ROMANS, viii, 10.

"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."

I HAVE already affirmed, that to have Christ in us, is tantamount to the Spirit being in us. Christ dwells in us by the Holy Ghost. It is not because of this that the body is dead; but it is because of sin. The work of the Spirit in us does not counteract the temporal death of the body, however much it may counteract the second or eternal death to which the soul would have else been liable. It does not pour the elixir of immortality into the material frame - however much it may strengthen and prepare the imperishable spirit for its immortal well-being. Still, after Christ has taken up His abode within us and hath made a temple of our body, it is a temple that is to be destroyed. There remaineth a virus in the fabric, that sooner or later will work its dissolution; and as the law of temporal death is still unrepealed, even in the case of those whom Christ hath redeemed from the curse of the law; and as, in harmony with this palpable fact, there is still the doctrine that sin lurks and lingers in the moral system even after the renovation which the Spirit hath given to it - this suggests a very important analogy, from the further prosecution of which we may perhaps gather, not a useless speculation, but a substantial and a practical benefit.

Suppose for a moment that the body, by some preternatural operation, were wholly delivered of its corrupt ingredient - that the sinful tendencies which reside there were not only kept in check, but eradicated, so that all its appetites were at one with the desires of a pure and perfect spirit - Then there would be nothing to hinder our reception even now into the courts of the celestial. With such a harmony in our moral system as a soul all whose aspirations were on the side of holiness, and nothing to thwart these aspirations in the materialism by which it was encompassed, we see nought awanting to constitute a heavenly or an angelic character - nor do we understand why death should in that case interpose between our state of being upon earth, and our state of blessedness for ever. And accordingly, we read that on Nature’s dissolution, when the dead shall rise from their graves in triumph, they who remain alive and who have never fallen asleep must, to become incorruptible also, at least be changed. The change on those who are alive and caught up to meet the Lord in the air, does for them what the death and the resurrection do for those who have been saints upon earth, ere they ascend as embodied saints into heaven. It is on the corruptible putting on incorruption, that the mortal puts on immortality; and the reason why even those in whom Christ dwells have still a death to undergo, is that sin, though it no longer tyrannizes, still adheres to them - and the wearing down of the body by disease, and the arrest that is laid on all the functions and operations of its physiology, and the transformation of it into inanimate matter, and the mouldering of it into dust, and then its reascent from the grave in which it for ages may have lain - These it would appear are the steps of a refining process, whereby the now vile body is changed into a glorious one; and the regenerated spirit is furnished with its suitable equipment for the delights and the services of eternity.

To the question then, why is it, that, though Christ dwells in us, still the body is dead or liable to death - the answer is, ‘because of sin’ and from this very answer do we gather that sin is still present with every believer in the world, and as universally present too as death is universal. In regard to temporal death, there is one lot we know that falleth to the wicked and the righteous. And therefore though these two classes do not stand alike related to sin, yet both are so related to it as to partake in common of the mortality, which, ere they are so changed as to become incorruptible, all it appears must undergo. The righteous, we all see, die in common with the wicked; and the text tells us that the death of the body is because of sin. There must therefore be something that respects sin, which the righteous hold in common with the wicked - seeing that, because of it, there is a common suffering which both do undergo. What then is this common relation which they hold to sin as the cause, and in virtue of which they have a common participation in that bodily death that is here represented as the consequence!

In the first place, it cannot surely be that it is still inflicted on both as the judicial sentence which has been attached to transgression. It is very true, the announcement from the first has been, that he who sinneth shall die; and that, in reference to all from whom the condemnation liath not been turned away, temporal death may be regarded as forming a part of their sentence. But it cannot surely be viewed in this light, in reference to those of whom the Bible says that unto them there is no condemnation - in reference to those who savingly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and so have the benefit of that expiation which He hath rendered, and of that everlasting righteousness which He hath brought in. It cannot for a moment be thought, that any suffering of theirs is at all requisite to complete that great satisfaction which was made on Calvary for the sins of the faithful. It is said of Him, who by one offering hath perfected the work of our reconciliation and made an end of iniquity, that He trode the winepress alone and that of the people there was none with Him. To Him belongs the whole glory of our atonement. He bore it all, for He looked and there was none to help, He wondered that there was none to uphold; and then did His own arm bring salvation. It cannot be that by any death of ours then, we eke out, as it were, the satisfaction which hath been already rendered for sin; and when Paul says that he fills up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ in his flesh, it can never be that by any sufferings which the believer can endure, not even by the last and most appalling of them all, he makes good any deficiency in that great act, by which, and by which alone, transgression was finished, and the controversy between God and the sinner, is for ever set at rest.

The meaning then of a believer’s death, is not to expiate the guilt of his sin - it is to root out the existence of it. It is not to cancel the punishment, for that is already done - it is to give the finishing blow, as it were, to the crucifixion of its power. It is not inflicted upon him as the last discharge of the wrath of God, after which he is conclusively delivered therefrom. But it is sent to him as a release from the plague and the presence of that corruption, which adheres, it would seem, as long as the body adheres to us. It has not, it would appear, been made part of the economy of grace, that, on our entering within its limits by accepting of the gospel, we are forthwith delivered from those ceaseless and besetting tendencies, which attach to our present bodily constitution. This could have been done without death. If a man, on the moment of believing, were just to be suddenly changed, in the way that they shall be who are alive at the last day, and are caught up alive to meet our Lord in the air - then at once would he have been made sinless in the material framework, as well as sinless in the regenerated part of his nature; and without the steppingstones of a death, and a resolution of his body into s~ulchral rottenness and dust, and a resurrection ef it free from the taint by which it now is pervaded - without these stepping-stones at all, might he at once have winged his ascent into heaven, and had its gate opened to him - because now, as free from the presence of sin as he was from its penalty.

And thus, without passing at all through the dark valley of the shadow of death, might he have been put into immediate preparation for the pure and lofty communions of paradise. This might have been the order of God’s administration, but it is not so in fact. He hath arranged it otherwise. He hath thought fit, instead of working a miraculous change on the appetites of the body, to work that change on the principles and desires of the spirit - to renew the inner man, but to perpetuate for a season the outer man. He hath thought fit to make that gospel by which peace is established between God and the believer - still to make it the harbinger, not of peace hut of war, among the elements of that moral system which is in the believer himself. There might have been an instantaneous transition, to all the repose and harmony and serene triumph of a virtue, that actuated every faculty of the mind; and met with nothing to thwart or to impede its dictates, in the vile affections of a body that still would grovel, were it permitted, among its own base and sordid gratifications.

But this is not the way in which it hath appeared meet unto the wisdom of God, that our translation shall take place from earth to heaven. Like the processes both of His natural and His moral kingdom, this is accomplished not instantly but gradually; and there is a long intervening series of conflicts and exercises through life, and a death and a burial and a resurrection after it, ore the whole body and soul and spirit shall be fully matured for the high fellowships of eternity. And meanwhile, what Christ said of the world, holds true of every individual who receives Him - " I came not to bring peace but a sword." I came to raise an internal war among the feelings and the faculties of those who believe in me. I came to infuse a new principle within the limits of their moral economy, against which all the powers and principles of the old man will rise up in battle-array; and, instead of that harmony within which is felt by the seraph above, and even felt by many a secure and satisfied sinner below - there will be the war of rival tendencies, by which the believer’s heart shall be kept in constant agitation; there will be all the pains and perplexities of many a sore conflict within; there will be an agony so fierce as to have been imaged in Scripture by a crucifixion; there will not, it is true, be unmitigated suffering - there will be a mixture of triumph and of tumult throughout the period of that singular transition which each believer must undergo - of triumph to that. spirit which is now made willing, and of anguish to that body which is now made a sacrifice.

You see then, I trust, what that is of sin, which is common here to the children of light, and the children of this world; and what that is which constitutes the distinction between them. While both are alive upon earth, they have both one kind of body; and just as the eye of each takes in the same impression from the same objects standing visibly before it, so are the appetites of each liable to the same inclination from the allurement of the same objects when brought within their reach. The unhappy drunkard, who, at the very sight of his inflaming beverage, is visited with an affection thereunto which he finds to be uncontrollable - suppose him to be made a convert at this moment, there is no change impressed by it upon his organ of taste. The relation that now subsists between his palate and the liquor that has so long and so frequently regaled it, is the same as before - the desire for it is not extinguished; and the physical affinity that now is between the appetite and its wonted indulgence, is not now changed into a physical repulsion.

In the act of regeneration, the bodily affection is not eradicated; but there is infused into the moral system a power for keeping it in check: And, long after that the old man hath become a new creature, we do not see that the propensity which at one time tyrannized over him, is clearly and conclusively done away. It is not rooted out, my brethren. It is only resisted; and all that regeneration has done for him in the world, is to give him that moral force of determination and courage, by which he is enabled to resist it with success. He is now able to control that which before was uncontrollable. Were this and all his other rebel appetites only rooted out; and were he under the dominion of a pure and holy principle, and of it alone, to serve God on earth without a struggle - then might he even now be borne aloft on angelic pinions; and placed, without so hideous a transition as that of failing and sickening and dying, in the city which hath foundations. But no: this, it would appear, is the arena of his discipline for eternity ; and it is so, by being an arena of contest. The elements of moral evil are not purged away from his corporeal framework; but there is a spiritual element infused, which, if it cannot destroy the former, will at least subordinate them. The apostle complained of his body being vile; but herein he exercised himself’, to keep that body under subjection, lest he should be a cast-away. He is like unto a Heathen, in having a vile body. He is unlike unto a Heathen, in having now a spirit within him by which the body is subjected. Both have in them the desires of nature; but the one fights with these desires, and the other fulfils them. Both are lured by solicitations to evil; but while the one is only lured, the other is led by them. He is led away with divers lusts. He is led away with the error of the wicked, and so falls from his stedfastness. The very same evil propensity might offer to lead both; but while the one consents to be so led, the other refuses. - He gives himself up to be led by another master. In the language of the apostle, he is led by the Spirit of God, and so approves himself to be one of God’s children. He is led by the Spirit, and so fulfilleth not the lusts of the flesh.

You also see what the use of death is to a Christian. It is not laid upon him as a sentence of condemnation. The whle weight of that sentence is already borne. It is not to complete his justification. That is already perfected for ever by the one offering. It is to release him in fact from his warfare. It is to deliver him from the presence of his great enemy. It is to remove from him that load under which he now groans being burdened, and which forced from the holy apostle the exclamation of his wretchedness. It is to assure him who hath fought the good fight, and hath finished his course, that the battle is now ended, and that now the repose and the triumph of victory await him. To the last hour of his life, it is the same foul and tainted body that it ever was; and his only achievement upon it, is not that he hath purified its nature, but that he hath not suffered it to have the mastery. He has all along been upheld against its encroachments, by the vigour of a counteracting principle within,, even of that Spirit which is life because of righteousness.

These two have been in perpetual conflict with each other, from the hour of the heavenly birth to the hour of the earthly dissolution; and the way in which it is terminated, is, not by the body in its present state being transformed, but by the body in its present state being destroyed. The fact of the body being still subjected to death because of sin, is the strongest experimental argument that can be urged for heaven being a place to which sin can find no entry. It is not in the way of penalty that the Christian has to die - for the whole of that penalty has already been sustained. It is not exacted from him as the payment of a debt - for Christ our surety hath paid a full and a satisfying ransom. It is not then to help out the justification which is already complete in him - nor to remove a flaw from that title-deed which we have received perfect from His hand. It stands connected, in short, with the sanctification of the believer.; and has nought to do with that sentence which Christ has fully expiated, with that legal chastisement which was laid upon Him who bore it all. The whole amount and meaning of it is, that our bodies are impregnated with a moral virus which might be discharged from them, it is certain, by a fiat of the Ainmighty - even as with those who shall be found alive on the day of resurrection.

But this is not the way in which God hath seen meet so to discharge it. It is by death that the thing is to be done. It is, in the first instance, by the departure of the spirit breaking out of its tainted and leprous prison-hold - and then by the resolution into fragments and into dust, of this materialism that its tenant hath abandoned - and then by the assembling again of all its particles, but without the corrupt infusion that formerly pervaded it - And so the transformation of the whole into what is now called a glorified body - a body like unto that of Christ, and free now even from the tendency to evil. And not till the whole of this change take effect upon it, is it fit for admission to the upper realms of love and purity and righteousness. The justice of God would have recoiled from the acceptance of a sinner, and so an expiation had to be made; and the holiness of that place where God dwelleth, would have recoiled from the approaches of one whose character was still tainted with sin, even though its guilt had been expiated - and so it is, that there must be a sanctification as well as an atonement - there must be a renewal as well as a sacrifice.

For the one, Christ had to suffer and to die - for the other man has also to die, and so to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ. And it is indeed a most emphatic demonstration of heaven’s sacredness, that, to protect its courts from violation, not even the most pure and sainted Christian upon earth, can, in his present earthly garb, find admittance therein - that loved and revered as he is by his friends and his family, and little as they see about him of that which is unworthy even of fellowship with angels, still, that even he would be deemed a nuisance in that high and holy place where nothing that offendeth can enter - that ere the gate of the New Jerusalem be opened for his spirit, he must leave his tainted body behind him; and ere he walk embodied there, the framework that he had on earth must first be taken down, and be made to pass in mysterious transformation, through that dismal region of skulls and of skeletons, where the mouldering wreck of many human generations is laid.

This death, which even the holiest of believers have to undergo, speaks loudly both to the loathsomeness of sin, and to the sensitive the lofty sacredness of heaven: And oh how should it teach all, who by faith have admitted the hope of glory into their hearts, that, in so doing, they have embarked on a warfare against moral evil - that the expectation of bliss in heaven is at utter variance with the wilful indulgence of sin upon earth - and that, by the very act of embracing the gospel, they have thrown down the gauntlet of hostility to sin; and they must struggle against it, and pray against it, and prevail against it. Now this principle of hostility to sin wherewith the believer is actuated, cometh down upon him like every other good and perfect gift from above. All that is evil about him still corneth from himself and from the vile body by which he is encompassed. The gracious ingredient of his now regenerated nature, does not extinguish the corrupt ingredient of it. It only, as it were, keeps it down; and, without delivering him from its presence, delivers him from its prevalency and its power.

This it is which constitutes the struggle of the Christian life. This is the sore conflict which is carried on through many discouragements, and perhaps some defeats, and at least frequent alternations and variations of fortune. Nevertheless, throughout all the fluctuations of this spiritual history, the seed of blissful immortality is there; the element of a holy and celestial nature is at work; the honest aspiration after God and godliness will never be extinguished. A life of well-doing, and a produce in the fruits of righteousness, will force their way among all the impediments of a vile materialism. These two rival and opposing ingredients will at length be detached the one from the other; and of these the body will become dead because of sin, and the spirit be life because of righteousness.

With an unconverted man there are not two such conflicting elements. The mind and the body are at one. The evil tendencies are given. way to. He not only submits to the instigations of the flesh; but, in the language of Scripture, he sows unto the flesh, that is, he devises and deliberately provides expedients for its gratification - laying up for the flesh, as well as fulfilling the lusts thereof. The whole man pulls as it were in one direction; and that is a direction altogether towards the creature, and altogether away from the Creator. He soweth unto the flesh, and of the flesh, he shall reap corruption. As he falleth, so shall he rise; and the body wherewith he is enveloped on the day of resurrection, will not, like that of the glorified saint, be expuigated of its tendencies to evil: But as he indulged them through life, so will they rise up against him in the full vigour of their absolute and imperious sway; and be his merciless, his inexorable tormentors, through all eternity. As he never resisted them with effect here, so there will he find them to be irresistible. They will lord it over him; and he be the miserable slave of vile and worthless affections, under the sense of which his now convicted soul cannot escape from the agonies of remorse, that undying worm, which gives to hell its fiercest anguish, and far its sorest tribulation.

He thus pursued by a fire that is unquenchable within, and a fear without of that holy and righteous countenance that is now turned in rebuke towards him, will be made to taste of that second death which has been called the wages of sin, because it is both its penal and its natural consummation.
Not so with him whose spirit has been made righteous; and who vexed and annoyed with the urgencies of his vile body, has, to the hour of death, carried on against it a resolute and unsparing warfare. He will have no part in the second death. His spirit because of its righteousness has become meet for that life, which is both spiritual and everlasting. So soon as it quits its earthly tenement, it will be with Christ in Paradise, where, freed from the incumbrances of a tainted materialism, it will instantly find - that, though to live for a season in the flesh was needful and salutary, yet to have departed and to be with Christ is far better. He soweth to the Spirit here, and hereafter he shall reap of the Spirit life everlasting. He has the very evil tendencies which the other hath who soweth unto the flesh; but, instead of giving to them his consent, he enters with them into combat, and he fights the good fight which terminates in victory, and he earns the blessedness of him that overcometh, and of him that endureth unto the end.

Those inclinations of a corrupt nature, which the other pampered into lordly and domineering appetites, that will wield for ever ‘their merciless tyranny over him, he hath in every way thwarted and buffeted and starved - so that though still alive while the breath was in his body, and he had even to weep their presence on his death-bed, and still to mourn even then the carnalities and the spiritual sins which he could not utterly extinguish - yet his reward is, that, at the moment of dissolution, they will expire for ever; and not be raised up again to be his plagues and his persecutors through eternity. The reward is, that his risen body shall then be in fullest harmony with the desires of his glorified spirit - and that the evil instigations which so perplex and disquiet him on earth, shall never haunt nor harass him in heaven. He will be altogether freed from those corrupt elements, which still adhere to the unbeliever when he arises from his grave, and which constitute in fact the elements of his moral hell. There will be nothing adverse to the love or to the services of God in any part of his constitution; and he will be fully enabled to glorify the Lord, with his soul and body and spirit, which are the Lord’s.

This is not an idle speculation. It may be carried personally and practically to the conscience. Are you or are you not engaged in a warfare with moral evil? Are you busily employed in the work of subduing and bringing under discipline, all the irregularities of your perverse nature? Or, instead of this, are you in peace with yourself; and that because of the friendly terms, in which your spirit and your body are with each other? Remember that there is a peace where there is no peace. Do you imagine that you are at peace with God, because you believe the gospel? Remember that Paul preached the gospel, yet, had he not kept the body under subjection, he would have been a castaway. And therefore in this did he always exercise himself, mortifying his affections for the things which are beneath - and this not only the grosser affections of our nature, but the more reputable, the more refined, the affections for wealth, for honour, for fame, for literary reputation - for these too are among the things which are beneath - these also will perish in the using - these have their place on earth, and have no place in heaven; and it is only by the spirit being above all these, and resting its affections on the things which are above, it is onir thus that it will be made to inherit life, and because of its righteousness.

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