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the most important or a connexion for life. It may lead us into temptation; and we may be ensnared by error or vice. It may produce trials and losses the most painful; and we may return, compelled to say, "I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." Perhaps when we leave home, we unconsciously take leave of our house, and field, and garden, to return no more; and the places that once know us will know us no more for ever!
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. Happy he who can rejoice in the promise: "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest."
FEBRUARY 8.-—"The body is dead because of sin.”—Rom. viii. 10. The language is striking; for the Apostle does not say, the body will die, but the body “is dead.” The reason is, because the sentence is passed, and when the judge has condemned the criminal, we say, be is a dead man. In the case before us too, the execution of the sentence is commenced. And when a man is old, or infirm, or diseased, we say, he is as good as dead; he has one foot in the grave. Owing to the casualties of our condition, and the frailties of our frame, there is but a step between us and death. We are not only taortal in destination, but in state. We decay while we receive support. Before we reach our journey's end, our strength is weakened in the way, our senses lose their efficiency, and desire fails. Before the tabernacle is completely taken down, some pin is taken out, some cord is loosened, some rents or wearings away in the canvass are visible. We talk of a dying hour; but we die daily. When a bottle is discharged of its contents, there is a last drop; but every preceding drop emptied it as well as the last. Young says, “our cradle rocks us to the tomb." And Watts tells us, "the moment we begin to live, we all begin to die." Who thinks of this?
But how profitable would the meditation be! Pamper not that dying body" meats for the belly and the belly for meats, but God will destroy both it and them.” Be not proud of thy beauty and charms. The coral is leaving thy lips; the tints are fading from thy cheeks; the grave, the worms are ready for thee. The body is dead-insult not the poor carcass by dressing it up in vanity and gayety of attire. The pilot goes to the very end of the vessel to steer it: and you must repair to the end of life to conduct it. Hence the exclamation, and the prayer of Moses: “O that they were wise ! that they understood this! that they would consider their latter end !" “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
But the Apostle remarks the cause or the reason of the event. "The body is dead because of sin." Death is not therefore, as it is foolishly called, a debt due to nature, but to the justice of God. Sin is the introducer of death. We die not from any physical necessity, like plants and animals: God indeed could have rendered these everduring, but he did not make them to be so. Man only was made immortal, but he forfeited his immortality; and therefore, though all creatures die as well as man, he only is called mortal, (for we nerer speak of a mortal bird or beast,) as if in reproach for his becoming so by disobeying the command of God, and voluntarily incurring the penalty threatened : “ In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." What a murderer is here! Survey all the myriads of the dead, and ask, “Who slew all these?” And hear the decision of Truth itself; “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men because all have sinned.”
But in the case of a Christian, and of such Paul is speaking, there is another reason for the assertion, and the body is dead not only because of the desert of sin, but the removal of it. During life there is an internal war in believers: the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that they cannot do the things that they would. Death ends the strife, by killing one of the parties, and making the other more than a conqueror. The Apostle speaks of the sin that dwelt in him: and such is the inherency of this evil, that the body which is the residence of it, resembles the house of leprosy which was to be taken down to get rid of the infection. And this will serve to explain a difficulty. For it may be asked, if Christ has redeemed them, bearing their sin in his own body on the tree; and they are justified by his blood, and saved from wrath through him ; why do they yet die? To which we answer, they die, as they suffer affiction. Affliction is not a judicial infliction, but is only corrective and medicinal; and though like all natural evil derived originally from sin, is, as God employs it, the effect and token of his love. So 'Christ has abolished death as far as it is a curse: and thus the Christian does not die: there is nothing penal in his death ; yea, death is a privilege, a deliverer. It delivers him not only from a world lying in wickedness, but from the plague of his own heart, from his inbred corruptions, and even froin the flesh and blood which cannot without change and renovation inherit the kingdom of God. Thus the enemy is converted into a friend. The sting is taken out of the bee, but the honey remains. The lion is not only slain, but out of the cater comes forth meat, and out of the strong sweetness.
Ahasuerus issued a decree, that all the Jews should be destroyed, and as no law of the Medes and Persians could be changed, the decree could not be revoked; but it could be superseded. The people were apprized of their danger, and called upon to defend themselves, and furnished with the means of safety and victory; and thus the day of their destruction was turned into a day of triumph and joy, and they made it a festival which they still observe. Thus it is appointed unto men once to die; and the sentence is irreversible. Believers themselves cannot escape the decree, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." But by the resources of the Gospel the curse is turned into a blessing, and to die is gain. And if there be a period on which the spirits of just men made perfect reflect with peculiar pleasure and praise, it is the time of their escape from earth io heaven. The approach of it had often alarmed them ; but the consequences are inconceivably great; and these they always viewed with desire
"O glorious hour, O blest abode!
I shall be near, and like my God;
FEBRUARY 9.-"So fight I, not as one that beateth the air."-1 Cor. ix. 26.
Behold the boxer in the Grecian games. First, he often practised in feigned combat, exercising and extending his arms and hands with his gloves on, to acquire greater agility and skill. This was comparatively easy: this required no fortitude, and produced little exhaustion. But see him afterwards when actually engaged with his antagonist-How he agonizes ! How he stretches every muscle, and strains every nerve ! Here was the trial. Who does not perceive what a difference there was between these? Between the feigned and the real combat? Between beating the air, and beating the adversary ? But, says the Apostle, I resemble the combatant not in the former, but in the latter of these—“So fight I, not as one that beateth the air."
So it is with every Christian. He has to fight; and whatever erroneous or defective notions may obtain concerning it, he finds it to be, not an imaginary, but an actual conflict; the most serious and trying in which he can ever be engaged. The enemy he encounters has every quality that can render him formidable. The struggle is constant, and admits of no interval of repose or relaxation. The consequences are inexpressibly momentous and interesting. Salvation or damnation, hell or heaven, everlasting happiness or wo, depend on his success or failure.
It is no easy thing, therefore, to be a Christian indeed. Those who think otherwise, prove that they never made the trial in earnest; and are strangers to the language of the Scripture. There we read of striving to enter in at the strait gate; of pressing into the kingdom of God; of the violent who take it by force; of running the race that is set before us; of enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. It is admitted that these are metaphorical expressions; but they must be founded in truth; and what is the truth intended by them ?' If it be taken from the lowest interpretation, it is enough to condemn many: for surely they must fall short of the requirement who have a name that they live, but are dead; who wear the form of godliness, but deny the power; whose religion allows them to be at ease in Zion, retaining every evil passion, every worldly indulgence; and is distinguished by nothing like exertion or sacrifice. "But then real Christians are few.” And says not the Saviour the same? “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Men would be happy without being holy; without diligence ; without contention. But no sluggard, no coward, ever entered heaven. “Win and wear it,” says Latimer, “is the motto inscribed on the crown for which we strive.” And says the Amen, the faithful Witness, “If any man will be my disciple, let bim deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”
And, therefore, a religious course should be entered upon with solemn thought and deliberation. We should sit down and consider the difficulties, dangers, and exertions that will attend it. For if we begin under á mistaken notion, and reckoning only upon what is pleasing and peaceful, we shall peradventure repent when we see war, and return into Egypt. Hence many have taken up a profession of godliness, and soon lays it down again, to the disgrace of the cause of Christ, and the enhancement of their own condemnation ; for the last state of such men is worse than the first.
But this should not discourage those that are heartily disposed for the warfare. There is enough to justify their choice, and to animate them to go forward, notwithstanding all they ought to look for in the divine lite.
And if you are already engaged, and you are constrained to say, Whatever others find it,'I feel it to be a conflict truly serious and trying: I feel daily and hourly the sentiment of Paul; “So fight I, not as one that beateth the air:” remember that it is che same with all your brethren in the world, and has been so with all the glorified now before the Throne
“Once they were mourning here below,
And wet their couch with tears ;
With sins, and doubls, and sears." It would be awful if you were not acquainted with this conflict. But your experience is a token for good. The strong man armed keepeth his palace and his goods in peace. It is the delivered soul that is the subject of this contest. Say not, why am I thus? You are thus, because the Lord has chosen you to be a soldier; because his grace has produced in you principles alien to nature, and which have roused all the powers of darkness. And you shall be furnished with supplies and succours. And as your day, so shall your strength be. And armour is provided for you the most tried and complete. And it is a good fight in which you are engaged: it will bear examination; every review will afford you pleasure; every good being in the universe is on your side, and wishes you success. And
your victory is sure and near. Earth is a tiresome place; but you are not to live here always. Now, if one temptation is overcome, another succeeds. But the warfare will soon be accomplished. Death will proclaim the triumph. How sweet will rest be after toil; and peace after such a fight!
FEBRUARY 10.-"For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely, in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”—Psalm xxxii. 6.
David knew there was a general sameness of views and feelings in the subjects of divine grace. Hence from his own experience he inferred the disposition and conduct of the godly in all future agesthey would do what he had done, and find the same relief. He refers, however, to the result of his case when he had been brought into a proper state of mind, and not to the commencement of it, which he himself censures. For we are here furnished with a fact which does not appear in the history of David. It is commonly supposed, that after his grievous fall, till Nathan reproved him, he had been careless and stupified; and this has often been adduced as a proof of the hardening nature of sin. But the thing was far otherwise. He was all the while tortured in his mind, yet unwilring to humble himself before God, and condemn hinself before men, as he ought to have done-He kept silence, and endeavoured to pass off the distress by time, palliation, and excuse. But the repression and concealment of his anguish preyed not only upon his peace, but his health, and endangered life itself. At length he was reduced to the deepest penitence, and threw himself, by an unqualified confes. sion, on the compassion of God. This was a wise course, and we shall do well to follow his example. Under a sense of guilt we should not keep away from God, but enter bis presence, and cry, "God be merciful to me, a sinner.” This will melt the heart into 6 godly sorrow” better than all legal terrors; and we know who hath said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Hence, says David, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the droughi of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”
He then adds: “ For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee.” Here we see not only that all the godly pray, but every one of them prays for pardon. This is the very thing which our Saviour teaches his disciples: “When ye pray, say-forgive us our trespasses.” And this praying does not only regard the manifestation of forgiving mercy, as some would have it, but the exercise of it. For in many things we offend all; yea, in every thing we come short of the glory of God. If He should mark what we do amiss, we could not stand before him, even for the sins of our holy things. A faithful examination of the most innocent hour of our lives, and the devoutest act of our worship, must bring us upon our knees, crying, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no flesh living be justified." From the beginning to the end our hope must be a " looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
But here is a season of audience"In a time when thou mayest be found." There is a time, therefore, when he will not be found. Hence the force of the admonition, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” Life is the time not only to serve, but to seek the Lord,
There are no acts of pardon passed
In the cold grave to which we haste." At death, the bridge is drawn; the door is shut. Yet, during life, there are some periods more favoured than others. Paul sought the Lord thrice for deliverance before the promise of all-sufficient grace was given him. God heard Moses at one time, not another. How long did Abraham and Isaac pray before they received the answer! But the time of finding, when we pray for pardoning grace, is the hour in which David found it; which was the moment he entirely condemned himself and justified God-God is always more ready to pardon than we are to confess.
And blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. He is free from all condemnation ; and in whatever condition he is found, he