He is saved by works. Mercy has nothing to do with his salvation. Just so with the sinner, if he suffers all
the punishment his sins deserve. He is saved by works, and not by grace. Is this the doctrine of the Bible. Let Paul answer. "By grace ye are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast," Eph. 2: 8-9. If Paul is correct in his theology, the idea that sinners are not saved from the punishment of sins is an error.
The Bible doctrine of forgiveness implies the idea of deliverance from the punishment of sin. It is affirmed by some, that pardon does not save man from the just punishment of sin; but that this is an incorrect view is obvious from the meaning of the terms pardon and forgiveness. Webster says, "Pardon is to forgive; to remit; as an offence or crime." "Guilt implies bound, or subject to censure, penalty, or punishment. To pardon is to give up this obligation, and release the offender. We pardon the offender when we release, or absolve him from his liability to suffer punishment." "Forgiveness," he says, "is to pardon; to remit as an offence or debt." Then to forgive the offender, is to save him from the punishment of his sins. What Christ means by the term, forgiveness, may be learned from the following passage: "Forgive us our. debts, as we forgive our debtors." Matt. 6: 12. Here we are taught to ask God to forgive us as we forgive one another. How then do we forgive one another? If a man owes you a thousand dollars, you forgive him by giving up his note; but, according to the above theory, you are to compel him to pay the last farthing of the debt, and then forgive him. Would he thank you for such forgiveness? Paul says to Christians: "Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving
one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you."
Here we are instructed to forgive one another in the same sense in which God forgives us. Now, if he does not remit the punishment due to sin; then, according to Paul's directions, when a brother injures us, we are to punish him all his sins deserve, and then forgive him. This would give unbridled license. to revenge and retaliation. Let me illustrate the absurdity of forgiving the sinner, and at the same time compelling him to suffer all the punishment due his sins. Mr. Barns owes Mr. Taylor, one thousand pounds. Mr. Taylor meets Mr. Barns, and says, "Mr. Barns you owe me one thousand pounds, and are not able to pay it. I can forgive you and will do it." At these words the heart of Mr. Barns leaps for joy, and he cannot conceal his gratitude. He speaks in the highest terms of his creditor, and lauds his clemency to the skies.
But Mr. T. afterwards meets Mr. B. and explains the matter. He says, "Mr. B., though I am able to forgive you, and intend to do it, yet you must pay me the debt, principle and interest. God forgives our sins, but we must suffer the consequences-so I forgive you this debt, but you must pay it." "You insult me," says Mr. B., "you offered me what I understood to be a favor; but I find your words have no meaning, and to be down-right mockery of my misfortunes." Such an idea of forgiveness is perfectly absurd.
The prophet Ezekiel, says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. But if the wicked shall turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die." Ezek. 18: 20-21. Here death
is marked as the punishment of sin, but it is affirmed that if the wicked man shall turn from his sins and reform, "he shall not die." If death is the punishment of sin, and man is saved from it by reformation, then salvation embraces deliverance from the consequences of sin.
It is obvious, then, that Christ came to save man from the consequences of sin; and we are naturally led to inquire, what are they? There are some effects following sin, from which man cannot be saved in this life. There are revealed and natural laws-physical and moral laws-the laws of the body, and the laws of the soul. One is just as much the law of God as the other; and it is just as much a sin to violate the laws of the physical organism, as it is to transgress the moral laws of God. There are some of the consequences following the violation of the laws of health, from which we cannot be saved as long as we are clothed in mortal flesh. A man, by intemperance, may bring upon himself a disease that will go with him to the grave. He may repent, reform, and dash the maddening bowl from his lips, but the consequences of his sin go on in their ravages upon the physical man. He has shattered the nervous system to its very centre, and introduced a mortal enemy into the citadel of life, which will go on in its work of destruction until he is laid in the dust. The waters of regeneration may wash out the stains of sin from the soul; but no tears of contrition can cleanse the outward man from some of the awful effects of transgression. Nothing short of a miracle can accomplish this salvation. Man may be saved from the effects of sin on the soul in this life; from guilt, condemnation, dread of the future, and the pangs of a guilty conscience. He is saved from this
by turning to the Lord, in deep repentance and humble contrition. On this condition, God forgives his sins, and writes his name in the Lamb's book of life. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Isa. 55: 7.
When the sinner is aroused to a true sense of his situation in the sight of God, it fills his soul with a "fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." He feels that he is a sinner under the condemnation of the divine law, and justly exposed to "the wrath to come." His conscience thunders in his ear guilt and condemnation. His mind is like the troubled sea when it cannot rest.
"Ah! whither shall I go,
His language is:
Burden'd and sick, and faint?
To whom should I my troubles show,
He reads the precious promises, and sweet invitations of God. He learns, through the Saviour, that the Father is willing to receive the prodigal and wash out all his sins. In the sweet name "JESUS," he reads the love of God for perishing sinners. Hope springs up in his soul, and he flies to Christ for refuge. The arms of everlasting mercy are open to receive him, and he hears the Saviour say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee; go in peace, and sin no more." The love of God is shed abroad in his heart; the voice of conscience is hushed; the troubled mind is at rest, and calm, heavenly peace fills his soul. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Rom. 5: 1.
Man is spiritually dead; dead to God, to holiness,