What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?…
There is no influence more mischievous on the morals of a people than to interpret the atonement in such a way as to make it independent of good works, if to the atonement you give any other than purely legal connection. If it includes state of nature and character in its connections, then must it stand forever associated with human endeavour and conditioned upon it. Else the sacrifice of Jesus becomes a harbour for thieves — a port into which sinners can at any moment steer with all their sins on board, the moment that the winds of conscience begin to blow a little too hard and threaten wreck to their peace. And this is what I call a plain accommodation of sinners, and hence a premium on sin. For sin is sweet to the natural man, sweet to his pride, his cruelty, his senses; and who would not sin and have the sweetness of it, if when he found it troublesome he could, by the saying of a prayer, or the utterance of a charmed word, be in an instant delivered from it forever? And yet I believe that in just this supposition multitudes in Christendom are living. Salvation is something to be visited upon them, independent of their conduct; nay, in spite of their conduct. Jesus is a cabalistic word which, no matter how they live, if they but whisper it with their dying gasp into the ear of death, he is bound to pass them up into heaven and not down into hell, where their deeds would consign them and which their characters fit. They cheat, they lie, they slander, they hate, they persecute, but then is not there mercy for all? Will not faith save a man; and have not they faith? And are they not told that God will do anything in answer to prayer; and did you ever see men pray as fast as these fellows can when they are sick? This is what I call making Christ a harbour for thieves and Christianity a premium on sin. This is what I call the most horrible perversion of the gospel plan of salvation conceivable!
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?