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REFLECTIONS. Being set at liberty from the condemning sentence of God's lawn let us charge our souls, by all the ties of gratitude, that we do not turn his grace into wantonness ; or deceive ourselves with vain words in a matter of infinite importance. We cannot be at the same time the servants of God and the servants of sin ; and certainly our understandings must be darkened to infatuation, if we can long doubt whose service we should prefer. The work of righteousness is peace, the effect of it quietness and assurance for ever ; but death is the wages of sin, and it shall be repayed to all that go on in it. And () what, and how terrible a death! to be cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. How merciful are all the repeated admonitions which warn us to flee from it! Let us all judge, that it is already too long that we have yielded ourselves the servants of sin : too long that our members, made for the service of their Creator, devoted perhaps with great solemnity to our Redeenier, have been abused and prostituted, as the instruments of unrighteousness. Surely it is too much time that we have already spent, too much vigour that we have already exerted, in so base a servitude. For the future let us act as those who are made free from sin.
And to animate us to it, let us often reflect how unfruitful the works of darkness have been found ; in what shame they have already ended ; in what shame and everlasting contempt they must end, if they shall be finally pursued. And let us daily direct our eye to that everlasting life, that crowns the happy prospect of those who have their fruit unto holiness. Blessed effect of serving God now, to serve and enjoy liim for ever! to enjoy, through eternal ages, the pleasures of a nature thoroughly sanctified, and the sight and favour of that God, who is the original source and pattern of sanctification! It is the glorious mark at which we are aiming. Let us pursue it steadily and resolutely; yet always remembering that it is the gift of God, and never presuming to think of so glorious a remuneration as the wages of any duty we can perform. Alas! the imperfections of our best services daily forfeit the blessings of time: how impossible then is it, that the sincerity of them, amidst so many frailtics and defects, should purchase the glories of eternity!
The apostle attempts to take off the believing Jews from their attachment to
the Mosaic law, now they were married to Christ by the gospel. Ch. vii. 1-6.
I DUT know ye not, brethren (for I am speaking to those that are
D acquainted with the law) that the law ruleth over a man only 2 so long as it liveth* ? For, to illustrate this by a parallel case, the
married woman is bound by the law to her husband, while he is alive ; but if her husband be dead, she is set at liberty from the
* i. e. The Law, which when abrogated may be considered as dead.
3 law of her husband. Therefore if she become the property of
another whilst her husband liveth, she carrieth the name of an adulteress ; but if her husband be dead, then she is set at liberty
from the law, so as to be no more an adulteress, though she become 4 the property of another man. Thus ye also, my brethren, are dead
to the Mosaic law by the body of Christ, who by his death has ab. rogated its authority, that ye might be married to another, that is,
to him, who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth 5 fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, sinful passions
by the law were active in our members, so as to bring forth fruit 6 to death. But now, we are set at liberty from the law (that in
which we were held being dead) so as to serve God in the newness of the spirit, according to the spiritual meaning of the law, and not in the oldness of the letter: these literal, ceremonial precepts being antiquated and out of date.
REFLECTIONS. God hath conferred upon all Christians this singular honour, that the whole body of them should be represented as espoused to Christ. Let us alway remember, how we are engaged by that sacred relation, to bring forth unto God. And may the remembrance of the resurrection of Christ put continual vigour into our obedience, while we re. gard him as the ever-living Lord, to whom our obligations are indissoluble and everlasting. Too much have sinful passions reigned in our flesh, during our unconverted state. In too many instances have they wrought effectually to bring forth fruit unto death. And we owe it to the wonderful mercy and forbearance of God that death, eternal death, hath not long since been the consequence. Being freed from the yoke of the ceremonial law, being freed also from the condemn ing sentence of that moral law, under the obligations of which, by the constitution of our intelligent and rational nature, we are all born; let us thankfully acknowledge the favour, and charge it upon our grateful hearts, that we serve God in newness of spirit and of life. To engage us to this, may we experience more abundantly the renewings of the Holy Ghost; and the actions of our lives will be easily and delightfully reduced to the obedience of these precepts which his oinnipotent and gracious hand hath inscribed on our hearts
The motives of the law ineffectual to produce holiness, in comparison with a
lively faith in the gospel. Ch. vii. 7, &c. viii. 1—4. T W H AT shall we say then? Shall we infer from the foregoing
VV representation that the law is sin ? or adapted to lead men into it? God forbid ! Indeed I should not have known what was sin, but by the law which forbids it : for instance, I had not known lust, or the sinfulness of irregular desires, unless the law had said, “ Thou
8 shalt not covet*.” But sin taking occasion from the commandment, wrought powerfully in me all manner of concupiscence : because while I was without the law of God, ignorant of its strict
demands, sin was, in my view, clead : I was not aware of any danger 9 from it. For I was once alive, cheerful and happy, while without the
law : But when the commandment came, and I saw its purity and 10 extent, sin came to life again, and I died. And the command11 ment, which was intended for life, I found to be unto death. For
sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me into a
persuasion that I could be no worse, and thereby it slew me, and 12 rendered my case more desperate. So that the law is holy, and the 13 commandment holy, just, and good. Was then that which was
good in itself made death to me? Shall I charge my ruin upon the law ? God forbid ! but upon sin. So that it appeared to be sin working death in me, by means of that which is good ; that so sin might, by the commandment thus perverted, appear exceed
ingly sinful, and stand forth in all its native and detestable colours. 1.4 For we know that the law is spiritual, and tends to purify the soul ;
but I am carnal, and sold under sin, which tyrannizes over me as its 15 slave. For that which I do, I approve not: for I practise not
that which I will : but the things which I hate, those things I 16 ofien do. Now if I do that which I would not, I consent to the 17 law, that it is good. But now, it is no more I myself that do it, 18 but sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in
my flesh, the corrupt degenerate self) nothing that is good dwell
eth: for to will is indeed present with me, but I find not ability to 19 perform that which is good. For I do not the good that I will ; 20 but the evil, which I will not, that I frequently do. If therefore
I do that which I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that 21 dwelleth in me. I find then a law constraining me, that when I 22 would do good, evil is present with me. For with regard to the
inner man, the nobler powers of my mind, I delight in the law of 23 God. But I see another law in my members, making war
against the law of my mind, and captivating me to the law of sin, 24 which is in my menibers. Wretched man that I am! who shall 25 rescue me from the body of this deatht? I thank God through,
Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom he delivers me from this bondage.
* The apostle here, by a dexterous turn, changes the person and speaks as of himself, as he elsewhere does, Rom. iji. 6; 1 Cor. x. 3c. iv. 6, when he is only personating another character. The character assumed here, is that of a man, first ignorant of the law, then under it, and sincerely desiring to please God, but finding to his sorrow, the weakness of the motives it suggested, and the sad discouragement uncler which it left him; and last of all, with transport discovering the gospel, and gaining pardon and strength, peace and joy by it. But to suppose he speaks all these things of himself, at the time he wrote this epistle, when he was a confirined Christian, is contrary to the whole scope of his discourse, as well as to what he asserts, ch. viii. 2.
+ Odious as a dead carcase; alluding to the cruelty of some tyrants to their captives in tying dead bodes to the living. [The author quotes no authority; but Val. Max. Virgil, and others, mention the horrid fact. Ed.] In the next verse, some copies read - Yagis the grace of God.
So then, whereas I myself with my spirit serve the law of God, viii. though with my flesh the law of sin ; * there is now no condem
nation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but 2 after the spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus 3 hath set me at liberty from the law of sin and death. For God
hath done what it was impossible for the law to do, in that it was weak through the flesh: hc by sending his own son in the likeness
of sinful flesh, and to be a sacrifice for sin, hath condemned sin 4 in the flesh ; that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in
us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
REFLECTIONS. Admirable and adorable indeed were the condescensions of the Blessed God, in sending his own Son in the likeness of our sinful flesh, stript of its original glories, that he might become an expiatory sacrifice for sin. Let us remember the grand purpose for which he did it; that he might condemn sin in our flesh, that he might enable us to do execution on sin as a condemned malefactor. In his name therefore let us pursue the victory, and rejecting every overture of accommodation, with determined, zeal do justice upon it. And may what we have been reading, establish our resolution of walking, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, since we are now delivered from the curse of a broken law, and blessed with a dispensation so properly called the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus : a dispensation, by attending to the peculiarities of which, we may be enabled to extend our conquests over sin in the most effectual manner, and to attain heights of virtue and piety to which no legal considerations and motives alone could raise us.But O, what reason of humiliation is there, that we improve it no better, and that these melancholy strains should so well become us! That instead of pressing forward daily to fresh victories, and making new improvements in the divine life, we should so often complain, and have so much cause to complain, of a law in our members, not only warring against the law of our minds, but even, in many instances, bringing us into captivity to the law of sin and death; so that we Christians should cry out, like those under the Mosaic æconomy, wretched men, that we are, who shall deliver us! Let renewed views of Christ Jesus animate us to renewed vigour in this warfare; Jest when we are delivered from those servile terrors which the legal dispensation, under a consciousness of guilt, might have awakened, sin, no longer able to take this occasion from the law, should appear yet more exceedingly sinful, by taking occasion, in another view, even from the gospel itself; which in many instances it seems to do. · Let us remember, that the law of God is holy, just, and good ; delighting in it more and more afier our inner man, and taking hecd, that we do not deceive ourselves by such a passage as this, into a secret, but vain and fatal hope, that because we are convinced of our duty, and feel in our conscience a sense of the evil of sin, we might be said
* The common division here, is very unhappy, being in the midst of a sentence.
to serve the land of God, while, by abandoning ourselves to known acts of wilsul transgression, we are in our fesh serving the law of sin, Habitually to allow ourselves in neglecting the good we approve, and committing the evils we condemn, is the readiest way that hell itself can point out for the ruin of immortal souls ; in such a case, all that we know, and all that we feel, concerning the obligations of duty, and the excellence of holiness, aggravate rather than extenuate our failures ; and though the sublime views which eminently good men under the gospel have of religion, may sometimes incline them to adopt such complaints as these, in reference to the unallowed and lamented deficiencies and infirmities of a truly upright and pious life ; it remains an eternal truth, which instead of being ab: rogated under the New Testament, is most expressly confirmed, that he who doth righteousness is righteous, and not he that merely wishes to do it : and he who committeth sin, is of the devil, even though he should speak against it like an apostle, or an angel,
It is indeed impossible exactly to lay the line that separates the boundaries of the kingdom of Christ and of Satan ; nor is it by any means a desirable thing, that we should know the lowest state of weakness and degeneracy into which a Christian may fall, while he continues in the main a Christian. We have great reason to doubt whether we be really Christians ourselves, if for our own sakes [only] we wish to know it. Our calling obliges us to aspire after the most eminent attainments in religion; it obliges us never to rest till we find, ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and alive to God through Jesus Christ ; so as to abound in all the vital fruits of righteousness unto his praise and glory.
The obligations of the gospel to a holy life further argued, especially from
the communication of the Spirit, Ch. viii, 5–17.
5 TT is with reason that I mention i his distinction in the characters
1 of men, as of the highest importance : For they who are after the
flesh, do mind and pursue the things of the flesh ; but they who 6 are after the spirit, do mind the things of the spirit. Now the minding of the flesh, the fireferring its interests, is death, whereas
the minding and pursuing the interests of the spirit, is life and 7 peace : because the carnal mind is enmity to God. For it is not 8 subject to the law of Cod, neither indeed can it be so, So that
they who are in the flesh under the government of a carnal princi9 nit, cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the
spirit, if the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. And if any man 10 have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ
be in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin; yet the spirit is Il life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him that raised
up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, lie that raised up Christ
from the dead, will also quicken your mortal bodies by that Spirit 12 which dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not