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fall short on our way to the heavenly Canaan, we shall be likened to those who fell in the wilderness.
And this analogy, which has been instituted by Paul himself in another part of his writings, does not fail us—though we should take the term mortal in the customary, which I am also inclined to think is here the correct signification of it. While in these mortal bodies, we are only on a road through the wilderness of earth, to the secure and everlasting blessedness of heaven. It is true that all who are really partakers with Christ in His death, have got over a mighty barrier, that lay between this terrestrial Egypt and the Jerusalem that is above. They have been carried through the strait gate of acceptance, and have now to travel along the narrow way of duty and of discipline. It is most true of all who are actually through the one, that they will be borne in safety and in triumph along the other. But one may think that he is in Clirist, when he is not; and therefore let him who thus thinketh that he standeth, take heed lest he fall. If in Christ, it is true, that to him there will be no condemnation. But if in Christ, it is just in every way as true, that he will walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Let us therefore make sure of our condition by so walking. Let us give all our diligence to ascertain and establish it. If we really are at a distance from the land of sin's condemnation, we are at an equal distance from the land of sin's thraldom and oppressive tyranny. Let us count it our business then to make head against that tyranny. Let not sin -eign over us, on the passage that we have yet to describe, ere we shall be translated to our place of secure and eternal refuge from all its entanglements. Let us stifle every rising inclination for the pleasures and the carnalities of Egypt, and come not under the power of those lusts which war against the soul, till we reach the spiritual Canaan, where every
inclination to evil that we have withstood here, shall cease to exist and so cease to annoy us.
We hold it of prime importance, in the business of practical Christianity that we understand well the kind of work which is put into our hands, both that we may go rightly about it, and also that we may have the comfort of judging whether it is actually making progress under our exertions. A mistake on this point may lead us perhaps to waste our efforts on that which is impracticable; and when these efforts of course turn out to be fruitless, may lead us to abandon our spirits to utter despondency; and thus, to use the language of the apostle Paul-running as uncertainly, and fighting as one that beateth the air, we may spend our days, alike strangers to peace, and to progressive holiness.
Now to save us from this hurtful mistake it were well that we weighed the vast import of certain terms in the verse before us which are altogether big with significancy. “Let not sin,' says the apostle, 'reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.' Here we cannot fail to perceive how widely diverse the injunction of the apostle would have been, if instead of saying, “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies, he had said, Let sin be rooted out of your mortal
bodies; or if, instead of saying, Obey not its lusts, he had bid us eradicate them. It were surely a far more enviable state to have no inclination to evil at all, than to be oppressed with the constant forthputting of such an inclination, and barely to keep it in check, under the power of some opposing principle. Could we attain the higher state, on this side of time, we would become on earth, what angels are in heaven,
desire runs in the rent of love and loyalty to a God of holiness. But if doomed to the lower state, during all the days of our abode in the world, then are we given to understand, that the life of a Christian is a life of vigilant and unremitting warfare—that it consists in the struggle of two adverse elements, and the habitual prevalence of one of them—that in us, and closely around us, there is a besetting enemy
who will not quit his hold of us, till death paralyse his grasp, and so let us go--and that, froni this sore conflict of the Spirit lusting against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit, we shall not be conclusively delivered, till our present tainted materialism shall be utterly taken down; and that the emancipated soul shall not have free and unconfined scope for its heavenly affections, until it has burst its way from the prison-hold of its earthly tabernacle.
Now, this view of the matter gives us a different conception of our appointed task from what may often be imagined. Sin, it would appear, is not to be exterminated from our mortal bodies; it is only to be kept at bay. It is not to be destroyed in respect of its presence, but it is to be repressed in its prevalency and in its power. It will ever dwell, , it would appear, in our present framework; but though it dwell, it may not have the dominion. Let us try then to banish it; and defeated in this effort, we may give up in heartless despair the cause of our sanctification, thus throwing away at once both our peace and our holiness.
But let us try to dethrone it, though we cannot cast it out; and succeeding in this effort, while we mourn its hateful company, we may both keep it under the control of strictest guardianship, and calmly look onward to the hour of death, as the hour of release from a burden that will at least adhere to us all our days, though it may not overwhelm us.
We see then the difference between a saint in heaven, and a saint upon earth.
The former may abandon himself to such feelings and such movements as come at pleasure ; for he has no other pleasure than to do the will of God, and to rejoice in the contemplation of His unspotted glory. The latter cannot with safety so abandon himself. It is true, that there is an ingredient in his nature, now under an advancing process of regeneration, which is altogether on the side of godliness; and were this left unresisted by any opposing influence, he might be spared all the agonies of dissolution, and set him down at once among the choirs and the companies of paradise. But there is another ingredient of his nature, still under an unfinished process of regeneration, and which is altogether on the side of ungodliness; and were this left without the control of his new and better principle, sin would catch the defenceless moment, and regain the ascendancy from which she had been disposted. Now it is death which comes in as the deliverer. It is death which frees away the incumbrance. It is death which overthrows and grinds to powder that corrupt fabric on the walls of which were inscribed the fuul marks of leprosy; and the inmost materials of which were pervaded with an infection, that nothing, it seems, but the sepulchral process of a resolution into dust, and a resurrection into another and glorified body, can clear completely and conclusively away. It is death that conducts us from the state of a saint on earth, to the state of a saint in heaven: but not till we are so conducted, are we safe to abandon ourselves for a single instant to the spontaneity of our own inclinations; and we utterly mistake our real circumstances in the world—we judge not aright of what we have to do, and of the attitude in which we ought to stand—we lay ourselves open to the assaults of a near and lurking enemy, and are exposed to most humiliating overthrows, and most oppressive visitations of remorse and wretchedness, if, such being our actual condition upon earth, we go to sleep, or to play among its besetting dangers; if we ever think of the post that we occupy being any other than the post of armour and of watchfulness; or, falsely imagining that there is but one spiritual ingredient in our nature, altogether on the side of holiness, instead of two, whereof the other is still alive, and on the side of sin, we ever let down the guardianship, and the jealousy, and the lowliness of mind, and the prayers