Weigh, as men of real moral experience, what is involved in the hardening of the sinner. That is the worst penalty upon sin, its cumulative and deadening history. Well, is it simply self-hardening? Is it simply the reflex action of sin upon character, sin going in, settling in, and reproducing itself there? Is it no part of God’s positive procedure in judging sin, and bringing it, for salvation, to a crisis of judgment grace? When Pharaoh hardens his heart, is that in no sense God hardening Pharaoh’s heart? When a man hardens himself against God, is there nothing in the action and purpose of God that takes part in that induration? Is that anger not as really as the superabounding grace? Are not both bound up in one complex treatment of the moral world? When a man piles up his sin and rejoices in iniquity, is God simply a bystander and spectator of the process? Does not God’s pressure on the man blind him, urge him, stiffen him, shut him up into sin, if only that he might be shut up to mercy alone? Is it enough to say that this is but the action of a process which God simply watches in a permissive way? Is He but passive and not positive to the situation? Can the Absolute be passive to anything? If so, where is the inner action of the personal god whose immanence in things is one of His great modern revelations? Everything you call absolute is in active relation to the whole creation. Go into the psychology of sin as it is understood, not indeed today, but by those in the long, deep history of the moral soul whose experience coincided with a real genius for reading it – true sons of him of Romans 7. Ask such experients if it is never thus – that the anger of God promotes a sin, cherished in the private imagination, to actual transgression; which then shocks, appalls, the dallier into the horrified loss of all confidence in the flesh; that out of the collapse may rise a totally new man? God never put sin in the world; but, sin being in the world, with its spreading power, does God never bring it to such a head as precipitates its destruction? Does He never drive the lunatic over a precipice into water where he can be saved and divert him from the quarry edge where he would be dashed to pieces? Did God not so act with Israel (John 12:39)? When sin has once begun, is there no such thing morally possible as the provocative action of God’s law? With God’s law sin gains life (Romans 7:10) and becomes more sinful. Every law deepens the guilt of defying it. That is the curse of the law. And is that law detached from God, and cut adrift to do its own mechanic work under His indifference? Is it not His curse and anger still, if God be in His law, as we now do believe Him to pervade His world?

The love of God is not more real than the wrath of God. For He can be really angry only with those He loves. And how can Absolute Love love without acting to save?