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and mind from sin, and constituting verily, verily, a well of water springing up unto eternal life.
About this destruction of sin there is much darkness and confusion, and we do not profess to be able to make it all plain. All we hope to do is to help souls so to close with their Saviour that He shall answer, through their hearts, their puzzling questions, and remove their doubts, by completely satisfying that hunger of soul out of which so many doubts and puzzling questions spring
We were talking about the destruction of sin. This is what we want to make clear. We hate sin. That is the devil we want ejecting from our hearts. Every real child of God has a loathing of evil and an inward indestructible longing to have no fellowship or community whatever with the unfruitful works of darkness, and it is only the most mistaken and misguided teaching, we think, that can induce any of the children of God to accept with any degree of contentment the doctrine that there is a necessity to sin and to be sinful to the end of the chapter.
Now, so far as we know, there are four different theories or opinions held with respect to the indwelling of sin, and the power and purpose of God to destroy it in this life.
I. THERE IS THE Two NATURE THEORY, which says that at conversion there is no actual change wrought in the soul of the sinner, but that there is engrafted in him, alongside the old nature, a new nature; which new nature is divine, or, as it
has been stated, is a part of the divine nature. That side by side these two natures remain till death do them part, the one antagonistic to the other, in perpetual conflict-unalterable, indestructibleuntil the skeleton hand of death severs them and ends the strife, the good nature incapable of sin, the bad nature incapable of holiness. Where the bad nature resides, whether in the flesh or in the spirit, there is some confusion. Some think the evil is in the flesh, that is, in the bones, and sinews, and blood; others think it is an essential part of the mind. But with this we stay not to inquire. To our minds there are insuperable difficulties in the view ; it appears as irrational as unscriptural. To say nothing else it is a gloomy view, and on the face of it seems to render impossible the fulfilment of all the blessed injunctions of the Bible, and all the inward yearnings of a man's new heavenly spirit after a glad, and a holy, and a victorious life. But there it is : that is the view, and conviction, and teaching of many. That as bad and black, aye, even as bad and black as in my unconverted days, my old heart remains, only that alongside of it there has come into my soul a new, heavenly, holy, divine nature, which may be the master of the evil nature at times, which may always be the master, but it is not to be expected, and that fighting and conflicting, these two must go forward till death.
Nay, there are, it occurs to us while we write, many who would
that the better nature is and must be very largely, nay, mostly be in subjection to the worse; that Paul teaches this in the seventh of Romans; that the good things which the new and better nature WOULD do, those the old evil nature will not allow it to do; and the evil things which the new and better nature WOULD NOT do, those the old and evil nature COMPELS it to do, and that there is no help for it.
II.—THE SECOND IS THE GRADUAL EXTINCTION THEORY. This view contends that at conversion a radical change is made in the soul in the direction of sanctification, that power is given over sin, which power is gradually increased day by day, but that sin still remains, although enfeebled and stunted, growing more and more helpless, only receiving the finishing stroke at death; that sanctification is a growth, a perpetual growth, but not completed till the final moment of existence. A great difficulty about this theory is that it contradicts so much that one sees and knows daily in the ordinary experience of believers. How few there are—at least we have come across very few, if any–who have professed to a life of progress in goodness. The great bulk of the Lord's children, we should think, if they spoke the truth, would have to say just the contrary. That after years of experience and opportunity they are not as much separated from evil, and as fully given up to God and the salvation of souls as when they first believed. We are afraid that the great bulk of believers have to repent and do their first works before they can go into Heaven, which, doubtless, many do at its very gates. This is only one difficulty in the way of this opinion, but we shall perhaps have occasion to notice it again further on in these papers.
III.-THE THIRD THEORY TEACHES THE COMPLETE SUBORDINATION OF THE OLD NATURE. This is a modification of the first, and, as held by many, goes almost as far, practically, as we do ourselves. It says that God will not, does not, destroy the old nature; nevertheless, He will, in answer to faith, that is, on the compliance with certain conditions, put the old nature into the place of death, REDUCE IT TO IMPOTENCE, MAKE IT HELPLESS-a sort of MUMMY, still there but POWERLESS, still there till death utterly destroys it. Now, our chief difficulty with this view is that it sounds unnatural, mystical, and puzzling to simple, wayfaring people, and so directly antagonistic to those clear deliverances of the Bible, which, without the slightest reservation, sound out and declare God's good pleasure to give a CLEAN HEART, to destroy sin and the works of the Devil, to CLEANSE FROM ALL IDOLS, and RENEW RIGHT HEARTS and SPIRITS within those of His people who want them, who will come out from among the ungodly and touch not the unclean thing.
And, without dwelling here, we have one great difficulty with all these theories, and that is that they all make death a sort of Deliverer and Saviour, putting him, the grim monster, into the place of the blessed Jesus, whose great and glorious prerogative it is to save His people not only from Hell, but from sin.
IV.-THE FOURTH IS THE EXTINCTION THEORY That is the view we have endeavoured to inculcate in these papers—that in whatever part of our nature sin has its seat-and it is not worth wasting a word
to prove that there is by nature and practice a deceitful and unclean heart in man, out of which proceed evil thoughts, words and deeds, this theory declares that God can destroy it, that He does destroy it, when trusted to do so.
That a soul may go to Him full of confidence that his request will be granted as much so when he asks for a clean heart as when he asks for the pardon of his sins.
And why should this be thought in any way surprising? Is it not exactly what we might have expected could we by any means have anticipated the circumstances and efforts of God to save us ? Perceiving and realising the evil and degradation, and pollution of sin, should we not have calculated that, after pardoning us, all His desires would have turned in the direction of delivering us out of the hand of the enemies of our peace and usefulness, the plagues of our hearts, the evils still existing within us, and of doing it as soon as possible. Nay, is it not just what we would do for men and women were we in His place? With the little knowledge we have of the deadly, hateful, blighting, damning nature of sin, would we not, were on that high throne of power, and authority, and love, seek to destroy those tendencies that are the mainspring and source of all the sin and misery of which we have any knowledge whatever ?
My brethren and comrades, come this way. Let us cease from our reasonings. God, as we have already remarked, will answer your difficulties in the depths of your soul, if you will let Him. Make Him your Teacher. TRY AND PROVE HIM, and see if He will not do for you far more exceeding