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O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

THE thing here described St. Paul has, to use his own words on a similar occasion, "transferred to himself in a figure for our sakes:" that is, he has applied to his own case what is in fact a general truth, referring not to himself particularly, but to all men. There is a time in every man's life, probably a great many times, in which he ought to feel what St. Paul expresses in the text; it may be that he does not feel so, but that is because he is not aware of, or impressed by, his own real condition; and if he does not feel it himself, so much the less is the likelihood of his being delivered from it. There is a time, or times, in the lives of all of us, when we ought to feel what St. Paul expresses: let us consider, each for

himself, whether this present time be one of them.

The time when the text is applicable to any one would seem to be a very sad one: for the language is that of great unhappiness. The words, whether taken as in our translation, or whether they might be more properly rendered, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"-" this state, which is one of mere destruction,"-describes a great misery; they suppose a man to be bound down to ruin, and with no prospect of escaping from it. And when we look back a little to inquire what is meant by a man being thus hopelessly lost, the explanation is very striking; for we find it to be, that "when he would do good, evil was present with him." From whatever reason, his good resolutions were always being overcome by the presence of temptation: the purpose of his heart in the morning was, " I will do good this day;" but the witness of his conscience in the evening always tells him, "Thou hast done evil." So it appears, according to St. Paul, that every one whose good purposes so end in nothing, is bound, like a prisoner, in a state of certain destruction; and may well bemoan his fate, and ask, "who will deliver him?"

The peculiarity in St. Paul's view of such a man's case is in the strength of his impression as to its misery. No doubt our common sense tells us, that resolving without doing is worth little; still, in points of morals, men's feelings are inclined to persuade them that there is more good in resolving well, than evil in not doing well; they take more credit for wishing to do good, than shame at finding that all the time evil is present with them. The fact is a curious one, and shows plainly how low is the standard of merit which we are naturally inclined to set ourselves. It seems a great thing even to resolve to do well, because there are so many who do not so much as this; who do evil without scruple, or who live on carelessly, never taking the pains to ask themselves whether they are living well or no. Compared, therefore, with this large portion of the human race, those who do examine themselves, who do think of their evil or careless life with regret, and who resolve to mend it, appear to be persons of positive excellence. So it is, that comparing ourselves with ourselves we are not wise. But the Apostle Paul compares those who resolve to mend their lives not with those who do not resolve at all, but with those who both resolve and do accord

ingly. It is very true that the light soil in the parable, where the seed did spring up, though only for a short time, was better than the hard way-side, where it never sprung up at all. And so, after long walking on the stones and shingle of the sea-beach, the commonest weeds, the mere thistles, and briers, and reeds, which cover the first piece of ground out of the reach of the waters, appear refreshing by the contrast. But when compared with the soil which yields fruit for man's life, the ground that produces only thorns and briers is accursed, and to be burned; and so the state of him who resolves to do good, but finds evil present with him, when compared with the state of Christ's redeemed people, is justly called by the Apostle, a condition of death.

Now there are, probably, a great many persons who have, from time to time, been impressed more or less strongly with a sense of their own evil, who have been much struck with religious language, and whose minds. have been opened, in a manner, to a new world, by being made acquainted with their relations to God. This impression has been often insisted on with great earnestness; it has been called conversion, and, in some cases, those who have experienced it have

felt themselves safe for ever, and certainly to be reckoned amongst Christ's redeemed. But if we want to know whether it really is conversion or no, we have only to examine ourselves whether, when we would do good, evil is present with us; or, in other words, whether our good resolutions are kept in practice, as well as sincerely made. What was said once in a different sense is still true; that we must through much trouble enter into the kingdom of God. It must be through much trouble, because the overcoming our natural faults is a work of great trouble, and unless we do overcome them the victory is theirs and not ours; we are their bondmen and not Christ's freemen. It would be well then if every one who has been impressed in the manner which I have described, were forthwith to consider within himself what are the faults to which he is most inclined. Few, I believe, would be at a loss to find out this if they tried to do it; in many things, the very censures or ridicule of others tell us what our weak points are immediately, and those secret faults and weaknesses which are unknown to other eyes, can we not in a moment tell what they are if we look into our own bosoms steadily?

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