Injustice in a Graveyard!
James Smith, 1858
"The wages of sin is death!" Romans 6:23
The other day, as I was wandering over a village graveyard, and reading the inscriptions on the tombs and head-stones, I could not but think that there was something like injustice. In every direction DEATH was spoken against — and called cruel, insatiable, and many other bad names — but not one word was said against SIN. And yet death is but the offspring of sin. But for sin — there would have been no death, and no graveyards.
Death is a divine infliction, originally a punishment for man's sin! It is from God's hand — and therefore man is more ready to speak harshly of death, than he is of sin — which is man's own act and deed.
We blame death for robbing us of our parents, children, and friends; but we ought to blame sin — which gave death its power. And thus we should blame ourselves — by whom sin came into the world, and has perpetuated death here.
Sin is the parent of disease, pain, grief, sorrow,
disappointment, vexation, anxiety, woe, death — yes, of every evil!
And man is the parent of sin!
Sin sprung from us — and all misery springs from sin.
God, in death — only gives to man his due. How prone are we to fix the eye on effects (death) — and never think of the cause (sin)! Or if we admit that the cause is sin — we look upon it, and talk of it, as if sin was a calamity instead of a crime!
When I tread the grounds of the graveyard, and see the proofs that multitudes have been buried there — let me ask with Jehu, "Who slew all these?" And the only answer that can be justly given, will be, SIN!
Some may be ready to say, "Oh, it was small-pox, or tuberculosis, or cancer, or cholera, etc!" True, true — but what introduced all these diseases into our world — for they were not here originally? Ah, that was sin — our sin!
We therefore must trace suffering and death — to disease!
We must trace disease — to sin!
We must trace sin — to man!
Man therefore, is the cause of all his own misery!
Man has no one to blame, but himself. Nor is it any use trying to throw the blame on anything else.
But as sin has introduced disease, misery, and death into our world — is there any possibility of getting rid of sin? Because, if we can get rid of sin — we may then get rid of all the consequences of sin. Well, blessed be God, sin may be gotten rid of! How this is to be done, the Bible, and the Bible alone, can inform us. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 6:23
No one could devise a plan to get rid of sin — but the infinitely wise God. No one could furnish the means — but the Possessor of heaven and earth. It requires a most costly sacrifice — and the Son of God furnishes that. It requires a wondrous change in us, nothing less than a new creation — and the Spirit of God produces that.
If we want to get rid of sin — we, being fully convinced that we are guilty, and deserve to be punished for it. We must fix the eye of the mind on the Son of God as our sacrifice. We must then confess our sins, and plead with God to pardon them, on the ground of the sacrifice of Jesus, and so we shall obtain a pardon. We must also ask for the Holy Spirit, to renew and sanctify our nature, and so we shall be delivered from the power and pollution of sin. We must live, believing in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus to remove our guilt, and in the power and grace of the Spirit to make us new creatures, and then take the precepts of the gospel as our guide, and the example of Jesus as our model.
In this way, we shall be delivered from condemnation for sin, from the power and love of sin, and also from the practice of sin. And thus living, and thus dying — we shall ultimately be delivered from the indwelling, and all the consequences of sin. Then, being delivered from sin — we are really delivered from death, the very nature of which is changed, so that we only fall asleep in Jesus, depart to be with Jesus, and at length wake up in the exact likeness of Jesus, both in body and soul!
Let us then, when we think of death or look on suffering — trace it up to sin, and then make it our first great business to get rid of sin! No remedy will do for us, which does not go to the root of the disease and eradicate it. We must get rid of sin, both in its guilt and power — or we shall never be safe, we can never be happy. And there is no getting rid of sin — but by faith in Christ, and the possession of the Holy Spirit. No sacrifice will ever atone for our sins — but the death of Christ. And no power will ever deliver us from the authority and enslaving influence of sin — but the power of the Holy Spirit. Nor will the blood of Christ deliver us, without a personal application to it; nor will the power of the Holy Spirit deliver us, unless he is received into our hearts and dwells there. As, therefore, it is of the greatest importance to be delivered from sin, as otherwise we cannot be delivered from death, or saved from hell — let us apply to Christ at once!
If we have already fled to Jesus — let us apply to him afresh daily; let us ask of our heavenly Father, the filling of the Holy Spirit. Nor let us rest satisfied until we prove his presence with us, by an abiding hatred to sin, and a constant thirst for perfect holiness. Nor let us be satisfied, even if we have the Spirit, without a deep and thorough work of sanctification. And, as there are degrees of holiness, and the more holiness the more happiness for us, and the more glory for God — let us set our hearts upon the attaining of perfect holiness. For this let us pray, at this let us aim — and the result will be a thorough devotedness to God, the enjoyment of our election and calling, and growing usefulness in the world and the Church.
And if this should be the case in any one instance, as the result of reading these few lines, I shall not regret my ramble in the village church-yard, or the labor of penning the thoughts suggested by the inscriptions on the tombs and head-stones.