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more than to the Gentiles, except through the new dispensation, whose leading doctrines the apostle was now anxious to explain. The great advantage of their case was, that those doctrines were already revealed in part to them, through the prophecies and types with which they had been favoured.
The apostle had quoted some passages from the Old Testament scriptures, which expressed in remarkably forcible terms the depravity of human nature; and as a Jew might be ready to say, this applies to a Gentile, but not to me,' he declares the quotations to be applicable to all who are under the law, or, in other words, to all men. No one can say, 'this is not true of me.' What the law says, it says of all. It therefore stops the mouth of every man. It leaves no one an inch of ground on which he may build a favourable judgment of himself. It meets the sinner as an accuser. It exhibits its charge in clear and forcible terms; and appealing to the conscience, it compels him to silence. Whatever difference may exist among men, as to the forms in which the depravity of the heart appears, or as to the privileges with which they are favoured, no one can answer the accusations of the divine law, or show that he is exempted from its claims. If a man really knows the law in its purity, he will be silenced by it; and indeed, we may add, that in proportion as his knowledge of it becomes more spiritual and correct, will his self-condemnation be more strict and severe. He will then feel more deeply his short-comings and sins. He will see more distinctly the dark spots which stain his heart and life. The law will be like the direct unshaded sunbeam, showing dust and defilement where before we saw none.
insulting to be brought into comparison. Thus was it with the proud Jews, who refused to be placed under the same law with the Gentiles. But the law is the law of our race; of rich and poor, of learned and unlearned, of civilized and savage. It makes the same righteous demand on all, on precisely the same conditions, and denounces against all the same condemnations. There is no respect of persons. One class of men may say to another, we are not chargeable with these vices which so deeply stain your lives.' But no man can lift up his head before the accusing condemning law, and say, 'I am not guilty. No. For 'what the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.'
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Gal. v. 17. THESE words express forcibly the state of conflict which exists in the minds of believers. Naturally no mere man can obey the divine law. Sin has caused an utter aversion to its spirit, as well as entailed a liability to its course. God is dethroned, and sin reigns. When the sinner becomes a subject of grace, this state of things is, in some measure, reversed. God once more reigns, as he did in unfallen Adam; and sin is the object of hatred. The sinner is pardoned and accepted through faith in Christ; so that he Such then are the impartiality and strictness is freed from condemnation, and has filial access of the divine law. It stops every mouth. It to the divine presence; and as a change of chardeclares all to be guilty. The various pretexts acter suited to this change of state, he now under which men endeavour to get rid of its con- desires to yield the obedience which the law clusions, originate in an erroneous view of their requires, and to shun all those acts which the condition and relation to God. They overlook law condemns. In short, he is a new creature, the great fact that the law as a covenant is as well as a justified sinner. But there is this binding on every man, till he is brought under difference, that while his justification is complete, grace; while they are accompanied by a profound as complete as if he were already an inmate of ignorance of the law itself, and a fearful insensi- heaven's palace, his renovation is partial. Sanctibility to its tremendous sanctions. How humb-fication is a work, while justification is an act. ling is the view of our natural state which the divine law supplies! and how widely different from that which multitudes entertain! Men shift the dark picture from themselves. They may admit some slight defects; but they put away the deeper and more disfiguring shades, regarding them as only applicable to men of revolting depravity, with whom they would consider it
The latter is perfect the moment it takes place; the former is progressive, and continues to extend, till it is completed in the believer's meetness for heaven.
Hence in the believing mind there are two principles; one is spiritual and pure; the other is carnal and corrupt. The former is expressed in this passage by the term flesh; the latter by the
term Spirit. The term flesh means the corrupt nature; the term Spirit, the Holy Spirit, or the spiritual principle which is his fruit, of God. The latter has the ascendency, but the former strives against him, and in this strife, it at times prevails, involving the believer in shame and sorrow. In some Christians, the ascendency of the spiritual principle is more decided than in others; and hence their religious experience is more equable and calm. But in all there is a conflict; the two principles are irreconcilably hostile; and as long as they exist in the same nature, there will, and must be strife. In the unrenewed mind there is comparatively little conflict, because sin meets with no opposition except from the natural conscience, which being confused and indistinct in its perceptions, is, for the most part, far from being troublesome. As conscience is deadened and seared, the despotic power of sin becomes more absolute; till at last the sinner is, in reality, its unresisting slave, and then he sinks into the torpor and awful silence of consummate spiritual death. In the believer, again, the implantation of a spiritual principle prompts to active and vigorous resistance to sin; and though, as that principle is strengthened and matured, it will become more effectual and easy in its operation, yet there is always more or less of conflict, and this conflict forms an important part of the discipline which prepares for glory. The believer would wish to obey the divine law; he is persuaded that law is holy, just, and good; nay, he readily admits that obedience to it is inseparably connected with his own highest interests, and that it were worth rendering, even for the blessedness which it tends to produce. But he is drawn back by the corrupt tendencies of his heart. He is like a man pulled in opposite directions. He would prefer going entirely in the one direction, but the corruption which dwells within will not let him; and thus his movements are irregular, contradictory, and exhibit an aspect of indecision, which grieves and humbles him. The power of evil within is increased by the arts of enemies, and the influence of temptations from without.
the heart is divided. Grace so far determines the controversy for God, but it does not at once destroy sin. It leaves it in the heart; deeply fixed, watchful, malignant, inveterate; and thus the principle of new obedience is surrounded with unfavourable and hostile circumstances, against which it must earnestly contend, otherwise it will perish. O! how often it seems ready to die! Borne down and harassed by ceaseless opposition, it seems as if it would never more rise up again, and strive for its rightful place. But the Spirit who implants it, watches over it; in the midst of seeming weakness, he secretly imparts strength; and after many struggles and changes, it comes forth with a vigour and fulness, which prove that the trials of the past have been useful, while they render the promise of the future most cheering. The Spirit suffers not his own work to be frustrated. He cherishes the life which he bestows;protects the principle which he implants. In the meantime, the duty of believers is to cleave to the truth and to the law; to declare for God, and against sin; to follow out the leadings of the Spirit, and to be watchful in avoiding whatever would frustrate them. The help of the Spirit is necessary every moment, otherwise sin will hurry us into deeds which we feel to be sinful, but to which we are driven by a force, which we cannot withstand. Let us be thankful, that in this course of conflict the help of the Spirit is freely promised, and is always near. 'If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?'
Ir is a very awful and humbling truth, that the The conflict thus occasioned is at times very eye of the holy and righteous God is unceasingly violent; and it most conclusively shows that fixed on the conduct of men. He occupies, as it the whole heart is not given to God, and to the were, a place of commanding elevation from which claims of his law. If God reigned with the he looks down upon the nations and families of supremacy which belongs to him, no rival would the earth; and in all the immense multitude, for a moment influence or mislead; and if his there is not one whose heart is hid from his sight, law were loved and honoured as the expressed or whose most secret deeds he does not observe. will of a Being of infinite purity, truth, and His throne in heaven is as a watch-tower of obgoodness, its minutest requirements would com-servation; and while sinners are rejoicing in their mand an instant and cheerful obedience. But security, and hurrying on in their wicked courses
without regret or fear, he is the unseen witness | to make him acquainted with the state of the of all they think, say, and do. When we consider heart, or the tenor of the life. His eyes run to
his infinite abhorrence of sin, and his inflexible justice, this doctrine may well alarm us. Who, among us, is able to bear the scrutiny of his eye. If we, whose consciences are so full of darkness, yet feel constrained to condemn ourselves, what must we appear to him, before whom the very heavens are not clean? He has not a mere general knowledge of our spiritual state, but he sees us as we are, nothing hid, or partially observed; but the whole naked truth disclosed, -all our sins, and all their aggravations.
The Psalmist represents the Creator as deeply interested in the conduct and condition of men. No delusion is more common than that which the wise man has so concisely and forcibly expressed in the words, 'Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.' It is the mere device of the sinful heart. God is silent, as discipline, for the most part, requires he should be; for were he uniformly or even often to interfere judicially, discipline would be at an end. But he is not indifferent to what men, or any of his intelligent creatures do. Wherever he sees sin, he abhors it, and he sees it, wherever it is. Sinners would wish God to be indifferent to their sins, and therefore they believe him to be so. But he cannot be indifferent; his holiness and his justice equally forbid it. His abhorrence of sin is the same, at all times, and in all places. Sin is the abominable thing which he hates.' Hence we find various occasions mentioned in scripture, on which God is represented as specially observing the wickedness of men. Thus before the flood, when there was a time of fearful depravity and unbelief, it is said that God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. In like manner, before the destruction of Sodom, we find him saying, 'Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.'
The Psalmist represents God, as looking down from heaven to see what the moral state and conduct of men are. This is a mode of speech borrowed from the ordinary language of men, with a view to convey a more distinct and vivid impression of Tod's watchful observation of human actions. He does not need either the report of a witness, or the confession of the sinner himself,
and fro through the whole earth. Hell is naked before him, and destruction has no covering. But, as an earthly prince leaves the metropolis of his kingdom, and goes forth into its distant provinces, that he may ascertain by actual observation the condition and wants of his subjects; so the infinite Jehovah is represented as withdrawing his regards from the other portions of his immense empire, and looking down with a stedfast and scrutinizing gaze on the conduct of men. And how dreadful the result of the scrutiny! In all the crowd of human beings, he sees not one acquainted with his real character, or disposed to seek his favour as life. Not one! for hear his description of men- They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.'
These are appalling words. When man was created, his own conscience pointed out the path of duty; and what conscience sanctioned, the heart approved. Then the life was as a bright mirror reflecting the dispositions of the mind; man held on in a holy and consistent course, swerving not to the right hand or to the left; duty was the joy and strength of his nature. Now that man is fallen, the path of duty is still the same; but no one walks in it. All are wandering in devious tracks, neither willing nor able to return. The divine law points out the path, but men habitually transgress the law. They are polluted and vile. Sin has not only led them away from God and holiness, but has marred all their beauty, covering them with loathsomeness in the sight of pure creatures. Their favourite thoughts are mean and debasing. They glory in that which is their shame. God has given them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts.' Like the leper under the ancient economy, who was to rend his clothes, make bare his head, and put a covering upon his upper lip, they may well cry out, unclean, unclean.' They deceive themselves, no doubt, into the belief that their characters are not so defective, nor their lives so sinful, as the scriptures affirm; but not one of them acts as the law requires. Not one of all the millions of our race is animated by that supreme love to God, which is the principle of all pure obedience. Not one fulfils the requirements of the divine law, even in what may be termed the humblest and most ordinary branches of duty. There is a radical defect,-an universal taint; and in short, to make use of the concise but most emphatic language of scripture, which alone describes justly the moral state of man, 'The whole
head is sick, and the whole heart faint.' There | with respect to the disease of the soul. They are differences among men, as compared with one are ignorant of its existence; they imagine themanother; but there is none that doeth good, no, selves to be whole; they reject the offer of a physician; they turn away from the doctrine of an efficacious medicine. When it is said, they that be whole need not a physician,' the meaning is not, that there are any whole. The human race are, without exception, deeply, fatally tainted
"They that be whole need not a physician, but with disease.
they that are sick,' Matt. ix. 12.
SIN is often compared in scripture to a disease. Disease disorders the constitution of the body, unfits it for proper action, wastes its strength, causes pain, and turns the very life-blood into pollution. Similar are the effects of sin in the soul. It has disturbed the right exercise and direction of its powers, indisposed it for the pursuit and enjoyment of those things which were originally most agreeable to it, impaired its moral power, embittered its pleasures, and spread its deadly taint over all its thoughts, affections, and desires. Indeed no single disease is a fit type of it; for disease, for the most part, is confined to a part of the body, and it is through its violence in that part that it affects the system; whereas sin taints and wastes the whole moral nature, leaving no part of it exempt from its defiling and desolating influence. The leprosy was its most appropriate type; as it was spread over the whole body, was not only most painful to its victim, but extremely loathsome to all who looked upon him, and was deemed incurable by human skill and care. We may justly describe the effects of sin in our nature in the language of the prophet, when speaking of the spiritual state of the ancient church: From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.' There is need for a physician then, urgent, immediate need. This moral disease is wasting the soul, and if not checked and removed, will end in eternal death. How much reason we have to be thankful that a physician has been promised, and the means of certain cure revealed! We would suppose that, being diseased, men would immediately apply for the exercise of his skill, and that the most earnest attention would be given to the rules prescribed for the recovery of spiritual health. When disease attacks the body, men lose no time in calling the physician to their aid; and when he waits by the sick-bed, his countenance is narrowly watched, his words are carefully considered, the very tones of his voice are dwelt upon, and his commands are faithfully obeyed. But they act far otherwise,
Sin has poisoned the very foun
tains of life. But many, nay, all men, naturally imagine themselves to be whole. They entertain most favourable ideas of their character and state. They feel not that the moral constitution is disordered, its powers mis-directed, its privileges lost; and though they are at times conscious of much misery and disquietude, yet they consider this to be accidental, not inevitable,—to spring from transient and physical, not from permanent and moral causes. They see no deformity or defilement in themselves. They resemble men in the delirium of a fever, who, at the very moment the disease is exhausting their strength, and rushing on to a fatal crisis, suppose they are fit for all the ordinary functions and duties of life; while, to an intelligent spectator, they seem most urgently to require the care of a physician, and the prompt use of medicine, to snatch them from the grave.
The sick are they who have been awakened to a consciousness of spiritual disease, and to a lively apprehension of its dreadful consequences. By the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the doctrines revealed in scripture regarding the fallen and corrupt state of our nature, have been savingly applied; and as when the Spirit teaches, he also renews, sin, now seen to pollute the soul, is loathed and shrunk from as the prolific source of all evil. Its taint is felt to be death. There is an intense desire for the restoration of spiritual health. In this state of mind, the cry of convic tion, which will not be silenced, is uttered,— what must I do to be saved? As the sick, conscious of pain, and apprehensive of danger, send for the physician, and make known their case to him; so awakened sinners feel how necessary are the care of the spiritual physician, and the application of the only efficacious remedy of their spiritual disease. Sometimes, it is true, there are long passages of troubled experience before the awakened sinner is brought to Christ; and during the continuance of these, he is fre quently misled both as to the physician and the remedy. He turns to the world, or he trusts to himself; and he imagines that in the maxims and pleasures of the former, or in his own good deeds, he has found the remedy, which will give him
health. All this is delusion; and when it is felt | ous, has not tainted themselves. Virtue sheds to be so, the sinner is shut up to Christ, and around them its soft and attractive lustre. Other applies to him. He is the physician of the soul, men may be sinners; but they, at the very worst, and his blood the grand remedy of sin. He came are merely frail. to heal not merely those who were oppressed with bodily disease, but those who were groaning under the power of sin; and not more effectually did he say to the sick, 'Take up thy bed, and walk,' than he says to the awakened sinner, 'Go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee.' What a wise and condescending physician he is; and how infallibly efficacious is the remedy which he applies! No case is so complicated or difficult, as to baffle his skill and care. He waits to be called. He is always near, and always kind. Divinely qualified as he is to cure, he yet cures all who apply to him. If any perish, it is because they will not avail themselves of the offer of his skill. 'Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.'
There is a fearful self-deception, in the view of their own characters, which multitudes thus entertain. Conscience, no doubt, has been sadly darkened, and the idea of pure moral excellence lost. Still, there is enough of light to show that sin has degraded and defiled the best of men; and, if the whispers of conscience were attended to, very distinct intimations would be heard that there was much in thought, word, and deed, which must offend the righteous Judge of all. More especially, this may be said, where the truths of scripture are known. But it is part of the corruption which we inherit, that self-love has has acquired an undue and most dangerous ascendency. Its influence is strikingly shown in the flattering estimate which men morally form of their own characters, and in the exaggerated worth which they ascribe to their daily conduct. What is not gross in their lives, is not only good, but surpassingly so; what is good, according to the standard of the world, becomes lustrous; and the character is as a polished surface, where, beyond a few irregularities, or insignificant fissures, there is nothing to mar its splendour, or to impair its entireness. What a virtuous man the sinner often supposes himself to be! He is compassed about with the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Instead of being the victim of disease, he is full of health; instead of being weak, he is conscious of strength for duty, and of magnanimity for trial. Self-love has hid all his sins and short-comings; while it has given to whatever is plausible, in his character and life, a surpassing consistency and beauty.
'If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,' 1 John i. 8. THE scriptures very clearly assert the doctrine of the universal depravity of men. The language, indeed, made use of by the inspired writers on this subject, is remarkably strong. We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin.' 'All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.' 'There is none righteous, no, not one.' The experience of the awakened sinner confirms the truth of this language, strong as it is; for he feels the power of sin to be deeply fixed in his heart, and is conscious that in thought, word, and deed, he comes fearfully This is to believe a lie. Conscience and the short of the requirements of the divine law. word of God are both declared to be false by Men, however, are prone to think most favour- these views, which the sinner entertains of himably of themselves; and, till they are brought self. They are altogether delusive. While the under the convincing work of the Spirit, they delusion continues, the sinner is prevented from are even heard to say, that they have no sin, receiving benefit from the scheme of grace; for They may not affirm, in so many words, that that scheme proceeds on the fact, that all men they are perfect, free from all infirmities and are sinners, and requires a profound conviction of defects; but they regard themselves as generally this fact, in all who would enjoy an interest in pure, fit to bear the scrutiny of the Creator, and it. Sometimes we see the sinner thus blinded warranted to expect his approving sentence. They to his real character, till the season of grace is probably look upon those criminals, who are the gone. His whole life is a dream of infatuation outcasts of society, as polluted with sin. These, and ignorance. He resembles a very poor and however, are, in their estimation, separated from wretched man, who imagines himself to be rich them by an almost immeasurable distance, and are and happy; and who, when offered a provision for therefore considered as a class with whom they his wants and comfort, turns away from those who have no sympathy; as to their habits, their own make the offer, as enemies, who calumniate his have no resemblance. Sin, as polluting and ruin-worth, and seek to destroy his peace. The gold