ROMANS, viii, 12 - 15.

"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

VER. 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die : but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

And in like manner as the threatenings under the law and the gospel may be compared with each other, so may the promises or the rewards. By the former dispensation, he who fell into an act of disobedience was adjudged to die; and by the latter, he who by living after the flesh lived in a habit of disobedience was in like manner to die. It is well that we are liberated from the rigid and unbending economy of the law; for thus we are set free from the fears, and the scrupulosities, and in fact the utter and irretrievable despair, which would have paralysed the whole work of obedience. But it is also well, that, while the economy of the gospel has achieved our deliverance from these, it still lifts as loud a testimony on the side of righteousness, and is actuated by as determined a hostility against all sin - so as to set all its honest disciples upon a most resolved and persevering opposition to it. Had law been the arbiter of this contest, they never, in the vile bodies wherewith they are encompassed, ther never could have obtained the rueed or the honour of victory - each error being an irrecoverable defeat - each infirmity being a death-blow to their cause. And therefore it is well that they now lie under the banners of another empire, who can see, amid all the frailties of the old and the natural constitution, that there is rising and strengthening apace a force of moral resistance against the urgencies of corrupt nature, which is gradually undermining its ascendancy, and at length will overthrow it. The man who has been endowed with this force from on high, is ever reminded by the frailties that are within of his daily need of Christ's propitiation; and would give up the battle in despair, had he not the righteousness of Christ to build upon. Yet he never forgets that the battle is his unceasing occupation - that the gospel which has discharged him from the penalties of a law that ho is ever falling short of, has not discharged hum from this warfare - that his business is so to strive against all the corruption which is in him, as to make unceasing approximation to the purity and perfection of this very law ; and that though now exempted from the threat if ye fail in one jot or tittle thereof ye shall die - the threat is still against him and against all in full operation, that if, casting off the authority of the law, ye give yourselves up to your own hearts desire or live after the flesh ye shall die.
Now the like analogy and the like distinction may be observed in the promises or rewards of the gospel, when compared with those of the law. The apostle says of the law, that it is not of faith, but the man that doeth this shall live; and he saith in our text of him who hath embraced that gospel which supersedes the law, that if a man through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body he shall live. There is a doing to which death is annexed with as great certainty under the one economy as under the other. And there is also a doing to which life is annexed with as great certainty under the one economy as under the other.

The do this and live of the former dispensation however, is a condition which has long been violated; and which, in our present tainted materialism, we never can attain unto; and which therefore, instead of indicating to us a practical avenue to heaven, is like a flaming sword that guards and bars in every way our access thereunto. The mortify the deeds of the body and live of the latter dispensation, is a condition again which might be rendered; which every believer in the grace and righteousness of the Lord Jesus will be enabled to perform; which from this moment we should set ourselves forward to for the purpose of making it good - and so exhibit in our history as direct a practical impulse taken from the hopes of the gospel, as any servant from the prospect of his wages, or any labourer under the covenant of works could take from the remunerations of the law. And in this warfare against the body, an advantage may sometimes have been gained by it, such an advantage as the law would have irretrievably condemned us for, and declared against us all the ruin and disgrace of a fatal overthrow; but such an advantage as under the gospel though it has east us down yet will not destroy us - but, after perhaps a severe discipline of mortification and sorrow, will arm us with fresh resolution for the contest; and inspire into us a more cordial hatred against the body of sin, and all its sinful instigations, than ever; and give to the heart a more burning earnestness, that we may not only recover all the ground which we have lost, but may rise more aloft than ever above all the gross and terrestrial ingredients of our corrupt nature - till, having passed through a series of watchfulness and endurance and busy working, and so having made full proof of our discipleship, we can say with the apostle when the time of our departure is at hand, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have, kept the faith - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me on that day, and not to me only but also unto all such as love his appearing.”

From the expression to mortify the deeds of the body I may here advert to that law of our moral constitution, by which it is that if we refuse to perform a sinful deed, we by that very refusal weaken the sinful desire which prompted it; and that thus by mortifying the deeds you mortify the desires. Every act of sinful indulgence, arms with a new force of ascendancy the sinful inclination. Every act of luxury makes you more the slave of the table than before. Every draught of the alluring beverage, might bring you nearer to the condition of him who is the victim of a habitual intoxication. Every improper licence granted to the eye or the imagination, sinks you to more helpless captivity under their power. Every compliance with lawless appetite, enthrones more firmly than before another oppressor, another tyrant over you. And therefore if you want to dethrone the appetite, refuse the indulgence; if you want to starve and enfeeble the desires of the inner man, mortify the deeds of the outer man.

Begin in a plain way the work of reformation. And let it be the resolute purpose on which you shall put forth all the man- hood of your soul, that, however you may be solicited by the affections that are within to that which is evil, you shall not give the actions that are without to their hateful service - that however sin may have been desired, sin shall not be done by you - that with the control which you have over the hand and the tongue and all the organs of the body, they shall with you not be the instruments of sin but the instruments of righteousness: And thus it is that the corrupt propensities of the heart, wearied out with resistance, and languishing under the constant experience of hopeless and fruitless solicitation, would at length weaken and expire. The body would be mortified; and the soul, delivered from its presence, and again translated into it after the last taint and remainder of its evil nature had been done away, would find itself in a perfect condition for the joys and the services of life everlasting. But it is well to mark, that, in order to make this mortifying of the deeds of the body effectual unto life, it must be done through the Spirit. For the very same thing might in great measure be done without special grace from on high, in which case it hath no fruit in immortality. How many are the evil passions, which can at least be restrained by the pure force of a natural determination. In the pursuits of fortune, or of ambition, or of war, what a violence a man can put upon himself - what a heroic self-denial he is capable of carrying into full operation - what a mastery he can reach over some of the most urgent inclinations of nature; and all this certainly without one particle of a sanctifying influence, but rather by the strength and power of one unrenewed principle lording it with a high ascendancy over all the rest. To make then the mortification of your earthly desires available for heaven, there must be an agency from the Holy Ghost - else there is nought of heaven's character in the work, and will be nought of heaven's reward to it. And if the Holy Ghost indeed be the agent, then He will not select a few of our carnal tendencies for extermination by His power; but He will enter into hostility with all of them - He will check the sensuality of our nature, and He will mortify its pride, and He will check its impetuous anger, and He will wean it from its now clinging avarice. Let it be your care then, from the very first moment of your strenuous resistance to these deeds and affections of evil - let it be your care, that, instead of trusting to the energy of your own firm and high-minded resolves, you invoke the constant sup.. plies of aid from a higher quarter. Let yours be a life of prayer along with a life of performance; and then will you strive mightily, but according at the same time to the grace of God that worketh in you mightily.

Ver. 14. 'For as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.'
There is frequent cognizance taken in the Bible, of the degrees in which the Spirit of God may operate on the heart of man. There is one work from which He ceases, because He will not always strive; and there is another work which after He hath begun, He will carry on even unto perfection. There is a tasting of God's Spirit by those who afterwards fall away; and there is an anointing by God's Spirit that remaineth. It is this which hath given room to the distinction made by theologians, between the saving and the ordinary influences of the Holy Ghost, - the former signifying those by which a man is effectually called unto the faith, and afterwards completed in the sanctification of the gospel; and the latter signifying those by which he is made to feel the stirrings of a conviction, and a desire and even a partial delight in many of the accompaniments of sacredness, which, had he improved, would have been followed up with larger measures of grace and illumination - but which as he quenched, do at length vanish into nothing, and leave him short of the kingdom of God. In these circumstances it were well, if any definite or satisfactory mark could be assigned, by which to discriminate between the one set of influences and the other - by which to ascertain whether we have only so much of this heavenly influence as will suffice for condemning our resistance to it; or so much as will carry us forward to a meetness for the inheritance above, as will be effectual for salvation.

Now the verse before us supplies us with the test that is wanted. There are many who are solicited by the Spirit of God, yet who are not led by Him - many to whom the Spirit offers the guidance of His light and of His direction, but who refuse that guidance - many, we believe all, to whom the Holy Ghost hath made through conscience that ear of the inner man the intimations of His will, yet most of whom have not followed these intimations. They have been in so far then the subjects of the Spirits operation, as to have been perhaps in converse, and even occasionally in desirous and delighted converse with Him; but they have not given themselves up to His authoritative voice. They have been so far enlightened by Him, yet not led by Him. The man who through all the strugglings of remorse, at last gives way to the power of a temptation, has had light enough to forewarn him of sin, and light enough after it hath been committed to reprpve himself and that most bitterly because of sin - and yet not power enough for the warfare of a successful resistance, so as not merely to feel what is right but to follow it. He therefore in this instance hath not mortified the deeds of his body; and if such be his habit he liveth after the flesh and he shall die. It is not they who mourn over the sin, that is practically and permanently indulged in; but it is they who mortify the sin that are led by the Spirit: And it is by this, as the consecutive tie which binds the last verse to the present one, that the reason is explained why they who mortify the deeds of the body shall live. They who do so are led by the Spirit; and they who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God, - the heirs therefore of what their Father hath to bestow which is life everlasting.

The Scriptures often affirm a harmony between two positions, which the first and natural apprehensions of men would lead them to regard as opposed the one to the other. We are the children of God says the Apostle by the faith that is in Christ Jesus. He is my brother and my sister says Christ Himself, who doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. It is through the redemption of the gospel, wherein we obtain a part and interest by believing, that, as Paul says in his Epistle to to the Galatians, we receive the adoption of sons. It is when through the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body, that we are led by the Spirit; and, as he says in his Epistle to the Romans, are the Sons of God. You will not be disturbed by the utterance of these propositions as if they were contradictory. You know in the first instance, that it is by faith, as by the hand of the mind, that you accept of the offered reconciliation. You know, in the second instance, that it is by the hearing of faith, and not by the works of the law, that the Spirit cometh. You know in the third instance, that the Spirit which so cometh is a Spirit of might and good-will for all holy obedience - so that through Him you are enabled to mortify the deeds of the body. And this last is not the cause why you are led by the Spirit of God, but the proof that you actually are led by Him - a proof which, if wanting, might still argue you to be in possession of His ordinary, but not in possession of His sanctifying, and therefore most assuredly not of His saving infiuences; - but a proof which having, is to you the best evidence that you are led by the Spirit, and have therefore received from God the seal of being one of His children.

When you adopt one as a son, it is because you design for him an inheritance; and one can conceive something to be given as the token or the acknowledgment of his acquired right thereunto. In the act of hiring a servant, there is often a pledge given by the master; and this assures to the hireling his title to enter at the specified time upon his employment. Now by one being adopted as a son of God, there is the destination for him of a very splendid inheritance - even one of eternal glory in the heavens. But this is only entered upon at the term of death; and meanwhile, previous to that, there is a pledge or a token bestowed upon him, and this is the Spirit of God which is styled by the way of eminence the promise of the Father, and which, agreeably to the explanation which we have now given, is also termed the earnest of our inheritance. This is that grace in time, which is both the pledge and the preparation of glory in eternity; and the best evidence of which is, that, enabled to mortify all those evil desires which would thwart the pur. poses of a holy obedience, you are thereby enabled to keep the commandments.

But there is a certain style of keeping the commandments, which we fear is not indicative of this grace. It may be done in a scrupulous, fearful, and painstaking way, by one who is under the workings of a natural conscience, and perhaps a terror of everlasting damnation. In this too it is possible, that there may be a certain measure of success - the avoidance of much gross and presumptauns sin, that might else have been indulged in - the penance of many sore and strenuous mortifications, so as that the body shall by starved, and in a good degree subjected, by the mere force as it were of a dogged and stiff determination; and so a kind of resolute sullenness in the whole aspect of the mans obedience, which certainly is of a different east, and has upon it a wholly different complexion, from the gentleness and the grace and the good-will which characterise the services of an affectionate Christian. The truth is, that there might be a self-denial and a self-infliction which come through constraint - a drudgery which is rendered at the stern bidding of authority - a reluctant compliance to appease the dread or the troublesome remonstrances of the inner man - Which fall altogether short, - nay are altogether opposite to tie temper of those, who mortify the deeds of the body but do it through the Spirit. What is done i~ done in t1~eir own spirit, which is the spirit of bondage; and not in that Spirit which cometh from above, and whereby we are made both to love the service and Him who enjoins it - to look upon God not as a taskmaster but as a friend, and so to execute His bidding with the alacrity of those whose meat and whose drink it is to do His will - to keep the commandments, not in the spirit of bondage which is unto fear, but in the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.

Ver. 15. 'For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fqar, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby ye cry, Abba Father'.
Had it been under a slavish terror that the work of mortification was gone into, this would have been. no evidence of our filial relationship to God. It would have been the obedience of those that were lorded over, and not of those who were led as by the cords of love, as by the bands of a man. Henceforth ye are not servants or slaves, says Christ to His disciples, but ye are sons; and, conformably to this, the spirit of sons is given unto them. And he appeals to the kind of spirit as being an argument for their being the sons of God - a spirit altogether diverse from that by which many are visited, under their first conviction of sin and of the soul and of eternity; who are pierced, as by an arrow sticking fast, with an agonising sense of their own guilt and of Gods uncompromising authority; who are burdened under a feeling that the displeasure of Heaven is upon them; and whose consciense all awake to the horrors of wrath and condemnation, never ceases to haunt them with the thought, that, unless they can make good their escape from their present condition, they are undone.

Now to make this good, they will set up a thousand reformations; they will abandon all their wonted fellowships of iniquity; they will strenuously, and in the face of every temptation, adhere to all the honesties and sobrieties of human conduct; they will betake themselves to a life of punctuality and prayer; and moreover graft upon their former habit the rigours of devoteeship, the austerities and the forms of Sabbath observation. Thus it is that. they will seek for rest, but they will find none. The law will rise in its demands as they rise in their endeavours, and still keep ahead, with a kind of overmatching superiority to all their fruitless and fatiguing efforts of obedience. They will labour as in the very fire and not be satisfied; and all their vain attempts to reach the heights of perfection, and so to quell the remonstrances of a challenging and not yet appease the commandment, will be like the laborious ascent of him, who, after having so wasted his strength that he can do no more, finds that a precipice still remains to be overcome - a mountain brow that scorns his enterprise, and threatens to overwhelm him.
This has been the sad history of many a weary month, with some on whom the terrors of the Lord have fallen heavy - God having looked at them, as He did upon the Egyptians from a cloud and troubled their spirits - giving them no rest, till they fall back again perhaps into the lethargy of despair, and take up with this world anew as their portion because they have failed in their attempts to secure a portion in the next world - or, if He had a purpose of mercy, in this sore visitation of darkness and tempest and wrath, at length leading them to the alone Rock of confidence; and endearing the Physician still more to their breasts, that they have been made to feel the disease in all its severity and all its wretchedness.

Now this spirit of bondage, which is unto fear, can only be exchanged for the spirit of adoption, by. our believing the gospel. Every legal attempt to extricate ourselves from the misery of the former spirit, will only aggravate it the more; and we know of no other expedient, by which the transition can be made, than simply by our putting faith in the testimony of the Son of God. We have laboured in vain to seek a righteousness of our own, wherewithal we might stand acceptably before God, because this is the wrong way of it. It is true that He will not look upon us without a righteous ness, on the consideration of which it is, that He deems it consistent with the honour of His government and the integrity of His character to take us into favour. But never, and on this point the gospel will enter into no compact whatever with the presumption of weak and guilty man, never will the act of friendship be firm and steady between him and his offended Lawgiver, in consideration of any righteousness of ours.

And the distinct proposition is, that we shall look unto Christ as the alone ground of our acceptance before Him, unto His propitiation as that on which our hopes of pardon do rest, and unto His obedience in our stead and for our sakes as that on which we look for the rewards of eternity. Could I state the thing more explicitly I would. It is in the form of bare and unqualified statement that the Bible lays it down; and all who give credence thereunto will find, that in no one instance will they ever be disappointed. It is this in fact which forms the grand characteristic peculiarity of our dispensation; it is the burden of those good tidings which constitute the gospel, and which operated instantaneously as tidings of great joy - because they were no sooner announced in some cases than they were credited - no sooner revealed than they were relied upon. This is the one and the direct stepping-stone by which you may enter even now into rest. The merit which you laboured to possess is already acquired; and what you seek to deserve is held out unto you in the shape of a free donation. There is a perfect righteousness already brought in, and you need not therefore go about to establish one.

It will indeed be going about, if you try to establish a righteousness of your own. Many a fruitless round will you have to ply - many a vain and weary circuit to accomplish; and after all be no nearer-to your object than at the point from which you departed - many a laborious drudgery, which will be nought but a laborious deviation from that plain and unerring path, by which, with a majestic simplicity that is stamped upon all His processes, the wisdom of God would conduct you unto Himself. For this purpose, hath He set forth Christ unto you; and He bids you enter through Him into full repose and reconciliation - accrediting the testimony that regardeth His blood, and thus will you be washed from guilt - accrediting the testimony that regardeth His services in your room, and thus will you be sustained by God as the rightful heirs of a purchased and glorious immortality.

Submit yourselves therefore unto this righteousness of God. Be assured that it is the grand specific for your case as a sinner; and that you will never, but upon this, get solid or legitimate rest to the sole of your foot. Your acceptance of Christ as He is offered to you in the gospel, is the turning point of your salvation. He is freely offered; and never will you cease to be haunted by the disquietudes of a heart that is not at ease - never will the jealousies of the legal temper be done away - never will you attempt an act of fellowship with God, without the flaw of some guilty and misgiving suspicion adhering to it - never will you know what it is te draw near in the freedom of perfect confidence, with every topic of disturbance and distrust hushed into oblivion betwixt you - Till taking up with Him on His own terms, you alike cast the pride and the pain of self-righteousness away, and become the children of God through the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

I fear, that there are many here present, who could never allege of themselves at any time, that they had the spirit of adoption - with whom the sense of God as their reconciled Father, is as entirely a stranger to their heart as is any mystic in6piration - who have a kind of decent, and in some sort an earnest religiousness, but have never been visited by any feeling half so sanguine or extatie as this; and who perhaps may be interested to know, by the footsteps of what distinct or intelligible process, they could come to that filial affection unto God, wherewith as yet they have had no familiarity whatever. I would therefore say, in the first place, that I know of no more direct cxpedient for arriving at this end, than that of giving earnest heed unto the word of the testimony. “Hearken diligently unto me,” saith God, “and your souls shall live.” Your ears are so accustomed to what may be called the mere verbiage of orthodoxy, that, when sounded anew or another time in your hearing, it stirs up no fresh exercise of the thinking principle. You are so well acquainted with the terms, that you arouse not yourselves to the contemplation of the truths. What you hear now, you have heard again and again; and this deafens, as it were, the whole activity of your understanding - so that whilst you recognise the words of the evangelical system as so many old and oft- repeated common-places, you remain blind to all the important and. affecting realities of which these words are nevertheless subtantially the vehicles.

In these circumstances, I can give you no likelier advice, than that you should put your minds forth and forward from the words to the things. Be not satisfied with the mere expression and cadence of orthodoxy. Engage, and that closely, steadily, perseveringly, with the matter of the gospel testimony. Think that there has been a movement in heaven towards a sinful world. Think that the express design of this movement, was to recall as many of our alienated race as would, to the joys and communions of that paradise, from which they had been exiled. Think that for its accomplishment every barrier in the way of this return is lifted away; and, more especially, that satisfaction was so rendered to a violated law, as that they who have trampled upon it might be crowned with honour, and yet the law itself be magnified and made honourable. Think that the whole burden of your guilt, and of its full expiation, has been laid upon another; and. that au are invited, and you amongst the number, to come by this open way of access, arid forthwith enter into peace with God. If, in lifting up your eyes to this contemplation, you still find that all above you is haze and that all within you is heaviness - continue to look - continue to give heed even until the day dawn and the day-star arise in your heart; and when this wondrous transaction between heaven and earth at length unfolds itself to your mental eye, in its characters of bounty and truth and tenderness - when the spectacle of God willing, and of God waiting to be gracious, is at length recognised by you - when all that moved His wrath and kept Him at a distance, is seen to be put aside by the work of the great Mediator, and that nothing is left but the exhibition of a mercy now rejoicing in the midst of the other attributes, and pouring a fresh lustre on them all, as it passes onwards to a guilty world through the channels of a consecrated priesthood and an infinite sacrifice - It is when thus enabled to see God disarmed of all His terrors, and instead of the inflexible judge, to behold Him as now reconciled through Christ Jesus - it is when this assurance is made directly to bear upon our spirits from the word of revelation, that the confidence of our adoption enters into our hearts, and we can join the apostle and his converts in crying Abba, Father. It does not follow, however, because you lift your eyes, that the manifestation is then in readiness, for your first and earliest regards towards it. There may be a cloud which intercepts it from your view; and even after many a wishful look towards that quarter whence you expect the light and the comfort of divine truth to come down upon your soul, may you have to complain that I cannot believe, I cannot discern - neither is Jesus Christ evidently set forth crucified before me.

One advice of an eminent theologian in these circumstances, and it is a good one, is that though you should have missed the object of which you are in quest a hundred times, still make the other and the other effort; and who knows but that next time you will be met with the very revelation which your soul longeth after? To this advice I would shortly add another. While busy in seeking after the development to your belief of Christ's work - be equally busy in your practice at the doing of Christ's will. Labour, though in the dark. Mortify sin, though in such a spirit of unsettledness as to be almost equivalent to the spirit of bondage. Be diligent in duty, and thus might you pioneer your way to clearness and to comfort in doctrine. Forget not the saying that Christ manifests Himself to those who keep His words; and that they whose eye or whose aim is single shall have their whole body full of light; and that to him that hath, more shall be given; and that he who wills to do the will of God, and proves the sincerity of his will by the vigour of his performances, that he shall be made to know of Christ's doctrine whether it is of God.

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