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192 ON THE INFLUENCE which belongs to this, namely, the practical part ' of the subject : which objection is, that the doe. trine of spiritual influence and the preaching of this doctrine, causes men to attend chiefly to the feelings within them, to place religion in feelings and sensations, and to be content with such feelings and sensations, without coming to active duties and real usefulness; that it tends to produce a contemplative religion, accompanied with a sort of abstraction from the interests of this world, as respecting either ourselves or others; a sort of quietism and indifference, which contributes nothing to the good of mankind, or to make a man serviceable in his generation ; that men of this de scription sit brooding over what passes in the hearts, without performing any good actions well discharging their social or domestic ol tions, or indeed guarding their outward cor with sufficient care. Now, if there be any dation in fact for this charge, it arises fro persons holding this doctrine defectively from their not attending to one main po doctrine, which is, that the pror who have the Spirit, but to th the Spirit; not to those who a suggestions, but to those who to follow, and do actually tions. Now, though a pe eelings and consciousnes that he has the Spirit of rest in these sensatic practical exertions, of him, nor, one bring himself to h it, that he follou cessarily imply ence; necess of conduct e to, and by objection conduct we trea
205 an insensibili.
ber the beginnin person himself
BY SPIRITUAL AID. Nor, Fifthly, as it cannot belong to an original insensibility of conscience, that is, an insensibili. ty 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, 100 deplora. ble, too desperate ; but it is not the case of which we are now treating, or of which St. Paul treated. Here we are presented throughout with
final event her remains the
complaint and are presented in St. Paul treata
a soul exceed
SIN ENCOUNTERED law that is good." These sentiments could only be uttered 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 judgment 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 judgment to be continually overpowered. "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into cap. tivity to the law of sin, which is in my mem. bers:” that is, the evil principle not only oppo ses the judgment of the mind, and the conduct which that judgment dictates (which may be the cause 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 captivi
Fourthly, the case supposes a sense and thorough consciousness of all this; of the rule of du. ty 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 io be so. 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 searched 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 dwelletb no good thing. The law is holy; and the commandment holy, just, and good ; but sin, that it might appear sin (that it miglit be more conspicuous, aggravated, and inexcusable,) works death in me by that which is good.” This language by no means belongs to the stupified, insene sible sioner.
words and owledge the law of where they will
ingly dissatisfied, exceedingly indeed disquieted,
Upon the whole, St. Paul's account is the ac-
This is the picture which our apostle contemplated, and he saw in it nothing but misery: “O wretched inan Chiat I am!" another might baye
must be done his duty, yet nem a lamentable
And this state it is, from which St. Paul, with such vehemence and concern upon his spirit, 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, St. Paul has been describing a state of struggle and contention with sinful propensities; which propensities in the present condition of our nature, we all feel, and which are never wholly abolished. But our apostle goes farther : 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 I. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good things : 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 pe. culiar, 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 St. 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
206 EVIL PROPENSITIES ENCOUNTER'D
St. Paul saw it not in this light. He saw in it
O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”
which he had of those ende ces is, that he's real
BY THE AID OF THE SPIRIT. 209
Now I ask, was this St. Paul's way of consider,
OF THE SPIRIT.
(PART II.) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?—Rom. vii. 24.
HIE, who has not felt the weakness of his na. ture, 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 conscious ness carries them into a right course, but some times into a course the very contrary of what is right. They may see in it, as bath been obsert