ROMANS, viii, 11, 12.
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh."

VER 11. In the last verse it is affirmed that Christ being in us will not avail to prevent the death of the body, though it will avail to the preparing of the soul for life everlasting. And in the present verse, the apostle recurs to the body, and now affirms that it too, will at length have a benefit conferred on it - that neither is it altogether overlooked in this great work of regeneration - that though permitted for a season to moulder in the dust, and though every vestige of what it was is made to disappear ; yet will it emerge from the ludeous receptacle in which it lies, and come forth a quickened and a glorified body on the day of resurrection - that though the present occupation of it by God’s holy Spirit, does not save it from decaying into a loathsome spectacle of corruption; yet if that Spirit dwell in us now, it will again animate that matter which has gone into dissolution - raising it to a new framework, and investing it as before with all those graces which are expressive of the life and sensibility within. But it is to be observed that the wicked as well as the righteous are to rise again - -that all the dead both small and great are to stand before God - and that therefore there must he a something which pecularizes the resurrection of the believer, from that of a sinful and unconverted man. Now we know of no other peculiarity than this - that his body shall be delivered from that moral virus against which he strugghed through life, and by overcoming which he is to be rewarded with a complete and conclusive exemption from its pesence for ever - that the same power which helped him to the conquest, will rid him altogether of his enemy; and his body will be so purified and transformed, as to become like unto the glorious body of Christ. The wicked are not so. As the tree falleth so it lies and as they went to their graves, with all the propensities of corruption unmitigated, they will again come forth from their graves, with these propensities in lordly and despotic vigour to be their tyrants and their tormentors through all eternity. And this, I imagine, will explain a verse which enters into the prophetic narrative of the earthly consummation of all things -"He that is unjust let him be unjust still, and he which is filthy let him be filthy still, and he that is righteous let him be righteous still, and he that is holy let him be holy still."

Now it is, in the first place, to be remarked - that the very same agent who raised up Christ from the dead, is to raise up all who are in Christ also. That He was the agent employed by God in the resurrection of the Saviour, may, I think, be gathered from the passage, where it is said, that He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead ; - and still more obviously from the text (and this we hold to be the reason why is it said of Christ risen from the dead, that He is become the first-fruits of them who slept) - "Every man in his own order - Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they who are Christ's at his coming." But there is a still more important set of passages that point, we think, to a very pleasing analogy, between Christ’s resurrection from the grave, and the resurrection of our souls into newness of life - that ascribe both of these events to the operation of the same power; and regard it as alike the functions of the Holy Ghost, to have restored the natural life to the body of the Saviour, when it lay insensible in the tomb -and the spiritual to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, but are awakened from this death at the moment of believing in Him. And thus I would understand it of Paul that he longs to make sure of the renewal of his soul unto holiness, when he speaks of his desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection; and I can enter into the analogy which he states in these words, that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead in the glory of his Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life - and that thus it is that we are planted to gether with Christ, in the likeness of His resurrection.

We read in various places of our being made conformable to His death by dying unto sin; and so are we made conformable to His resurrection by living unto righteousness. The thing is still more expressly affirmed in the epistle to the Ephesians, where mention is made of "the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believes according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the hearvenly places, far-above all principalities and powers and tuight and dominion and every name that ir named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him ‘who filleth all in all." And then he adds, "-you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins" . - " Even when we are dead in sins, hath God quickened us together with Christ."

Now this analogy between the raising of the body and the regeneration of the soul, both of which are ascribed to ‘the agency of the Holy Spirit, forcibly reminds us of the history of the material creation in the book Genesis - where it is distinctly affirmed, that, at the very first footsteps of that glorious transformation, by which a dark and,disordered chaos was evolved into light and loveliness and harmony, that then the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And so when the Spirit begins with the son of man, it is a perfect chaos of moral darkness and disorder on which it has to operate - whence it gradually advances from one degree of grace and godliness unto another, till, as God rejoiced on the seventh day over that which a little before was without form and void, so God rejoices over us, when, in looking to the product of this new or second creation, He sees that it is all very good.

You know enough, I trust, of our depravity by nature - to admit of our moral world that it is indeed a chaos - that, though there be occasional gleams of the bright and the beautiful, yet that the great master sin of ungodliness stalks triumphant over the face of society - that, though, in every companionship even of iniquity, there - must be recognised principles of truth and honour and fellowship which bind together the members of the human commonwealth, and make it a possible thing for society to subsist, yet that, as if altogether broken loose from the great original of Being, each individually hath betaken himself to the counsel of his own heart and the sight of his own eyes. The enlightened assertors of a native and original corruption in our species, never dispute that there is much of the fair and amiable and upright in human intercourse; and that this gives rise to many fine and graceful evolutions in the walks of social life. But what they affirm, and they deem that they have the experimental light both of observation and conscience upon their side, is, that while busily engaged, whether in the virtues or in the vices of our intercourse with each other, we one and all of us by nature have renounced our proper intercourse with God - that, intimately joined as we are to our fellows of the species by the ties of patriotism and neighbourhood and family affection, we live in a state of moral and spiritual disjunction from God - that just as if the gravitation that bound our planet to the great central luminary of our system were suspended, and it wore ‘to take its own random way in space, so have broke adrift as it were from that main attraction to which all the duties and moralities of life are subordinate. And just as the stray world might still have active physical principles of its own - its cohesion, and its magnetism, and its laws of fluidity, and its busy atmospherical processes, even after the sun had ceased to have the imperial sway over it - So, in our stray species, are there a thousand mutual and internal principles of constant operation - the resentment, and the love, and the domestic affinities, and the dread of authority, and the delight in approbation, and the sense of shame, and the mighty power which lies in the awards of the general voice - principles these, which, in their turn, either agitate or arouse or restrain or even embellish the face of society - Yet still may it be a society altogether without the regard or the reverence of God.

In reference to Him, the family of mankind may be an exiled family; and while the men of its successive generations pass through the little hour of life, some deformed by earthly vices, and others decked in the ornaments of an earth-born morality, yet, equally aloof as all may still be from the virtue of that great relationship which is between the thing that is formed and Him who hath formed it, it may still hold true of our species, that we by nature are in a state of disruption from God - asunder from Him as to all right and habitual fellowship in time; and, if we decline the reunion which He himself proposes, likely to remain thus asunder from the great fountain of light and love and happiness through all eternity.

Now that this is the very chaos in which lumanity is involved, we hold to be pretty obvious from the broad and general aspect of society. But far the most useful conviction that can be wrought upon this subject, is that which is carried home to the bosom of individuals, by a manifestation of their own heart to the conscience of each of them. It is not possible to lay open the characters of all to the inspection of any; but it may be possible to lay open the character of any man to the inspection of himself - and thus it is, that far the most profitable of all moral demonstrations, whether from tlie pulpit or from the press, are those which reveal to each individually the intimacies of his own spirit; and by which he is enabled, as in a mirror, to recognise such a likeness to the portrait of his own inner man as his conscience can respond unto. And therefore would we bid each unconverted man who is now present, to enter upon this recognizance of himself and to see whether the very habit of his soul is not a habit of practical atheism - whether it be not true that God is scarcely if at all in his thoughts - whether he be not an utter stranger to the gait and the attitude of His servant - and whether the question is ever taken up, or ever brought to a conclusion, that is afterwards in very deed and history proceeded on, What is the will of God in the matter before me?’ ‘We do not charge you with any transgression against the social or domestic principles of our nature - any more than we deny of a rambling planet which now flounders its capricious and unregulated way in space, that there the chemical affinities, or there the active play of all those influences which belong to its own peculiar and physical system, are unknown. But we do charge you with the disownal of the authority of God. We affirm that against Him you have deeply revolted. We cannot deny many of you have much of secular worth and excellence. But we deny that you have the least tint of sacredness. You are not demoralized out of all virtue, but you are desecrated out of all godliness; and we appeal to the distinctly felt current of you plans and purposes and desires, or we appeal to the familiar history of your every day, whether the will of God be the reigning principle of your mind, whether God can be said to have the rule over you.

Now Christianity is a restorative system. Its object is to reinstate the authority of God over the wills and consciences of men; and by this great and ascendant power of moral gravitation, again brought back to its influence over our heart, to reclaim our wandering species into that duteous conformity to Himself from which they have departed so widely. What he wants is to restore us to our wonted place among the goodly orbs of His own favoured and unfallen creation; and this He does simply by turning away ungodliness from our hearts. It is to set up that ancient and primeval law, by which the creature is bound to recognise the Creator in all his ways - so that instead of fluctuating as heretofore through the mazes of error and wilfulness and sin, he might walk with assured footsteps on that right and lofty path, which is defined by Heaven’s jurisprudence, and to which he is willingly constrained by Heaven’s grace. And it is thought, that, though godliness be a single principle out of the many which operate on the heart, yet that upon its re-establishment alone, there would instantly emanate a peace and a virtue that should be felt in all the departments of our nature. The benevolence would be stimulated, and the justice become greatly more strict and sensitive, and the temperance and purity be more guarded than ever, and the malignant propensities be kept in check and at last exterminated - and so all the secondary and earthly moralities, which may and do exist without godliness, attain by godliness, a far brighter lustre and a far more effective and salutary ascendant over the character and interests of our species. Even as the planet, that, without the scope of the law of gravitation to the sun, has deviated from its path, yet retained the principles which be at work throughout its mass and upon its surface - restore to it this single law which for a season has been suspended, and you do a great deal more than simply reclaim it to the old elliptic path which it was wont to revolve in. You impress and you vivify all the operations of the terrestrial mechanism - you call those tides into force and action, which arouse the sluggish ocean out of its unwholesome stagnancy - and you set afloat through the air those refreshing currents, by which its purity is upholden - and you pour abroad that beauteous element of light, which, with its accompanying warmth both stimulates all the processes, and discloses all the graces and the laws of the vegetable kingdom - And, in a word, you, by this single restoration, turn the else desolate and unpeopled globe into a vast habitation of life and of enjoyment, where the notes of cheerfulness may be heard on every side; and there may be seen the works of busy design, the abodes of industry and comfort, the temples of piety.

Now it is the Spirit who evolved matter out of the chaotic state; and it is the Spirit who renews a living body out of the putrefaction into which it had mouldered; and it is the very same agent, even the Spirit of God, who renovates the heart of man, and forms him anew into righteousness and true holiness. It is a doctrine that is mightily nauseated in this our day - forming, as it does, one of the most offensive peculiarities of the gospel; and perhaps more fitted than any other to revolt into antipathy, both the natural and literary taste of those who hear of it. It is therefore the more desirable, when anything can be alleged, which might propitiate you in its favour. And surely - if you can be at all affected by the contrast between the loathsomeness of the grave, and the gracefulness of a living form invested with the bloom and vigour of immortality; or between the turbulence of warring elements, and that magnificent harmony of animate and inanimate things which has been made to emerge therefrom into our goodly world - this should enlist you altogether on the side of so beneficent an agency; and, instead of that felt and invisible repugnance wherewith the doctrine of the Holy Ghost as our refiner and as our sanctifier is listened to by men, you should hail those informations of the Bible, by which you are given to understand that the same plastic energy, which moved on the face of the waters at the beginning, and has since moulded the very dust into organism and living beauty - that this too is the principle of that new creation, which, out of ruined and distempered humanity, raises, upon every true disciple of Jesus, the worth and the excellence that fit him for immortality.

But better than all speculation on this topic, would it be that you prized the operation of the Spirit on your heart, and that you earnestly and habitually prayed for it. The doctrine of the Holy Ghost is too much neglected in practice. It is not adverted to, that all acceptable virtue in man is the product of a creating energy, that is actually put forth upon him; and that it is his business to wrestle in supplication with Heaven, that it may indeed be put forth upon himself. And this is the order in which the graces and embellishments of the new creature spring up in the believer. Ere God will pour them on his person, he must enquire after them. The Spirit of grace and supplication is generally given, ore the things which it is your part to supplicate for are given. And therefore be not surprised at your miserable progress in sanctification, if a stranger to the habit of prayer. Wonder not and complain not, that strength to help your infirmities is still withheld, if you have not mixed the prayer of faith with your severe yet ineffectual struggles against the power of corruption. Think not that you are to overcome, if, with all the humbleness of a needy and dependent creature, you do not look up to a power that is greater than your own; and if you give not the glory of all holiness in the creature, to that high and heavenly influence which cometh down from the Creator. You have never yet known what the receipt is for making you virtuous, if, to this hour, you have been ignrant or inexperienced as to the efficacy of prayer. Though you should have tried every thing else be side; you are still morally in a state of helpless and hopeless disease. And therefore, with all the eagerness of a patient who has been enquiring and experimenting for years about the right method of healed, take yourself now to this prescription; and see whether a blessing will not come out of it.

And, like- those medicines which are of daily application, should you pray without ceasing. It should be a regimen of prayer. Earnest prayer and vigorous performance should be always alternating the one with the other. A good word with God in secret, qualifies for a good work with man in society. And, on the other hand, your deeds of rightecinsness with the hand, will send back an influence up on the heart, that shall brighten and inflame its sacredness. You will strive mightily according to the grace of God that worketh in you mightily. The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead will dwell in you, if you make Him welcome; and prayer may be regarded as your invitation to Him, as the expression of your welcome. And the Spirit so dwelling will be indeed the earnest of your inheritance - He who quickens you from the death of trespasses and sins shall quicken your mortal bodies from that death of nature which comes - upon all men.

Ver. 12. ‘Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.’ The debtor is bound in certain duties or obligations to his creditor; and the Apostle here tells us, that we are not so bound to the flesh, It has its demands upon us, and it would fain exact our compliance with them; but this is a compliance which it is not incumbent upon us to render. We shall not, as I have often affirmed in your hearing, be released on this side of death from the hateful exposure of having to feel its instigations; but that is no reason why we should follow these instigations. We are subject here to the annoyance of being oft solicited by this tempter; but we are not therefore bound to yield ourselves up unto him. Living as we do in the flesh, we are at all times in contact with its near and besetting urgencies; but there is no such acquiescence due on our part, as that we shall live after the flesh. This last is the debt wherefrom the text releases us - nay, in the next verse, the most forcible motive is presented to us, why, instead of acquiescing, we should resist to the uttermost. For if we live after the flesh we shall die. The motive in fact is as strong, as that which Adam, who lived under the first covenant, had to abstain from eating the forbidden fruit in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die.

So that there cannot be a more gross misunderstanding of the gospel economy, than that it is destitute of as plain and direct and intelligible sanctions against moral evil, as those which were devised for upholding the legal economy. Under both are we deterred from sin by the threatening of death; and the only difference between them is, that - whereas under the law one sin, however lenient in its character, or however strong and sudden the temptations were which hurried the unhappy victim onward to the commission of it, inferred the whole penalty - under the gospel, death is represented to be the effect as well as the penalty of such a character as has been formed in us by the habit of sinning, by the preference on our part of a carnal to a spiritual life, by a surrender of ourselves to the power of any evil affection - So that, instead of struggling against it and barring its ascendancy over us, we permit the ascendancy, and become the slaves of one against whom we should have fought with all ‘the determination and hatred of honest enemies.

This we must either do, or consent to live after the flesh; and against the latter alternative there is lifted under the dispensation of grace, as clear and decisive a warning of terror, as ever was lifted under the dispensation of works. We read in the book of Genesis how God said to Adam, that in the day that thou eatest of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt surely die. And in this epistle to the Romans, in this most complete record of evangelical truth, and amongst all its rich promises of grace and pardon and remission from every legal consequence to believers, do we also read, that if we live after the flesh we shall as surely die. But while there is this resemblance between the two dispensations, there is also a difference between them; and the difference might be illustrated by help of another text taken from the writings of Paul, and one of those very few in which there occurs the same term, debtor. He says of a judaizing Christian who insisted on the rite of circumcision as being essential to our acceptance with God, that, if circumcised upon this ground, he was a debtor to do the whole law; and that, in the act of becoming so, he would fall from grace, and cease in fact to have the privileges or the immunities of a believer.

Now what is this to say, but that a Christian is not a debtor to do the whole law, and yet he is a debtor to live not after the flesh? He is not bound to the faultless obedience of a perfect commandment; and yet he is bound to a hearty and sustained warfare against all sin, which is a violation of the commandment. He is no longer under the ecomony of do this and live; and yet he is under an economy, where if he give himself up to the doing of what is opposite to this, he shall most inevitably die. The truth is, that both the one economy and the other are on the side of moral righteousness; and both proceed alike on this undoubted position, that there can be fellowship between God and iniquity, and that the heaven where He and His holy angels dwell, is a place where not a creature can find admittance, that has upon him the slightest taint or remainder of evil. And thus the law condemned the sinner to exile from’hcaven; but, after having done so, it could not restore him thereunto. It had no provision within its limits, by which it could either annul its own threatenings; or purge away from our now contaminated race that foul spiritual leprosy, the very existence of which, apart from the consideration of legal penalties altogether, barred the entrance of mankind from the habitations of unspotted sacredness.

Under its continued administration, we had no release from our past guilt, and no remedy from either our present or our future sinfulness; and, in these vile bodies, how was it possible to escape the necessity of perpetual additions to the account which was against us - since, in the high reckoning of a holy and heart-searching law, the very existence of an evil thought, the very inroad of a wrong or licentious imagination, would be deemed and dealt with as the transgression of an offender? And therefore it was that this economy had to be suspended, and another set up with distinct principles and provisions of its own, that might render it competent for the sinner’s restoration to that heaven which he had forfeited, and for admittance into which he both laboured under a legal and a personal incapacity. There needed to be a skilful adaptation for purposes so very mysterious, that angels are represented as looking on with the eye of eager and unappeased curiosity. And herein lay the profound, the unsearchable wisdom of the gospel, by which the guilt of the believer’s sin was cancelled, and by which the existence of it upon his character is at length done away. He had to be saved by water and by blood. There is an atonement to do away the curse of sin, and there is a purification to do away its defilement.

And thus, to complete our salvation, was it not enough that Christ bowed His head unto the sacrifice. When He rose again, He claimed, as the fruit of His obedience unto the death, the promise of His Father - the Holy Ghost given by Him to those who believe - the power over heaven and earth, by which He might subdue all things unto Himself; and, more especially, by which He might aid the moral warfare that is going on among His disciples here below, and at length so change their vile bodies as that they might be fashioned like itnto His glorious body - So that, delivered alike from the presence and penalty of sin, every barrier may be removed, and every hindrance may be done away to unexceptionable admittance within the limits of the sanctuary that is above.

Behold then the very nice adaptation to our state as sinners, of that gospel economy whereby the legal economy has been suspended and superseded - because to our condition, as the wretched outcasts of a violated law, it brought no relief, and could bring no restoration. Under the former dispensation, every sin, however trivial and though urged to it by the besetting propensities of a constitution marred and vitiated since the fall, plunged us more hopelessly than ever in guilt and in moral helplessness. Under the present dispensation, we are not without sin; but the sin of infirmity is not like the sin of wilfulness, unto death - and there has been a sacrifice provided, in the faith of which if we make daily confession we shall have daily forgiveness. So long as we are in these accursed bodies, it is impossible ever to venture off from any other foundation for our acceptance before God, than the perfect righteousness of Christ; and the very sin of our nature has the effect to remind us of our dependence, and to keep us closely and tenaciously thereupon. But, meanwhile, though vexed and annoyed by the instigations of the flesh, we are armed with a resolution and a strength and an affection for what is spiritual, that shall abundantly secure our not. living after the flesh; and on the generous mind of the new-born Christian, the daily infirmities which he has to lay at the throne of grace, so far from working an indifference to moral righteousness, only shame and stimulate him the more to the vigorous prosecution of it.

And the knowledge, that, though the infirmities of his flesh will be pardoned, yet that if he live after the flesh he will die, this is to him as direct and urgent excitement, as ever bore with practical effect on the legal aspirants after a reward - and an acceptance of their own. And thus are the comfort after sin on the one hand, and the impulse to renewed holiness on the other, most admirably blended in such a way, as best to suit those who are weighed down with a corrupt materialism, yet are furnished with power in the inner man to war against and at length to overcome it; and the disciple who is thus employed can, at one and the same time, draw comfort from the saying that if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father - and derive the energy of a practical impulse from the saying, that "if any man sin wilfully, after that he hath received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation that shall devour the adversaries."

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