ROMANS, viii, 23 - 25. 'And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.'

VER. 23 "And not only they, but ourselves also,, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to.wit, the redemption of our body."

It is the turn of expression here, the introduction of' even we ourselves - as additional to and apart from all that he had asserted before, in regard to the intense and even painful expectancy of nature for its coming enlargement - it is this which, more, than any other, convinces us of the amplitude that there is in the apostles contemplations; and we are satisfied that we only follow in his track, when we affirm of creation at large, the agony and the suspense and the brooding anticipation that we have ascribed to the general species, and have even extended in some sense to the irrational creatures, nay to mute and inanimate things. The apostle seems to pass from this wider speculation to the present state of his own limited society- - to draw himself in as it were from the world to the church whom he represents as in like manner labouring. Even with them too, there is a present draw-back from that full and final blessedness that awaits them - there is hope far more specific and sure, than that which floats and dazzles so indistincty upon the vague imagination of these who are without; but still it is a hope subject to the deduction while they remain in the world of remaining vanity - tltere is an evident composition of two ingredients, one of them the Spirit whereof they have received already the first-fruits, but the other of them a vile body that is still in a bondage from which it has not yet been fully redeemed or emancipated - insomuch that, under a sense of its thwarting and oppressive presence, there is the feeling and even the exclamation of a sore agony.

The reader will not fail to recognise in this passage, the very lamentation that is uttered elsewhere “ Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver nu from the body of this death !“ “ Our life at present is hid with Christ in God, and when Christ,. who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory"' “ For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan being burdened - not for that we would be unclothed but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.' It is when thus clothed upon that our vile bodies are changed and fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ.'

These passages all harmonise, in the account they give of the present state of believers in our world, in spite of the enlargement they have gotten, it is still a state of durance. They have not yet had the Spirit without measure, but only the first fruits of it. They have not yet been delivered from the presence of an evil nature. It is only overruled, not exterminated. It is only under watch and under warfare - yet not stript of its power to fatigue and to annoy. The life of a Christian differs as much from that of another man - as the smart of the wounds that arc inflicted in a battle for freedom, differs from the smart of the wounds that are inflicted upon captives or slaves by tile lash of an overseer. But then it also differs as much from that which it will be - as the strenuousness and hazard and agony of the day of conflict, differ from the rest that is enjoyed, and the triumphs which are felt, and the music that is lifted up, and the smiles of gratulation and high contentment that are exchanged from one happy countenance to another, on the day of victory. There is no respite from the warfare on this side of death. A larger supply and manifestation of God's Spirit will not even secure it to us- - for while it arms with new power against the enemy within, it also enducs us with new and powerful sensibility to the now diminished but still more hated remainders of evil than before. So that the final release will not be enjoyed till death, and even then perhaps it will amount to little more than rest from our labours. The final triumph will not be till the resurrection. when the body shall again be called forth from the tenement in which it long hath mouldered; and the corrupt principle shall by the mysterious transformation of the grave be fully disengaged from it; and that framework, every vestige of which was before obliterated, shall put on its ancient form, but be thoroughly freed of that moral virus which now so thoroughly and so intimately pervades it; and its reappearance from the land of its present captivity will indeed be to it a redemption of joy - achieved by Him, who, in giving up His own body, gave up the price of their glorious immortality in behalf of all who believe on Him.

You perceive how it is, by the very nature of the case, that there can be no deliverance to the Christian from the agony of a conflict, and from a sense of soreness and heaviness and discomfort, on this side of death. For there passeth no such transformation upon his body, as to change it from the state and character of being a vile body - for it so remaineth till the departure of the last breath from it. The whole of what the New Testament describes as the old man, or the carnal man; is alive even unto the moment of our earthly dissolution - enfeebled, no doubt, by the habit of frequent thwarting and mortification to which it hath been subjected - kept more effectually under, in proportion to the growth and energyof the rival principle, that is fostered by prayer, and strengthened by exercise, and placed after every new victory on the vantage ground of a higher ascendancy than before over all the rebellious appetites of our ungodly and accursed nature.

Yet, in spite of all this prosperity, there is a felt annoyance; and to which the mind becomes more painfully and sensibly alive, as it advances into a meetness for the inheritance of the saints. For if a disciple be making genuine progress - Then, along with the triumph of this which bears him up on the one hand, there is a tenderness that keeps him down on the other; and that because of the remaining evil which still lurks and lingers in his moral constitution, less than before but better seen than before - of a milder taint, but now looked at with a purer eye, now refined on with a deeper humiliation.
And thus a burden upon his spirit which the world cannot sympathise with; and a deeper groaning within, even while to all without the graces of his character are brightening into a more vivid lustre than before - a greater annoyance from one quarter, along with a greater hope and satisfaction from another, and that because his self-acquaintance is growing, and his sensibility is growing: And thus it is that he longs more earnestly as he proceeds, for the entire repose of perfect godliness and purity and love - for a thorough extinction from his moral system of all that evil by which it is still pervaded, and is the more offensive to him just as he becomes more ethereal and heavenly than before - for a final relief from the last dregs of that vitiated nature, which still hangs about him and troubles him with its hateful presence - Insomuch that the purest and the saintliest of men have been known to weep upon their death-bed, for that still adhering corruption which they felt to be most dishonouring to God, and most disquieting to their own souls. •

Such being the stateof matters, Christians have not yet come to the inheritance of perfect virtue. They are only waiting for it. They now bend forward in the attitude of expectants. They have already got the first-fruits of the Spirit; and this serves at least as an earnest. But they are far from thinking that they have yet attained. St. Paul thought so much otherwise, that he counted his acquisitions to be as yet nothing; and such is the infinite distance between a saint on earth and a saint in heaven, that the former, so far from having any adequate share of the perfection and the glory to which the latter is elevated, has not even an adequate imagination of them. He sees it, but by a medium of such exceeding dimness, that he is said to see it through a glass darkly. He knows himself to be one of the children of God; but he knows not yet what he shall be - what the whole amount of blessedness and of perfection is which belongs to that exalted relationship, and to which when he is preferred, he receiveth what may substantially and in the full significancy of the term be called his adoption.

It is then that the most signal mark of this relation to God is conferred upon him; and this is what in the text he is represented as now waiting for. This adoption is followed up by a short explanatory clause, which maketh known what it is that it consists in - to wit - the redemption of the body. It is brought back from the land of its captivity. It is called forth again out of the grave into which it had entered, where it perhaps ages before had been deposited as a natural body, but whence it now ariseth a spiritual body. And the redemption which it then undergoes is an everlasting redemption. Death will no more have the dominion over it. It will become immortal; but this is not the whole of its coming glory. It will also be immaculate. It will furnish no element to thwart or to impede the movements of a righteous spirit; and by which it is that the whole man of a believer upon earth is kept in a state of controversy. From its then regenerated mould there shall have been ejected, and that conclusively, both the seeds of mortality and the seeds of moral evil. The death which our first parent entailed, and the corruption which he entailed, shall be alike put forth of that materialism wherewith the spirit of man is forthwith to be encompassed, and in which he is to be equipped for the services of eternity.

It is saying much for what that is which essentially constitutes heaven, when it is said here to consist in the redemption of the body. It is in truth the jar, and the dissonance, and the maladjustment with all that a righteous spirit aspires after in the way of moral excellence - it is this which now distempers our world; and it is this, aggravated and universal, which will give its fiercest agonies to the accursed in the place of condemnation. And, on the other hand, it is a total exemption from the carnal and the corrupt ingredient - it is the harmony of a system of all whose parts are in unison, and all on the side of purest virtue - it is the scope that will then be for the doings and the desires of holiness, when the body shall lay no weight as now upon the willinguess of the spirit - This is the redemption for which believers are waiting here, and the hope of which upholds them in their struggle with all the perversities of our earthly nature - it is this of which they have now the dim and distant perspective, and which when realised will constitute tile glorious liberty of the children of God.

Ver, 24, 25. "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
In the whole of this passage, it seems the drift of the apostle to reconcile those whom he addresses to their present sufferings - and that not merely to the persecutions which they had to sustain from without, but to the perplexities and spiritual misgivings whereby they were agitated within; and the main cause of which, in the aspiring bosom of every honest Christian, is a sense of his own exceeding shortness from the high standard of gospel obedience. What he desiderates and longs after, is to be saved from the deadness and carnality of his own earthly nature; and the apostle meets this anxiety, by telling him that the actual economy of salvation is not so constituted, as to bring to those who are its objects the fulness of an immediate possession, but as to hold this out to them as a thing in reserve - as a thing in distant anticipation.

We are saved by, or rather we are saved in hope. Christians in this world are maintained in a sort of analogy to the general state of the world, which has already been affirmed as a mixture between present vanity and future expectation. If we look for a full and finished salvation now, we look for that which the gospel gives us no warrant to count upon. The condition in which it places us here is one of expectancy, and not of attainment. The salvation that it hath brought is not one which we have now, but one which we hope to have afterwards. We are in the wrong if we give way to heaviness, because we are not yet fully inducted into the spiritual privileges aiid immunities of heaven. It is not so arranged by Him who had the ordering of this whole administration of grace. By the very constitution of it, what we aspire after, and are in heaviness because we have not yet reached, is ours only in prospect and not in possession. •

This ought to satisfy our disquietudes. It is an argument for patience. The dispensation under which we sit is not one of sight but one of hope. This hope is the essential characteristic of it, which would in fact be expunged were the full and finished reward a thing of presence and not a thing of futurity. It would cease to be a matter of hope if it were a matter of vision - for hope that is seen is not hope, for what we see we do not hope for - what is in possession is no longer in prospect. Seeing then that such is the economy of the gospel; that it is so framed as to place its consummation not beside us but in a distant futurity before us, let us conform ourselves thereuñto - let us sit down and be satisfied with hope instead of perfect happiness in the meantime - let us wait for the coming glory and wait for it with patience. •

But though the phrase admits of the translation that we are saved in hope, intimating thereby the simple truth that salvation is in the main a thing of expectancy while we live in the world - yet though we should adhere to the present translation of our being saved by hope, and thereby ascribe to this principle a kind of efficacy in bringing about our salvation, we should not on that account traverse any of those principles that are unfolded in the New Testament. There is indeed a very close alliance stated throughout the evangelical writings, between the hope of a Christian and his salvation. There is a hope that is instantly awakened by the faith of the gospel; and it is often reiterated upon us that by faith we are saved. I cannot conceive a man really to believe even in the general announcements of the gospel, without appropriating to himself the comfort wherewith they are charged, and which is addressed unto all - for while addressed unto all they are at the same time, as I have often affirmed, pointed specifically unto each: Nor can I think of any honest enquirer after salvation, that he shall read believingly such a statement as that “ whosoever cometh unto Christ shall not be cast out,' or such an invitation as “ Come unto me, all ye who weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' or such a widely sounding call as “Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be saved,' - I cannot think of faith in any of these apart from the hope the individual hope and trust they are fitted to awaken - so that the affirmation of being saved by hope is about tantamount to the saying that by faith you are justified.

But this of being justified is far from being the whole of salvation. The term includes a great deal more than oar being saved from wrath; it signifies further our being saved from the power of sin - as in that passage where it is said that we are saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. And that we are so saved by hope, that by this principle we are sanctified as well as justified, is directly affirmed by St. John - when he tells us that “he who hath the hope of seeing God and being like unto God purifieth himself even as God is pure."

' To understand how it is that hope should operate in this way, we have just to reflect what that really is to which a genuine believer looketh forward. It is not to a paradise of sensuality, else he might revel as nature would incline him among its delights and gratifications. It is to a paradise of sacredness; and we hold it morally impossible that a man should dwell with fond anticipation on such a destiny, without a taste and temper of sacredness. The man who prefers what is earthly to what is heavenly, will turn away his face from the better country, and from the road that leads to it; and in reference to it there will be no belief, no hope, no kindred aspiration. With such a preference he withholds all attention as well as all desire from the futurities of another world; and, wholly immersed in the cares or joys of the present one, he lives without faith, and he dies with the burden of this condemnation upon him that “he loved the darkness rather than the light, because his deeds were evil."

It has been defined of hope that it is a compound of desire and expectation; and no man can desire such a heaven as that which is represented in the New Testament, without the work of holiness being begun in him. Were it merely a heaven of animal enjoyments, or a heaven that rang with melody, or a heaven that was lighted up with variegated splendours, or even a heaven of science where the understanding was feasted with - truth even unto extacy - then one might have the hope of such a heaven without being moralised by it. But when it is a heaven whose essential characteristic is that it is a place of holiness, when it is a heaven defined in the book of Psalms as the land of uprightness, and described in the book of Revelation as that eternal city where the servants of God do serve Him - then it is not in truth or in nature, that one should look forward with complacency to his entrance upon such a heaven, without a growing conformity in his character here to that which he believes and rejoices to believe shall be his condition hereafter. He cannot look with pleased expectancy to such a place, without gathering the radiance of its virtues upon his soul; and if, amid the crosses and fatigues of a treacherous world, this be habitually the hope by which he is sustained - then, as surely as by any law of his moral or sentient constitution, this also is the hope by which he will be sanctified.

Before quitting this subject, let me simply advert to a cause, that serves very much to aggravate the struggle of a Christian here below, and to expose him to a still more acute sense than he might otherwise have had, of that deadness and deficiency from the spiritual life, under which even Paul and his converts are represented as groaning inwardly. What I allude to, though perhaps it looks like an excrescence from the main subject of these remarks to allude to it at all, is the way in which an aspiring Christian must be weighed down, as to all his holy and heaven-born tendencies - by the engrossments of business - by the multitude of hours that he consumes every day among the attentions and labours of a pursuit, along which he never meets with any one of the influences of sacredness - by the exhaustion in which this lands him on each recurring evening - and by the call that he feels to lie upon him, of giving the first and earliest vigour of his necessary repose to the very toils, that so spent and secularised him yesterday. To a man who has been visited with any unction upon his soul from the upper sanctuary, I cannot figure a heavier burden or a sorer discomfort than this; and just as we have thought it right occasionally, even from the pulpit, to protest against the keen and busy and almost gambling adventure of an over- trading age - so would we protest against that total absorption of spirit, that overwhelming load upon all its faculties, that utter alienation from better things, which must ever accrue from an undue and overdriven employment. The two evils work in fact to one anothers hands. The man who trades beyond the compass of his means, gives himself more to do than he can well overtake; and so has to labour at the desk of his counting-house, or to bustle among markets, or to run to and fro among customers and correspondents at a distance, beyond the compass of his time or his physical strength - and so, in the neglect of all spiritual cultivation, his heart becomes a wilderness, and his family ceases to profit- by his instructions or his example, and Christianity goes to utter waste - on a mind thus overrun with the cares and the keen anibitions of a perishable world, and the good seed of the word of God is choked and overborne - And all from what? from the temptation that he has given way to of extending, and that to undue dimensions, a business that, within safe and moderate limits, nlight have yielded him a quiet and comfortable passage through this land of vanity.

There never was so cruel a sacrifice as this - of all the snugness and tranquillity that he might have perpetuated, in the character of a thriving well-conditioned, though withal perhaps a plain and unambitious citizen - had he only not adventured himself on the high and slippery places of daring speculation; and given up his domestic evenings, and his unbroken Sabbaths, and the perennial contentment that used to flow within his bosom, and his simple gratifications, and all the quiet opportunities that within the shelter of an humbler but happier sphere he would have enjoyed for communion with a present God and the preparations for a future eternity. Be assured, that there is a limit which ought to be laid on the number and extent of the services, that are rendered to the great divinity of the place. The commerce of the world cannot be pushed beyond a certain barrier; and the share that each individual takes of it cannot be so pushed either without the ruin of his fortune, or at all events, the utter ruin of a mind wholly given over to a most deceiving and a most dangerous idolatry. Take pity on yourselves. Take pity on your clerks and journeymen and apprentices. Offer not the encroachment of one moment upon their Sabbaths; and even be careful through the week, lest they be drudged and worn out of all energy for a far nobler service and a far higher interest than your own.

There is nought for which I more admire the Bible, titan the experimental sagacity wherewith it pronounces on all the habits and temptations and characteristics of human life in each of its varieties - a sagacity that might still be recognised even in modern days; and though the apostle had lived in our city, and spent years in the capacity of a student or a spectator on the exhibitions of our nature that he found in it, he could not have more happily described the wretchedness and the folly of extreme mercantile ambition, than in this passage to Timothy - ' But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil - which while some have coveted after they have pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

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