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of our ordinary world-or if poetry can bear him upward to a purer moral element, than he can breathe among his fellow-mortals-or, lastly, if music, that so charmed the spirit of the Hebrew king out of all its ferocity, is still found, so long as it plays upon the ear, to attune the heart to nobler and better feelings than those by which it is habitually occupiedShall we wonder, that, upon faith realising the promises and the prospects of the gospel, the heart shall be translated into a new state, when thus visited as it were by the sense and the impression of its new circumstances? What music can be sweeter to the soul, than when peace is whispered to it from on high; or what lovelier vision can be offered to its contemplation, than that of heaven's Lord and of heaven's family; or what more fitted to lay the coarse and boisterous agitations of a present world, than the light which has pierced across the grave and revealed the peaceful world that is beyond it? Simply grant that the veil has been lifted from the eyes of guilty man; and that he now sees what he never wont to see-the love of God in Christ Jesus, and the remission of sins, and an open path to the bliss of eternity, and the glories of a purchased inheritance there, and here all the graces of our required preparation-let him see that these, which before stood at an impracticable distance, are now brought nigh unto him and have become all his own-Is it at all to be marvelled at
his precious saying, when reckoned upon | reader, and so assort his feelings to them as faithful and regarded as worthy of all as that, while the allusion lasts, he shall acceptation, there is a power to still and be refined and removed above the level overawe the heart out of its rebellious tendencies-So that when a trusted Saviour is present to the thoughts, the sin of our nature is by a moral necessity disarmed of its practical ascendancy over us. We trust that with some who hear us, it has been found to hold experimentally-how a sense of the mercy of God in Christ annihilates the whole space of separation that there was between God and the soul, and so dissipates all its ungodliness-how walking before Him in the light and peace of conscious forgiveness, the spirit of bondage has fled away, and there have come in its place the love and the trust and the joy of reconciled children-how whenever he bethinks him of God having passed over the magnitude of his own provocations, he finds that achievement easy, which to nature is difficult, of maintaining the gentleness of his spirit under the sorest provocations of his fellow-men-how in dwelling on the agony of that endurance that was laid upon Christ for sinners, he too can learn to suffer and to grow in all those graces which are best taught in the school of tribulation-how it is when beholding the cross of our atonement, that he is most solemnized into a reverence for the sacredness of the Godhead, and is most awed into a fearfulness of the sin that was expiated there-Above all, when he looks onward to the glories of that inheritance which Christ hath purchased by His blood, and the gates of which He has unbarred for the welcome access of the guiltiest of us all-how it is that the powers of the coming world win the mastery in his spirit, over the powers of the present one; that he sits loose to the vanities and the interests of a scene which passeth speedily away; and, now feeling eternity to be his destined home and the virtues of eternity to be his incumbent preparation, he holds a perpetual warfare with those passions that war against the soul, and bears on every footstep of his pilgrimage on earth the impress of that heaven for which he hopes and of that holiness to which he is aspiring.
We would conclude these preliminary remarks with three distinct observations. And first, it is hoped that some of you may be led to perceive from them-how it is, that, by means of a power external to the mind of man yet brought from without to bear upon it, he may be so transformed as to become a new creature. If the eloquence of a Christian minister can for a time lift the soul, as it were, above itself or if a pleasing and pathetic novelist can transport the imagination of his
when the romance of music and eloquence and imagination and poetry, addrest to the heart of man, can so sublimate its affections for a period above all the passions and vulgarities of familiar life-with this fact of the human constitution so plainly before our eyes-are we to listen with incredulity, if told, that when the truths of Christianity burst forth upon the believer in all the magnificence of their lofty bearing and in all the might of their now apprehended reality, they sc refine his every affection and so elevate the whole tone of his character, that all old things are henceforth done away and all things become new?
Now, secondly, it is the office of God's Spirit thus to picture forth to the eye of the believer these truths of the gospel, in all the reality and power of application which belong to them. It is He who takes of the things of Christ; and, showing them unto the soul, causes the imagery of faith to overbear the impressions of sight. And the man who is thus acted upon, looketh beyond what is seen and temporal to what is unseen and eternal. It is from a source
and the very reason why Paul plied so laboriously and at length prevailed with the former, was because he felt such loathing and such self-abomination for the latter. This is a mystery of the Christian life which the world apprehendeth not; nor are they able to discern why the same individual should become every day more profound in humility, and yet more graceful in positive holiness-why he should be ever mourning more heavily than before under a sense of his worthlessness, and that at the very time when the real worth of his character is maturing and building up unto eternity.
which is out of himself, that he fetches an | the other the inherent corruption of man; influence which never fails to soothe and to sanctify the corrupt and distempered spirit; and, as it was the duty of Saul on the threatening of every dark visitation to require the music of that harp which he could at all times summon by the word of command into his presence, so it is the duty of every sinner in every time of need or of temptation, to invoke that Spirit, who never is withheld from the prayers of those who sincerely ask Him. When like to be assailed by the power of sin to an overthrow, this is the instrument of aid and of defence that will never fail you; and let the storms whether of the furious or of the wayward passions of our nature be what they may, this is the agent, at the bidding of whose still but omnipotent voice, an influence of peace and purity descendeth upon the heart, and it becometh a great calm.
It is not understood, how the strugglings of the inner man bring every Christian who feels them into a more familiar acquaintance than before with the adverse elements in the conflict; and that as the spirit lusteth against the flesh and the But lastly, the way in which all this flesh against the spirit, just in proportion bears upon the passage before us, is by to the felt preciousness of the one, is the helping us to the determination of a con- felt burden and odiousness of the other. troversy-whether the soliloquy whereof It is because he loathes so much the earthit consists, be that of Paul in his own pro-liness of what is naturally and originally per person, or of Paul in the person of an unconverted man? How, it may be thought, could this holy apostle take to himself, the blame of so much vileness and exceeding turpitude, as are made to characterize him who is supposed to utter his effusion? How could it be said of him who fought the good fight, that he was sold under sin; and that there dwelt no good thing in his flesh; and that there was a law in him, which would have led him in captivity to the law of sin and of death; and that, wretched under a mass of corruption from which he could not deliver himself, he had to cry out, under the extremity of anxious helplessness, lest it should have wholly overwhelmed him? Can all this be true of the man, in whom Christianity beheld the very noblest of her specimens; who ere he died could claim the victory as his own; and who, to obtain it, was throughout the whole of his discipleship the most unwearied in vigilance and the most strenuous in warfare?
Yes, there was a fight and it turned out to be ultimately a successful one. But who were the parties in it? They were the grace of God on the one hand, and on
his own, that he longs so much for the visitation of a heavenly influence from above. The sense of poverty is the very impulse that sends him to the fountain of abundance; and the detestation he feels of the sin that dwells in him, is the best guarantee that this sin shall not have the dominion over him. With these principles do we feel ourselves prepared for entering into more full elucidation of the passage before us; nor will you, I trust, be any more perplexed when you read of him who delighted in the law of God after the inward man, and who disallowed all that was evil, and who had the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him-how at the same time he mourned his vile body, and groaned being burdened under a sense of that sore moral leprosy by which it was pervaded. He had no confidence in himself; but he rejoiced in the Lord Jesus. He was in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling; but when he was weak then was he strong-for when he spake of his infirmities, the power of Christ was made to rest upon him. "I will make my grace sufficient for thee. I will perfect my strength in thy weakness."
ROMANS vii, 14, 15.
'For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For at which. do, allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do."
THE first thing to be remarked here, is the transition which the apostle makes at this verse into another tense. It looks as if from the 7th verse to the 14th, he, using the past tense, was describing the state of matters antecedent to his conversion, and showing what his case was under the law; but that now, sliding into the use of the present tense, he is describing his experience as a believer: And this is one argument for Paul speaking here in his own person, and not in that of an unregenerate
gifts of Providence, it has a disrelish and disregard for the Giver of them; and because while it may yield many compliances with the law of God at the impulse of dread or of danger or of habit, it yields not to God Himself the offering of a spontaneous devotion, the tribute of an intelligent or of a willing reverence.
Perhaps my best recommendation to you, for the purpose of acquiring a more thorough discernment of God's law in the spirituality of its character, is that you peruse with faithful application to your The law is spiritual.' It has authority own heart the fifth chapter of Matthewover the desires of the inner man. It holds where, article by article, you have the a sinful wish to be criminal, as well as a comparison between a spiritual and what sinful performance. It finds matter for may be called a carnal commandment; condemnation in the state of the will, as and from which you will at once perwell as in the deeds of the outward history. ceive, how possible it is, that, with a most It demands punishment, for example, not rigid and undeviating faithfulness in remerely on the action by which I wrest gard to the latter, there may be an utter another's property; but on the affection deficiency from the former in all its by which I covet it. Paul once thought requirements-and how truly the same himself free of all offences, in regard to a individual may say of himself, that, wher. neighbour's rights, because he had never in the flesh, he, touching the righteousness put forth the hand of violence, or plied that is of the law, was blameless; and any device of fraudulency against them. yet, when advanced and elevated above But when he looked to the spiritual nature this state and now in the spirit, he may of the commandment, in that it interdicted say, O wretched man that I am, who him even from the longings of a secret shall deliver me from the law of sin in my appetite for that which was not rightfully members! You see how, in proportion to his own-then, conscious that with all the his high sense of the law, he may have a abstinence of his outer man from the acts low sense of himself; and that, just as of dishonesty there was still a secret pro- one advances in the discernment of its pensity in his heart towards the gains or purity and in the delicacy of his recoil at the fruits, he felt himself, when standing the slightest deviations therefrom, which at the bar of this purer and loftier juris- surely mark his progressive sanctification prudence, to be indeed a transgressor.the more readily will he break forth And so, in the general, there may be no into exclamations of shame and selfdisobedience on the part of the outer man abhorrence: Or the loftier his positive to any of God's commandments; and yet ascent on the heights of sacredness, the there may be, all the while, an utter dis- more fearful will he be of all those drags taste for them on the part of the inner and downward tendencies by which he man-and this is what the law takes cog- still is encompassed; and which, if not nizance of, in virtue of its spiritual cha- felt to be most hazardous as well as most racter, and pronounces to be sinful. To humbling, may not only cause to slip the do what is bidden with the hand, is not footsteps of the heavenward traveller; enough to satisfy such a law-if the strug- but may precipitate him from the emigling inclination of the heart be against nence that he has gotten, into the lowest it. And above all will it charge the deep-depths of wretched and hopeless aposest guilt on a man-because of his disaffection towards God-because of a love for the creature, that has deposed from its rightful ascendancy over him the love of the Creator-because of that moral anarchy and misrule in the constitution of his spirit, whereby, with its relish for the
'I am carnal'-It is on the principles just now uttered, that Paul may have made this affirmation of himself. The same man who could say of all the good that was done-" nevertheless not me but the grace of God that is in me"-Surely
article, and the other as a foreign article for which he stands indebted to a fountain that is abroad-and whereunto it is his business to resort perpetually. He is like Saul operated upon by the harp of the son of Jesse; and as the one might well have said, even in the kindest and gentlest mood to which the warblings of the instrument had brought him, that in myself I am a firebrand of rage and vindictiveness-so the other, conscious that disjoin
by Jesus Christ he is an ungodly and an unheavenly creature, might as well say that in myself I am an alienated rebelin myself I am altogether carnal.
this man, who thus knew what he should | Christian to regard the one as the home refer to God's grace and what he should refer to his own separate and unaided self, might, even after this grace had become the habitual visitant or inmate of his heart, still look to his own soul; and, conceiving of it as apart or disjoined from the fountain out of which he draws the supplies of its nourishment, might well say that I am carnal.' Suppose for a moment that the branch of a tree were endowed with a separate consciousness of its own-then, however lovely in blos-ed from the grace and truth which come som or richly-laden with fruit, it may feel of the whole efflorescence which adorns it, that it was both derived and is upholden, by the flow of a succulence from the stem; and it may know, that, if severed therefrom, it would forthwith wither into decay, and that all the goodly honours wherewith it was invested would drop away from it. The twofold consciousness of what it would be in itself, and of what it is in the tree, might force the very utterance that was emitted by a Christian disciple when he said, "I am dead nevertheless I live." 66 Yet not I" adds the apostle "but Christ liveth in me." I apart from Him without whom I can do nothing I disjoined from the Saviour who compares Himself to a tree and us to the branches-I who in Christ am a new creature-out of Christ am dead and out of Him am carnal.
The Scripture phrase "to be in the flesh" when descriptive of character is applied in sacred writ only to the unregenerate. "They who are in the flesh cannot please God." "You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." But the Scripture term carnal is sometimes applied to a man after his conversion. A man when newly born again is a babe; yet to such did Paul apply this epithet, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. For ye are yet carnal, for whereas there is among you envying and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?" Only think of a Christian as made up of two ingredients, the one consisting of all that he inherits by nature, the other consisting of all that is superinduced on him by grace. Think of his inward and experimental life as consisting of a struggle between these ingredients, in which the one does habitually and will at length ultimately and completely prevail. But the wrong principle belonging properly and primitively to the man himself, and the right principle being derived from without through the channel of believing prayer, or the exercise of faith in Christ Jesus-how natural is it in these circumstances, for every
Let me separate by ever so little from Christ, then is this corrupt nature ever in readiness to put forth its propensities-Or even let me always abide in Him-let me in no one instance lose my hold of Him— conceive me to be placed on the very height of Christian perfection, and that just because I at all times am steadfastly and solidly established on the deepest basis of Christian dependence-Yet still with the assurance in my mind, that, should I let the dependence go, self would recover the ascendency and that the ascendency of self would be the ascendency of sin, it is not too strong an inference that self is carnal; or even that self is sold under sin, as being, apart from the Saviour, its helpless and irrecoverable slave. It is said of Ahab that there was none like unto him; for he did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord. In him you have a character, where corruption was the dominant and the entire and the unresisted principle of his constitution. He was the old man all over-who loved his state of captivity, instead of lamenting it; and of whom it never could be said, that he felt the sin of his nature to be a burden, or that he longed to be delivered from it, or that he delighted in the law of God after the inner man, and sighed after the subjugation or rather the extirpation of every tumultuous and adverse element of evil that was in his outer man. His mind went wholly along with the wicked and wayward inclinations that nature had given him; and here lay the difference between him and Paul, that, with the latter, there was gotten up a new creature all whose energies and desires were in a state of warfare with those of the old man; and in this passage we have the cries and the agonies of the battle, till it closes with the final shout of victory, "I thank God through Jesus my Lord." Still, viewing the old man as properly his own, and the new creature as a present or a production from above-well might the
aostle say, not in the character of what he was by derivation from the Lord his anctifyer, but in the character of what he originally and essentially was in himself, that I am carnal and I am sold under sin.
V. 15. To understand this verse, and to see that it is the utterance not of a wilful sinner but of an honest and aspiring disciple-remember that it is the soliloquy of one, who had just recognised the spiritual character of the law of God, and who was exercising and judging and confessing himself according to the standard of that law. There is at least one moral property, that must, in the midst of all his recorded deficiencies, be ascribed to him. He willed the conformity of himself to God's holy commandment. The prescription that lies upon him and upon all is "be ye perfect" and if perfection was not his achievement, it was at least his aim. His prevailing wish was to be altogether as he ought; and if he did not succeed in being so he at least aspired at being so. The habitual longing of his heart was, without reserve and without hypocrisy, towards the law of God. There was a pure and a lofty ambition which actuated his soul; and the object of that ambition was that he might serve God without a flaw, and reach an unspotted holiness. He may have been thwarted in the ambition-he may have been so crossed and impeded in his movements as to have come greatly short of it-yet still the ambition did exist, and evinced at once its strength and its perpetuity, both by the bitterness wherewith he mourned over his own failures, and by the fresh and repeated efforts wherewith he laboured to redeem them. In a word there was one principle of this man's constitution, that was all active and awake on the side of holiness-that bore a genuine love to virtue, and made constant efforts to realize it-that could not rest while its own portrait was one of unfinished excellence; and just like the accomplished artist, in proportion to his nice and delicate sense of beauty, were his grief and his intolerance at the blemishes wherewith his performance was stained. It is he who sets before him the loftiest standard of worth, and who is most jealous and unremitting in the pains that he takes to equalize itit is he who most droops and is dejected under a sense of his deficiency therefrom. It is from him that we may look for most frequent humblings of spirit, and for the deepest visitations upon his heart of a sense of sin and shortcoming; and that, not because he is beneath other men in his powers of execution, but because he is beyond them in his powers of conception, and in the largeness of his desires
after the supremacy of all grace and all goodness.
That the soliloquist of the passage had this generous and aspiring tendency is evident. If faults he had, he had no toleration for them; but rather the fellest antipathy-that which I do I allow not
what I hate that do I.' If he fell short of moral and spiritual greatness, still he honestly aspired and habitually pressed towards it. What I would that I do not,' and "to will is present with me," and "I would do good," and that good is the law which has the consent of my approbation, and "in this law I delight after the inward man"-so that "with my mind I serve it." Now could you apply any one of these affirmations to such a man as Ahab? If they hold true of one character and do not hold true of another, is there not the utmost of a real and practical difference between the characters? Could Ahab have said that it is no more I who do it but sin that dwelleth in me? Does it not impress you with a most wide and palpable distinction, when you see one man solacing himself in full complacency with a sinful indulgence, and another man struggling with all his might against the sinful tendency which leads to it? The former comes willingly under the power of sin in his constitution-the other detests and mourns over the presence of it there. They are alike in both of them having a corrupt nature. They are unlike in that one has been furnished with a new and holy nature, which does not immediately extinguish the former, but takes place beside it until death, and bears a principle of unsparing and unquenchable hostility towards it. A man conscious to himself of this state of composition, takes the side of his new nature, and can say of the rebellious movements of the old man, "it is not I who do them but sin that dwelleth in me." Ahab could not have said sc but Paul could. In the former, sin and self were on terms of perfect agreementso that his heart was fully set in him to do that which was evil. In the latter, the original self was set aside, and kept under, and loathed because of its abominations, and striven against as the worst of enemies, and loaded with epithets of abuse, and charged with the designs and the dispositions of perpetual mischief. And so, throughout the whole of this soliloquy, is it reproached with being carnal and sold under sin, with doing that which is unallowable and undesirable and evil and hateful-with omitting to do what is good, and being without the skill and the power to perform it-with being utterly destitute of any good thing-with keeping up its execrated residence, even in the bosom of the Christian who loathed it; and ever