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years of life
gether, and his last stroke is gentle, because so much of his work has been done before. So it is with spiritual death. I do not deny that here too
I death sometimes does his work suddenly, with a mighty power of fear and of remorse, tearing down as in an instant the whole body of sin in its full vigour. But this is most rare; most commonly, much the most commonly, spiritual death, like natural, does its work gradually; with many an ebb and flow, with many a struggle of the natural sin to stand against it, struggles which it reduces but cannot quite put down; so that for
and we may be said to be dying daily. And oftentimes, too, the work begins and is fatally interrupted; death begins its work, but the strength of sin baffles it; and so the body of sin is not dead, but remains alive and vigorous, and its life is our eternal death.
But still, although the struggle be not over, although we may not be dead to sin, yet the great question still remains, are we dying to it? Depend upon it, that it is not to die to sin if we at certain times, as before the communion, or before our confirmation,-if we at certain times only look into ourselves, and say some prayers more than usual, and read some serious books which we do not commonly read, and make some good resolutions, and then think that our work is done. This many of us, it is likely, may have done, may
be doing now, or meaning to do it, yet we cannot say that they are dying to sin. What they have done, has been done perhaps very deliberately; they did these things as thinking it right to do them, and when they were over they were well pleased with themselves for having done them; but where was the struggle within them which announces the work of death, the fear of God's anger, the painful sense of sin, the praying with the earnestness of men in extremest peril that Christ who had shed his blood for us would now deliver us? Where was the leaving off old habits, painful almost as the actual dissolution of the body? Where was the consciousness of the sin that generally cleaves to our whole nature, not only in this or that particular act, but in our hearts altogether, which Christ's grace must destroy no less generally, and the destruction of which, so wholly has it engrossed us, seems to be no less than the destruction of our own selves?
If all this seems perfectly strange to us, strange to our experience, extravagant to our notions, then we may be very sure that we have not died to sin, nor yet begun to die to it; that sin rather is alive within us, and that it is ourselves rather that are perishing. Assuredly the great work is yet to do; we are still living after the flesh, living after our own evil nature, and therefore we cannot please God.
What I have said would then have its proper effect, if it led any one to consider whether now or at any former time of his life, he feels, or can remember ever to have felt, any such struggle within him, between his sinful nature and God's grace, as can in any respect be worthy of the name of dying. Whether he remembers any such process
. of anxiety and great watchfulness, in which he beheld death as it were on one side of him and life on the other, and so fled from the manifest danger of his state, and resolved that his sin should die and not himself, lest if it continued alive he should himself die for ever. This conflict takes place sooner or later; its length is longer or shorter, as it may be, but it exists, and exists perceptibly at some time or other in the life of every soul whom Christ redeems.
Two deaths, my brethren, we must die, every one of us. One is the death of our body, which will happen alike to us all ; but what the other death is, is the great matter of salvation or of destruction. Our bodies, our natural bodies, will die alike in all of us; this is one death; but besides this shall all die another, we shall all feel the death of our sins, or the death of our souls. We shall feel the one or the other, for no death can happen without our feeling it, only whilst the death of our sins is felt most at its beginning, so the death of our souls is often felt only in its last stage, when its stroke can no more be repelled, and its victory is certain. Remember that one of these two deaths, both I cannot deny painful, we must die every one of us. Which shall it be then? Shall it be the death of our sin or the death of our soul? The death whose pain comes at first most, yet even then, by Christ's grace, it is endurable ; but afterwards the suffering and the struggle lessen, and there comes the rest of death, and the vigour and the freshness and the glory of that divine and eternal life which the death of our sins has given birth to or shall it be the death whose first strokes are silent and painless, which pours in its poison and we feel it not,-more and more triumphant, and we more and more insensible ; till behold, its work is accomplished, and then the agony is neither to be uttered nor conceived, and Christ is gone from us for ever, and life and death are become one for our destruction ;-a death of
THE DEATH OF SIN.
Psalm lxxxv. 8.
I will hear what God the Lord will speak : for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints : but let them not turn again to folly.
This is the Bible version of these words; the Prayer-book version gives the last part differently: “ He shall speak peace unto His people and to His saints, that they turn not again.” It was not, we may feel sure, intentional : yet had the same men been engaged in both translations, and if they had felt that there was some doubt as to the exact rendering of the original, they could not have done better than give the above two versions, which represent so faithfully the two different aspects, if I may so speak, under which the Scripture represents God's mercies; sometimes describing them as things which must absolutely hinder