Imatges de pÓgina

all within him stands confest. His heart is bare, and he sees it is all sin, “ deceitful above all things, desperately wicked;" that it is altogether corrupt and abominable, more than it is possible for tongue to express : that there dwelleth therein no good thing, but unrighteousness and ungodliness only; every motion thereof, every temper and thought, being only evil continually.

4. And he not only sees, but feels in himself, by an emotion of soul which he cannot describe, that for the sins of his heart, were his life without blame, (which yet it is not, and cannot be: seeing “ an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit;") he deserves to be cast into the fire that never shall be quenched. He feels that the wages, the just reward of sin, of his sin above all, is death; even the second death, the death which dieth not, the destruction of body and soul in hell.

5. Here ends his pleasing dream, his delusive rest, his false peace, his vain security. His joy now vanishes as a cloud; pleasures, once loved, delight no more. They pall upon

the taste; he lothes the nauseous sweet; he is weary to bear them. The shadows of happiness flee away, and sink into oblivion. So that he is stripped of all, and wanders to and fro, seeking rest, but finding none.

6. The fumes of those opiates being now dispelled, he feels the anguish of a wounded spirit. He finds that sin let loose upon the soul (whether it be pride, anger, or evil desire, whether self-will, malice, envy, revenge, or any other) is perfect misery: He feels sorrow of heart for the blessings he has lost, and the curse which is come upon him; remorse for having thus destroyed himself, and despised his own mercies ; fear, from a lively sense of the wrath of God, and of the punishment which he has justly deserved, and which he sees hanging over his head; fear of death, as being to him the gate of hell, the entrance of death eternal; fear of the devil, the executioner of the wrath and righteous vengeance of God; fear, of men, who, if they were able to kill his body, would thereby plunge both body and soul into


hell; fear, sometimes arising to such a height, that the poor, sinful, guilty soul, is terrified with every thing, with nothing, with shades, with a leaf shaken by the wind. Yea, sometimes it may even border upon distraction, making a

drunken though not with wine," suspending the exercise of the memory, of the understanding, of all the natural faculties. Sometimes it may approach to the very brink of despair : so that he who trembles at the name of death, may yet be ready to plunge into it every moment, to “ choose strangling rather than life.” Well may such a man roar, like him of old, for the very disquietness of his heart. Well may he cry out, “ The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmities ; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”

7. Now he truly desires to break loose from sin, and begins to struggle with it. But though he strive with all his might, he cannot conquer ; sin is mightier than he. He would fain escape; but he is so fast in prison, that he cannot get forth. He resolves against sin, but yet sins on : he sees the snare, and abhors, and runs into it. So much does his boasted reason avail ! Only to inhance his guilt, and increase his misery. Such is the freedom of his will; free only to evil; free to “ drink iniquity in like water;" to wander farther and farther from the living God, and do more “despite to the Spirit of Grace!”

8. The more he strives, wishes, labours to be free, the more does he feel his chains, the grievous chains of sin, wherewith Satan binds and “ leads him captive at his will:” his servant he is, though he repine ever so much ; though he rebel, he cannot prevail. He is still in bondage and fear, by reason of sin: generally, of some outward sin, to which he is peculiarly disposed, either by nature, custom, or outward circumstances; but always, of some inward sin, some evil temper or unholy affection. And the more he frets against it, the more it prevails; he may bite, but cannot break his chain. Thus he toils without end, repenting and sinning, and repenting and sinning again, till at length the

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poor, sinful, helpiess wretch, is even at his wit's end; and can barely groan, “ O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!”

9. This whole struggle of one who is under the Law, under the Spirit of Fear and Bondage, is beautifully described by the Apostle in the fore-going chapter, speaking in the person of an awakened man. “1," saith he, “ was alive without the Law once,” ver. 9. I had much life, wisdom, strength, and virtue; so I thought: but, when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” When the commandment, in its spiritual meaning, came to my heart, with the power of God, my inbred sin was stirred up, fretted, inflamed, and all my virtue died away. “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me," ver. 10, 11. It came upon me unawares, slew all my hopes; and plainly shewed, that in the midst of life, I was in death. " Wherefore the Law is holy, and the commandment, holy, and just, and good, ver. 12. I no longer lay the blame on this, but on the corruption of my own heart. I acknowledge that “ the Law is spiritual : but I am carnal, sold under sin,” ver. 14. I now see both the spiritual nature of the Law, and my own carnal, deyilish heart; sold under sin, totally enslaved : (like slaves bought with money, who were absolutely at their master's disposal.) “ For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, I do not; but what I hate, that I do," ver. 15. Such is the bondage under which I groan; such the tyranny of my hard master. 66 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,” ver. 18, 19. “I find a law, [an inward constraining power,] that when I would do good, eyil is present with me. For I delight in (or consent to ] the Law of God, after the inward man,” ver. 21, 22. In my mind: so the Apostle explains himself in the words that immediately follow; (and so o cow av@pon@, the inward man, is understood in all other Greek writers.) “ But I see

another Law in my members, [another constraining power,] warring against the Law of my mind, or inward man, and bringing me into captivity to the Law, (or power,] of sin," ver. 23: dragging me, as it were, at my conqueror's chariot-wheels, into the very thing which my soul abhors. « O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!” ver. 24. Who shall deliver me from this helpless, dying life, from this bondage of sin and misery! Till this be done, I myself (or rather, that I, autos syw, that man I am now personating) with the mind, or inward man, serve the Law of God; my mind, my conscience are on God's side; but with the flesh, with my body, the Law of sin, ver. 25; being hurried away by a force I cannot resist.

10. How lively a portraiture is this of one under the Law ! One who feels the burden he cannot shake off; who pants after liberty, power, and love, but is in fear and bondage still! Until the time that God answers the wretched man, crying out, “ Who shall deliver me?" from this bondage of sin, from this body of death? “ The grace of God, thro' Jesus Christ thy Lord.”

III. 1. Then it is that this miserable bondage ends, and he is no more “ under the Law, but under Grace.” This state we are, thirdly, to consider, the state of one who has found grace or favour, in the sight of God, even the Father, and who has the peace, or power of the Holy Ghost, reigning in his heart: who has received, in the language of the Apostle, the Spirit of Adoption, whereby he now cries, Abba, Father!

2. “He cried unto the Lord in his trouble, and God delivers him out of his distress.” His eyes are opened in quite another manner than before, even to see a loving, gracious God. While he is calling, “ I beseech thee, shew me thy glory!” he hears a voice in his inmost soul, “ I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy.” And, it is not long before " the Lord descends in the cloud, and proclaims the name of the Lord.” Then he sees, but not with eyes of flesh and blood, “ The Lord, the Lord God: merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth : keeping mercy for thou. sands, and forgiving iniquities, and transgressions, and sin."

3. Heavenly, healing light now breaks in upon his soul. He “looks on him whom he had pierced; and God, who out of darkness commanded light to shine, shineth in his heart.” He “ sees the light of the glorious love of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” He hath a divine evidence of things not seen” by sense, even of “ the deep things of God;" more particularly of the love of God, of his pardoning love to him that believes in Jesus. Overpowered with the sight, his whole soul cries out, “ My Lord! and my God!” For he sees all his iniquities laid on him, who " bare them in his own body on the tree;" he beholds the Lamb of God taking away his sins. How clearly now does he discern, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself! Making him a sin-offering for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteous people of God through him!” And that he himself is reconciled to God, by that blood of the Covenant !

4. Here end both the guilt and power of sin. He can now say, “I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live; yet ņot I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, (even in this mortal body,) I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' Here end remorse and sorrow of heart, and the anguish of a wounded spirit. “God turneth his heaviness into joy." He made sore, and now his hands bind up. Here ends also that bondage unto fear; for “ his heart standeth fast, believing in the Lord.” He cannot fear any longer the wrath of God; for he knows it is now turned away from him, and the Lord looks upon him no more as an angry Judge, but as a loving Father. He cannot fear the devil, knowing he has “no power, except it be given him from above." He fears not hell, being an heir of the kingdom of heaven ;

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