ROMANS, viii, 6.
"For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."

THE death which is here spoken of, is something more than the penal death that is inflicted on transgressors, in the way of retribution. It is not a future but a present death which is here spoken of; and arises from the obtuseness or the, extinction of certain feelings and faculties in the soul, which, if awake to their corresponding objects, would uphold a life of thoughts and sensations and regards, altogether different from the actual life of unregenerated men. To the higher and spiritual life they are dead even now; and, to estimate the soreness of this deprivation, just figure an affectionate father to have a paralysis inflicted on all those domestic feelings, which bound him in love and endearment to the members of his own family. Then would you say of him, that he had become dead to the joys and the interests of home - that perhaps he was still alive to the gratifications of sense and of profligacy, but that what wont to constitute the main charm of his existence had now gone into annihilation - that to what at one time was the highest pleasurable feeling of his consciousness, he had become as torpid as if he had literally expired - and that thus he was labouring under all the calamity of a death, to that which occupies a high place among the delights of the feeling and the friendly and the amiable.

And it is in a sense analogous to this, that we are to understand the present death of all those who are carnally-minded - not a death to any of the impressions that are made upon their senses from without - not a death to the animal enjoyments of which men are capable - not even, it may be. a death to many of the nobler delights either of the heart or of the under - standing - But a death to that which when really felt and enjoyed, is found to be the supreme felicity of man - a death to all that is spiritual - an utter extinction of those capacities by which we are fitted to prove those heavenly and seraphic extacies, that would liken us to angels - a hopeless apathy in all that regards our love to God, and to all that righteousness which bears upon it the impress of the upper sanctuary. It is our dormancy to these, which constitutes the death that is here spoken of; and in virtue of which man is bereft, if not of his being, at least of the great end of his being which is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.

And you may further see how it is - that such a death is not merely a thing of negation, but a thing of positive wretchedness. For with the want of all that is sacred or spiritual about him, there is still a remainder of feeling, which makes huni sensible of his want - a general restlessness of the soul, on whose capacities there has been inflicted a sore mutilation ; and from whose aspirations after undefinable good, the object is ever melting away into hopeless and inaccessible distance- a remorse and a terror about invisible things, which are ever and anon breaking forth, even amid the busy appliances of this world's opiates, to stifle and overbear them. And there are other miseries, that are sure to spring up from those carnal sensibilities that have undergone no death - from the pride that is met with incessant rebuke and mortification by the equal pride of our fellow-men - from the selfishness that comes into collision with all the selfishness of unregenerated society around it - from the moral agonies which essentially adhere to malice and hatred and revenge - from the shame that is annexed, even on earth, to the pursuits of licentiousness - from the torture that lieth in its passions and the gloomy desolation of heart which follows the indulgence of them - All these give to the sinner his foretaste of hell on this side of death, and whether they be aggravated or not by the fire and the brimstone and the arbitrary inflictions that are conceived to be discharged upon him in the place of vengeance - still they are enough when earth is swept away, with all its refuges of amusement and business and guilty dissipation, in which the mind can be lulled into a forgetfulness of itself - they are enough to entail in the second and the eternal death, a burden of enormous and incalculable wretchedeness - a curse so felt and so agonised under by the outcasts of condemnation, as to make the utterance of Cain their theme of wailing and of weeping through all eternity, even that their punishment is greater than they can bear.

From what we have said of the death of who are carnally-minded, yon will be at no loss to undererstand what is meant by the life of those who are spiritually-minded. We read of those who are alienated from the life of God, and to this it is that the spiritual find readmittance. They before stood afar off, and now are brought nigh. The blood of Christ hath consecrated for them a way of access; and the fruit of that access is delight in God - the charm of a confidence, which they never felt before, in His friendly and fatherly regard to them - a new moral gladness in the contemplation of that character, which now stands revealed in all its graces, while it is disarmed of all its terrors - an assimilation of their own character to His, and so a taste for charity and truth and holiness; and a joy, both in the cultivation of all these virtues, and in the possession of a heart at growing unison with the mind and will of the Godhead.

These are the ingredients of a present life, which is the token and the foretaste of life everlasting - an existence in the feelings and concerns of which, all earthly existence is tasteless and unsatisfying; and to be awakened whereunto, is a transition as great and more joyful than for a dead man to be awakened from his grave.

But let me pass on from the life to the peace of those who are spiritually-minded. There are two great causes of disturbance, to which the peace of the heart is exposed. The first is a brooding anxiety, lest we shall be bereft or disappointed of some object on which our desires are set. The second is the agitation felt by all who have a taste for human kindness; and which taste is most painfully agonised, amid the fierceness and the tumult and the din of human controversy. You will at once perceive how the man who is spiritually-minded, rises above the first of these disquietudes - for there is an object paramount to all which engrosses the care of a worldly man, and on which his desires are supremely set; and so what to others are overwhelming mortifications, to him are but the passing annoyances of a journey; and the same revolution of fortune which would plunge the earthly in despair, leaves to him who is heavenly a splendid reversion of hope and of happiness. So that neither can the actual visitation of any disaster so utterly discomfit him; nor can the apprehension of its coming so torment his bosom, with the dark imagery of poverty and ruin and blasted anticipations. To him there is an open vista, through which he might descry a harbour and a home, on the other side of the stormy passage that leads to it; and this he finds enough to bear him up, under all that vexes and dispirits other men. The pure and lofty scene which lies beyond the grave, gives a scene to his own bosom. The main question of his being is settled; and that enables him to sit loose, and to be lightly affected, by all the inferior questions. His soul is at anchor; and so he is kept steady, under all the fluctuations that would make utter shipwreck of the desires or the delights of the worldly. He is freed from the cares of fame, or of fortune, or of any other interest upon earth; and with a mind engrossed by that which is spiritual, and without room in it for the anxieties of what is seen and temporal, he, in as far as these anxieties are concerned, is at peace.

I know not a finer illustration of this topic, than one which may be gathered from a recorded conversation, between Dr. Carey the missionary at Serampore and a wealthy merchant in Calcutta. One of his clerks had determined to give up all the prospects and emoluments of a lucrative situation, and henceforth devote himself to the work of evangelising the heathen. His employer, to whom this looked a very odd and inexplicable resolution, called on Dr. Carey; and enquired from him the terms, and the advantages, and the preferments of this new line, to which a very favourite servant whom he was exceedingly loath to part with was now on the eve of betaking himself; and was very much startled to understand, that it was altogether a life of labour and that there was no earthly remuneration whatever - that, in truth, it was not competent for any member of their mission to have property at all - that beyond those things which are needful for the body, there was not an enjoyment within the power or purchase of money, which any one of them thought of aspiring after - that each of them, free from care like a commoner of nature, trusted that as the day came the provision would come, and never yet had been disappointed of their confidence - that, with hearts set on their own eternity and the eternity of their fellow-creatures, they had neither time nor space for the workings of this world’s ambition. So that, however occupied about the concerns of the soul, each felt light as the bird upon a thorn, about the food and the raiment and the sufficiency of coming days, all which they cast upon Providence, and had ever yet found that Providence was indeed worthy of their reliance.

There is a very deep interest to my mind in such a dialogue, between a devoted missionary and a busy active aspiring merchant; but the chief interest of it lay in the confession of the latter, who seems to have been visited with a glimpse of the secret of true happiness, and that after all he himself was not on the way to it - whose own experience told him that, prosperous as he was, there was a plague in his very prosperity that marred his enjoyment of it - that the thousand crosses and hazards and entanglements of mercantile adventure, had kept him perpetually on the rack, and rifled his heart of all those substantial sweets by which alone it can be purely and permanently gladdened. And from him it was indeed an affecting testimony - when, on contrasting his own life of turmoil and vexation and checkered variety, with the simple but lofty aims and settled dependence and unencumbered because wholly unambitious hearts of these pious missionaries, he fetched a deep sigh and said that it was indeed a most enticing cause.

And some of you perhaps, though not spiritual men, may have caught a like glimpse of the peace that the spiritually-minded enjoy in the recurrence of your weekly Sabbath - the very chime of whose morning bells may have the effect of tranquillising you under the weight of this world’s cares; and even from the pulpit ministrations may there descend a power to soothe and to sweeten and to elevate your bosoms, and, while it continues to operate, may all the perplexities of your business and common life be forgotten. Now just figure this influence, which with you may be flitting and momentary like a vision of romance - just figure it to be substantiated into a practical and a permanent habit of heavenly-mindedness, and then you have the peace of the spiritual realised throughout the whole extent of their every-day history.

There is another cause, by which the peace of many a heart is sadly torn - not by the fear of future misfortune but by the actual feeling of present malice and hostility - by being doomed to breathe in the rough atmosphere of debate; and having to witness the withering coldness and alienation that sit on the human countenance, as well as to hear the jarring discords of rancour and controversy when they come forth in unfriendly utterance from human lips. There are some minds to which the frown, and the fierceness, and the incessant threatenings of this moral warfare, are utterly insupportable - some who have a taste for cordiality and cannot be happy, when its smile and its softness and all its blessed charities are withdrawn from them - who, rather than be placed in the midst of unkindred spirits, would give up society and seek for recreation and repose among the peaceful glories of nature - who long to be embowered amid the sweets of a solitude and a stillness, into which the din of this, fatiguing world would never enter; and where, in the calm delights of meditation and piety, they might lull their hearts into the forgetfulness of all its injustice and all its violence.

It must have been some such affection as this that prompted the Archbishop Leighton, when hue breathed out his desires for the lodge of a wayfaring man in the wilderness; and that haunted the whole public life of Luther, who, though dragged forth to the combats and the exposures of a very wide arena, yet felt all along how uncongenial they were to the right condition and well-being of the human spirit; and so did he unceasingly aspire after a tranquillity which he was never permitted to enjoy - a nursling of that storm which he had enough of softness most utterly to hate, and enough of intrepidity most manfully to brave - by nature a lover of quietness, yet by Providence had he his discipline and his doom amongst life’s most boisterous agitations. There is nought in the character of the spiritually-minded, that exempts them from the outward disturbance, which has its source in the hatred and hostility of other men; - but there is so much in this character that gives an inward stability, and sustains the patience and the hope of our souls even under the most outrageous ebullitions of human malignity, as most nobly to accredit the declaration of our text - that to be spiritually- minded is not only life but peace. For there is the sense of a present God, in the feeling of whose love there is a sunshine which the world knoweth not, and which even the power of a hostile world in arms cannot utterly darken; and there is the prospect of a future heaven, in whose sheltering bosom it is known that the toil and the turbulence of this weary pilgrimage will soon be over; and there is even a charity, that mellows our present sensation of painfulness, and makes the revolt that is awakened by the coarse and vulgar exhibition of human asperity to be somewhat more tolerable - for we cannot fail to perceive, how much of delusion at all times mingles with the impetuosity of irritated feelings; and that were there more of mutual knowledge among the individuals of our species, there would be vastly more of mutual candour and amenity and love; and that the Saviour's plea in behalf of His enemies, is in some sense applicable to all the enemies that we have in the world - " They know not what they do."

The menace and the fury and the fell vindictiveness that look all so formidable, are as much due to an infirmity of the understanding as to a diabolical propensity of the heart; and it does alleviate the offence that is given to our moral taste by the spectacle of malevolence, when one reflects that malice is not its only ingredient - that it often hangs as much by an error of judgment, as by a perversity of the moral nature - that it needs only to be enlightened in order to he rectified; and that therefore there may be hope of deliverance from the ferocity of one's antagonists even in this world, as well as a sure and everlasting escape from it in those regions of beauty and of bliss, around which there is an impassable barrier of protection against all that offendeth - where, after having crossed the stormy passage of this world, the spirit will have to repose itself in peace and charity for ever.

In one word, and for the full vindication of our text, let it be observed, that, though in the character of being spiritually-minded there is no immunity from the tribulations that are in the world, yet there is a hiding-place and a refuge where the spiritual alone can find entry - so that though in the world they do have tribulations, yet well may they be of good cheer, for in Christ they do have peace.
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