Page images

upon that excuse; for it is not true in fact. If experiencing the depravity and imbecility of our nature, we see in this corruption and weakness an excuse for our sins, and taking up with this excuse, we surrender ourselves to them; if we give up, or relax in, our opposition to them, and struggles against them, at last consenting to our sins, and falling down with the stream, which we have found so hard to resist; if things take this turn with us, then are we in a state to be utterly, finally, and fatally undone. We have it in our power to shut our eyes against the danger : we naturally shall endeavour to make ourselves as easy and contented in our situation as we can; but the truth, nevertheless, is, that we are hastening to certain perdition. If, on the contrary, perceiving the feebleness of our nature, we be driven by the perception, as St. Paul was driven, to fly for deliverance from our sins, to the aid and influence and power of God's Spirit, to seek for divine help and succour, as a sinking mariner calls out for help and succour, not formally, we may be sure, or coldly, but with cries and tears and sup

plications, as for life itself: if we be prepared to co-operate with this help, with the holy working of God's grace within us; then may we trust, both that it will be given to us (yet in such manner as to God shall seem fit, and which cannot be limited by us); and also that the portion of help which is given being duly used and improved, (not despised, neglected, put away,) more and more will be continually added, for the ultimate accomplishment of our great end and object, the deliverance of our souls from the captivity and the consequences of sin.





ROMANS, vii. 24.

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



we can explain what is the precise subject of this heavy lamentation, and what the precise meaning of the solemn question here asked, we must endeavour to understand what is intended by the expression, "the body of this death," or as some render it," this body of death."

Now let it be remembered, that death, in Saint Paul's epistles, hardly ever signifies a natural death, to which all men of all kinds are equally subjected; but it means a spiritual death, or that perdition and destruction to which sin brings men in a future state. "The wages of sin is death;" not the death which we must all undergo in this world; for that is the fate of righteousness as well as sin; but the state, whatever it be, to which sin and sinners will be consigned in the world to come. Not many verses after our text, Saint Paul says, carnal-mindedness is death: "to be carnally minded is death," leads, that is, inevitably to that future destruction which awaits the sinful indulgence of carnal propensities, and which destruction is, as it were, death to the soul. The book of Revelation, alluding to this distinction, speaks expressly of a second death, in terms very fit to be called to mind in the consideration of our present text. "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged

out of those things which were written, according to their works; and the sea gave

up the dead which were in it, and death and hell (which last word denotes here sim

ply the place of the dead, not the place of punishment) delivered up the dead that were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works; and death and hell were cast into the lake of fire; (that is, natural death, and the receptacle of those who died, were thenceforth superseded.). This is the second death. And whatsoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire." This description, which is exceedingly awful, is given in the last four verses of the 20th chapter. In reference to the same event, this book of Revelation had before told us, viz. in the 2d chapter and 11th verse, that he who overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death; and in like manner in the abovequoted 20th chapter; "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in this resurrection; on such the second death hath no power.' Our Lord himself refers to this death in those never to be forgotten words which


« PreviousContinue »