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O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death1?" If we know not the plague of our own hearts; if we feel not the sting of our own iniquity; if we are insensible of our own utter unworthiness, it is clear that we shall not come to him for healing, from whom alone the power of healing proceeds. If we sleep whilst the venom courses through the blood; if a lethargy deep and deadly is upon the senses; if we discover neither the wound that destroys us, nor the hurt that slays us; if we slumber on still in our guilt, will not death be the necessary consequence? If the heart is hard as the adamant, impenetrable as the rock; if sin has taken full and firm possession of the soul, and paralyzed its faculties, and destroyed its powers; if that benumbing influence which is sometimes ascribed to the serpent has come over the mind, and its energies are prostrated in spiritual insensibility, how shall it be awakened? how shall it
1 Romans vii. 24.
be aroused to a sense of its danger, and induced to make the exertion indispensable for a cure? There is no state of man more fearful than that of spiritual torpor -the deadness of the soul in trespasses and sins, in sensuality and worldly-mindedness.
Would it not have seemed strange to you, had the Israelite resolutely turned away his face from the remedy lifted up, and closed his ears to the blessed hope poured into them? had he persisted unto death in doubting or denying his danger, or sought for drugs to lull the sense of pain, rather than apply the means of cure? Yet what is the spectacle that so often meets our eyes? Is it not that of cold and deadly apathy? where the man appears to proceed from youth to age in utter indifference as to his spiritual condition, in total recklessness as to his future welfare. Childhood passes with its toysyouth glides by in pleasure-manhood steals away in care-year after year flies past upon the wings of the wind, in still increasing worldliness, as if there were no
state beyond the present, no home beside this house of clay. Time, measured out to us drop by drop', is polluted as it falls upon us, and age comes on, and sickness, and pain, and death, ere the mind has become enlightened, or the heart regenerated; ere a single hope has been centered in heaven, or a single wish has been wafted towards the skies. Deep, deep is the lethargy of the spirit, dark is the gloom of insensibility, which the Christian
"It is very remarkable," says Jeremy Taylor, "that God who giveth plenteously to all creatures, hath scattered the firmament with stars, as a man sows corn in his fields, in a multitude bigger than the capacities of human order; he hath made so much variety of creatures, and gives us great choice of meats and drinks, although any one of both kinds would have served our needs; and so in all instances of nature; yet in the distribution of our time, God seems to be strait-handed, and gives it to us, not as nature gives us rivers, enough to drown us, but drop by drop, minute after minute, so that we never can have two minutes together, but he takes away one when he gives us another. This should teach us to value our time, since God so values it, and by his so small distribution of it, tells us it is the most precious thing we have."
minister often encounters. ments, his pleadings, are met with a mortal deadness; and if the mind is ever awakened, if the soul is ever roused, if the heart is ever alarmed, it is only when the hand falls, and the eye closes, in the weakness of nature's struggle; and hope alone, feeble as the expiring taper's light, is all that remains to encourage or to console him, as he stands beside the awful bed of death.
Therefore it is, that the Gospel came to sinners, to those who know themselves to be sinners; that its message is continually,
Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Therefore it is, that it is endowed with such a searching power, that it is furnished with keenness and sharpness," piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart 1." Therefore it is, that it strives to lay open the inmost soul, to exhibit its unworthiness, and make it taste its own
'Heb. iv. 12.
bitterness, and feel its own sorrows. Therefore it is, that the minister of the Gospel is compelled to cast aside all flattering and soothing words, and to disclose unveiled the corruption of man's nature; to tear away the covering from the secret "chambers of imagery," the deeply hidden recesses of guilt; that he is compelled to expatiate rather upon the dangers of sin, than upon the rewards of godliness; rather upon the terrors of the wrath to come, than upon the glories of eternity. Therefore it is, that the first office of the Comforter himself-the Spirit of truth, the Messenger of consolation-the very God of Peace-is to convince of sin. And, blessed indeed are the convictions of sin. Blessed are the pangs of godly sorrow. Blessed is the cup of remorse, bitter though it be, if it guide us to him who alone can say, "Son, thy sins are forgiven thee." Blessed is the pain we feel. Blessed are the sounds we hear. Blessed are the trials we experience, the troubles we endure, if they only bring with them a sense of our spiritual state. Blessed is