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he uttered, 6 He that liveth and believeth in me, shall not die eternally.” Die he must, but not eternally ; die the first death, but not the second.
It is undoubtedly, therefore, the second death, which Saint Paul meant by the word death, when he wrote down the sentence, “ the body of this death :” and the second death is the punishment, perdition, and destruction, which the souls of sinners will suffer in a future state. It is well worthy of observation, that this was indeed the only death which those who wrote the New Testament, and probably all sincere Christians of that age, regarded as important; as the subject of their awe, and dread and solicitude. The first death, the natural and universal decease of the body, they looked to simply as a change,
going out of one room into another; a putting off one kind of clothing, and putting on a different kind. They esteemed it, compared with the other, of little moment or account. In this respect there is a wide difference between the Scripture apprehension of the subject and ours. We think entirely of the first death; they We speak
thought entirely of the second. and talk of the death which we see: they spoke, and taught, and wrote of a death 'which is future to that. We look to the first with terror; they to the second alone. The second alone they represent as formidable. Such is the view which Christianity gives us of these things, so different from what we naturally entertain.
You see then what death is in the Scripture sense, in Saint Paul's sense. « The body of this death.” The phrase and expression of the text cannot, however, mean this death itself, because he prays to be delivered from it: whereas from that death, or that perdition understood by it, when it once overtakes the sinner, there is no deliverance that we know of. The " body," then, “ of this death,” is not the death itself, but a state leading to and ending in the second death, namely, in misery and punishment, instead of happiness and rest, after our departure out of this world. And this state it is, from which Saint Paul, with such vehemence and concern upon his spirits, seeks to be delivered.
Having seen the signification of the principal phrase employed in the text, the next and the most important question is, to what condition of the soul, in its moral and religious concerns, the apostle applies it. Now in the verses preceding the text, indeed in the whole of this remarkable chapter, St. Paul has been describing a state of struggle and contention with sinful
propensities; which propensities, in the present condition of our nature, we all feel, and which are
never wholly abolished. But our apostle goes further : he describes also that state of unsuccessful struggle and unsuccessful contention, by which many so unhappily fall. His words are these, “that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that I do not, but what I hate, that do I. For I know that in me, that is, in my Alesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not; for the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. I find a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.
But I see another law
in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
This account, though the style and manner of expression in which it is delivered be very peculiar, is, in its substance, no other than what is strictly applicable to the case of thousands. “ The good that I would, I do not : the evil which I would not, that I do.”
How many, who read this discourse, may say the same of themselves! as 'also, “ what I would, that do I not, but what I hate, that I do!” This then is the case which Saint Paul had in view. It is a case, first, which supposes an informed and enlightened conscience. 66 I delight in the law of God.”
66 I had not known sin but by the law.” 6 I consent unto the law that it is good.” These sentiments could be uttered only by a man who was in a considerable degree at least, acquainted with his duty, and who also approved of the rule of duty which he found laid down.
Secondly, the case before us also sup
poses an inclination of mind, and judgment to perform our duty. 6 When I would do good, evil is present with me: to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not."
Thirdly, it supposes this inclination of mind and judgment to be continually overpowered. “ I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members ;” that is, the evil principle not only opposes the judgment of the mind, and the conduct which that judgment dictates (which may be the case with all), but in the present case subdues and gets the better of it.
“ Not only wars against the law of my mind, but brings me into captivity.”
Fourthly, the case supposes a sense and. thorough consciousness of all this ; of the rule of duty, of the nature of sin ; of the struggle ; of the defeat. It is a prisoner sensible of his chains. It is a soul tired and bound by the fetters of its sins, and knowing itself to be so. It is by no means the