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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.
SIN ENCOUNTERED BY SPIRITUAL AID.
IN THREE PARTS..
Romans, vii. 24.
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me . . from the body of this death?”
BEFORE 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 St. 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 un.
clergo 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, St. Paul says, “ carnal-mindedness is death:” “ to be carnally minded is death,” leads, that is, inevitably, to that fu. ture destruction, which awaits the sinful indulgence of carnal propensities, and which destruction is, as it were, death to the soul. The book of Revelations, alluding to this distinction, speaks expressly of a second death, in terms very fit to be called to mind in the con- . sideration 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 simply 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hell were cast into the lake of fire;” (that is, natural death, and the receptacle of those, who died, were thenceforth superseded.)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 three last verses of the 20th chapter. In reference to the same event, this book of Revelations had before told us, viz. in the 2nd chapter and 11th verse, that he who overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death; and in like
manner in the above quoted 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 he uttered, “ He that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die eternally.” Die he must, but not eternally: die the first death; but not the second. It is undoubtedly, therefore, the second death, which St. Paul meant by the word death, when he wrote down the sentence, “ the body of this death:” and the second death is the punishment, perdition, and destruction, which the souls of sinners will suffer in a future state." It is well worthy of observation, that this was indeed the only death, which those, who wrote the New Testament, and probably all sincere christi ans of that age, regarded as important; as the subject of their awe, and dread, and solicitude. The first death, the natural and universal decease of the body, they looked to simply as a change, a going out of one room into another; a putting off one kind of clothing, and putting on a different kind. They esteemed it, com pared with the other, of little moment or account. In this respect there is a wide difference between the scripture apprehension of the subject and ours. We think entirely of the first death; they thought entirely of the second. We speak and talk of the death which we see: they spoke, and taught, and wrote of a death, which is future to that. We look to the first with terror; they to the second alone. The second alone they represent as formidable. Such is the view which christianity gives us of these things, so different froin what we naturally entertain.
You see then what death is in the scripture sense; in St. Paul's sense. “ The body of this death.” The phrase and expression of the text cannot, however, mean this death itself, because he prays to be delivered from it; whereas from that death, or that perdition understood by it, when it once overtakes the sinner, there is no deliverance that we know of. The “body then of this death,” is not the death itself, but a state leading tò and ending in the second death; namely, misery and punishment, instead of happiness and rest, after our departure out of this world. 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 further: 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 thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not; for