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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

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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
ingly dissatishia uneasiness ; with roughout with

a soul exceed

204

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.

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words and owledge the law of where they will
edging its excelles, but in his min, not only in

ingly dissatisfied, exceedingly indeed disquieted,
and disturbed, and alarmed, with the view of its
condition.

Upon the whole, St. Paul's account is the ac-
count 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; acknowledge the law of God, not only in
words and speeches, but in his mind; acknowl.
edging its excellency, its authority ; wishing, al.
so, 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 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
Tinsuccessful. 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 inan Chiat I am!" another might baye

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must be done his duty, yet nem a lamentable
State of enote. All he ha perceiving the

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
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 ap.
probation 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 even set himself to dispute its authority ;
nay, since he had occasionally likewise endeavour
ed to bring himself to an obedience to this law,
however unsuccessful his endeavours had been ;
above all, since he has sincerely deplored and
bewailed his fallings off from it, he might hope,
I say, that his was a case for favourable accept
ance.

St. 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 ex
pressions of the deepest anguish and distress :

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
inconstant as thitherto exerted, urs to obey God
became gradualise endeavours vo_mperfect and

BY THE AID OF THE SPIRIT. 209
ed, and many do see in it, nothing but an excuse
and apology for their sins; since it is acknowl-
edged, 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 judgments, 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 considera-
tion. He finds ease in it. It is an opiate to his
fears. It lulls him into a forgetfulness of danger,
and of the dreadful end, if the danger be real.
Then the practical consequences is, that he begins
to relax even of those endeavours to obey God,
which he has hitherto exerted, Imperfect and
inconstant as those endeavours were at best, they
became gradually more languid, and more unfre.
quent, and more insincere, than they were be-
fore: his sins increase upon him in the same pro-
portion : he proceeds rapidly to the condition of
a confirmed sinner, either secret or open, it
makes no difference, as to his salvation. And
this descent into the depths of moral vileness and
depravity began, in some measure, with perceiv-
ing and confessing the weakness of his nature :
and giving to this perception that most errolieous,
that most fatal turn, the regarding it as an excuse
for every thing; and as dispensing even with the
self-denials, and with the exertions of self-gov-
ernment, which a man had formerly thought it
necessary to exercise, and in some sort, though in
no sufficient sort, had exercised.

Now I ask, was this St. Paul's way of consider,
ing the subject? Was this the turn which he gave
to it? Altogether the contrary. It was impossi.
ble for any Christian, of any age, to be more deep-
ly impressed with a sense of the weakness of hu-
man nature than he was; or to express it more
strongly than he has done in the chapter before
us. But observe; feeling most sensibly, and

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SERMON XXVII.
EVIL PROPENSITIES ENCOUNTERED BY THE AW

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

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