תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

che ha less and in the shadow of death.

ut his sleep, and awakes into a conmi: Perhaps in a moment, perhaps by i i understanding are opened, and now

part removed) discern the real state he

reisks in upon his soul; such light, as may Luin trom the bottomless pit, from the lowest Linnut tire burning with brimstone. He at last mire merciful God is also “a consuming fire;'

" Ciod and a terrible, rendering to every man Lind his works, entering into judgment with the Liwery idle word, yca, and for the imaginations of

le now clearly perceives, that the great and holy .." ut purer eyes than to behold iniquity;” that he is an

of every one who rebelleth against him, and repayeth Luched to bis face; and that “it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God.”

2. The inward, spiritual meaning of the Law of God now Pirsins to glare upon him. He perceives “the commandment is e ceeding broad,” and there is “nothing hid from the light thereof." He is convinced, that every part of it relates, not burcly to outward sin or obedience, but to what passes in the secret recesses of the soul, which no eye but God's can penetrate. If he now hcars, “Thou shalt not kill," God speaks in thunder, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer ; ” he that saith unto his brother, “Thou fool, is obnoxious to hell-fire." If the Law say, “Thou shalt not commit adultery," the voice of the Lord sounds in his cars, “ He that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath comniitted adultery with her alrcady in his heart.” And thus in crery point, he feels the word of God “quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword.” It “pierces cren to the dividing asunder of his soul and spirit, his joints and marrow.” And so much the more, because he is conscious to himself of having neglected so great salvation ; of having “trodden under foot the Son of God,” who would have saved liim from his sins, and “counted the Blood of the Covenant an unholy," a common, unsanctifying thing.

3. And as he knows, “all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” so he sees himself naked, stripped of all the fig-leaves which he had sewed together, of all his poor pretences to religion or virtue, and his wretched excuses for sinning against God. He now sees him. self like the ancient sacrifices, Tetragrilouevoy, cleft in sunder, as it were, from the veck downward, so that all within him stands confessed. 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 loathes 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 consequences of his wrath, 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 terrificd with every thing, with nothing, with shades, with a leaf shaken of the wind. Yea, sometimes it may even border upon distraction, making a man “ drunken though not with wine,” suspending the exercise of the memory,

VOL. I. No. 3.

of the understanding, of all the natural faculties. Some:imes it may approach to the very brink of despair ; so that he who trenibles at the name of death, may yet be ready to plunge into it crery moment, to “choose serangling rather than life.” Well may such a man roar, like him of old, for the very disquietness of his heart. Wilmay he cry out, “The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmities; but a wounded spirit who can bcar?”

7. Now he truly desires to break Joose 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. fle resolves against sin, but yet sins on : he sees the spare, and abhors, and runs into it. So much does his boasted reason avail,-only to enhance his guilt, and increase bis nisery ! Such is the freedom of his will; free only to evil; free to “drink in iniquity like water ;” to wander farther and farther from the living God, and do more “ despice 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 Satau biuds 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 siu, to which he is peculiarly disposed, either by nature, custom, or outward circumstances ; but always, of some inward sin, some evil temper or unholy affcction. 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 siming, and repenting and sinning again, till at length the poor, sinful, helpless wretch is eren 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. Thiy whole struggle of one who is under the law, under the spirit of fear and bondage, is beautifully described by the Apostle in the foregoing chapter, speaking in the person of an awakened man. “T,” 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 ciert:" When the commandment, in its spiritual meaning, came to buy 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 showed, 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, devilish 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 groad; such the tyranny of my hard master. “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 EGW avOpwnos, 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 is 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 is on God's side ; “but with my 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, through Jesus Christ thy Lord.”

l. 1. Then it is that this wiserable 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 bas found Grace or favour in the sight of God, even the Father; and who has the Grace 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, eren to sce a loving, gracious God. While he is calling, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory!”-hic hears a voice in his ivmost 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, ard I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” And, it is not long bcfore “the Lord descends in the cloud, and proclaims the name of the Lord.” Then he sees, but not withi eyes of flesh and blood, “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, 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, obinet in his heart." He sees the light of the glorious love of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. He bath a divine “ evidence of things not secn” by sense, even of “ the deep things of God;" more particularly of the love of God, of bis pardoving 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 limasclf; maling him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness 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

« הקודםהמשך »