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ties;

with such vehemence and concern upon his spirits, seeks to be delivered.

Having seen the signification of the principal phrase employed in the text, the next, and the most important question is, to what condition of the soul, in its moral and religious concerns, the apostle applies it. Now in the verses preceding the text, indeed in the whole of this remarkable chapter, Saint Paul has been describing a state of struggle and contention with sinful propensi

which propensities, in the present condition of our nature, we all feel, and which are never wholly abolished. But our apostle goes further : he describes also that state of unsuccessful struggle and unsuccessful contention, by which many so unhappily fall. His words are these, “ that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that I do not, but what I hate, that do 1. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not ; for the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. I find a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

This account, though the style and manner of expression in which it is delivered be very peculiar, is, in its substance, no other than what is strictly applicable to the case of thousands. “ The good that I would, I do not : the evil which I would not, that I do.” How many, who read this discourse, may say the same of themselves! as also, “ what I would, that do I not, but what I hate, that I do.” This then is the case which

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Saint Paul had in view. It is a case, first, which supposes an informed and enlightened conscience, –“ I delight in the law of God.” “ I had not known sin but by the law." I consent unto the law that it is good.” These sentiments could be uttered only by a man who was in a considerable degree, at least, acquainted with his duty, and who also approved of the rule of duty which he found laid down.

Secondly, the case before us also supposes an inclination of mind and judgement to perform our duty. “ When I would do good, evil is present with me: to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Thirdly, it supposes this inclination of mind and judgement to be continually overpowered. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members :” that is, the evil principle not only opposes the judgement of the mind, and the conduct which that judgement dictates (which may be the case with all), but in the present case subdues and gets the better of it. “ Not only wars against the law of my mind, but brings me into captivity.”

Fourthly, the case supposes a sense and thorough consciousness of all this; of the rule of duty, of the nature of sin ; of the struggle ; of the defeat. It is a prisoner sensible of his chains. It is a soul tied and bound by the fetters of its sins, and knowing itself to

It is by no means the case of the ignorant sinner: it is not the case of an erring, mistaken conscience : it is not the case of a seared and hardened conscience. None of these could make the reflection or the complaint which is here described. “ The commandment, which was ordained unto life, I found to be unto death. I am carnal, sold under sin. In me dwelleth no good thing. The law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good; but sin, that it might appear sin (that it might be more conspicuous, aggravated, and inexcusable), works death in me by that which is good.” This language by no means belongs to the stupefied, insensible sinner.

be so.

Nor, fifthly, as it cannot belong to an original insensibility of conscience, that is, an insensibility of which the person himself does not remember the beginning, so neither can it belong to the sinner who has got over the rebukes, distrusts, and uneasiness which sin once occasioned. True it is, that this uneasiness may be got over almost entirely; so that whilst the danger remains the same, whilst the final event will be the same, whilst the coming destruction is not less sure or dreadful, the uneasiness and the apprehension are gone. This is a case, too common, too deplorable, too desperate ; but it is not the case of which we are now treating, or of which Saint Paul treated. Here we are presented throughout with complaint and uneasiness ; with a soul exceedingly dissatisfied, exceedingly indeed disquieted and disturbed and alarmed with the view of its condition.

Upon the whole, Saint Paul's account is the account of a man in some sort struggling with his vices; at least, deeply conscious of what they are, whither they are leading him, where they will end ; acknowledging the law of God, not only in words and speeches, but in his mind; acknowledging its excellency, its authority; wishing, also, and willing, to act up to it, but, in fact, doing no such thing ; feeling, in practice, a lamentable inability of doing his duty, yet perceiving that it must be done. All he has hitherto

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attained is a state of successive resolutions and relapses. Much is willed, nothing is effected. No furtherance, no advance, no progress, is made in the way of salvation. He feels, indeed, his double nature; but he finds that the law in his members, the law of the flesh, brings the whole man into captivity. He may have some better strivings, but they are unsuccessful. The result is that he obeys the law of sin.

This is the picture which our apostle contemplated, and he saw in it nothing but misery: “O wretched man that I am !” Another might have seen it in a more comfortable light. He might have hoped that the will would be taken for the deed ; that, since he felt in his mind a strong approbation of the law of God, nay, since he felt a delight in contemplating it, and openly professed to do so, since he was neither ignorant of it, nor forgetful of it, nor insensible of its obligation, nor ever set himself to dispute its authority, nay, since he had occasionally likewise endeavoured to bring himself to an obedience to this law, however unsuccessful his endeavours had been ; above all, since he had sincerely deplored and bewailed his fallings off from it, he might hope, I say, that his was a case for favourable acceptance.

Saint Paul saw it not in this light. He saw in it no ground of confidence or satisfaction. It was a state, to which he gives no better name than “ the body of death.” It was a state, not in which he hoped to be saved, but from which he sought to be delivered. It was a state, in a word, of bitterness and terror, drawing from him expressions of the deepest anguish and distress : “ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”

XXX.

EVIL PROPENSITIES ENCOUNTERED BY THE AID

OF THE SPIRIT.

(PART 11.)

ROMANS VII. 24.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from

the body of this death?

He who has not felt the weakness of his nature, it is probable, has reflected little upon the subject of religion. I should conjecture this to be the case.

But then, when men do feel the weakness of their nature, it is not always that this consciousness carries them into a right course; but sometimes into a course the very contrary of what is right. They may see in it, as hath been observed, and many do see in it, nothing but an excuse and apology for their sins. Since it is acknowledged that we carry about with us a frail, not to call it a depraved, corrupted nature, surely, they say, we shall not be amenable to any severities, or extremities of judgement, for delinquencies, to which such a nature must ever be liable ; or, which is indeed all the difference there is between one man and another, for greater degrees or less, for more or fewer, of these delinquencies. The natural man takes courage from this consideration. He finds ease in it. It is an opiate to his fears. It lulls him into - forgetfulness of danger,

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