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passions of which St. Paul says once and for ever, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.'
These are the sad consequences of giving way to the flesh, the selfish animal nature within us: and most miserable would man be if that were all he had to look to. Miserable, were there not a kingdom of God, into which he could enter all day long, and be at peace; and a Spirit of God, who would raise him up to the spiritual life of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and a Son of God, the king of that kingdom, the giver of that Spirit, who cries for ever to every one of us— Come unto 'me, ye that are weary and heavy laden, and 'I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, ' and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly
of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your 'souls.
Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; these are the fruits of the Spirit : the spirit of unselfishness; the spirit of charity ; the spirit of . justice; the spirit of purity; the Spirit of God. Against them there is no law. He who is guided by this Spirit, and he only, may do what he would; for he will wish to do nought but what is right. He is not under the law, but under grace; and full of grace will he be in all his words and works. He has entered into the kingdom of God, and is living therein as God's subject, obeying the royal law of liberty—'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'
· The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and “the Spirit against the flesh, so that ye ' cannot do the things that ye would, says St. Paul.
My friends, this is the battle of life.
In every one of us, more or less, this battle is going on; a battle between the flesh and the Spirit, between the animal nature and the divine grace. In every one of us, I say, who is not like the heathen, dead in trespasses and sins; in every one of us who has a conscience, excusing or else accusing us. There are those—a very few, I hope—who are sunk below that state; who have lost their sense of right and wrong; who only care to fulfil the lusts of the flesh in pleasure, ease, and vanity. There are those in whom the voice of conscience is dead for a while, silenced by self-conceit; who say in their prosperity, like the foolish Laodiceans, 'I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,' and know not that in fact and reality, and in the sight of God, they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.'
Happy, happy for any and all of us,-if ever we fall into that dream of pride and false security,—to be awakened again, however painful the awakening may be! Happy for every man that the battle between the Spirit and the flesh should begin in him again and again, as long as his flesh is not subdued to his spirit. If he be wrong, the greatest blessing which can happen to him is, that he should find himself in the wrong. If he have been deceiving himself, the greatest blessing is, that God should anoint his eyes that he may see—see himself as he
is ; see his own inbred corruption ; see the sin which doth so easily beset him, whatever it may be. Whatever anguish of mind it may cost him, it is a light price to pay for the inestimable treasure which true repentance and amendment brings; the fine gold of solid self-knowledge, tried in the fire of bitter experience; the white raiment of a pure and simple heart; the eye-salve of honest self-condemnation and noble shame. If he have but these and these God will give him, in answer to prayer, the prayer of a broken and a contrite heart—then he will be able to carry on the battle against the corrupt flesh, with its affections and lusts, in hope. In the assured hope of final victory. “For greater is he that is with us, than he that is against us.' He that is against us is our self, our selfish self, our animal nature ; and he that is with us is God; God and none other; and who can pluck us out of his hand ?
My friends, the bread and the wine on that table are God's own sign to us that he will not leave us to be, like the savage, the slaves of our own animal natures ; that he will feed not merely our bodies with animal but our souls with spiritual food; giving us strength to rise above our selfish selves; and so subdue the flesh to the Spirit that at last, however long and weary the fight, however sore wounded and often worsted we may be, we shall conquer in the battle of life.