Romans 5:12-21. — Our Justification in Christ illustrated by our Fall in Adam. The difference between these our representatives. The riches of God's Grace.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 18:29 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 18:30 ]

Chapter 5:12-21.

Our Justification in Christ illustrated by our Fall in Adam. The difference between these our representatives. The riches of God's Grace.

12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13. (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

15. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift: for if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

16. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

17. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

19. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

RESPECTING this portion of God's word a few preliminary remarks are submitted. 1. It is instructive to see different classes of commentators approach this passage. Those, who entertain Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian views, or are unsound or doubtful on the great doctrines [[@Page:218]] of Original Sin, the Nature of Sin, the Work of Christ, or Justification, seem to look upon Rom. 5:12-19 with alarm, if not dread. John Taylor of Norwich among moderns took the lead in this course. He has been followed, more or less closely, by a multitude, whose preliminary remarks on the passage commonly notify you of what is coming. Frequently they early announce that they have had great labor on the passage, and have found it full of difficulty. Stuart says: “That this is one of the most difficult passages in all the New Testament, will be conceded, I believe, by all sober and reflecting critics. As I have before remarked, I have bestowed repeated and long-continued efforts upon the study of it. I do not say this, however, as affording in itself even a presumptive proof that I have at last attained to a right understanding of it; but only to shew that I have felt, and in some measure rightly estimated, the difficulties attendant upon the nature of an undertaking to explain it, and have not neglected any efforts within my power to overcome them." Similar remarks might easily be cited from other writers of the same class.

That there are unsearchable riches and unfathomable depths of love and wisdom and knowledge in this and in many other portions of God's word is readily conceded by all good men. Paul himself in this epistle and elsewhere frankly and adoringly admits all this, Rom. 11:33-36; Eph. 3:17-21.

That those; who oppose the sound view, have often shown great ingenuity, if not perversity, in making objections of various kinds, philological, philosophical, and rationalistic, and thus succeeded in perplexing some of the unlearned is also admitted. In some cases these views have been carried so far as to subvert the gospel. It is of the nature of all religious error to eat as doth a canker.

Sound expositors, to defend the truths here taught, have often laid out much strength in showing the mistakes of errorists, and in vindicating the old orthodox interpretation. They admit the passage has been so perverted as to require a lucid exposition of its leading ideas, and an exposure of the glosses of errorists, who, while complaining of the theories of others, present their own conceits, and would have us follow them. But it is not true that the great body of sound divines have found this portion of God's word perplexing and hard to be understood. That this is a correct statement it would be easy to show in many ways. They come to it as to any other part of scripture. They take the terms and phrases in their connection and in their obvious sense, and they rest on the divine word as conclusive. One opens the volumes written by the fathers in the church for the last fifteen or [[@Page:219]] sixteen hundred years, and he finds them from the days of Chrysostom down handling this scripture with great love and reverence, but never seeming to think the apostle was obscure, or that this passage was very difficult, or calculated to perplex rather than edify plain godly people.

The elder President Edwards has borne a noble testimony on these matters: “Now I think this care and exactness of the Apostle no where appears more than in the place we are .upon. [Rom. 5:12-19.] Nay I scarcely know another instance equal to this, of the apostle's care to be well understood, by being very particular, explicit, and precise, setting the matter forth in every light, going over and over again with his doctrine, clearly to exhibit, and fully to settle and determine the thing at which he aims."

Again: “No wonder, when the apostle is treating so fully and largely of our restoration, righteousness, and life by Christ, that he is led by it to consider our fall, sin, death, and ruin by Adam; and to observe wherein these two opposite heads of mankind agree, and wherein they differ, in the manner of conveyance of opposite influences and communications from each.

"Thus, if the place be understood, as it used to be understood by orthodox divines, the whole stands in a natural, easy, and clear connection with the preceding part, of the chapter, and all the former part of the epistle; and in a plain agreement with all the apostle had been saying; and also in connection with the words last before spoken, as introduced by the two immediately preceding verses, where he is speaking of our justification, reconciliation, and salvation by Christ; which leads the apostle directly to observe, how, on the contrary, we have sin and death by Adam. Taking this discourse of the apostle in its true and plain sense, there is no need of great extent of learning, or depth of criticism to find out the connection; but if it be understood in Dr. Taylor's sense, the plain scope and connection are wholly lost, and there was truly need of a skill in criticism, and the art of discerning, beyond or at least different from that of former divines, and a faculty of seeing what other men's sight could not reach, in order to find out the connection." Works, Vol. 2, pp. 499-502. Similar remarks are made by Guyse and others.

2. On the object and interpretation of this portion of scripture sound divines have been remarkably agreed. It would be easy to fill pages with extracts from the best writers of the last fifteen hundred years in proof of this assertion. There is a general agreement that this part of the epistle is written in confirmation and elucidation of what the apostle had already taught respecting [[@Page:220]] man's justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ. There is no notice of any change of topic. All that is said admits of a satisfactory explanation on this view of the case. Perhaps not a single writer, who denies this to be the design and bearing of these verses, escapes either mistake or confusion, while not a few are led into strange contradictions, or dangerous errors.

3. Although this is the design of the passage, the method of carrying it out is quite different from anything yet presented in this epistle. The illustration of our recovery in Christ is borrowed from the fact and manner of our ruin in Adam. Paul's object is not to discuss and explain original sin, but by original sin to explain the method of justification. In doing this he does in a most instructive and satisfactory manner explain to us the entrance of sin, and our relations to the father of the human race. Indeed no equal portion of scripture casts such light on the introduction of evil, as it involves the human race. All this is the more satisfactory because the apostle does not attempt to prove anything respecting original sin. He either takes it for granted that his positions on that subject will be admitted by all, or he intends by the authority of God's Spirit to make known to us the leading truths respecting original sin, and that for the purpose of letting us see more clearly the manner and the glory of our recovery in Christ. And all this comes in most naturally. He had delivered a great argument evincing these truths, that mankind, Jews and Gentiles, were sinners; that their justification by the deeds of the law was out of the question; that the gospel scheme had in it a righteousness commensurate to the demands of the law; that this righteousness was wrought out and brought in by Jesus Christ; that we become interested in that righteousness when God imputes it to us, and we receive it by faith; that there is no other method of justification for any mere man; that Abraham himself was justified by faith; and that the writings of Moses settled that fact beyond all doubt. He then in the early part of this chapter dwells briefly on the benefits of this justification, and on the greatness of the love and humiliation by which our justification and reconciliation were effected. Having in chapter IV. disposed of the truth respecting Abraham, the father of believers, he now goes back to Adam, the father of the human race, and borrows an illustration of his argument and principles from him. As he had said Abraham was a pattern of all believers, so he now says Adam was a figure, literally a type, of our Saviour.

4. If these things are so, then there is a clear and definite object before the mind of the apostle, and all that is said is harmonious with what has gone before, and is as easily understood as any other [[@Page:221]] part of the epistle, the terms being simple, and the connection obvious. But Stuart says, “The main design of this passage is ... to exalt our views respecting the blessings which Christ has procured for us by a comparison of them with the evil consequences, which ensued upon the fall of our first ancestor, and by shewing that the blessings in question not only extend to the removal of these evils, but even far beyond this; so that the grace of the gospel has not only abounded, but snper-aboundcd." But what is said of super-abounding grace is a remark very just indeed but wholly by the way, is no part of the main argument, yet grows out of the illustration used. No wonder this writer should find himself sadly perplexed and embarrassed at every step of his exposition when he misapprehends the scope of the passage. The same may be said of others, who have alike mistaken the design of the apostle. All these things show the justice of what is said by the elder President Edwards: “It is really no less than abusing the scripture and its readers to represent this paragraph as the most obscure of all the places of scripture, that speak of the consequences of Adam's sin; and to treat it as if there was need first to consider other places as more plain. Whereas it is most manifestly a place in which these things are declared, the most plainly, particularly, precisely, and of set purpose, by that great apostle, who has most fully explained to us those doctrines in general, which relate to the redemption by Christ, and the sin and misery we are redeemed from." Works, Vol. 2, p. 511. These things being so, let us consider these verses in detail.

12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Peshito: As by means of one man, sin entered into the world, and, by means of sin, death; and so death passed upon all the sons of men, inasmuch as they all have sinned. The old English versions are very much the same as the authorized translation. The verse may be fairly thus paraphrased: Having largely explained to you the lost and guilty state of mankind, and shewn that they are involved in universal ruin; and having stated the method of recovery by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, in which we become interested by the imputation of God when we believe, I am led to notice a resemblance between the method of our ruin and of our recovery. Our justification is not by many, but by one man, the man Christ Jesus, even as our condemnation was not by many but by one man. Condemnation was followed by death, and among rational and accountable creatures, death is by sin. That is a first principle in this matter so plain that I shall not argue it, but take it for granted. This dreadful curse and condemnation came, not [[@Page:222]] only on the first transgressor of the covenant of works, but on all his posterity; for he was their representative, and his first sin, his one offence had such an effect that death passed upon all men; for by the fall of Adam all became sinners, and so were liable to the curse of God, expressed in the word death, and manifested in the miseries of men here and hereafter, especially in this life in the dissolution of the body, then in separation of the soul from God, and finally in the liability of both soul and body to the pains of hell forever.

The first word wherefore marks the connection with the whole of the foregoing argument, more especially as summarily stated in Rom. 5:9, 10, 11. In Rom. 4:13 we have precisely the same words rendered Therefore. If they are illative there, why are they not illative here? This is by far the more common rendering, and there are many instances of this use in the New Testament beginning with the sermon on the mount, running through all the Gospels, Acts, etc. down to Revelation. It shows the great straits, into which some are brought that this wherefore should be so troublesome to them, and they set about with much zeal to show that it means something else. Stuart makes a great effort to prove that it does not mean here what it usually means. He shows very clearly that he is perplexed, and says others have been, yet he has the candor to state that Tholuck and Flatt give their suffrage in favor of the common view, which makes it illative. But Stuart labors to show that it neither notes a deduction nor is it a formula of transition. But these perplexities would never have arisen, if the plain obvious teaching of these few verses had not been contrary to favorite theories. We are at no loss to know who is the one man mentioned in this verse. The history of the race points to the father of all mankind. A single person is spoken of here and in Rom. 5:14-19. This language excludes Eve, not from the sin of eating the forbidden fruit, nor from being a tempter to her husband, nor from suffering the displeasure of God, but from being the federal head of the human family. Eve was not a public person. Had she alone sinned, she alone would have suffered. Scott: “Adam was the federal head, surety and representative of all his posterity; nor did sin enter, save to the personal condemnation of Eve, till he also ate the forbidden fruit." Adam and Eve were indeed “one flesh;" yet no more so than are every lawfully married man and woman. But they were not one person. They had not the same consciousness. There was a time when Adam existed and Eve did not exist. There was a time when Eve was a sinner and Adam was holy. Nor is there in scripture The least hint that Eve was a public person, a federal head, a representative of any.

[[@Page:223]] In these eight verses our ruin is twice distinctly said to have come on us by Adam; three times by one man, and four times by one, meaning either one person or one act.

By this one man sin entered. Sin, the word usually so rendered. All unrighteousness is sin. All want of righteousness is sin. All transgression of law is sin. All want of conformity to law is sin. Men may sin by defect or by excess, by not coming up to the law or by overleaping its prohibitions, by omission of duty, or by commission of deeds of iniquity. We sin when we fail to love, serve and obey God, or when we love, serve and obey any thing in the place of God. Sometimes the word sin denotes a state of sinfulness; sometimes, a principle of wickedness; sometimes, a wicked influence having the mastery over us: but in all cases it involves the idea of guiltiness, or righteous liability to God's displeasure. Sometimes this is the prominent thought. So far do the scriptures carry this idea that they have the same word for, , sin and sin-offering. Sometimes sin is personified, but that does not dismiss either the idea of wickedness or of exposure to wrath. Even when one of these ideas is prominent, the other still inheres, either as a basis or an accompaniment. Often the prominent idea suggested by the word is the guilt of sin, its power to subject us to wrath, liability to punishment. So when we read of the remission of sins, or the forgiveness of sins, it is the guilt of sin that is meant. The pollution or stain of sin is removed by sanctification, not by remission. Pardon excludes punishment. It does not render unnecessary the purification of the heart. That must still go on. When it is said “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” Heb. 9:28, it is blasphemy to say that he bore the pollution, the stain of sin, while it is glorious doctrine to say that he bore the guilt of our sins, the punishment due to us for sin, our legal liability to righteous indignation. So when it is said “he hath made him to be sin for us,” it cannot mean that Christ was stained or. polluted with sin, for it is immediately added that he “knew no sin." The meaning is that he bore the guilt of sin, the curse of the broken law, in our room and stead, though personally innocent and holy. Sin entered into. No word in Scripture has a meaning less variant. It is always rendered as here, or came into, or went into, but always retains the idea of entrance. “Enter into thy closet,” “enter ye in at the strait gate,” “enter into life,” “entered into the swine,” “entered into rest" are samples of its use. Sin entered into the world, the same word as in Rom. 4:13, on which see comment. It includes all the inhabitants of the earth, Jews and Gentiles.

What then is the meaning of the whole clause: "By one [[@Page:224]] man sin entered into the world? “Some say it simply teaches that Adam was the first sinner in this world. But this is not true. “Adam was first formed, then Eve." But Eve first sinned, then Adam. So all the accounts agree in teaching. Adam was not the first sinner. He did not commit the first sin. He did not set the first example 6f disobedience. The woman did that. The clause says: “By one man sin entered into the world." Some teach that simply as progenitor of the race, under that law of nature, that like begets like, Adam becoming a sinner introduced depravity into the world. No doubt like begets like. No doubt our depravity is native, and that all Adam's descendants have naturally sinful affections, corrupt natures derived from him as their root. But in the same sense men derive their sinful nature from Eve, as she was the mother of all living. And “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? “When David speaks of his hereditary depravity, he does not even mention his father, though doubtless he was included in his thoughts: “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. 51:5. By one man sin entered certainly means more than that Adam set us a bad example. Every man, who has ever done a known wrong, has set a bad example. And the phrase certainly means more than that Adam's descendants inherit from him a fallen nature; for they inherit it no less from their immediate ancestry, as David confesses. This whole clause is explained in this very chapter by such phrases as these: “Through the offence of one many be dead;" “The judgment was by one to condemnation;" “By one man's offence death reigned by one;" “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;" “By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." The true interpretation of these phrases is clearly indicated by the language respecting the second Adam who produced effects directly opposite: “The gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ;" “They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ;" "By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life;" “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." None but the loosest thinkers will say that all, which these latter passages teach, is that by his example Jesus Christ taught us the way of righteousness; or how to secure the gift of righteousness; or that his example and doctrine and sufferings are suited to win us to righteousness. Yet these phrases respecting Christ are in complete antithesis to those respecting Adam. Whatever is meant by one class is just the opposite of what is meant by the other. Jesus Christ saves us as [[@Page:225]] Adam ruined us. Jesus Christ brings us into a state of justification, as Adam brought us into a state of condemnation. By the latter we have eternal life as a free gift, yea, and abundance of grace, as by the former we received judgment unto condemnation. If ever any eight verses of scripture clearly interpreted themselves, these verses do that very thing. And death [entered] by sin. The Scriptures are entirely uniform and harmonious in accounting for the entrance of death into the world: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;" “The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" “The wages of sin is death;" “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23; James 1:15. But what is the meaning of death in this passage? Below we have these phrases “death reigned,” “many be dead,” "judgment was by one to condemnation,” "judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” Rom. 5:14-18. Death is the opposite of life. There is a natural life, and there is a natural death. In Scripture the word death often means simply that change effected by the separation of soul and body, John 11:13; Rom. 8:38; Phil. 1:20; Heb. 7:23. All, who treat the word of God with 'reverence, admit that death in this passage includes natural death, or, as it is often called, temporal death. Some indeed contend that no other evil under the name of death is here meant. But this cannot be so. Even if the word never had in itself another distinct meaning, yet we ask what is this awful event? As to the body, it is corruption and dissolution. It is the extinction of animal life. It is the destruction of our material organism. This is its effect on the body. But what is the effect of death on the soul? There is an impression very common among thinking people, and particularly among devout students of God's word, that when the dust returns to the earth as it was, the spirit returns unto God who gave it; and that the immediate consequences of' temporal death are of the most solemn and momentous character, either for bliss or for woe. Besides, if the death of the body, or the loss of natural life exhausts the penalty of transgression, from what did Christ redeem us? It is admitted that but two men of former generations ever escaped natural death; and that since Christ left the world not one of his followers has been exempt from temporal death. What then has Christ done for his people? Their bodies go into the grave as do also those of other men. From what then did Christ save them? Nor can we reconcile this view of the term death with the language of other verses in this connection. To reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (v. 17) surely is not escaping temporal, death, and yet it is the opposite of death reigning. The justification of life (v. 18) is certainly not [[@Page:226]] exemption from temporal death, and yet it is the opposite of judgment coming unto condemnation. Many being made righteous (v. 19) is the opposite of many being made sinners, and yet we must believe that all Christ did for his people was nothing worth naming, if he merely lived and died to save them from a temporal death, from which after all he did not save them, for like other men they die. This has led some to take the ground that all Christ did was to secure a suspension of the execution of the sentence of death until men should have time to repent and turn to God — a respite of a few months or years, But this is manifestly trifling with the clearest teachings of Scripture. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. In scripture death is used as a term to denote all the penal consequences of sin whatever they may be. The death of the body under the displeasure of God is still a part of that penalty. All the pains and woes that lead to such a death are a part of that penalty. The life Adam led before his fall was joyous, exultant, bright and brightening. The life men lead in a state of alienation from God is sad, dark and full of evil forebodings. Before his fall Adam had delightful fellowship with God. By his disobedience he lost communion with God. The Holy Ghost no longer made a temple of his person. All the miseries, the unblest sorrows, of life are the fruit of transgressing the law, whose penalty is death. A soul forsaken by God is a poor, withered, shrivelled thing, “dead in trespasses and sins,” however vigorous natural life may be, and however great may be one's apparent success in schemes of earthly enjoyment or aggrandizement. Then there is a life beyond this world. It is often mentioned by Christ and Paul, also by Peter, John and Jude. It is often spoken of simply as life, Matt, 7:14; 18:8, 9; Rom. 8:6; 1 John 5:12; as eternal life, Matt. 25:46; Mark 10:17; Acts 13:48; 1 Tim. 6:19; 1 John 5:20; also as everlasting life, Matt. 19:29; John 3:16; Acts 13:46; Rom. 6:22. This same life was often promised in the Old Testament, Deut. 30:15, 19; Pr. 12^28. The opposite of this life is death, several times called the second death, John 8:51, 52; Rom. 1:32; 6:21; 7:5; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14; Jas. 5:20; Rev. 2:11; 20:6; 21:8. This death is as enduring as the life to which it is opposed. It is everlasting, Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46. It is by Christ himself called everlasting punishment. This is the death, which the Lord Christ says the righteous shall never die, John 6:50; 8:51; 11:26. This everlasting punishment, this second death, that has no end, results from the sin of man in opposing the wise and holy will of God. It is the chief penalty for sinning against God. It is indeed [[@Page:227]] dreadful, but not too dreadful. The law of God, of which it is the sanction, is holy, just, good, grand and awful. Dreadful as is the penalty, it is not found sufficient to deter many from very bold sinning. When .man endures the penalty of the broken law in his own person, it is eternal, because God has made man immortal; because it inheres in man that once lost he cannot by his own strength or merit recover himself; because, when in a Christian land he dies in his sins, he has proven himself incorrigible, having persistently rejected the strength and righteousness offered him; and because, going into the eternal world will not terminate his accountability for his moral conduct there. Well may we therefore understand why death should be so uniformly, at least so frequently spoken of in God's word as a very great, an exceedingly terrible evil, and be associated as it several times is in Revelation even with hell itself.

In Scripture death is a name often given to capital punishment inflicted as a penalty. Of this many instances are found, see Matt. 26:66; Mark 14; 64; Luke 23:15; Acts 23:29 and many other places. That is, the extreme penalty of human law is expressed by the term death, which includes the pain and the ignominy of such a punishment, as well as the extinction of natural life. So in the word of God death is a name for penal suffering, whatever may be its form, or however lasting may be its duration. Therefore, when it is said death entered by sin the meaning is that penal suffering came into the world by sin. God's law denounces no one kind of suffering, as exclusively penal. It places our race under the curse of the law, as Paul calls it in Gal. 3:13; but in what precise way and to what precise extent that curse shall come on any one man is reserved for his own decision by the Judge of all the earth, who is too wise to make mistakes, too holy to be unjust, too good to practise any cruelty, too pure to look on evil, too upright to clear the guilty, and too mighty to be resisted. Paul has proven that before grace comes men are universally given up to work wickedness and to be tormented with wretchedness. See the former part of this epistle. If sin defiles all his works, destruction and misery are necessarily in his ways: for he has done things worthy of death. The curse has come upon our entire race, or as our verse has it, And so death passed upon all men. A good deal has been said about the connecting words and so. Nor are they without significance. The Greek for so is also rendered thus, even so, likewise, on this raise, after this manner. All these renderings, in this connection would direct attention to the entrance of sin and death on all men by the act of one man. It looks like levity in men to say that all Paul teaches is that as Adam sinned and died,  [[@Page:228]] so all men sin and die. Surely our apostle is not uttering in this place that proposition. The use of the word in this connection naturally points to the manner of death passing on all men by the sin of one man. Even those most opposed to this interpretation admit that the and so is capable of this interpretation. Passed upon, some prefer reading passed over to all men, or passed through to all men. Both of these renderings of the verb are common. Either of them gives a good sense. Neither of them need mislead any one. Death has passed over the human race so as a wave or a tide passes over objects. It also has passed through the world, laying claim to all men as its victims. For that all have sinned. For that, literally in whom. This is the rendering of the Vulgate, Chrysostom, Beza, Piscator, Doway,” Dutch Annotations, Assembly's Annotations, Evans, Gill, Guyse, Pool and Scott. Wiclif has in whiche man. This is a fair rendering, as every scholar must see on examining the original. Following it .makes the sense rather more obvious to the common mind. But the sound interpretation is fairly reached, if we follow the common version. The meaning is well expressed by Guyse: “In Adam they all sinned, as in their public head and representative, in whose loins they likewise were; in so much that they, on this account, are by legal estimation deemed sinners in him, his offence being imputed, and punished in them." Hawker uses like language: “By the sin of the first Adam the whole race were equally involved in the guilt and punishment due to original corruption, although they had no hand in actual transgression." Haldane: “The meaning is that death passed upon all men because^ all are sinners. … All have really sinned, though not in their own persons ... In the guilt of Adam's sin, as well as in its consequences, they became partakers." Hodge: "By one man all men became sinners, and hence death passed upon all men, through that one man, in whom all sinned. … By one man all men became sinners, and were exposed to death, and thus death passed on all men, since all were regarded as sinners on his account." The above statements fairly represent the true doctrine so long held in the Christian world.

That there is nothing forced in explaining the terms and clauses of this verse so as to draw out the meaning given above might be shown by many considerations. 1. The whole verse is to be explained in consistency with the fact, established by the context and by the terms employed, that Paul is expounding and illustrating justification and not sanctification. If this is so, then the point of all he says relates to condemnation, not to corruption of nature by Adam, as some maintain. Such an interpretation would quite destroy the apostle's reasoning, and make him speak thus: As [[@Page:229]] Adam introduced corruption, so Christ introduces purity. And this is directly opposed to his own language: “Judgment was by one to condemnation; “" Judgment came upon all men to condemnation." It is certainly true that we derive our sinful nature from Adam, and it is no less true that Christ is made unto us sanctification; but clearly those are not the truths here presented. 2. Edwards, Knapp and others have abundantly shown that the doctrine of the apostle in these verses respecting our condemnation in Adam was for ages the received doctrine of the Jews. So that the apostle was teaching no startling truth, was broaching no new doctrine when he said that our ruin came by one act of one man. This very fact may account for the manner in which he manages the argument. He finds in the accepted theology of his day a sound principle, a great fact relied on and not disputed. Under the guidance of God's Spirit he knows it is true. It well suits his purpose. He reproduces it to enable him the better to explain his great theme, justification by Christ's righteousness. Thus explained the whole is pointed and pertinent. Every clause tells. The whole is lucid and irrefragable. But on any other method of interpretation we have nothing but perplexity. This is so whether we consider the eight verses as a whole, or the various clauses by themselves. Yea, even the connecting particles, though of frequent occurrence, give much trouble, and require pages to explain them away, and at last some impotent conclusion is reached, such as this: As Adam sinned and died, so all men sin and die — a conclusion, which Pelagius himself not only did not deny, but fully accepted. He admitted that death was by sin, but maintained that sin was by “imitation." He said, “The sin of Adam has not injured those not sinning."

3. Beyond dispute, if the apostle would have us regard him as teaching the doctrine as stated above, he has used the appropriate terms and phrases; so that his language seems to teach it. Thus the great body of the Christian world have long understood him as teaching. Can it be that the people of God have so generally misapprehended the mind of the Spirit? Is it possible that none but Pelagians and their followers have rightly understood the apostle, although he has stated his points so clearly and so variously?

In this verse the word as remains to be noticed. Its consideration has been intentionally deferred to the last, that we may more easily understand "some remarks concerning it. It is generally agreed that as introduces a comparison, the first member, or proposition of which is in these words, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. Where is the second part of the [[@Page:230]] comparison — the application? Some insist that it is found in this verse itself; but where is it? If Paul is not comparing Adam and his posterity, the second member of the comparison is not in this verse, unless we adopt opinions now generally discarded. One is that we should read the verse thus: As by one man sin entered into the world, so death entered by sin. The other mode of reading suggested by some is this: Wherefore as by one man we have received the atonement, so by one man sin entered the world. The objection to each of these is that it takes too great liberties with the text. Neither of them has now any respectable defender. Even Macknight says that neither the apostle's argument nor the original will admit of the first.. This remark is as true of the second. We need not therefore spend time upon them. Doubtless the correct way of explaining the comparison is reached by making Rom. 5:13-17 parenthetical, and finding the comparison renewed and finished in Rom. 5:18, 19. The sense requires this. We have it so in the authorized version. Calvin, Ferme, Grotius, Wetstein, Flatt, Hodge and others admit that there is a parenthesis. Stuart: “With the majority of interpreters, therefore, I hesitate not to regard Rom. 5:13-17 as substantially a parenthesis. … In this manner, and only in this can I find the real antithesis or comparison to be fully made out, which the apostle designs to make." The note of Conybeare & Howson, in which there is an attempt to shew that Matt. 25:14 is like this, and that in neither case is any answering so found, is very inconclusive and unsatisfactory.

If the reader will revert to the paraphrase given early in the comment on this verse and read it again, it will give him a summary of the results reached. Having in elucidation of our justification in Christ stated the fact of our condemnation by the sin of Adam, the apostle proceeds in parenthesis to explain and confirm some matters, which naturally suggest themselves:

13. {For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. The rendering of Peshito quite destroys the sense: For until the law, sin, although it was in the world, was not accounted sin, because there was no law. One can hardly conceive of a rendering more utterly subversive of the words and the sense of the passage. The same may be said of the Arabic version, which is very much the same. For clearly connects this with Rom. 5:12. That contained a statement of a truth. This and Rom. 5:14 contain the proofs. Until the law. The chief difficulty in the mind of the English reader arises from the word until, elsewhere rendered unto, even to. The meaning is that from the fall of Adam even to the giving of the law we find just such proofs of the existence of sin as we find in later periods of the world. Until [[@Page:231]] the law, therefore, points to the whole of that long period from the fall of Adam to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. In the next verse the same idea is expressed try the words “from Adam to Moses,” designating a period of over twenty-five hundred years. Sin was in the world all that time. Men were regarded and treated as sinners. It was during that period that two of the most terrific judgments, of which we have any record, befell mankind. One was the Noachic deluge, proofs of which are still abundant on our earth. The other was the overthrow of the cities of the plain, and forming on the plain that monument of God's wrath the Dead Sea. These awful instances of the anger of heaven against the human race as well as the miseries and death that reigned all that time evince that beyond a doubt God even then regarded and treated men as sinners. And he did this justly and truly, for they were sinners. A constitution older than that of Sinai had been broken. God's will had been disregarded in the covenant of works. God had made man upright, but he sought out many inventions. Some propose to read our clause thus: From the fall even to the giving of the law on Sinai sin was imputed or counted in the world. Macknight favors this paraphrase. This is not authorized; nor does it relieve any difficulty. But sin is not imputed where there is no law. The fact that men were regarded and treated as sinners is proof enough that some law had been broken. What law could that be? The true answer is, the law of Eden, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The violation of this law brought down the curse, and from that day, even the law of nature written on the heart of man was constantly violated, and to a fearful extent men committed such things as are worthy of death, although they knew the judgment of God against them. During all this time sin was imputed, not only the first sin of the first man against the law of probation, but also the personal sins of all men against the will of God made known by such faithful men as Abel, Enoch and Noah, and especially as made known in the law of God written on the heart. Never was there closer reasoning than that of Paul. In Rom. 5:12 he says death in the human family proves the existence of sin. Here he says sin proves the existence of law. One wonders when he finds Stuart following Bretschneider seriously and after long argument maintaining that the clause, sin is not imputed when there is no law, means simply that men did not regard sin as sin, did not esteem themselves sinners, during that period. Tholuck well designates this as “another expedient of rather a violent kind, which many have adopted for removing the difficulties of this text." And it is a relief to find Stuart himself [[@Page:232]] full of misgivings about his own exposition. .He says: “I admit that a modified sense of the expression is to be regarded as the true one, viz. it is not to be considered so absolute as to convey the idea that no sense of sin existed among the heathen in any measure, for this would contradict fact', and contradict what Paul says in Rom. 2:14, 15." See Stuart on that place. Nor has this exposition any pertinency to the matter in hand. Paul is shewing how men are justified in Christ. In doing this he refers to the manner of their condemnation in Adam. That condemnation was manifested by death reigning. Whether men during those twenty-five hundred years in their own consciences excused or condemned themselves we well know, but the fact in that matter has nothing to do with Paul's argument. By God's judgment death reigned over mankind and that proves beyond a doubt that some law had existed before Moses, that its penalty death had been incurred, and that thus sin had been imputed by God, for it was punished by his judgment. It is pleasant to find Stuart successfully combatting the idea of some Germans “that although the guilt of men, who sinned against the law of nature, was not taken away absolutely, yet their accountability for it was in a good measure superseded." The texts relied on to prove this dangerous position were Acts 17:30; Rom. 3:26. But Stuart well says: "Both of these instances, however, relate to deferring punishment, not to a remission of accountability; compare 2 Pet. 3:8, 9. Such a remission of punishment would directly contradict what Paul has fully and strongly asserted, in Rom. 2:6-16."

This verse may well be paraphrased thus: I have stated that by the sin of Adam men were no longer in covenant with God but were under the penalty of a broken law, as is proven by the reign of death, by the horrors of men's consciences, by their just apprehension of wrath to come, by all the miseries they endure and by death itself, all which things are not accidental, but penal, not misfortunes but punishments for sin, and thus all men are proven to be sinners. In elucidation and confirmation of this position I further observe, that the penalty of death, whose existence was proven by conscience, by human wretchedness and by temporal death, establishes the fact that sin was in the world from the fall of Adam, that the origin of sin therefore cannot be traced to the giving or the breach of the law of Moses; for the Lord is holy and just. He sends not suffering on those who are rightly regarded as innocent. Under his government men cannot suffer unless they are charged with the guilt of sin. Nor does God charge men with guilt by a mere arbitrary act of his own. Where the penalty is inflicted, sin is charged; and where sin is charged, some law (and all God's [[@Page:233]] laws are holy, just and good) must have been broken. But all the generations of men before the giving of the law on Sinai both suffered and died. This proves that they were guilty in God's account; and that some law must have been broken. What that law and its penalty were we learn in Gen. 2:17 — a law given and a curse pronounced very early in the history of the human race. It was Adam's breach of the covenant, his violation of the law of his probation, that made all men sinners. Of this we may rest assured for God never imputes sin where no law is violated. After Adam no one ate of the forbidden fruit.

14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. Nevertheless, the same word is commonly rendered but, or yet, orhowbeit. Here we shall best get the sense by reading Yet or And yet, for it is clearly the continuation of his argument. He had said, “Sin is not imputed where there is no law." He now adds, And yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, i. e. death held sway in the history of the world from Adam to Moses, and in God's treatment of man death is by sin, and so it is a penalty, and where penal suffering is there must be sin, and where sin is, there must be a law broken. Thus far the verse reiterates in other words what was said in Rom. 5:13 — “Until the law sin was in the world." The apostle now goes further, and says that death reigned, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. What was the likeness of Adam's transgression? His transgression was personal and actual disobedience to God's will. Now who ever lived between the fall of Adam and the time of Moses, that did not in any case or in any degree personally or actually disobey God's will? There is but one class of the human family who in that age or any other suit this description, namely infants. Calvin gives it a more extended application but adds: “Infants are at the same time included in this number." Diodati: “Over them, namely, over little children, who were not come to the age of judgment, and consequently could not be guilty of an actual, deliberate and voluntary sin, such a one as Adam's was." Cornelius a Lapide: “You will object that where there is no law, there can be no sin. As the men, however, in the interval between Adam and Moses died, it is evident that they must necessarily have been sinners. And in case you may perchance insinuate that this is merely a proof of their actual sins, and not of original guilt, I appeal to children, who though they had not offended against any divine law, were also, during that period, subject to death." Ferme: “Death reigned not only over those who sinned actually, [[@Page:234]] as did Adam, but even over those who could not sin in like manner, on account of their age, as infants unconscious of the law." Guyse: “Death with all its dreadful and unknown attendants, exercised a terrible and universal dominion, not only over grown persons, that sinned actually, as Adam did, but even over infants themselves; witness those of the old world, that perished in the deluge; and those that were cut off in the tremendous destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as all the little children that were sick, convulsed, tortured, and then died, in every generation, though none of them could have committed any actual sin to deserve such punishment, as Adam had done." Evans: “Death reigned over those that had not sinned any actual sin, never sinned in their own persons as Adam did; which is to be understood of infants, that were never guilty of actual sin, and yet died, because Adam's sin was imputed to them." The remarks of the judicious Thomas Scott on these verses are guarded and must commend themselves to serious Christians: “In proof of this our union with Adam [he had said Adam was our federal head, surety and representative], and our concern in his first transgression, which the proud heart of man is prone to deny, or object to, even with blasphemous enmity, it should be observed, that for two thousand five hundred years before the giving of the law, sin prevailed in the world, and was punished with death; but sin cannot he imputed, where no law is, of which it is a transgression. None of the immense multitudes, who died between the fall of Adam and the promulgation of the law, could personally violate the prohibition, to which the penalty of death had been originally annexed; yet they were included in the sentence denounced against Adam, and after much toil and suffering, ‘returned to the dust whence they were taken.' And, though adults might be thought to die for their personal violation of the law of tradition, or of their own reason and conscience; yet, during this long interval, an innumerable multitude had been subjected to death, who had never broken any law ‘after the similitude of Adam's transgression;' that is wilfully and deliberately. For the number of infants, who had been cut off with great pain and agony, previously to their commission of actual sin, had been immensely great." Edwards: “I can see no reason, why that explanation of this clause, which has been more commonly given, viz. That by them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, are meant infants; who though they have indeed sinned in Adam, yet never sinned as Adam did, by actually transgressing in their own persons; unlesss it be that this interpretation is too old, and too common. … We read of two ways of men being like Adam, or in which a similitude is ascribed to men; one is, being [[@Page:235]] begotten or born in his image or likeness, Gen. 5:3. Another is transgressing God's covenant or law, like him, Hos. 6:7. They like Adam, (so in the Hebrew and Latin Vulgate) have transgressed the covenant. Infants have the former similitude but not the latter." pp. 506, 507. The same writer has a whole chapter (P. 1. Ch. 2) to prove that “Universal Mortality proves Original Sin, particularly the Death of Infants, with its various Circumstances." And when Taylor stated that death was sent as a benefit to make us moderate, to mortify pride, &c, and not as a curse or penalty, Edwards asked: “Is it not strange that it should fall so heavily on infants, who are not capable of making any such improvement of it; so that many more of mankind suffer death in infancy than in any other equal part of the age of man?" p. 398. "The apostle's main point evidently is that sin and guilt, and just exposedness to death and ruin, come into the world by Adam's sin; as righteousness, justification and a title to eternal life come by Christ. Which point he confirms by this consideration, that from the very time when Adam sinned, sin, guilt, and desert of ruin became universal in the world, long before the law given by Moses to the Jewish nation had any being." p. 503. Are not these things clear? Is not all this fair, logical, scriptural reasoning? Could it be more indubitably stated that it is not  men's relation to parents, to Moses, to Abraham or to any other person but to Adam only, that determines "our native moral state?"

In elucidation and establishment of his main position that life, justification and righteousness come to us by Jesus Christ in a manner resembling that whereby death, ruin and condemnation came to us by Adam, the apostle in this same verse says of Adam that he “was the figure of him that was to come,” i. e. Christ. This is another step in the same direction with what is found in several preceding clauses. The word rendered figure is the Greek, from which we get our word type. It is elsewhere rendered pattern, example, ensample. Our theological term type suits well here. Now it may be asked, in the way of challenge, in what conceivable sense was Adam a type, a pattern, an ensample, a figure of Christ, unless he was so in this that he was a public person acting for others, the federal or covenant head, the representative of his seed as Christ was of his? Calvin: “In saying that Adam bore a resemblance to Christ, there is nothing incongruous; for some likeness often appears in things wholly contrary. As then we are all lost through Adam's sin, so we are restored through Christ's righteousness: hence he calls Adam not inaptly the type of Christ. But observe, that Adam is not said to be the type of sin, nor Christ the type of righteousness, as though they led the way only [[@Page:236]] by their example, but that the one is contrasted with the other." It makes one's heart sink into sadness to read in Stuart: "The actual and principal point of similitude is that each individual respectively, viz. Adam and Christ, was the cause or occasion, in consequence of what he did, of greatly affecting the whole human race; although in an opposite way." His subsequent remarks chime in with this. And has it come to this? Are we all to continue in doubt whether Christ was the cause, or the occasion of salvation? From God's word many have been led to believe that Jesus Christ was the “author of life,” “the author of salvation,” Acts 3:15; Heb. 5:9; that he had "made an end of sins, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness,” Dan. 9:24; that he himself was “the way, the truth and the life;" John 14:6; that if there was such a thing known as an efficient and a sufficient cause, Jesus Christ was such. But this writer thinks he may have been only the occasion of good to men, as Adam was the occasion of evil to his descendants. But no man ever wrought mischief on a great scale like Adam. His sin combined in it many things calculated to make it blameworthy and destructive — unbelief, belief of the devil, ingratitude, ambition, . wilfulness, deliberation, pride, discontent, luxuriousness, desperation and the involving of all his posterity. For extent of influence and vastness of results no man has ever wielded a millionth part of the power for evil, wielded by Adam, or has ever wrought a millionth part of the ruin and destruction effected by him. The fruit, the legitimate fruit of his doings will be felt through all the cycles of eternity. For sweep of influence he never had but one equal, and that was his antitype. It was in his federal headship, his representative character that Adam was a type of Christ. Take this away, and he is no more a type of Christ than any other man among the patriarchs. Indeed this is the point, the only point where the globe touches the plane.

Some object to this whole matter, that Adam in his simplicity did not know that he was acting for his posterity. To this several things should be said in reply. 1. Men cannot prove that Adam did not know that his acts would involve others. It is on their part a mere conjecture, and may be sufficiently answered by a counter conjecture. 2. Adam was not a child in understanding. He had a mind full of vigor, fresh from the breath of God. He conversed with God as a man with his friend. The inspiration of the Almighty gave him understanding. He had already such intelligence that the Lord appointed him to name every beast of the field, every fowl of the air and all cattle. Adam's simplicity, when appointed by God our representative^ consisted not in ignorance,  [[@Page:237]] or puerility, or imbecility, but in virtue and purity. 3. It is doubtless true that Adam did not know all the bearings or any considerable part of the effects of his actions on his posterity. It is seldom if ever given to mortals to see the end from the be-ginning of any matter. That is the prerogative of omniscience alone. Nor is it necessary to the fairness of any probation that he, who undergoes it, should be as God, knowing all things. Indeed there often would be no test at all, if men knew what God afterwards reveals. This was strikingly illustrated in Abraham's offering' of Isaac. Had that patriarch known what the precise issue would be, there would have been no trial at all. 4. It is enough for the guidance of any one rightly disposed under trial to understand the preceptive will of God, whether he knows or does not know all of the reasons for it, or all of the remote or immediate bearings of obedience or of transgression. Thus Abraham saw not how the promises were to be fulfilled, if Isaac were sacrificed. But God's command was clear, and God's power was unlimited, and he believed God could raise him from the dead; and he did his duty. In the case of Adam the prohibitory precept was perfectly clear: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it." Nothing could be clearer. 5. The penalty was clearly annexed: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The Hebrew is if possible still stronger. Beyond a doubt Adam knew that a curse, the curse of God, would follow disobedience. If he did not know all that was included in death, neither does any living man know all that is now meant by death, temporal or eternal. Yet who will say the sinner has not fair warning, when Jehovah says, “The soul that sinneth it shall die?" 6. The first three chapters of Genesis make it highly probable that Adam well understood that the welfare or misery of his posterity was involved in the course he should pursue. When Taylor said, “Observe here is not one word relating to Adam's posterity;" Edwards replied: “But it may be observed in opposition to this, that there is scarcely one word that we have an account of, which God ever said to Adam or Eve, but what does manifestly include their posterity in the meaning and design of it. There is as much of a word said about Adams posterity in that threatening [Thou shalt surely die], as there is in those words of God to Adam and Eve, Gen. 1:28, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it; and as much in events, to lead us to suppose Adam's posterity to be included. There is as much of a word of his posterity in that threatening as in those words, Gen. 1:29, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and [[@Page:238]] every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat. Even when God was about to make man, what he said on that occasion had not respect to Adam only, but to his posterity, Gen. 1:26: Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, &c. And, what is more remarkable, there is as much of a word said about Adam's posterity in the threatening of death, as there is in that sentence, (Gen. 3:19,) Unto dust thou shalt return,” pp. 424, 425. Is there a serious student of scripture, who doubts that this sentence exactly corresponds to the threatening, or that Adam knew that his descendants were included in the sentence? I know not of any. Why then should we doubt that he knew his posterity were included in the threatening?

When it has been stated that Adam was the representative of his posterity, some wits, with a glibness bordering on profanity, have given currency to the remark: “Adam was not my representative — I never voted for him." No doubt those, who speak thus, think they give some proof of cleverness. But such a remark has no manner of pertinency to the business in hand, for this reason: God's government over the world is not a democracy, nor a representative republic, nor an oligarchy, nor a limited monarchy. It is a -government of one infinitely holy, just, good and omnipotent Sovereign, who has not a cabinet council, nor any advisers, nor any checks upon his plans outside of his own ineffable and glorious nature, Isa. 40:13, 14; 46:10; Jer. 32:19; Acts 5:38, 39; Rom. 11:34; Eph. 1:11; Heb. 6:17. Jehovah kills, and he makes alive; he wounds, and he heals; he sets up on high those that be low; he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes; promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another. Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:8; Job 5:11; Ps. 75; 6, 7. In laying his plans and putting man under a constitution God asked the advice of neither man nor angel. If men, who use such language as that given above, mean anything more than to make a laugh, if they are in solemn earnest, they might as well object to their own lineal ancestry, even to a natural descent from Adam, because they did not vote for him as their first parent. No man ever votes on his own lineage. Yet lineage carries with it honor or dishonor, good health or a feeble constitution, riches or poverty, and affects our destiny in a thousand things. Not a British subject, living or dead, ever voted that Victoria should be his monarch. When the laws of the realm are promulged, they may greatly and injuriously affect the welfare of [[@Page:239]] a given man or class, but can they evade their force, or their binding obligation by saying, I never voted for Victoria to be my sovereign? Even in our own land, America, the great majority of the people, women and minors, never vote for their rulers. Does this fact in the slightest degree relax their obligations to submit, in the Lord, to the powers that be? No good man so affirms. By the holy, sovereign, uncontrollable will of God Adam was made the covenant head of his seed, and there the matter must rest. In this he was a figure or type of Christ.

Very few men, who profess the least reverence for God's word, deny that pain and temporal death came on mankind by one man, by the one offence of Adam. Even Locke says that Paul here “teaches that by Adam's lapse all men were brought into a state of death." Macknight also: “Death, the punishment of sin, reigned from Adam to Moses, even over infants,” etc. During the XVIII. century some taught that Adam's first sin, though truly imputed to infants, so that they are thereby exposed to a proper punishment, is not imputed to them in so high a degree as to Adam himself. To all such remarks it is sufficient to say as Edwards does: "To suppose God imputes not all the. guilt of Adam's sin, but only some little part of it, relieves nothing but one's imagination. … But it does not at all relieve one's reason. … All the reasons (if there be any) lie against the imputation; not the quantity or degree of what is imputed,” p. 561. If Adam had successfully stood his probation, would his obedience have profited his posterity but a little? or would they have been for ever confirmed in holiness and God's favor just as he would have been? Probably but one answer will be given to that interrogatory. The fact is that if Adam was at all a public person, if he at all acted as a representative, he did so to this, extent, tffat he and his posterity should fare alike in the results of his probation. If he stood, he and they would be regarded and treated as righteous; if he fell, he and they would be regarded and treated as sinners. This communion in guilt might be confirmed by a detailed examination of the sentence passed on our first parents, as we see it executed in our own time. Did Adam die a temporal death? So do his posterity. Can any one shew that there was anything appalling in the manner of his death? It could hardly have been more so than what may be witnessed every day in this world among old and young. Was the ground cursed for his sake, so that in sorrow he ate bread all the days of his life, the earth bringing forth thorns and thistles to him, and he in the sweat of his face eating bread till he returned to the ground? Gen. 3:17, 18. The very same thing occurs all over the earth all the time. The rich are no [[@Page:240]] exception, for often their abundance will not suffer them even to sleep, Ecc. 5:12. Did the Lord multiply the sorrows and conception of the first woman, so that in sorrow she brought forth children? Gen. 3:16. Is not the same as true of Adam's daughters to this day? We have then the great fact beyond dispute among serious students of the Bible. God visits on all our race the very evils that he sent on the first pair — toil, sorrow, pangs and death. All this does not argue that all incorrigible sinners, who spend their lifetime on earth in impenitence, are equally ill deserving and will suffer equally in the next world for their own ungodly deeds and speeches. Far from it. He, that knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew it not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes, Luke 12 147, 48. Human accountability was in no sense exhausted in the garden of Eden; nor will it be exhausted in this life, no, nor in eternity.

It may here be observed that from the history of theological doctrine it appears that ordinarily when men have denied our representation in Adam they have also hesitated in receiving the orthodox doctrine on the subject of native depravity. Laxity in the former almost uniformly results in looseness respecting the latter. It was so in the days of Pelagius. He and Julian and Coelcstius attacked both branches of the doctrine of Original Sin. It was so in the XVII. and XVIII. centuries both in Great Britain and on the Continent.. It has been so in this century and in this country. Another historic fact is no less admonitory. It is that when men deny or explain away the federal headship of Adam, or the imputation of the guilt of his first sin to his seed, we almost invariably find them in doubt respecting the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ, and of Christ's righteousness to his believing people. In other words, men, who are unsound on the manner of our condemnation, are seldom clear and scriptural on the subject of our justification. Now and then we meet with cases, where, by a happy inconsistency, men are sound on one of these points, and yet erroneous on the rest. Such cases, are, however, rare. Commonly errors are grouped together. And it is the tendency of error to make continual aggressions. On the other hand there is a consanguinity between religious truths. Truth is one. Error is multiform.

In summing up the argument we may thus paraphrase our verse: It has been admitted that where there is no law there is no sin, and yet there meet us as strong proofs of the reign of death during the first twenty-five hundred years of the world as we find even in our own time. In this whole argument it is a first [[@Page:241]] principle that wherever death is found among men, it is proof of the existence of sin, and where sin is, some law must have been broken. Now none of these people had the law of Sinai, and their sin could not have been against that. Nor did any of them but the first pair actually eat the forbidden fruit, yet we find men subject to death then as at other times. We find too a law given in Eden with the sanction of a death penalty. That law was violated by Adam, who was not only the father but the covenant head of the race and acted for them. This is the law, whose violation constituted in God's esteem all men sinners, and subjected all to death. So that even infants, of whom no man can prove and very few if any will assert that they have committed any actual sin, have from the earliest ages to the present time not only died, but died in great numbers and often in great agony. The explanation of these amazing scenes of woe is to be found in the fact that Jehovah constituted Adam a public person, and in his infinite wisdom ordained that he should act for others as well as for himself. In this way, as a federal head, Adam became a type of Christ; as Christ acted for his seed so did Adam act for his seed. The mode and results of action in these two cases were very different; but the principle of representation in both was the same. Else in what possible sense was Adam a figure of him that was to come?

15. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift: for if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. Here the apostle guards us against mistaking his teaching, by commencing to shew that Adam was not in all or even in many-respects a figure or type of Christ. The similitude on which he has insisted is exhausted in the one point of the federal headship, the representative character of each. Wardlaw: “The parallel lies chiefly in one point; namely, that the first and second Adam acted each a public part, standing for others and not for themselves merely; a part from which important results were to arise to those whom they are considered respectively as representing." This is enough. This aids and elucidates the argument on justification by the righteousness of Christ. But the effects of this headship respectively are as diverse as any things, of which we can conceive. On one side are sin, misery and death; on the other obedience, reconciliation, life. The offence, so rendered no-where else but in four verses here closely connected, and in Rom.' 4:25; elsewhere fall, fault, sin, trespass. The offence, here alluded to, was the breach of covenant with God in eating the forbidden fruit. Free gift, so rendered here only and in Rom. 5:16; everywhere else, gift. But a gift, properly so called, is of course unbought.

[[@Page:242]] It is free, without money and without price. It is the same word used in Rom. 6:23, “The gift of God is eternal life,” and in Rom. 11:29, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." It is elsewhere used to denote spiritual gifts, miraculously bestowed, for the edification of the church. Now, says Paul, the effect of our fall in Adam was wholly diverse from the effect of our recovery by Christ. One brought death; the other brings life. The former was in the course of righteous judgment on the race; the latter is the most amazing expression of divine com-passion. For if through the offence of one many be dead, many be fallen under the penalty of a broken covenant, and so are dead, as we have already shewn to be the case, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, 'which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. Offence, as in the preceding clause. Grace of God, explained on Rom. 1:5. It here points out God's undeserved kindness. Gift, not the same word as free gift in this verse, but another not cognate but nearly synonymous, always rendered gift. The cognate adverb occurs in Rom. 3:24, and is rendered freely, on which see above. What is here called the gift by grace is in the next verse called the free gift, which brings the pardon of many offences and goes on unto justification; in Rom. 5:17 it is called the gift of righteousness; and in Rom. 5:18, justification of life. Even if we had not these explanations in the immediate context, the whole train of argument in several preceding chapters shews that the great benefits derived from Christ, and here made the subject of discourse, are justifying righteousness and its inseparable concomitants. Many, the numerous seed of each respectively; Locke: “the multitude;" Hodge: “the mass;" Conybeare and Howson: “the many." No doubt the term in each clause includes all that the first and second Adam respectively represented. In Rom. 5:18 the word all is used as an equivalent. What is precisely meant by these words, all and many, will be considered when we reach Rom. 5:18. In Rom. 5:15 now under consideration the most difficult phrase to explain is much more. The rendering is literal and undisputed. There are various views taken of the significancy of these words. All agree that they indicate the argument a fortiori. But in what particular does the grace of the work of the second Adam so much more abound, than did the death brought on men by the first Adam? Some have said the meaning is that the pre-eminence consists in the fact that a greater number are saved by Christ than were lost in Adam. To make this appear they have alleged that great numbers of men were not made subject to death by Adam's fall, but only by their own sins. But any argument, by which the people of any particular age or country can be shewn not to [[@Page:243]] have been involved in penal suffering by the lapse of Adam, will as fully prove that he acted for no one except himself, and then how is he the type of Christ? Those, who hold this view, maintain that those, who perished in the deluge, died for their own sins. No doubt their death by so awful a judgment and in so dreadful manner, was, and was intended to be understood as an expression of God's abhorrence of their great personal wickedness. The same may be said of those, who perished in Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, yea, and of vast multitudes, who have been cut off by terrific judgments. But does any one believe, and if he so believes, can he prove that these people would never have died at all but for their actual atrocious sins? Their super-adding the guilt of many and aggravated sins did not before God obscure the guilt of original sin, and did not set aside but caused to be executed, before the time indicated by the course of nature, the sentence of death brought on the race by Adam. Locke: “By their own sins they were not made mortal: they were so before, by their father Adam's eating the forbidden fruit: so that what they paid for their own sins, was not immortality, which they had not." It is believed that none maintain that Christ has saved or will save a greater number than were lost in Adam except those, who contend that mere temporal death and the pains which lead to it exhausted the penalty of breaking the covenant of Eden, and that even that penalty made not all men mortal, but many died solely because of their enormous actual sins. In the comment on Rom. 5:12 it has been shewn that the penalty did indeed include temporal death, but extended much farther also.

Locke suggests another way in which the grace of God and the gift by grace excel the offence: “It seems to lie in this, that Adam's lapse came barely for the satisfaction of his own appetite, and desire of good to himself; but the restoration was from the exuberant bounty and good-will of Christ towards men, who, at the cost of his own painful death, purchased life for them." No doubt sin in all its stages and in all its workings is very inferior to holiness. No doubt the sin of Adam had in it the element of low personal gratification; and we know the love of Christ for men was transcendant, Rom. 5:6-8. But does Paul take no higher view in this verse than merely to state the superiority of benevolence over selfishness? The apostle does not seem to be speaking of human estimates of things, so much as of the exceedingly excellent nature of the benefits received by Christ, especially as contrasted with the ruin wrought by Adam. In other words he is laboring to make our views conform to the facts in the case as they are known and estimated by God. It is a fact that the undertaking of [[@Page:244]] Christ does abound in a way that the fall of Adam does not, whatever men's views of these matters may be. Wardlaw has probably given a better statement of the whole case: “There is one more general, and there are three more particular points of contrast here. The general point is, that whereas the condemnation and death which came by the first Adam were the due wages of sin; the righteousness and life which came by the second Adam are the bestowment of pure grace, of entirely unmerited favor. This, indeed, runs through the whole passage, and it forms the characteristic distinction between the law and the gospel. The sentence of death pronounced on Adam, and in him on his posterity, is the sentence of justice incurred by transgression, deserved by guilt. The Supreme Ruler, therefore, by whom it had been pronounced, was under no obligation of righteousness to deliver from it. He was rather under the obligation of truth and justice to see it executed. A condemned malefactor, if pardoned, must be pardoned by grace; if his condemnation be in justice, the remission of his sentence must be in clemency. Where death is due, life must be a gift. Where a curse is merited, the blessing must flow from purely spontaneous favor,” Vol. 2; pp. 283-4. He then mentions three more particular points of contrast between our representation in the first and second Adam. "The first appears to me to relate to the superior dignity of the second Adam, in whom sinners have life, above the first, in whom they died. The second relates to the superabundance of pardoning grace, as extending beyond the guilt of the one offence, by which sin entered, even to all the multiplied acts and words, and thoughts of personal transgression — 'many offences.' The third has respect to the superiority of the life to which sinners are brought by grace, to that life which they lost by Adam's sin,” p. 284. These points of contrast duly carried out seem to cover very much the whole ground, not only given us in this verse but also in Rom. 5:16-19. In this verse very much of the sense depends on the right place being given to the one man, Jesus Christ. The same is true of Rom. 5:17.

16. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. One that sinned beyond a doubt points to Adam. Gift, the word is found nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Jas. 1:17. It is a noun cognate to that rendered gift in Rom. 5:15. Judgment, often so rendered; also damnation, condemnation. See above on Rom. 2:2, 3; 3:8. Condemnation, the word so rendered is found in the New Testament here only, in Rom. 5:18, and in Rom. 8:1. The cognate verb occurs often and is commonly rendered condemned, also damned. We met it in Rom. 2:1.

[[@Page:245]] Free gift as in Rom. 5:15. The one, that sinned, by one act brought a condemning sentence, ready to be executed at any moment, and now continually in a course of rapid execution on all his posterity. But the Son of God shows his great power to save by blotting out innumerable transgressions committed by innumerable sinners, as well as washing away the guilt of original sin from their souls, and not leaving them merely pardoned. He accepts them as righteous and so secures to them full justification. Whenever called to appear before God, their raiment will be shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. That the above gives the true sense of the passage is made plain by the very terms employed, and by the context.

17. For if by one mans offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. This verse terminates the parenthesis begun in Rom. 5:13. This verse is remarkably clear. It changes the form but not the purport of the antithesis, which is found in several preceding verses. Here we have death reigning by one and the redeemed reigning in life by one. The first Adam brought ruin by one offence. The second, abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness. Abundance, not elsewhere in this epistle, but well rendered. We have the same word in 2 Cor. 8:2; in Jas. 1:21 it is rendered superfluity. It expresses superabundance, overflowing riches. Gift as in Rom. 5:15. Righteousness, as already explained at large. The general course of the argument here is very clear and pointed. If one man and he a mere man, by one act, in which we partook in no other way than that by divine appointment he acted for us, as well as for himself, installed death as a tyrant over us, much more shall one, who is at once man and man's maker, when we cordially embrace him as our Saviour, and accept his offers, cause us to be kings and sharers of the vast treasures of his grace, one of whose richest fruits is the gift of righteousness, so as to make sure to us the blessings of eternal life, of which we have the pledge in the newness of life granted us in this world.

18. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Therefore the two words so rendered are not the same as those rendered wherefore in Rom. 5:12. But they are of like import, and clearly mark the connection of this with Rom. 5:12. The comparison there begun, and interrupted by the parenthesis, is here fully carried out, only the leading terms Judgment and free gift, being properly borrowed by our translators from preceding sentences. Some prefer to read one offence [[@Page:246]] and one righteousness, instead of the offence of one and the righteousness of one. No doubt Adam brought ruin on us by one act. Nor does the grammar forbid this rendering. Yet the objections to it are perhaps sufficient to cause its rejection. They are such as these: 1. The term one in the context uniformly applies to one person. Both in Rom. 5:17, 19, one man is named. The sense in Rom. 5:18 is best reached by understanding one person in each case. At all events there is no improvement in the force of the argument by the proposed change. 2. Throughout the passage the apostle all along carefully marks the distinction between the one and the all, the one and the many. 3. If the phrase one righteousness is found elsewhere in scripture, the author does not remember it. 4. Those, who contend for the change do ask us to believe that Christ saves us by one act of righteousness, viz. his obedience unto death, understanding that phrase to mean his obedience in dying. This is not safe doctrine. Speaking of the proposed change and the reason of it Wardlaw says: “It seems to be not merely a superfluous refinement, but moreover to proceed from a false principle with regard to what is necessary as the ground of acceptance and of life. And without entering largely into the discussion about the active and passive obedience of Christ, I would say it seems to give us a more complete and satisfactory view of the finished work of Jesus, when we consider him as not only bearing the curse which forms the sanction of the law, but also as rendering to its requirements that sinless obedience, which, according to the original engagement of God, entitles to life. That the Lord our righteousness did render such a sinless obedience to all the great spiritual principles and requirements of the law cannot be doubted,” p. 281. All Christ did and all he bore was for our salvation. He suffered in obeying. He obeyed in suffering. No fair criticism can ever shew that righteousness in this verse or obedience in Rom. 5:19 means simply his sufferings, much less his obedience in the mere act of dying. His circumcision and baptism were as much in fulfilment of all righteousness as his death. His perfect love to God and his equal love to man, evinced in every way, were essential to his righteousness. There is a sense in which Christ's righteousness is one. It is a seamless robe. There is no rent in it. It is undivided. It cannot be divided. But this is a very different thing from saying that Christ wrought out his righteousness the last few hours of his life. The parallel between Adam and Christ is not intended to be preserved in the shortness of the time in which, or the ease with which ruin and recovery were wrought. No? Destruction is easy. Recovery is difficult. It is so in every thing. A rash act of one may destroy a thousand [[@Page:247]] lives, but all the power of men and angels cannot restore one life. A child may in a few hours burn down a city, which ten thousand men could not build in a year. In a moment Adam brought down ruin. It required the righteousness and obedience of the life of Christ and his agony in the garden and on the cross to bring us to God. Yea, to the same end he ever liveth to make intercession for us. “The truth is, the work of Christ is just the whole of his humiliation, with all that he did and all he suffered in the nature which he humbled himself to assume. That on account of which God exalted and glorified Christ, is that on account of which he justifies and glorifies sinners."

In considering a previous verse a promise was made to consider the meaning of the terms many and all, when we should reach this verse. In this verse we twice have all men; in Rom. 5:15, 16, 19, we have many, or the many. Evidently these terms are used interchangeably. The all of this verse corresponds to the many of the other verses. On this there is no dispute. As to the extent of meaning of these terms, there are five distinct views. 1. The old Universalists held that in both cases all mere men were embraced; that is, Adam on the one hand brought down the curse of the law on his posterity, descending from him by ordinary generation; and Christ, being truly divine, and having lived and died with the purpose of saving all men, his atonement being strictly vicarious and designed to save all men, all men shall surely be saved by Christ and raised to the everlasting enjoyment of God in heaven. These persons were consistent in their interpretation of the terms all and many. But they flatly contradicted many clear, positive declarations of God's word when they asserted that every man would be saved, Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28, 29; and many other places.

2. Another class of writers maintain that the whole extent of the curse brought on us by the fall of Adam was temporal death, and that all Christ is here said to have done for us was to secure to us natural life; that Adam brought temporal death on all his posterity, and that Christ secured to all men a temporal life. If Locke is not misunderstood, this is his view. His language is: “The apostle teaches them that by Adam's lapse all men were brought into a state of death, and by Christ's death all were restored to life." In his paraphrase he seems to express himself to the same effect. And in a note he pleads for his rendering of the phrase all have sinned, as meaning no more than this all became mortal. If Adam brought only temporal death, the parallel would suggest that Christ merely secured temporal life. In commenting on Rom. 5:12 it has been shewn that temporal death was not all nor even the [[@Page:248]] chief evil brought on us by Adam. And surely Christ has done much more for men than to secure a short and miserable temporal existence. Some human beings are never even born. The womb is their grave. Others live a minute, others an hour, others a day, others a week, others a year, and the general limit is three score and ten. This whole existence is sometimes spent in pain. Surely Jesus Christ did more for those he represented than to secure a temporal life to man. But see above on Rom. 5:12. This mode of explanation would make the all and the many in every case include every human being that ever lived or ever shall live.

3. Another explanation given by some is that Adam involved his posterity in penal evils, including temporal death and that Jesus Christ, by his undertaking, removed not the curse of temporal death which remains, but brought literally all the race of man into a state, where it was possible they might be saved. These agree, as we do, that the curse fell on all who descended from Adam by ordinary generation. They contend that the effect of Christ's work in removing the curse extends to as many of Adam's descendants as were under the penalty of death, so that to all men capable of understanding anything a sincere offer of salvation is made. But in the first place there are millions on millions, to whom no such offer was ever" made. It is only within the last three or four hundred years that Jesus Christ's name was ever pronounced on the continent of America. Did all, who lived here before that time reap any such benefit from the work of Christ as to have even an offer of eternal life by his blood made to them? No one will contend for that. Nor will any, who hold this view, contend that all these people were saved. If they were all, old and young, eternally saved, then there would be consistency in interpreting the words many and all as they do, but other Scriptures would be .strangely opposed and contradicted. And in our chapter there is not a word about men being merely brought into a state of salvability by Christ. On the contrary they are said to be justified, to have peace with God, access into grace, joy, hope, triumph in afflictions, patience, love, all Christian graces. And in the immediate context we read of their sharing in the grace of God and the gift by grace, of the free gift [of remission] of many offences unto justification, of the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, and that by the righteousness of one the free gift came unto the justification of life. Surely these terms and phrases express a great deal more than that those here spoken of are brought into a state, in which it is possible they may be saved. They are saved, else to what use is the grace of God, the gift by grace, the free gift, the abundance of grace, the gift of righteousness, justification unto [[@Page:249]] life? Such language denotes actual salvation, not mere salvability.

4. Another explanation of the terms is that all men, which of course includes the many, here, as in some other places, means, not all men without exception, but all men without discrimination. Diodati: “All manner of persons indifferently, though not all universally." Wardlaw argues for this at length. He says the phrase is frequently used in this sense; and so it is. He might have cited Tit. 2:11 and many other verses in proof. He also says that the argument in the epistle shews that men without regard to nationality are included. This is also true. Conceding these points, the explanation will still probably be generally regarded as unsatisfactory. Indeed it has been generally so esteemed. Very few adopt it.

5. The method of explaining these terms adopted by sound writers generally is that the many and all men are to be understood of all who are represented by Adam and Christ respectively. In other words these and like terms here as in other places are to be construed according to the subject and connection, in which they are found. This explanation is thought to be fair and conclusive for the following reasons: 1. We are compelled to limit the term all even in regard to Adam; for the man Christ Jesus, though according to the flesh descended from Adam, was not represented in Adam and was not chargeable with original sin. Here is one exception. Eve was another, who was not brought under the penalty for Adam's but for her own sin. She was a sinner, and under the penalty of death, while Adam was yet an unfallen creature. How long she was so we know not, but if she was a sinner and under wrath the smallest portion of time, it is sufficient for our purpose. Here then we have two human beings not included in the all represented in Adam. 2. The language of the apostle clearly confines the all men represented by the second Adam to such as derive saving benefits from him. They are such as have the grace of God, and the gift by grace, the free gift, abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, justification, righteousness, justification of life. Yea, it is expressly said, they shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. No language could more clearly mark a class of persons distinguished from the rest of mankind by having the redemption of Christ actually applied to them. We freely admit that all, who sinned in Adam and fell with him, are embraced in the many and all men where they first occur in these verses. We as freely concede that all men, who shall reign in life, who have or shall ever have abundance of grace, and justification unto life, are embraced in the terms many and all men, where they occur in the [[@Page:250]] latter clauses of these verses. 3. The construction contended for is clearly supported by the fact that Adam was a type of Christ. And Edwards justly says: "The agreement between Adam as the type or figure of him that was to come, and Christ as the antitype, appears full and clear, if we suppose that ALL who are IN CHRIST (to use' the common scripture phrase) have the benefit of his obedience even as ALL who are IN ADAM have the sorrowful fruit of his disobedience." 4. Other scriptures use the term many in the very sense contended for in this place. In Rom. 12:5 Paul says: "We being many are one body in Christ;" and in 1 Cor. 10:17 “We being many are one bread, and one body." The Greek is exactly the same as in Rom. 5, the many, the mass, the multitude. Indeed in Rom. 4:18 the spiritual seed of Abraham is spoken of as ‘many nations, ' words indicating as vast and comprehensive a multitude as any phrase employed here. So also we read in Rom. 8:29 of Christ being “the firstborn among many brethren,” where we have the same word. 5. The same line of remark may be applied to the words all men. We hardly have begun to read the New Testament until we find such language incapable of any other than a limited meaning: “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins,” Matt. 3:5, 6. That this language may not be so understood as to embrace all the people there is declared by Christ himself, Matt. 21:32. So in Luke 2:1 it is said “there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." It is probable that only Syria is here intended. But it is certain that it cannot mean more than the Roman empire, which though a very important part of the world did not embrace the half of it, as every one knows. In John 12:32 Jesus says: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." All men have not embraced Christ, although a great multitude of all sorts and ranks of men have believed on him. Great numbers of texts might be adduced to the same effect. 6. That passage in 1 Cor. 15:21, 22 uses the same language and yet on the one side none but Christ's own people are meant. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Now the whole context, preceding and subsequent, for many verses together, shews that the apostle is speaking not at all of the resurrection of the wicked, but of those that are fallen asleep in Jesus, of those who have hope in Christ, of those, who shall be raised in glory, fin incorruption, in immortality, of those, who shall at last sing, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Even many, who oppose the precise [[@Page:251]] views given in this commentary admit that it is the resurrection of the just, not of the unjust, that is spoken of throughout the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Even Stuart admits this. 7. Hodge: “In a multitude of cases, the words all, all things, mean the all spoken of in the context, and not all without exception; see Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; 1 Cor. 15:51; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15." This list of texts might be greatly extended. 8. This explanation covers the whole case, and makes all plain and consistent. In this view all, who are in Christ, who are his seed, his redeemed, have the grace of God, and the gift by grace, the free gift of forgiveness of many offences unto justification, abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, the justification of life, and shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. These things cannot be said of the wicked, the ungodly, but only of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. So that we are compelled at last to admit that those, who are never saved, are not partakers of the benefits of Christ's undertaking as' here described. Some would evade the force of this reasoning by saying that these blessings are indeed not bestowed on all men, but that they are sincerely offered to them. It is admitted that all God's offers and proposals to men are sincere. He never mocks his creatures. But to the greater part of mankind the Gospel has never been preached, nor its offers made known. So this view does not relieve the difficulty. Nor is this the only difficulty. There is not a word said in this whole passage respecting the offer of grace, or of justification, or of any blessing. All that is spoken relates to the possession and enjoyment of these benefits.

19. For as by one man s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Perhaps there never was a better, or more conclusive summing up of an argument than we have in this verse. Peshito: For as, on account of the disobedience of one man, many became sinners; so also, on account of the obedience of one, many become righteous. Wiclif: For as bi inobedience of o man many ben made synners: so bi the obedience of oon many shuln be just. Stuart: For as by the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners, so by the obedience of one the many will be constituted righteous. In the creed of Andover Seminary the language used on this point is borrowed from Beza and we have it in the translation above cited from the Andover Professor — many were constituted sinners. N6 one holding the common view objects to such a rendering. The word rendered were made, became, or were constituted is a strong word and is rendered ordained, Heb. 5:158:3; and in the active voice make, or made, Matt. 24:45, 47; 25:21, 23; appoint, Acts 6:3. They were made, or constituted sinners, so as [[@Page:252]] to be regarded and treated as sinners. They are made just, or constituted righteous in the eye of the law, so that they are by the Judge of all the earth regarded and treated as just persons. The condemnation is here spoken of in the past tense, because Adam's work of ruin was actually finished and in operation on every living man. On the other hand the benefit of justification had not yet reached every man, who should share in that blessing, and so it is spoken of in the future.

20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Having in Rom. 5:19 completed his illustration of the manner of our justification in Christ furnished by the manner of our condemnation in Adam, the apostle proceeds to state that the effect of the entrance of the law, so far from making a gratuitous justification by the righteousness of Christ unnecessary either in appearance or in reality, had just the contrary effect in two respects. First it revealed in many was the true nature of sin, and shewed how greatly men had already departed from the rule of rectitude. Thus by the law was the knowledge of sin. Secondly, the very enjoining of many things and the prohibition of others in the law, so far from repressing sinful inclinations, did in many cases inflame them, and awaken unholy desires in a fearful manner. So Augustine and many others. That this latter effect in an unregenerate heart is often produced by the existence of law is matter of common experience, and is clearly stated in this epistle. Indeed both these ideas are by Paul explicitly declared in Rom. 7:7, 8. The effect of the law in awakening opposition is no fault of the law itself, for it is holy, just and good, honorable to God and in all respects worthy of him. But because men are wicked and their hearts perverse, they abuse this great revelation of his will to the race of men, and thus that which was ordained unto life is found to be unto death. The divine procedure in this matter may be illustrated by the conduct of a wise and faithful pastor, who often and ably expounds and enforces the law of God with the express design of awakening attention, creating alarm, convincing of sin and making men feel the need of deliverance, by the grace of God in Christ, from their guilt and depravity. So that there should be no hesitancy in admitting that it was entirely consistent with the divine benevolence to give the law, knowing that it would be the innocent occasion of stirring up the enmity of the human heart, while at the same time it revealed the number, aggravations, guilt and odiousness of sins already committed. This view is correct whether we interpret the word law as meaning only the moral law, or whether we make it to embrace the whole [[@Page:253]] of the Mosaic institute, of which the decalogue was the heart and centre. The latter is probably the better explanation, and what is thus taught is certainly true. Entered, very well rendered, though some prefer the word supervened, to which there is no serious objection. But the apostle would not have us forget that if the ministration of death was glorious, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory, 2 Cor. 3:7-9; that if the Mosaic dispensation, so honorable to God, had brought home to men so deep convictions of their sin and ruin, much more was the gospel honorable to God in displaying boundless stores of mercy and truth; and that whereas sin did much abound and fill men with great and just alarm, so now grace, justifying and saving grace, did muck more abound. This is in full accordance with the teachings of the Old Testament, Isa. 40:2; 55:7; Zech. 9:12. God does not barely save the soul that hopes in his mercy. He abundantly pardons. He renders double for all our sins. He ministers an entrance abundantly into his everlasting kingdom. If sin and death reigned as tyrants, truth and righteousness shall much more reign in glory by Jesus Christ. So illustrious is God's plan of bringing men to a saving knowledge of himself, and so wondrous the salvation he thus bestows, that there is no mistake in saying, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.

21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. How sin has reigned over men is written in the history of the world. How it has reigned unto death is written in every graveyard, in every hospital, in every disease, in every groan, in every tormenting apprehension awakened by a guilty conscience, and in Tophet ordained of old — the prison-house of despair. The world has been made a vast charnel-house, and all by sin. But Jesus Christ is stronger than the strong man armed. Grace is more mighty than sin. Nor is the power of grace displayed in derogation of the claims of law and justice, truth and purity, but reigns entirely through righteousness, a righteousness every way commensurate to the demands of omniscient and infinite purity; a righteousness that satisfies every demand of God's eternal law, both precept and penalty. Nor does grace merely mitigate the horrors of our guilty state, nor does it merely save us from all the evils of the fall. It reigns unto eternal life. In this verse death and life are in antithesis. If one is eternal, as life is said to be, so is the other. There is no good reason for varying from the usual meaning of the word righteousness here and rendering it justification. It is, indeed, a righteousness, which secures justification to all [[@Page:254]] who in their hearts accept it, and it is the ground of their pardon and acceptance, but it is not the pardon and acceptance themselves. It is righteousness, strictly so called, as explained already at length. As to the manner in which grace so super-abounds see above on Rom. 5:15.


1. It is in the plan of God to subject all his rational creatures to a probation. And surely he has a right to do what he will with his own. What the probation of angels was we know not. In it some stood and some fell. What man's probation was the scriptures clearly state. One difference between the probation of angels and that of men was that in the former case each one seems to have stood for himself, in the latter one man stood for the race. For it was by one man that sin entered into the world, Rom. 5:12.

2. The probation of man in Adam was not only divinely appointed, but was very fair. Adam was in the full vigor of his powers. The will of God was very clearly made known to him. The test was as slight as we can well conceive a test to be. He doubtless knew that his conduct would affect his posterity. Great liberty was granted him, the fruit of one tree only being denied him. His communion with God had been intimate and delightful. He was endowed with knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. In short the probabilities all seemed to indicate a most favorable result of the probation, yet the fact was that sin entered by one man, and death by sin. There is no comparison between a probation thus conducted, and that, for which some have pleaded, that each member of the human family in his infancy should have stood for himself. Nor is it conceivable that in any stage of man's existence on earth so strong inducements to right conduct could have been brought to bear on each one as seem to have pressed on Adam in his probation. Cavil as men may, it is a great fact that we had our trial in Adam, and that by a divine constitution ordered in all respects in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness and truth, and yet ruin came upon us like a desolation.

3. Great debates have been held, and are still going on respecting the origin of evil in the world; but they have not been fruitful of good results. The fact is that the history of the apostasy of man as given in the Bible is clear enough for all practical purposes. There wisdom would dictate that we pause. But folly never had any modesty, and pushes on till it is involved in inextricable difficulties or lost in wild confusion. Sin entered by [[@Page:255]] one man on trial as described in Genesis. We know no more. We can know no more in this world, perhaps never.

4. Let us not despise the day of small things either in good or evil. “Man knows the beginning of sin,” said Francis Spira, “but who can tell the bounds thereof? “Every groan and sigh from men on earth or in hell may be traced back to the first sin in Eden, as in some way its cause. In this life we seldom have any adequate apprehension of the fruit of our doings, good or bad. Human conduct reaches much farther, and has consequences much more remote and much more potential for good or ill than we ever conceive. The- beginning of sin is as when one letteth out water. Behold what a great matter a little fire kindleth. Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. Nor is it evil only that has a long course to run. The same is true of good also, “Good deeds never die." A class of men make light of the trial and fall of Adam. They say he sinned but once and then he merely ate an apple. What was the particular fruit that he ate, we know not. Nor is it of any importance that we should. It was forbidden by God. Nor is it a mark of either piety or wisdom to speak with levity respecting any act or word which has moral bearings. One sin may ruin a family. Nor is the length of time employed in doing an act the gauge by which to learn its dimensions for good or for evil. The work of a moment may bring forth fruit to all eternity.

5. It is plain to all serious students of God's word that the death, threatened against disobedience and incurred by transgression, was something very momentous, Rom. 5:12. Even temporal death is styled by Aristotle "the terrible of terribles,” and by Bildad “the king of terrors." If the death of the body were all that were brought on us by sin, it would be something dreadful. But much more is included, as has been shewn. Guyse: “The Death, which, the apostle says, passed upon all men, by one made sin, is manifestly the same with that, which the one man himself was exposed to by his sin, according to God's threatening, that in the day he should eat of the forbidden fruit, he should surely die, Gen. 2:17. And what was the death therein threatened, but a deprivation of the holy and happy life of soul and body, in the image and favor of God, and in communion with him, which he enjoyed, and should otherwise have been confirmed in with rich advantages for ever? Accordingly upon Adams sin he was liable, not only to diseases and death of the body, but also to inward dread and horror of the soul, under a sense of divine wrath, as appeared in his being afraid, and seeking to hide himself from the presence of the Lord. … And as the death of the body by no means infers [[@Page:256]] an extinction of the soul, and divine revelation assures us, that the soul survives the body; it seems necessarily to follow from hence that this death extends, not merely to a separation of soul and body, but likewise to all the uneasiness and distress, that flow from the disorderly, ungovernable, and unsatisfied principles, inclinations and appetites, that were introduced by sin; from the loss of the image and favor of God, and communion with him; and from a sense of guilt, and of divine displeasure on that account, with dismal despair of being ever recovered to a state of happiness again: nor could such recovery have been expected, to prevent this death's being eternal, unless God -himself, in the abundance of his own mercy, were to find out a way of relief; which, blessed be his name, he has done by our Lord Jesus Christ." By death no doubt all penal evil is pointed out. In the case of men living and dying without salvation these penal evils include death temporal, spiritual and eternal. The fact that to such this death is spiritual results from the nature of the soul, and its dependence on God; and the fact that it is eternal results from the fact that a lost soul cannot recover itself; can never pay the debt it owes, and will be eternally responsible for all its emotions and acts. Diodati: “Death is not an accident natural to man, as to plants and beasts, but is the reward of sin,” Rom. 6:23.

6. Any solution of the questions arising respecting the pains and death of men, that does not include the case of every human being, is of course unsatisfactory, because it is unsound. The true solution will embrace all, who have sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, and all who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, those who sinned and died before Moses as well as those who sinned and died after Moses, Rom. 5:13, 14. If in reasoning any thing is clear, the principle here asserted is so. And it cuts off at once many shallow interpretations of Rom. 5:12-19.

7. The most wonderful personage in all history, sacred and profane, is Jesus Christ. Not only is his very name called wonderful, Isa. 9:6; not only were his sermons and his works full of amazing wonders; but there is hardly a great character mentioned in the Old Testament, who was not in some respects a type of Christ, beginning with Adam and coming down to Joshua the high-priest, Rom. 5:14. Sometimes there is a single point of similitude, and sometimes there are several. Chrysostom: “How was Adam a type of Christ? Why in that, as the former became to those who were sprung from him, although they had not eaten of the tree, the cause of that death which by his eating was introduced; so [[@Page:257]] also did Christ become to those sprung from him, even though they had not wrought righteousness, the provider of that righteousness which through his cross he graciously bestowed on us all." Then the sacrifices, the brazen serpent, the manna and in fact almost every thing had a typical reference to Messiah. “The law had a shadow of good things to come." And in and by Jesus Christ the good things came, and we now have them. Glorious is our Redeemer.

8. If men are ever saved it must be by grace, rich unmerited grace, unbought favor, Rom. 5:15-21. How can he, who deserves death, have life but by a free gift? Chrysostom: “The case is as if any one were to cast into prison a person, who owed ten mites, and not cast in the man only, but his wife and children and servants for his sake; and another were to come and not pay down the ten mites only, but give also ten thousand talents of gold, and to lead the prisoner into the king's courts, and to the throne of the highest power, and were to make him partaker of the highest honor and every kind of magnificence, the creditor would not be able to remember the ten mites; so has our case been. For Christ has paid down far more than we owe, yea, as much more as the illimitable ocean is much more than a little drop." Brown: “Whatever blessing or privilege we enjoy in and through Christ, all is of free and undeserved grace; and however Christ paid dear for any thing we get, yet to us it is a free gift." Nor is this doctrine to a pious mind offensive, but delightful. The truly humble soul would rather ascribe its salvation to the grace of God than to its own powers or merits, not merely because it delights in the truth, but because it delights to honor him whom the virgins love.

9. This section (particularly Rom. 5:12-19) brings before us fairly the doctrine of original sin, which “consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of our whole nature." This is the statement of this doctrine by the Westminster Assembly, and it is correct. On the universal spread of original sin, its desert of God's sore dis-pleasure, its depriving us of all native holiness, and corrupting our whole nature, there has long been a very general agreement in the church of God. She has spoken more clearly and harmoniously on very few points. The Belgic Confession says: “Original sin is so base and execrable, that it suffices to the condemnation of the whole human race. … God saw that man had so cast himself into the condemnation of death, both cor-poreal and spiritual, and was made altogether miserable and accursed." Arts. XV and XVII. The church of England says: "Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam in imitation ]]258]] Adami) as the Pelagians do vainly talk (fabulantur); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered, of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone 'quam longissbme distet) from original righteousness, and is, of his own nature, inclined to evil; so that the flesh lusteth always, contrary to the Spirit; and therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." Art. IX. The Moravian Confession says: “Since Adam's fall all mankind naturally engendered of him, are conceived and born in sin; that is, that they from the very womb are full of evil lusts and inclinations: and have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God, nor can have. Also that this innate disease and original sin, is truly sin; and condemns, under God's eternal wrath, all those who are not born again through water and the Holy Ghost." Art. II. The Synod of Dort “rejects the errors of those, who teach that ‘It cannot properly be said, that original sin (peccatum originis) suffices of itself for the condemnation of the whole human race, or the desert of temporal and eternal punishments.' “We might quote from many other formularies to the same effect. Eminent teachers in the church of Christ have long borne a like testimony. Thus Calvin: "The natural depravity which we bring from our mother's womb, though it brings not forth immediately its own fruits, is yet sin before God, and deserves his vengeance: and this is that sin which they call original." Diodati: “Sin hath reigned unto death, shewing its pestilent power in the present and everlasting death, which it causeth of its own natural property to all men." John Owen of Oxford: “That the doctrine of original sin is one of the fundamental truths of our Christian profession, hath been always owned in the church of God." In like manner we might quote many pages of testimony from others, shewing how the church of God has maintained the truth on this great doctrine. The passages of scripture supporting the whole doctrine are many, such as Ps. 51:5; John 1:13, 29; Rom. 5:12-19; Eph. 2:3. Some falsely assert that the old doctrine of original sin involves the idea of physical depravity, or a corruption of the substance of the soul. A flat denial ought to be a sufficient answer to so groundless a charge. What sound divines have long maintained is that by his fall Adam brought on us penal suffering, the loss of original righteousness, and consequently the corruption of our moral nature. But where is the respectable defender of these doctrines, who at any time has favored the doctrine of. physical depravity? Adam did indeed bring on all he represented the curse as just stated. But Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,  [[@Page:259]] and by his Spirit he renews our moral (not our physical) natures, and so fits us for heaven.

10. This passage of scripture (Rom. 5:12-19) certainly illustrates and so very clearly teaches the doctrine of imputation — imputation as a principle of the divine government. See above comment on Rom. 5:3, and Doctrinal and Practical Remark No. 9 on Rom. 4:1-15. Remarks there made need not be here repeated. The doctrine of imputation is applied to three matters in theology, — 1. the imputation of Adam's first sin to his posterity; 2. the imputation of the sins of his people to Christ; 3. the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people. It is the first and third of these that are presented in Rom. 5:12-19; the first for the sake of illustrating the third. For we should not forget (what was stated at the beginning of the exposition of these verses) that Paul's object in referring to Adam is to explain the work of Christ. We have on the one hand considered the various phrases that “by one man sin entered into the world,” “that through the offence of one many be dead,” “that the judgment was by one to condemnation,” “that by one man's offence death reigned by one,” and “that by one man's disobedience many were made sinners;" and, on the other the phrases, “the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, hath abounded unto many,” “that the free gift is of many offences unto justification,” "they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,” “by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men to justification of life,” and that "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." I do not remember ever to have met with any writing that denied that these clauses respectively were antithetical, and that a parallel (with a contrast in several verses) was run between Adam and Christ. If any man should so deny, it could not possibly do any good to argue with him on these matters. Admitting these things to be so, we have the following conceivable methods of explaining these verses. One is the Pelagian theory, that Adam brought damage to us only by setting us a bad example which we imitated. It is probably not necessary at length to refute an error, which is not avowed by any existing church, however corrupt in other respects it may have become. If all Adam did for our ruin was to set us a bad example, then we must in fairness say that all Christ did for us was to set us a good example. No one, who is likely to be profited by this work, will avow an opinion so flatly contradictory of many clear statements of God's word, and of this portion of scripture in particular. Like remarks are applicable to the statement that Adam injured us and Christ benefited us only by instruction. It [[@Page:260]] is true that the lessons we learn from Jesus of Nazareth are of the most weighty character, but we have no account whatever of any bad instruction communicated by Adam to his posterity beyond that taught by his example. And it is confounding all language and denying to it any fixed meaning to say that one offence and one man's disobedience mean some bad lessons taught us; or that the free gift, righteousness, and the obedience of one mean the sermons and teachings of our Lord. Nor will it be seriously contended that our death, condemnation or judgment was by Adam infusing sin into us by one offence, or that Christ's obedience is imparted to us, or infused into us. The passage is not speaking of purification or sanctification, but of judgment, condemnation, the penal evil, death, and of justification, justification of life, being made righteous. Nor is there left to us any other way of conceiving how the guilt of Adam's sin or the righteousness of Christ can be made ours but by imputation alone. A class of modern writers refuse this and all definite terms, and insist that all we can say is that we are subject to death in consequence of Adam's sin and are saved in consequence of Christ's undertaking. But this language is never used in the word of God. In his Works Vol. 2, p. 351, Dr. Leonard Woods of Andover says: “As to those, who deny the doctrine of native depravity, and the doctrine of imputation, and the doctrine of John Taylor and the Unitarians, and yet profess to believe that we are depraved and ruined in consequence of Adam s sin, I am at a loss to know what their belief amounts to. They say, Adam's sin had an influence; but they deny all the conceivable ways in which it could have an influence, and particularly the ways which are most clearly brought to view in Rom. 5, and in other parts of scripture." And when such are asked whether they mean to speak of a legal consequence, they either say no, and thus deny the substance of scriptural teaching, or they say yes, and then we ask what is a legal consequence to us, but imputation? There is no conceivable way in which Adam's one act could ruin us, or Christ's obedience save us but by imputation. The Bible uses this term often, as we have seen in Rom. 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10. It is well defined in systems of theology, and has been accepted by nearly all the Christian world for centuries.

Some indeed say that this view of things involves us in mystery and is unintelligible. But there is no more mystery in the simple fact of Adam representing us and the fruit of his doings being counted to us, than there is in a general representing his army, or an ambassador his nation. It is the fact of representation, and not the greatness of the results, that involves the difficulty, if there is difficulty. All, by whom this book is likely to [[@Page:261]] be read, admit that the fall of Adam ruined our race. Let them tell us how that was done, if they can. We say it was done by his being- by divine appointment our federal head. We say the guilt of his sin was imputed to his posterity, and so they became guilty. Our explanation is according to the severest rules of interpreting terms, phrases and statements. We deny that there is anything unintelligible in the simple doctrine of imputed sin, or imputed righteousness, which doctrines must stand or fall together. For as Turrettin well expresses it: “We are constituted sinners in Adam in the same way in which we are constituted righteous in Christ."

Others seem to think that in some way they can reject the old orthodox view without being in any danger of serious error. But is this so? Olshausen (p. 186) correctly says: “Antiquity knew only two different stations from which to consider this passage, and, although under altered names and forms with shades of distinction and modifications, the same have continued to the present essentially like what they were, since the time they were first keenly expressed; the Augustinian and the Pelagian. The difference between these two carefully considered is not in some, but in all points, and they deviate specifically upon all the great problems; any reconciliation, therefore, between them is out of the question." He afterwards says that Semi-Pelagianism is involved. in as many difficulties as Pelagianism. And this is true also. If the fall of Adam made us in the eye of the law sinners, we ought not to say, and we relieve no difficulty by saying that we become sinners without any probation at all, or by a probation in the dawn of our infancy, when we have so little understanding, that it is mocking us to say that each one undergoes a probation for himself. From the days of Chrysostom down to our time the best writers, those, who have stood foremost as advocates of the truth have contended that to be made sinners “means to be made liable to death and condemned to death." Chrys. p. 154.

If men say that the ruin of the race by one act of one man and the salvation of believers by the obedience of another are quite contrary to the natural conceptions of most men, it is freely admitted by all candid writers. Hodge: “The idea of men being regarded and treated, not according to their own merits, but the merit of another is contrary to the common mode of thinking among men." But shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Is man, the worm, the fool, the sinner, capable of revising the ways of Providence? Is it not wiser with Paul to say, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding [[@Page:262]] out!" than to sit in judgment on the ways of the Almighty? If God says a thing, we know it is true; if God does a thing we know it is right. Wisdom would dictate that modesty should stop just there. Haldane: “Our duty is to understand the import of what is testified, and to receive it on that authority — not to inquire into the justice of the constitution from which our guilt results. ... It is highly dishonorable to God to refuse to submit to his decisions till we can demonstrate their justice." Moses: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever." Elihu: “God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters." Deut. 29:29; Job 33:12, 13.

Of no more force is the objection of Macknight, repeated by several of his American imitators, that “to argue with Beza, that to entitle believers to eternal life, Christ's righteousness must be them, is to contradict the scripture, which constantly represents eternal life, not as a debt due to believers, but as a free gift from God." But what lover of sound doctrine ever held that eternal life was to the believer anything but a free gift, a gift by grace, unmerited kindness? And does it not magnify the grace of God to sinners to know that it is bestowed at a great cost, even the humiliation and sufferings of the Son of God? To man salvation from first to last is all gratuity, but not a whit less so, because it is bestowed in a manner consistent with all the requirements of the eternal law of God. To Christ, who obeyed and suffered, the salvation of his people is due, because he has paid the ransom for them. Those, who are saved, are pardoned and accepted through Christ, in a way perfectly consistent with the demands of justice, for Christ has fully satisfied all the claims of God's infinite and unspotted rectitude for his people. But to the sinner saved, all is grace, all is mercy, all is a free gift through Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the most popular and wide-spread objection to the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity is one that is stated with various degrees of coarseness and harshness, holding up the friends of truth as maintaining the doctrine that infants dying in infancy are eternally lost. On this objection the changes are rung with great dexterity, and often with deep malignity. I may say with boldness that in the reading of my lifetime I have found nothing to justify such a charge, but a great deal to the contrary. Hear the Synod of Dort: "Seeing that we are to judge of the will of God by his word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not indeed by nature, but by the benefit of the gracious covenant, in which they are comprehended [[@Page:263]] along with their parents; pious parents ought not to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom God hath called in infancy out of this life." On this article the judicious Thomas Scott of the church of England, in a note to his translation of the Acts of the Synod of Dort, says: “The salvation of the offspring of believers, dying in infancy, is here scripturally stated, and not limited to such as are baptized. Nothing is said of the children of unbelievers dying in infancy; and the scripture says nothing. But why might not these Calvinists have as favorable a hope of all infants dying before actual sin, as anti-calvinists can have?" Surely this is sound speech that cannot be condemned. Guyse: “How far the righteousness of the second Adam may extend to them that die in infancy, to prevent an execution of the curse in the future miseries of another world, is not for us to determine; we may quietly leave them in the hands of a merciful God, who we are sure can do them no wrong. And believing parents may with great satisfaction hope well concerning the eternal happiness of their dying infants; since they never lived to cast off God's gracious covenant, into which he has taken believers and their seed, under that better Head, in whom all nations are blessed. But then it should be remembered, that infants needing Christ's redemption supposes them to have been under a charge of guilt; otherwise there would have been no occasion for any redemption of them; and if they have not the benefit of redemption in the other world, they have none at all, since they are afflicted and die in this." Chalmers: “For anything we know, the mediation of Christ may have affected, in a most essential way, the general state of humanity; and, by some mode unexplained and inexplicable, ma)r it have bettered the condition of those who die in infancy." Hodge: “If without personal participation in the sin of Adam, all men are subject to death, may we not hope that, without personal acceptance of the righteousness of Christ, all who die in infancy are saved? “In his beautiful poem “The Work and Contention of Heaven,” the pious Ralph Erskine, to the joy of saints, thus opens the scene:

"Babes thither caught from womb and breast Claim right to sing above the rest; Because they found the happy shore, They never knew nor sought before."

Wardlaw: “This I believe and delight in believing, that to what-ever extent the curse may reach them, they are all included in the efficacy of the redemption, amongst the objects of saving mercy.

[[@Page:264]] Their salvation is entirely on the ground of Christ's mediation." Vol. 2, p. 269. Dr. Archibald Alexander uses language very strong on this subject. See his Life, p. 455: “It can do harm to hope as much as we can respecting the dead. Let us be as rigid as we please in regard to the living; but it is no dishonor to God, nor disparagement of his truth, to entertain enlarged views of his mercy." A reason, why God may in mercy have said no more on this subject, is that wicked parents may be restrained from infanticide. As it is, many a child is murdered by the parent, to put it out of misery. Wardlaw goes too far — goes beyond what is revealed — when he says: “I believe that even in heathen lands, Christ makes his great adversary outwit himself. The amount of infanticides, produced by ruthless and unnatural superstition, has been fearfully great. But the Redeemer, without its in the least mitigating the atrocious guilt of the perpetrators, has thus, by means of idolatry itself, been multiplying the number of his subjects and peopling heaven." We must not be wise above what is written. We must not lay before ungodly men an inducement to murder their own offspring that they may put them for ever beyond the reach of misery. The Lord will do right. Let us leave all in his hands. Let us trust him for ever. He has revealed all that faith requires. Thus we see it is not true that the friends of sound doctrine are chargeable with holding any gloomy, or un-scriptural views on the subject of infant salvation. They hold not a principle, which forbids them to entertain as cheerful and enlarged views on the subject as any other persons who believe the Bible. But they do contend, and justly too, that whoever of our race is saved at all, is saved entirely by Christ, and not by native innocence. The pious parent, whose infant offspring has preceded him, exults in the thought that he and they shall sing the same song unto him that loved them, and washed them in his blood.

It might well be remembered that all, who live long enough to reject the gospel, do by that act justify Adam in his transgressing the covenant of works, just as Jerusalem justified Sodom and Samaria by sinning worse than they, Ezek. 16:51, 52. Great as was Adam's first sin, it was a sin against goodness, law and authority; but he, who rejects the gospel, sins against the greatest love and mercy and wisdom, and against the most awful authority too. “This is the condemnation [the worst and most dreadful condemnation] that light is come into the word, and men have loved darkness rather than light,” John 3:19.

Some have objected to the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity that it teaches that everlasting misery is or may be sent on those whose souls and lives are wholly pure [[@Page:265]] and innocent. But who has at any time taught such a doctrine? Surely no approved divine of this or any other age. Thus Calvin: “By Adam's sin we are not condemned through imputation alone, as though we were punished only for the sin of another; but we suffer his punishment, because we also ourselves are guilty; for as our nature is vitiated in him, it is regarded by God as having committed sin." Hodge: “As the term death is used for any and every evil judicially inflicted as the punishment of sin, the amount and nature of the evil not being expressed by the word, it is no part of the apostle's doctrine that eternal misery is inflicted on any man for the sin of Adam, irrespective of inherent depravity or actual transgression. It is enough for all the purposes of his argument that that sin was the ground of the loss of the divine favor, the withholding of divine influence, and the consequent corruption of our nature." Haldane is no less clear and decided on the same point. The same view was maintained by David Pareus and other eminent divines of the XVI. century, as well as by the best divines of the XVII. and XVIII. centuries. So far did the old Hopkinsians carry this matter that they were understood to insist that newborn infants committed actual sin. See Dr. Leonard Woods' Works, Vol. 2, p. 352. But that is an extreme opinion, generally rejected on both sides of the Atlantic.

It would not be difficult to shew by the writings of many serious men, who oppose the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin, that they do often concede all that any calm and enlightened friend of the old and sound doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin contends for. Hodge has collected a number of such. The number of proofs might be almost indefinitely extended. Locke: “Paul proves that all men became mortal, by Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, and by that alone. … Men's dying before the law of Moses, was purely in consequence of Adam's sin, in eating the forbidden fruit. … By one offence, Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, all men fell under the condemnation of death." So also Macknight: "Death hath come on all men for Adam's sin. … Through the disobedience of one man, all were made liable to sin and punishment, notwithstanding many of them never heard of Adam, or of his disobedience." Any of these concedes all the principle contended for in imputation, viz. that one may act for another, and in such a way as the fruit of his doings, the legal consequences of his acts may, by the just providence of God, come to that other, as if they were his own.

It is a pleasing thought that in the actual administration of human affairs by the headship of Adam and of Christ, there is so great a superiority and glory in the headship of Christ. Paul [[@Page:266]] mentions this several times in Rom. 5:12-19. Chrysostom takes up the same note: “Sin and grace are not equivalents, death and life are not equivalents, the Devil and God are not equivalents, but there is a boundless space between them. … If sin had so extensive effects, and the sin of one man too; how can grace, and that the grace of God, not the Father only, but also the Son, do otherwise than be the more abundant of the two? For the latter is far the more reasonable supposition. For that one man should be punished on account of another does not seem to be much in accordance with reason. But for one to be saved on account of another is at once more suitable and reasonable. If then the former took place, much more the latter." Hodge: “The benefits of the one dispensation far exceed the evils of the other. For the condemnation was for one offence; the justification is of many. Christ saves us from much more than the guilt of Adam's sin. … It is far more consistent with our views of the character of God, that many should be benefitted by the merit of one man, than that they should suffer for the sin of one. If the latter has happened, MUCH MORE may we expect the former to occur." The point of the thought from the much more of the apostle is this: The principle of representation in the government of God has by the fall of Adam brought great evil, but by the obedience of Christ it has wrought out results the most glorious to God, and the most beneficial to man — results as far excelling those of the fall as Christ is superior to Adam. How much that is the scriptures clearly state:." The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. … The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,” 1 Cor. 15:45, 47-49. It evinces amazing wisdom, power and goodness to bring any good out of any evil; but to bring infinite and ever-lasting, yea the greatest good out of the apostasy of man manifests such infinite perfections as must for ever fill the soul of the devout and humble with unceasing wonder, admiration and thanksgiving.

II. Sin is as bad, as mischievous, as ruinous to man, as dishonoring to God, as it has ever been represented to be. “Death entered by sin;" "through the offence of one many are dead;" by it "death reigned by one;" by it "judgment came upon all men to condemnation;" “by one man's disobedience many were made sinners." Sin is carnal, sensual, devilish. It is the sting of death; it is the venom of perdition. It digs every grave; it builds every [[@Page:267]] prison; it forges every chain; it erects every gibbet; it made strong the bars of hell; it is horrible. Not a sigh, or groan, or wail is heard on earth or in hell, but that sin is the cause of it. In the wretchedness of man on earth, in the screams of the damned in hell, above all in the cross of Christ, let men learn the evil of sin. Look at that mysterious sufferer in Gethsemane! Why is he in such agony? He is bearing sin for others. What must sin not be, when it required so amazing humiliation and suffering in the holy Jesus to redeem us from it?

12. The law of God is of excellent use in many ways. Nor is its value in shewing us how wicked and guilty we are one of the lest important of its uses, Rom. 5:20. Calvin: “Without the law reproving us, we in a manner sleep in our sins; and though we are not ignorant that we do evil, we yet suppress as much as we can the knowledge of evil offered to us, at least we obliterate it by quickly forgetting it." T. Adam: “Keep your thoughts close to this idea of the divine law; establish it with the apostle, as the sacred, invariable rule by which you are to be tried; and then ask yourself, what part of your life has been answerable to it." The law is still a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ. Those converts to Christ, who have but a slight law-work on their hearts, are apt to take but a feeble hold on the Redeemer; while those, who are soundly troubled in their consciences, at least see the need of just such a salvation as is provided in the gospel.

13. If poor sinners, saved by grace, can, after long study and prayer, get a comparatively good insight into the doctrines of gratuitous justification, such as is revealed in this epistle, and in this chapter, what a glorious doctrine must it be in the eyes of angels, who never sinned, and especially in the esteem of the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven, Rom. 5:18, 19, 21. See Doctrinal and Practical Remarks on Rom. 5:1-11. Diodati: “Christ's righteousness consisteth in his full and perfect obe-dience unto God his Father in fulfilling the law. Now Saint Paul saith here, that all this righteousness is imputed unto us, and we thereby are perfectly righteous before God, as if we ourselves had wholly fulfilled the law." T. Adam: “Paul takes occasion to plead for such a remedy as is suited to the urgency of our case; declares the nature of it as plainly as words can do, and tells us precisely both what it is, and what it is not; that it is only and altogether the grace of God, and the gift by grace, the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to the glory of God, from the bowels of his mercy, and to the utter exclusion of all other pretensions, human merit or qualification." If a perfectly gratuitous justification is not taught in this epistle, there are [[@Page:268]] no words left whereby such a doctrine may be taught. There is but one sense, in which the righteousness, by which we are justified before God, is our own; and that is, it is imputed to us, or set down to our account, to all the ends and purposes of perfect pardon and complete acceptance with God. Otherwise it is wholly and entirely the righteousness of God, the righteousness of Christ, Rom. 3:21, 22; 10:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; 2 Pet. 1:11. Chalmers: “God now is not only merciful to forgive — he is faithful and just to forgive. He will not draw upon the surety, and upon the debtor both. He will have a full reckoning with guilt; but he will not have more than a full reckoning by exacting both a penalty and a propitiation: and the man who trusts to the propitiation, may be very sure that the penalty will never reach him. The destroying angel, on finding him marked with the blood of Christ, will pass him by." Glory be to God for such heavenly doctrine. As the scarlet thread made Rahab safe in the midst of the convulsions of Jericho, so the precious blood of Christ and his infinite righteousness will give boldness to the redeemed when all nature shall be dissolving.

14. Every right view of scripture doctrine, of God's glory, or man's feebleness, of human wickedness or of man's recovery by Christ Jesus, teaches us a lesson of humility. Nor is it possible for us to be too lowly before God. If we ever rise, it must be by sinking. If we are ever exalted, it must be by humbling our-selves. Our place is in the dust. Our great error is in our lofti-ness. Oh for self-emptiness. The best man on earth is the hum-blest man on earth. The most exalted creature before the blazing throne above is the one that makes the most profound obeisance of all his nature in the presence of his Maker. Come down, ye mountains of pride. Be abased all ye lofty thoughts that exalt yourselves against God. Scott: “Let us learn habitually to look upon ourselves and the whole human race as lying in the ruins of the fall; sinners by nature and practice, exposed to condemnation, and no more able to save our own souls from hell, than to rescue our bodies from the grave. Instead of perplexing ourselves about the awfully deep and incomprehensible, but most righteous dispensation of God, in permitting the entrance of sin and death; let us learn to adore his grace for providing so adequate a remedy for that awful catastrophe, which we are sure was consistent with all his glorious perfections." Such a course as this would prove that we were already taught of God, and had found the way of life. God's judgments are indeed terrible; but his mercies endure for ever. True, clouds and darkness are round about him, but righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. If we were but as humble as our state [[@Page:269]] and character require, we should avoid all the serious mistakes of men, and make delightful progress in the knowledge of God and in conformity to the will of God. If any man would be wise, let him become a fool that he may be wise.

15. If such is the sad and fallen condition of our whole race, as we have seen it to be, Rom. 5:12-19, now zealous should be our endeavors, how faithful our instructions, and how fervent our prayers in behalf of our sinful offspring. Monica said she travailed in birth more for the soul than for the body of her son, Augustine. It is sad to see our loved ones in the snare of the devil. But it is glorious to see Christ rescuing the captives, and opening the prison to them that are bound. He is able to bind the strong man and spoil his goods. Scott: “As our children have evidently, through us, received a sinful, suffering and dying nature from the first Adam; we should be stirred up, even by their pains and sorrows in helpless infancy, to seek for them the blessings of the second Adam's righteousness and salvation." And our prayers should be full of ardor. “Elijah's prayer brought down fire from heaven, because being fervent it carried fire up to heaven." In nothing is there a greater deficiency in our day than in the matter of prayer.

16. The way of salvation is by the Redeemer's blood and righteousness, and by them alone, Out of Christ God is a consuming fire. We cannot be saved by any finite power or merit. Brown: “There is no inheriting eternal life until first we be covered with a righteousness, seeing we are altogether unclean and unholy of ourselves; and as grace certainly carries us to heaven, so grace certainly provides the means, and the way how to win it, and finds out a way how poor sinners shall become righteous saints." That is just what we need, just what we should accept. It is offered to us by the Lord — offered without money and without price. The air we breathe is not more free than the grace of the gospel. O sinful man! does not that quite suit your case? And will you not at once close in with the overtures of mercy? Chalmers: “Jesus Christ our Lord by his death bore the punishment that you should have borne. He by his obedience won a righteousness, the reckoning and the reward of which are transferred unto you; and you, by giving credit to the good news, are deemed by God as having accepted all these benefits, and will be dealt with accordingly. You cannot trust too simply to the Saviour. You cannot place too strong a reliance on his death as your discharge." Oh come to Jesus Christ and be saved.

17. There is great danger that many will lose their souls by idle questions, and false reasonings, and deceitful hopes respecting their case. In our day men have learned fearfully to sin by [[@Page:270]] cavilling at almost every thing declared even in the gospel. Some say, How can these things be? And while men are disputing, life passes away, and they find themselves in the fixedness of an eternal state, but without the needful preparation. Wardlaw: “Whatever may be the amount of curse arising directly from your relation to the first sinner, O do not allow any speculations on a subject so full of mystery, to draw away your thoughts from the consideration of your actual guilt. Do not think hardly of God on account of his dealings towards you, and towards the race. Be assured he is the Judge of all the earth; and has done and can do only that which is right. While he visits transgressions with punitive vengeance, think how he has visited sinners in tender mercy. 'He delighteth in mercy.' If his dealings by the first Adam manifest his righteousness, his dealings by the second Adam reveal the everlasting riches of his love. I must do as my Bible does. There I find all men spoken of, and spoken to, as children of wrath till they turn unto God by Jesus Christ. Even those who have experienced the renewing power of grace are spoken of as having been so previously. The way of escape is set before men. Ample and immediate encouragement is held out to them to come to God for pardon and full salvation, through the overflowing abundance of his grace in Christ Jesus. The righteousness of Christ is infinitely more than a counterbalance to Adam's sin and to their own. Grace reigns through this righteousness." Will you, O will you be saved? When shall it once be?

Romans 5:1-11. — Having shewn man's need of Gratuitous Salvation, and how it is obtained, the Apostle proceeds to State the Blessed effects of Justification.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 17:57 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 17:58 ]

Chapter 5:1-11.

Having shewn man's need of Gratuitous Salvation, and how it is obtained, the Apostle proceeds to State the Blessed effects of Justification.

1. THEREFORE being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4. And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

6. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,

7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

1. THEREFORE being justified by faith, we have peace with God . through our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have peace, Peshito has, we shall have peace; Doway and Rheims, let us have peace. But the authorized version follows the original, and is sustained by most interpreters, versions and manuscripts. This verse is an inference from the whole preceding argument, marked by the [[194]] word Therefore, which some render Then. But either word shews the connection. On justified, see above on Rom. 2:13; 3:20, 26. By faith, see above on Rom. 1:8, 12, 17. On the ground of what righteousness a sinner is justified, see Doctrinal and Practical Remark No. 5 on Rom. 3:20-31. On the whole nature of justification, see Doctrinal and Practical Remark No. 17 on Rom. 3:20-31. Macknight contends that in this verse justified either means “delivered from wickedness and ignorance through the influence of faith;" or that it signifies that “believers have the promise of justification given them." But neither of these explanations can for a moment be received without subverting the entire argument of the apostle, and destroying all ground of solid comfort. O this is not the gospel. lf Paul makes any thing plain, he certainly teaches that believers are, on accepting Christ, actually, fully and irrevocably justified by the Lord through faith in the Redeemer, whose righteousness is imputed to them by himself. Such receive incalculable benefits from their justification. The first is mentioned in this verse — peace with God. There is much said in scripture concerning peace, which is the opposite of war, persecution, temptation, condemnation, alarm, tumult, strife, controversy. Several times does Paul speak of “the God of peace." Jesus Christ is called “our peace “and the “Prince of peace." The reason is that "the chastisement of our peace was upon him." He was sent to "guide our feet into the way of peace,” Luke 1:79. He says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." Peace is often included in the apostolic salutations and benedictions. In our verse it is used in one or both of these two senses:1. Actual peace with God, whereby we are no longer condemned by him, are no longer counted as enemies, and are no longer engaged in a controversy with him. By faith in Jesus Christ we receive reconciliation with God. The Almighty then no more regards us as outcasts. Christ is our Surety, our Sacrifice, our Peace. The objection to this explanation is that it makes our verse tautological; for justification clearly includes all this. 2. The other explanation is that the peace here spoken of is peace of conscience towards God, or, as some express it, conscious peace towards God. This is an inestimable blessing. For it there is no substitute. Without it there can be no abiding rest to the soul. In the angels, peace of conscience is the fruit of innocence. In believers it is the fruit of the Saviour's obedience and sufferings. We cannot be made perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, “without blood,” Heb. 9:7-12. The want of this peace dooms the wicked to misery. To them there is no peace, Isa. 48:22; 57:21. This is the view taken of this passage by many [[195]] Calvin: “Peace means tranquillity of conscience, which arises from this — that it feels itself to be reconciled to God." Diodati: “God is made propitious unto us in Christ, who by the faith which he creates in us, causeth us to enjoy this reconciliation, by virtue whereof our conscience is firmly grounded,” etc. Hodge: “We have conscious peace with God, that is, we have neither any longer the present upbraidings of an unappeased conscience, nor the dread of divine vengeance." Some unite both senses. Dutch Annotations: “Peace with God is the friendship of God, and the assurance thereof in our mind, whereby we are set at rest in God." The peace, which believers have, is, like justification, wholly gracious. It is “through our Lord Jesus Christ." Like all other graces it is the fruit of the Spirit. It is essential to the symmetry of Christian character. It is abiding. This is the first benefit of a free justification by the merits of the Redeemer.

2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace "wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. By whom, i. e. by Jesus Christ, through whom alone all the benefits of the covenant of grace are conveyed to men. There is but one Mediator, one Prophet, one Priest, one King in Zion. Himself says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." This verse mentions two other benefits flowing from justification. One is admission into a state of grace, where we permanently enjoy the favor of God, so that our relation to him becomes to all the ends of salvation the same as that of Abraham. We are in covenant with God, who has graciously and in the most solemn manner bound himself not to forsake us, nor leave us to our own strength, wisdom or righteousness. Access, found also in Eph. 2:18; 3:12, and uniformly rendered. Peshito: By whom we are brought by faith into this grace. Yet Evans and others for access read introduction. This does not materially vary the sense. Access or admission doubtless gives the main idea, which is more than once presented in the scripture. The cognate verb is found in 1 Pet. 3:18, "Christ also hath once suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us [give us access] to God." The same idea in other words is found in Eph. 2:13, “Now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Some make the clause under consideration substantially a repetition of the latter clause of Rom. 5:1. It is true that all the benefits of justification here enumerated are inseparably connected; but in his account of them the apostle mentions several benefits. In his enumeration he makes delightful progress. If peace with God tells us of friendship with God, access into this grace points to a covenant relation in which all needed [[196]] grace is pledged and supplied. Haldane: “Peace denotes a particular blessing; access into grace, or a state of favor, general blessings." We stand, we stand fast, we stand firm, we stand still, we continue, we are established. The verb often expresses stability. The other benefit of justification noticed in this verse is solid joy arising from good hopes and bright prospects: We rejoice in hope of the glory of God, The Jews had seen the visible glory resting over the tabernacle or over the ark. And that was a great sight. But the glory yet to be revealed is ineffably greater. It is the glory that excelleth. It is the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; that which is connected with being forever with the Lord, and enjoying the ineffable bliss of a never-ending residence in the glorious presence of God and the Lamb. Into that state of perfection and enjoyment God's people, still in this world, have not yet entered. But they have a well grounded hope, a hope begotten in them by God's Spirit, a hope that cannot deceive or make ashamed, that in due time, and at no distant day, all the glories and blessings of heaven shall be theirs. All Christians are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ." We rejoice, in Rom. 2:17, 23, make boast; in Rom. 5:3, glory; in Rom. 5:11, joy. It is used in both a good and bad sense, the context determines which. In Gal. 6:14 it is rendered glory: “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

3. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience. In this verse two other benefits flowing to believers from justification are stated. The first is this. So far from being overwhelmed by afflictions they joy and rejoice, they boast and glory in the worst of them. It is the same verb as in Rom. 5:2, on which see above. Tribulation, we have in this verse the same noun in both the singular and the plural. It is often so rendered, also affliction, trouble, anguish, persecution. It is sometimes connected with persecution, as in Matt. 13:21; Mark 4:17. In not a few cases it at least implies persecution for Christ's sake. See above on Rom. 2:9. The sermon on the mount and many parts of God's word authorized this glorying in tribulation, especially when it comes for Christ's sake, Matt. 5:11, 12; Acts 5:41; Jas. 1:2; 1 Pet. 4:13. How common and wonderful this exultation in sore trials was is told in the history of every persecution. No greater joy have the saints ever had than in the midst of trials the most appalling. All this is referable to the power of that grace wherein we stand. Hodge: “Since our relation to God is changed, the relation of all things to us is changed." “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth," [[197]] Heb. 12:6. A reason for this exultation in suffering is found in its tendency, through grace, to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Tribulation worketh patience. In the Greek Testament are two words, rendered patience. One of them is more frequently rendered long-suffering. It means patient endurance. Compare Rom. 2:4; Heb. 6:12, 15. The other word rendered patience is found in our verse. It is once rendered patient continuance, and signifies endurance, constancy. It is an element of all truly great souls. Towards God it is resigned, saying, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt." Towards Christians, who are faithful in reproof, it meekly says, “Let the righteous smite me." Towards the wicked who afflict and mock us, it says, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy." To the ills, which afflict us, it gives a kind entertainment. Without malice it bears insults and injuries. Under delays it is still constant. When others blanch and quail, it plays the hero. The world often counts it obstinacy. But in God's esteem it is a sublime virtue. It is worth all it costs to acquire it. It is a fruit of the Spirit much commended. It is a great grace.

4. And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Patience effects in us experience. Everywhere else the word is rendered proof, trial, or experiment. Here it seems to mean that proof, which, by patient endurance of evil, we obtain of the value of our principles and the power of divine grace in its effectual working in us. So, if by experience we understand knowledge gained by being exercised in any matter, experience is a good rendering here. If any prefer proof to experience, there is no objection to that rendering. Such, however, will doubtless admit with Haldane that "proof implies that the trial has proved the genuineness of the tried person and also of the faithfulness and support of God, which will enable us to overcome every difficulty." This is religious experience. And experience worketh hope. The apostle spoke of hope in Rom. 5:2. See on that place. It is brought up again to shew that as we prove God and ourselves, our hope, instead of diminishing, grows stronger and stronger. Before David met Goliath, he had had experience of great dangers. He did encourage himself by his past experience in encountering terrible enemies and assailants, 1 Sam. 17:37. So does the hope of the child of God become more and more an anchor to the soul, as the power of God's grace and his faithfulness are illustrated in its history.

5. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroadin our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Ashamed, often so rendered; also confounded; sometimes dishonored. Either rendering suits here. The hope here spoken of is that good [[198]] hope through grace, which God grants to his chosen. Such hope will never bring dishonor, confusion, shame. The apostle here and often uses a figure, common to most, if not all languages. He expresses less than he intends us to understand. His real meaning is that this hope gives a holy and joyful confidence, which nothing can abash. It is of the nature of hope to embolden. It is of the nature of the Christian's hope to make him fearless and faithful in professing the true religion, in adhering to Christ's cause, and in doing one's duty in the face of the most unreasonable and wicked opposition. This hope derives its great strength and animation from the love of God — because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Interpreters give three explanations of the phrase love of God in this verse. In other places it is clearly used in two different senses; God's love to us, as in Rom. 5:6; 8:39; our love to God, as in Luke 11:42; John 5:42; Jude 21. The mere words therefore determine nothing in this matter. Others so interpret the phrase as to include both God's love to us and ours to him. 1. Chrysostom thinks it means God's love to us, whereby he has “shed abroad the full fountain of his blessings." The same view is substantially taken by Theophylact, Ambrose, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Ferme, Piscator, Cajetan, Toletus, Assembly's Annotations, Dutch Annotations, Schlichting, Pareus, Grotius, Beza, Bp. Hall, Whitby, Brown, Hammond, Evans, Locke, Guyse, Burkitt, Schleusner, Gill, Macknight, Olshausen, Hodge, Haldane and Chalmers. Beza says the apostle is speaking of “the love whereby we are beloved of God, as not only the train of argument shews, but as Paul himself explains in Rom. 5:8." All that Rosenmuller makes of the whole clause is that “the divine love is abundantly testified to us." 2. Others seem no less clear that our love to God is here spoken of. So Theodoret, Augustine, Bernard, Anselm, Mede, Doddridge, Hawker, Clarke, Scott and Stuart. The Council of Trent concurs in this view. The arguments for this interpretation are strong. How can God's love to us evince that our hope will not make us ashamed, unless it shall cause him to put his Spirit within us, to work in us all graces and in particular love to God, without which all other supposed evidences of an interest in Christ are vain? Then our apostle is now in several verses speaking of Christian graces as hope, patience, constancy, etc. This context is nearer than that of Rom. 5:8; to which many refer. The apostle is speaking, be it remembered, of a good hope, not of a delusion, and of something enjoyed or experienced by us, which nourishes and supports a good hope. Then our love to God is by Paul elsewhere expressly put down as a fruit of the [[199]] Spirit, Gal. 5:22. And God's love to us is not the fruit of the Spirit, but it flows from the glorious nature of each person of the Godhead. The verb is shed abroad is the word so often used, in some of its forms, to express the effusion of the Holy Spirit in his gifts or graces, Acts 2:17, 18, 33; 10:45; Tit. 3:6. That the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, working his graces in our hearts, and making us his temples, and so evincing our sonship with God, is an idea familiar to the inspired writers none can doubt, 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:22; 6:16; Eph. 1:13, 14. This view derives force from the fact that those, who adopt the first view, are not satisfied with it, but make explanations, which, if they have any force, virtually admit this second interpretation. Thus Locke: “Because the sense of the love of God is poured out into our hearts, &c. But the apostle says nothing about a sense of the love of God. He speaks of the love of God itself. And what is a just sense of the love of God to us, if it be not our love towards God? So Gill explains himself by speaking of the “full and comfortable sensation which believers have of the love of God to them." But Paul says not a word about any sensation; and, if he did, to what could he refer but to our love to God? Bp. Hall also says: "Hope disappointeth us not; because the sense and comfortable assurance of that love, wherewith he embraceth us, is shed abroad,” &c. Diodati also says that here “the love of God means the assurance we have of God's love to us." Yet how can any one have a "comfortable assurance,” or any "assurance" of God's love to him but by the love, which he has towards God? 1 John 3:19. So Guyse: “This sort of hope will not turn to our confusion; because it rests, not upon any merit in ourselves, but upon the free favor of God towards us, which in its gracious and effectual operation is poured forth into, and abundantly fills our souls with its lovely manifestations and distinguishing fruits; and so inflames them with love to him again,” &c. This is almost all that could be asked by those, who think that in our verse love to God means our love to him. So also Hodge: “This manifestation of divine love is not any external revelation of it in the works of Providence, or even in redemption, but it is in our hearts." It will probably be denied by none that if the apostle had designed to teach that the gracious affection of love in the soul was enkindled by the Holy Ghost he could have selected no better language than we have in this verse. Tholuck: “We must naturally view it as implying a consciousness in the heart, such as is spoken of in Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 1:22. On Rom. 5:1 Chalmers says: "The whole passage, for several verses, looks to be a narrative of the personal experience of believers — of their rejoicing, and of their [[200]] hoping, and of their glorying;" and why may we not add — of their loving? A third view of this verse has been presented and seems to be favored by Origen, Oecumenius and Aquinas. It unites the two senses above given. It supposes discoveries of God's love to us to be made by the Spirit in such a way as to enkindle our love to him. It explains it of love created in us by the love of God uncreated towards us. This is substantially the view of not a few others, some of whom have been already cited. Thus Olshausen: “The love of God in the apostle's meaning is the love of God to man, which however awakens in him reciprocal love, (i John 4:19,) not indeed proceeding from his own mere natural powers, but from the higher powers of the divine Spirit." The objection to this third view is that it makes the same word in the same sentence denote two things so different as God's love to us and ours to him. For the reasons given the second view is to be preferred. It is pleasant to the believer to find that all commentators agree that God's Spirit reveals to his people, so as to enable them to view aright God's love to them, and at the same time implants and nourishes in them a sincere and supreme love to him. On those points all good men are agreed. Nor do they differ in their judgment respecting the gratuitous bestowment of the Holy Spirit. He is “given unto us." He cannot be purchased.

6. For 'when we 'were yet 'without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. In this and the next three verses the apostle uses four words to describe, not the state of the Gentiles only, as Locke contends, but of all men before the grace of God. These words we render “without strength,” “ungodly,” “sinners,” and “enemies;" all applied to the same persons, and either of them making a sad yet just representation of the natural state of man. The first is rendered, "without strength." In Matt. 25:39, 43, 44; Luke 10:9; Acts 5:15, 16, it is rendered sick; in Acts 4:9 impotent; in 1 Cor. 12:22 feeble; often 'weak; the rendering in our verse is literal. Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Rheims and Doway have weak; Conybeare and Howson, helpless. Our case is by nature sad indeed. We have no might to do good, Isa. 40:29. We cannot keep the law. Clarke: “Neither able to resist sin nor do any good; utterly devoid of power to extricate themselves from the misery of their situation." We cannot atone for our sins. We cannot regenerate our hearts. We cannot keep ourselves in the way of life. We are sick, impotent, broken, yea dead in trespasses and sins. In a state of nature the soul performs none of the functions of spiritual life. This our inability is universal, perpetual, sinful, and by all human powers incurable. Spiritually we are [[201]] sick unto death. We are also "ungodly." On this word see above on Rom. 4:5. The word is uniformly rendered. It is the same used by the Septuagint in Ps. 1. and elsewhere, rendered ungodly, more frequently wicked. Clarke: “Satan lived in, ruled and enslaved their hearts." God justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4:5. Christ died for the ungodly. He died for the ungodly, i.e. he died in their place, in their stead, as their substitute. Often has the Greek preposition this sense: “Will he for a fish give him a serpent?" Luke 11:11. See also 1 Cor. 11:15. I11 Matt. 2:22 it is rendered in the room. Twice it is said of Christ that he gave "his life a ransom for many,” Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45. So he died for the ungodly, in due time. Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Rheims and Doway, according to the time; Rosenmuller and others, at the appointed time. The word means a time, a season, a set time, a fit time, and often occurs. Other terms of like import are employed, Gal. 4:451 Pet. 1:20. In this verse the most difficult word is the particle for at the beginning. It may connect this verse with the last clause of Rom. 5:5, or with the first clause of Rom. 5:5, or with the first clause of Rom. 5:1, or with the whole train of the apostle's argument. In the first case we have proof of God's grace in giving us the Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus; in the second the ground of our good hope is brought out; in the third we see why we are justified and have peace with God; in the last we have a recurrence to the ground of the kindness shewn to believing sinners, securing to them all the blessings of the covenant by the work and sufferings of Christ. The fact is that truths of this class are often so inwoven into the texture of inspired discourses that they relate to the train of thoughts, and to many particular parts thereof. Many both ancient and modern writers are disposed specially to connect this verse with the hoping of Rom. 5:2, 5. Some regard Rom. 5:6-10 as containing a parenthesis. Perhaps they do; but the thoughts presented are as weighty and as rich as any in the chapter, and well accord with the rest.

7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. For, the first word, is simply affirmative. Peshito: “For rarely doth one die for the ungodly: though for the good, some one perhaps might venture to die." Beza says he could approve this rendering but for the want of authority in the MSS. This is wholly wanting. The Syriac doubtless took the word ungodly from the preceding verse. But the contrast in this verse is not between a wicked man and a good man; but between a just, righteous, equitable, or upright man and the good, kind, useful man, who obliges many. Rarely indeed will men die for one another, even when most benevolent and beneficent, or [[202]] most highly esteemed. But for a man who is merely upright, and has done no great public service, nor conferred marked benefits on any one, who has ever offered to die? Sacred history tells us of the love Jonathan had to David. He did risk his life for him. We have too the affecting story of Damon and Pythias. “Lilloe stepped between the murderer and King Edward his master. Nicholas Ribische lost his life to preserve Prince Maurice at the siege of Pista." Still these are rare cases. When they occur, men unite in saying that they are daring. Our verse says the same. There is no act of more boldness. Perhaps in most cases like those cited the hero expects to survive and has no settled design of dying. Indeed there is but a slight peradventure that any man would deliberately die for his best friend. Compare John 15:13; 1 John 3:16.

8. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In Rom. 5:6 it is said Christ died for the ungodly, and here that he died for us sinners. This word is rendered with great uniformity. It denotes those who have missed the mark, at which they should aim — the honor of God, and the mark at which they did aim — their own happiness. They have plunged themselves into guilt and pollution and wretchedness. And such were we all, Jews and Gentiles, old and young, for whom, in whose stead Christ died. This was wonderful love, indeed. It has no parallel. God commendeth it, i. e. sets it forth, manifests it in a wonderful manner. See above on Rom. 3:5 where we have the same word.

9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. No part of the Bible is a treatise on logic, nor was designed to teach logic; but no book contains finer specimens of the art of reasoning than can be found in many of the sacred pages. In particular Paul gives us many specimens of irrefragable argument. Our verse contains a sample of the argument a fortiori. If God loved us and gave his Son for us while sinners, he will beyond all doubt save us when we are justified. Justification includes the forgiveness of sins and the acceptance of the sinner as righteous before God. Often is a part, an important part, put for the whole. The shedding of Christ's blood was an important matter, as essential as his holy life, his resurrection or his intercession. It seems to be put here for his whole undertaking. The active and passive obedience of Christ are never separated, though they are distinguished. Christ's righteousness consists of his conformity to the precept and his endurance of the penalty of the law, and we are justified by his righteousness. But as men are constantly liable to pervert the [[203]] truth, and especially the true doctrine of justification, God teaches us the right way by a great variety of phrases and terms. Take the matter here adduced. One scripture says that men are justified by faith. Another says they are justified through faith. Another declares that they are justified by Christ. Another declares that we are justified freely by his grace. Another teaches that we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our verse we are said to be justified by the blood of Christ. Compare Rom. 3:24, 30; 1 Cor. 6:11; Gal. 2:17. These statements are not contradictory, but mightly serve to guard us against mistake. When men are said to be justified by faith, some say it means that faith is the procuring cause of our pardon and acceptance; or that our faith is accepted in lieu of a perfect righteousness. No! says our verse, we are justified by the blood of the Redeemer, as the procuring cause. And so none but the wilful and perverse can mistake the truth. And so being justified, it is certain we shall be delivered from the penal consequences of transgression or from wrath — the wrath to come, and all through Christ.

10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. The preceding verse contained a sample of the argument a fortiori. This contains that form of argument duplicated. The first antithesis is between enemies and persons reconciled. The second is between Christ's death and his life. If a dying Saviour can effect the reconciliation of enemies; much more can a. living Redeemer do all that is required to the complete deliverance of his friends. Where in all the range of knowledge can more powerful argument be found? Enemies! What a fearful thought. Clarke: “Sin, indulged, increases in strength; evil acts engender fixed and rooted habits; the mind, everywhere poisoned with sin, increases in averseness from good, and mere aversion produces enmity; and enmity, acts of hostility." No word can more clearly denote real adversaries. Against such God must have a holy and inflexible displeasure, or wrath. Reconciled, a word not before found in this epistle. The cognate noun is found in the next verse, and is rendered atonement. Everywhere else these words are rendered reconciled and reconciliation, Rom. 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19, 20. An at-one-ment is a reconciliation, a bringing together those, who have been at variance. We have forsaken, insulted and rebelled against God. He has been good to us, following us with mercies, reproofs and invitations. God is holy, and hates sin. Out of mere pity he provided a mode of reconciliation by the life and death of his Son. Jesus Christ is the great,  [[204]] the only Reconciler. God is the offended and we are the offenders. To be reconciled to God is to be brought into relations of friendship with him, and this can be done only by an atonement. Grotius correctly says that in heathen authors men's being reconciled to their gods is always understood to signify appeasing the anger of their gods. Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice against us. By his death he averted from his people the righteous indignation of God. As is said in the preceding verse he saved them from wrath, meaning deserved punishment. He propitiated the Most High towards us offenders. He met all the claims of law against us. This reconciliation took place intentionally, in God's eternal purpose; meritoriously, in the completion of Christ's humiliation; actually, when in true faith we embraced the offer of the Gospel. The apostle is here speaking of those who were actually reconciled. We are reconciled by the blood of Christ, as it is expressed in Rom. 5:9; for to be actually reconciled is virtually the same as to be justified. Our reconciliation with God is by the death of his Son, who made the propitiation for us, who suffered the just for the unjust. That this is the true view of reconciled is proven from the scriptural use of that term, 1 Sam. 29:4; Matt. 5:23, 24. The same is taught by a variety of phrases of like import in the Scriptures, in which God says his anger is turned away, he is pacified, he has taken away his wrath, etc.

11. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Joy, in Rom. 5:2 rendered rejoice; in Rom. 5:3, glory; elsewhere boast. The meaning is we now exult in God. Received, a literal rendering. Paul has been enumerating the benefits of justification. In doing so he more than once reverts to the same idea. In Rom. 5:2, 5 he dwells on hope; in Rom. 5:3, 11 he speaks of joy, exultant joy; and in Rom. 5:1, 10, 11 he speaks of peace and reconciliation with God. The whole is designed to be a triumphant and exultant deduction of his argument as to the blessedness of the man, who enjoys a gratuitous justification. This conclusion is honorable to Jehovah. We joy in God, not in ourselves, not in our ancestry, not in rites, not in works of righteousness which we have done, but in God alone, through our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray in his name, we give thanks in his name, we trust in his name, we do all in his name. Our names are worthless, because we are sinners. The names of angels are worthless because they are fellow creatures and fellow servants, Rev. 22:9. But the name of Jesus is far above every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come, Eph 1:21. By him we have received the atonement; by him we shall gain the final victory, by him we shall be raised from [[205]] the dead, by him we shall rise to eternal glory. And all this is through the great atonement he has made. Had he been only a Prophet and a King to his chosen he would not have saved them. They were indeed ignorant and needed a teacher. They were feeble and needed a ruler and defender. But they were guilty, and so must have a sacrifice, an atoning and an interceding High Priest.


1. Let us not weary of sound scriptural instruction on the great doctrine of justification, Rom. 5:1, It is a glorious theme, and we should not cease to give thanks that we have line upon line respecting it. Nor can we possibly too deeply impress on our minds vital truths on this subject. When we are said to be justified by faith, the meaning is that we are justified by a faith that lays hold of the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Faith is the instrument. The righteousness of Christ is the ground. This righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe. Men are saved not by their works, merits or efforts, but by God's grace and mercy in and through Jesus Christ. This great gift of righteous ness is an unspeakable benefit, having in its train innumerable blessings. By it is the life of our souls.

2. Let us imitate Paul in frequently and formally acknowledging our indebtedness to the blessed Saviour. Here in Rom. 5:1, 9, 11 he says we have these great blessings through Jesus Christ; and in Rom. 5:2 our access is said to be by him; in Rom. 5:9 our justification is said to be by his blood; in Rom. 5:10 our reconciliation is said to be by his death; and in Rom. 5:11 it is said that by him we have received the atonement; while in Rom. 5:6, 8 it is said he died for us. Let us dwell on his name with hearty and grateful joy. Let us make him the first and the last. There is no danger that we shall love him too much, commend him too highly, or serve him too devotedly. Blessed Lamb of God, we owe thee all, we would give thee all. Oh that men would look to him, and to him alone. Chalmers: “The children of Israel might have as soon been healed by looking downwardly upon their wounds, rather than upwardly to the brazen serpent, as the conscience-stricken sinner will find relief from any one object that can meet his eye, in that abyss of darkness and distemper to which he has turned his own laboring bosom."

3. Though justification and sanctification are as distinct as any two gifts of God to men, and ought ever to be so spoken of, and never confounded; yet they are never separated. Where one is,  [[206]] the other is not wanting Whoever is justified in the name of the Lord Jesus is sure to be sanctified by the Spirit of our God, 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11. And yet in justification God imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification he by his Spirit works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the latter, sin is subdued; in the one, all are equally freed from condemnation and fully accepted; in the other, very unequal attainments are made; one is from the first perfect; the other is progressive; the former being an act, the latter a work. Yet God never justifies a man that he does not also make him holy, and infuse into him all Christian graces, as we see here, Rom. 5:1-5.

4. Inestimable is the blessing of peace with God, in whatever scriptural sense we use that term. If by it here we understand peace of conscience towards God, what do men in all ages and countries need more than this? To the Roman Senate Caligula said, “I suffer death every day." Plato: “When a man is near the time when he must expect to die, there come into his mind a fear and anxiety about things that were never so thought of before." Herod was a Sadducee. He believed in neither angel, nor spirit, nor resurrection. Yet when Jesus began to do his wonders, all Herod's principles forsook him, and he said, “It is John, whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead,” Mark 6:16. No other scheme or system but that of the Gospel is at once “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." God's plan meets all the demands of law, and justice, and conscience.

5. Let us seek to have sound and clear views of faith, of its nature and of its offices, Rom. 5:1, 2. True faith is no conceit, no dream, no wild and irrational apprehension. It is real, sober, regardful of evidence. It believes on the authority and testimony of Jehovah. Even when it lays hold on Christ, it believes the testimony of God concerning his Son. It is wise to credit every word of God, on the simple ground that he cannot lie. Faith relies on Christ as he is freely offered. It embraces the promises graciously made. It is a great grace, Heb. 11:1-38. Well did John Bunyan call it by the name of Mr. Greatheart.

6. There is such a thing as a state of grace, and believers are admitted into it, Rom. 5:2. Chrysostom: “This is the nature of God's grace. It hath no end, it knows no bound, but evermore is on the advance to greater things, which in human affairs is not so. Take an instance of what I mean. One has acquired rule and glory and authority, yet he does not stand therein continuously, but is speedily cast out of it. Or if man take it not from him, death comes, and is sure to take it from him. But God's gifts are not of [[207]] this kind; for neither man, nor occasion, nor crisis of affairs, nor even the devil, nor death can come and cast us out of them. But when we are dead, we then more strictly speaking have possession of them, and keep going on enjoying more and more." This state of grace enjoyed by believers secures to them communion with God, so that all of them may say, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” 1 John 1:3. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant,” Ps. 25:14. This access to grace is not a vanity, such as self-deceivers often boast of, but it is a great advantage possessed by those and those only, who are justified by faith. Scott: “The believer has free access to the mercy-seat; he is established in the grace and favor of God; and he may now rejoice and triumphantly exult in the hope of everlasting glory; though perhaps he just before trembled from well-grounded apprehensions of deserved vengeance."

7. The state of believers is not changeable but has great stability. In it they stand firm. Their moods and frames of feeling change. Their views on many things undergo modifications. Their characters are constantly changing for the better. But their state is fixed by the purpose and grace of God. In it they stand, stand firm, Rom. 5:2. And why should it not be so? Their hope is in the Lord, who changes not, Mal. 3:6. And are not these his promises unfailing? “They shall be my people, and I will be their God. … And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good: but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me,” Jer. 32:38, 40. God's people are not only admitted to his favor; but they are confirmed in it. Evans: “It is not in the court of heaven as in earthly courts, where high places are slippery places; but we stand in an humble confidence of this very thing, that he who has begun the good work, will perform it, "' Phil. I:6. The grace manifested in bringing men to embrace the gospel is quite sufficient to hold them up in any trial. The seed of God remains in the regenerate. The sentence of justification is irrevocable. And the intercession of Christ is full security that our faith shall not fail, Luke 22:31, 32.

8. So that we may and should labor with earnest and confident expectation of success for a full assurance of understanding in all the truths of religion, for a full assurance of faith, that we may stagger at no promise of God, and for a full assurance of hope of final salvation, Col. 2:2; Heb. 6:11; 10:22. In the covenant of grace provision is made and encouragement is given to us to make our calling and election sure: Calvin correctly designates [[208]] these dogmas as “pestilent,” first “bidding Christians to be satisfied with moral conjecture as to the perception of God's favor towards them, and secondly, teaching that all are uncertain as to their final perseverance." Nor is any thing further from pride and overweening conceit of ourselves than strong genuine confidence in our final salvation. Hodge: “Assurance of the love of God never produces self-complacency or pride; but always humility, self-abasement, wonder, gratitude and praise." That such assurance is attainable many scriptures declare, Job 19:25; Ps. 116:16; 119:125; 143:12; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; 1 John 3:19.

9. Let us cultivate a joyful state of heart and mind, Rom. 5:2, 3, 11. Ample provision is made for great joy in the Lord, in the power of his might, in the abundance of his grace, in the wisdom of his plans, and in the riches of the inheritance he has provided for his saints. It is sometimes forgotten that holy joy is enjoined as a duty; but no command is more clear: “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous,” Ps. 33:1; 97:12, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice,” Phil. 4:4. If our joy is in the Lord, in his being, his perfections, his providence, his word, his ordinances and his grace, it cannot rise too high. It is a tormenting vanity to rejoice in a thing of naught, to be very glad in a gourd, but it is a blessedness to glory in Jehovah. Let us rejoice in what God is, in what he has done and in what he has promised.

10. And let not our hope be faint or trembling. Only let it rest on God's word and it cannot be too confident, or expect too much, even including enduring riches, unending pleasures and everlasting honors, yea the joy and glory of God. Chrysostom: " What then? do our goods lie in hopes? Yes, in hopes — but not mere human hopes, which often slip away, and put to shame him that hoped; when some one, who was expected to patronize him, dies, or is changed, though he lives. No such lot is ours, our hope is sure, and unmoveable. For he, who hath made the promise, ever liveth." Chalmers distinguishes between the kinds of hope enjoyed by the Christian, calling them ‘the hope of faith and the hope of experience.' By the former he means the hope awakened by the simple promise of God; by the latter, the expectation arising from an actual experience of God's faithfulness in trials through which we have passed. But these are not different kinds of hope. When we rightly hear and believe God's promise, we hope in his mercy; when we experience the fulfilment of his gracious engagements to strengthen and help us, our hope is confirmed. That seems to be all that can be made of the distinction. Haldane: “At first hope springs solely from a view of the mediation and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here it acquires a new force from the proof the believer has of the reality of his union with the Saviour, by his being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ. Thus the ‘good hope through grace ‘must be produced solely by faith, and confirmed, not produced, by the fruits of faith."

11. Wondrous is the grace, which God grants to his people, when he enables them not only to bear meekly divers trials, but many times even to glory in the sharpest of them, Rom. 5:3. What but love to Christ and his sustaining grace ever caused a truthful record to be made like this? “They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus,” Acts 5:41. It is true that no affliction is in itself joyous but on the contrary grievous. The tribulation is of God's people are great. Flesh and blood must sink under them. But divine grace can bear them aloft. They who have it sing with their backs all cut with scourging, and their feet fast in the stocks, Acts 16:25. The worst case, into which a disciple of strong faith may be put, will not hinder him from singing the old song of Christendom: “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful." God's people may be troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, 2 Cor. 4:8, 9. Thousands of years ago one of the most afflicted servants of God sang: “Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word. … Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. … It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes,” Ps. 119:65, 67, 71. This was under a dispensation not near so luminous as that under which we live. Brown: “Though natural people, who are strangers to God and to his way of dealing, may judge them best beloved who are least troubled with outward crosses and tribulations; yet, as no man knoweth either love or hatred by all such external dispensations, so God's love towards his people will not exeem them from external crosses, nor will external tribulations and crossing dispensations give any just ground of questioning God's love." So far from it, himself has said: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6.

12. Another excellent grace, which all should cultivate is patience, or constancy, unflinching endurance and resolution, Rom. 5:3, 4. No gracious quality is more essential. “Behold, we count them happy who endure,” Jas. 5:11. “He that endureth to the [[210]] end shall be saved,” Matt, 10:22. In both these cases the verb rendered endure is cognate to our noun patience. This grace is indispensable. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son,” Rev. 2:10:21:7. Evans: "Patience does us more good than tribulations can do us hurt." Let us therefore doubly guard our spirits against all that is contrary to true constancy of soul. Brown: “Impatience and fretting under God's dispensations do so blind souls that they cannot see nor observe how God is proving himself even then gracious, merciful, powerful and faithful." “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." Ecc. 7:8.

13. Nor is there any substitute for that practical and experimental knowledge of divine things, which we obtain by being proved and tested, and by proving the faithfulness of God in divers trials and tribulations, Rom. 5:4. Very little does the young believer, genuine though his faith may be, know of the rich and blessed import of the promises. He is a novice. Once Paul speaks of carnal and babes in Christ as very much the same, 1 Cor. 3:1. But the aged believer, who has long been taking lessons in the school of Christ and in the school of adversity, has a blessed apprehension of such covenant engagements as these: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water,” Isa. 41:17, 18; 43:2. Wondrously does ‘the God of all comfort comfort us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God, ' 2 Cor. 1:3, 4. Any thing is good for us if it leads us to know more of God and of his grace in us and toward us. What a wonderful teacher experience is, especially experience in adversity. It instructs us so fully respecting our own ignorance and weakness, the world's vanity and fickleness, Satan's malice and power, the tenderness and sympathy of real Christians and the wisdom, power, love and faithfulness of God.

14. Nor is there a nobler attainment made by the pious than love to God, which was insisted on as fully by Moses as by John, Deut. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 19:9; 30:6. This grace is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 5:5. The first [[211]] necessary quality of this love is that it be genuine not spurious; sincere not in pretence; efficient, not in word only; supreme, admitting no rivals; stable, not fitful; universal, not partial, extending to all God's character, laws and decisions, ways and works. Scott: “This seal of God cannot be broken, and Satan evidently and peculiarly fails in his attempts to counterfeit it: for all false affections, and enthusiastic confidences are liable to be consumed in the furnace of long-continued afflictions; and they never can communicate that reciprocal, steady, pre-eminent and abiding love of God in Christ, which no fire can burn, no waters can quench, and which in ten thousands of instances has proved stronger than the fear of death in its most tremendous forms, and has enabled a feeble believer to disregard the cruelty of a savage executioner, in comparison of the anguish of wilfully denying or disobeying his beloved Lord." If we love not God, we are yet in our sins. Love is greater than faith, greater than hope. It bears all things, endures all things, 1 Cor. 13:7, 13.

15. There is an amazing work going on for God's people, for the whole church. Many a time has God rebuked kings for the sake of an humble believer. He has made the' sun to stand still, and the stars in their courses to fight the battles of his people. To them the Valley of Achor is for a door of hope. Jehovah has made a covenant for his people with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground. Yea, his saints are in league with the stones of the field; and the wild beasts of the field are at peace with them. God himself is their God, and guide, and portion. And by the work he is doing in them, he is evincing his readiness to do all these things and much more for his people. This is specially manifested by the blessed sisterhood of graces, begotten and nourished in them by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them, Rom. 5:1-5.

16. There is such a thing as symmetry of Christian character, a proportion in the graces of a renewed soul. Its excellences are not all faith, or peace, or joy, or hope, or exultation, or patience, or experience, or boldness, or love; but all of these combined in harmony, Rom. 5:1-5. And these are united with the other graces of the Spirit, named in Matt. 5:1-10; Gal. 5:22, 23; James 3:17:2 Pet. 1:5-9. Let us undervalue no kind of moral excellence. Every grace is necessary to the completeness of a good character. It is God's plan to take his people home to glory without spot, or wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing, especially without such a blemish as would exist, if they had faith without penitence, courage without humility, zeal without meekness, hope without reverence, or fear without love. There are no monsters in the [[212]] kingdom of heaven. To this very end God has instituted a ministry to labor in the church on earth, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head even Christ."

17. It is much to be regretted that the true doctrine respecting the Holy Ghost is not better understood and his offices in the church more thought of. On this subject the scriptures are very clear. In particular Paul never fails to embrace a fit opportunity for reminding us of this great author of all holiness in the human heart. See Rom. 5:5. In scripture he is called the Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Ghost. Ghost is a Saxon word and means Spirit. Spirit is a Latin word and means Ghost. Ghost and Spirit are used interchangeably as the rendering of the same word. He is the Spirit of truth, of holiness, of wisdom, of counsel, of knowledge, of might, of revelation, of adoption, of grace and of supplication, because by him we receive these blessings. He is said to be free, because he cannot be bought or commanded. His work is all of grace. He is said to be good, because such is his nature, and he is the fountain of goodness. He is loving, pitiful and condescending. He is the Sanctifier, the author of regeneration and of all holiness in man. Fie is the Comforter in the souls of believers, taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them to his people. He indites the prayers of the righteous. On him we depend for spiritual life, and for all Christian graces. He calls men to repentance. He is a divine person. It is as true of him as of the Father or the Son: “Them that honor me will I honor." No improvements in theology, in preaching, in religious instruction or in religious effort can render unnecessary his influences. He must illuminate, impress, renew, guide and purify us, or we shall perish. His indwelling is the earnest of our inheritance. Chrysostom: “Had not God been willing to present us after our labors with great crowns, he would never have given us such mighty gifts before our labors. But now the warmth of his love is hence made apparent, that it is not gradually and little by little that he honors us, but he hath shed abroad the full fountain of his blessings, and this too before our struggles." Our dependence on the Spirit is absolute. We are not sufficient as of ourselves to think anything. Men may read and hear the gospel faithfully [[213]] preached all their days, without any saving effect, if the Spirit open not their hearts to attend unto the things of salvation. Nor can converted souls make any advancement in saving knowledge or holy affections, except as the Holy Ghost is granted unto them. He is that unction, which teacheth all things. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."

18. Let us do all in our power to stir up ourselves to take hold on God, and in particular to ‘keep ourselves in the love of God,' Rom. 5:5. Let us cultivate all those habits of devotion, especially in our closets, which will conduce to the fervor of our love. Doddridge: “To excite our love to God, let us be daily meditating upon the wonders of redeeming love and grace; adoring that seasonable interposition of divine mercy, that when we were weak and guilty creatures, when we lay for ever helpless under a sentence of everlasting condemnation, Christ died for us."

19. In Rom. 5:6 we are taught that our Lord died in the time that was due, or set, or appointed. This is proven by many scriptures. He was to come during the time of the second temple, before all political power was taken from Judah, and at the end of Daniel's weeks. Christ himself knew the very hour when he was to die. Now though no prophecy has revealed the time of the death of any man living, yet in the counsels of God the time and manner of every man's departure out of this world are fixed. So teaches the oldest book of Scripture: “His days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass,” Job. 14:5. It is a comfort to a good man to know that he cannot die till his time comes — the time set by infinite wisdom and immeasurable love.

20. It seems strange that any one, who regards the authority of the sacred oracles, should find any difficulty or be at any loss about the scriptural doctrine of the fallen state of man by nature. We have met this subject in previous pages of this work; but in the verses under consideration, is not the language as decisive? Men are said to be “without strength “" ungodly “or impious, “sinners “and “enemies." What more can be said? What more need be said to depict our ruined condition? God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity, Hab. 1:13. If God's word regards and represents us as helpless, impious, sinners, enemies, we may rest assured that in that representation there is no exaggeration, no extravagance, but the simple verity.

21. How could God love men as he did? Only because he was God and had in his own bosom an ocean of unspeakable benevolence, Rom. 5:6, 8. It is common and it is just to say that God's love is unparalleled. But an old writer, who lived a few centuries [[214]] ago, uses a word that is no longer found in English classics. He says God's love to man is unparallelable. And this is true. It cannot be matched. This love of God to sinners is no novelty. It dates from the remotest antiquity, Jer. 31:3. It has been very costly. It did not cost God even an effort to make the universe. But it cost the agony of Gethsemane and the awful scenes of Calvary to redeem men. God's love to sinners brings to all who accept his grace blessings more precious than are enjoyed by any creatures God has made. God's love to sinners is infinite. As it spared no cost or pains, it withholds no good thing. This love was the love of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Father gave the Son to die for us. The Son offered himself a victim, as a sacrifice for us. The Spirit sets forth the love of the Father in just terms, and applies the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, new creating the souls of all the chosen. A government has sometimes paid large sums of money to redeem one of its citizens from captivity. But who, besides the Prince of life, ever gave himself a ransom for his enemies?

22. While the reigning motive in the pious heart is not fear but love, not mere dread of torment but a joyful trust in God's grace, yet it is well for us often to think of the hole of the pit whence we were digged, and of the miry clay whence our feet were taken. We should never forget that salvation is not only to something great and glorious, but that it is from something exceedingly dreadful, even from wrath, Rom. 5:9. It is said that one man was awakened and converted just by hearing Mr. Whitefield pronounce the words — The wrath of the Lamb. Such words ought to move any heart.

23. The scriptures make much of the blood of Christ, and well they may, Rom. 5:9. But it was not enough that he shed a little blood for us. It is sometimes foolishly said that one drop of his blood was enough to atone for the sins of the world. But there is no truth in such a statement. Had it been so, the work of propitiation would have been finished in Gethsemane, for there “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” Luke 22:44. Accordingly that, which in Rom. 5:9 is said to have been effected by the blood of Christ, is in Rom. 5:10 ascribed to his death. If Christ himself would save us, it must be by his tasting death for every man. Every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we do shew the Lord's death till he come.

24. In our thoughts, speeches and writings concerning scriptural truths, in particular respecting the great doctrines of salvation let us beware of the bad art of dwarfing or dwindling the glorious things of salvation. On Rom. 5:9 Macknight says: “Here Justified by [[215]] his blood, means that, in view of Christ's shedding his blood, Adam and Eve were respited from death, and being allowed to live, he and they were placed under a new covenant, by which they might regain immortality. This is what is called justification of life, Rom. 5:18." Again he says: "Here persons are said to be justified by Christ's blood, who are not saved from wrath through him." Was there ever more wild or foolish speech than this? It is not a whit the less to be regretted because it is the language of a scholar, who in some other things has done good service to the church. How refreshing now to read such words as these from Hodge: “The primary object of the death of Christ was to render God propitious, to satisfy his justice; and not to influence human conduct, or display the divine character for the sake of the moral effect of that exhibition. Among its infinitely diversified results, all of which were designed, some of the most important, no doubt, are the sanctification of men, the display of the divine perfections, the prevention of sin, the happiness of the universe, etc., etc. But the object of a sacrifice, as such, is to propitiate, Rom. 5:9, 10; Heb. 2:17." Compare 1 Pet. 1; 18; Rev. 5:9. Chrysostom: “There were two difficulties in the way of our being saved; our being sinners, and our salvation requiring the Lord's Death, a thing which was quite incredible before it took place, and required exceeding love for it to take place. But now, since this has come about, other requisites are easier. For we have become friends, and there is no further need of Deaths. Shall then he who hath so spared his enemies as not to spare his Son, fail to defend them now they are become friends, when he hath no longer any need to give up his Son? "

25. We cannot too highly prize the atonement, Rom. 5:11. Some wish us to give up the name; but the name is a very good one. It is in the Bible. Some wish us to give up what is meant by the atonement, but we cannot. It is our life. Give up that, and what have we left? Whitby quotes Crellius as excepting to the phrase we have now received the atonement. He would read, obtained this conversion to God. But for such a rendering there is not the slightest reason or authority. To receive an atonement, or obtain reconciliation by blood-shedding was an idea perfectly familiar both to Jews and Gentiles. We cannot too much guard our thoughts and words on the whole subject of our reconciliation to God. It is never by ourselves but by Christ Jesus, never by our sufferings or merits, but always by the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ that we are represented as obtaining reconciliation.

26. There is a difference between saints and sinners. They are not alike. They do not fare alike. What sinner has such a [[216]] character as is described in Rom. 5:1-5? Who that is living without Christ has such privileges as are described in Rom. 5:1-11? Stuart: “To rejoice in God as our God, expresses the consummation of all the Christian's happiness." Well does Luther say: “Although I am a sinner by the law, and under condemnation of the law, yet I despair not, I die not, because Christ liveth, who is both my righteousness and my everlasting life. In that righteousness and life I have no sin, no fear, no sting of conscience, no care of death, I am, indeed a sinner, as touching this present life, and the righteousness thereof, as the child of Adam; where the law accuses me, death reigns over me, and at length would devour me. But I have another righteousness and life above this life, which is Christ, the Son of God, who knoweth no sin, nor death, but righteousness and life eternal; by whom this, my body, being dead, and brought into dust, shall be raised up again, and delivered from the bondage of the law, and sin, and shall be sanctified together with the spirit." Who may joy in God, if such a man may not?

27. The instruction given in these Rom. 5:1-11, is rich and full. In them we have our attention turned to the three persons of the Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as united in the accomplishment of human salvation. We have a catalogue, not perfect, indeed, yet quite comprehensive, of the benefits enjoyed by believers, through the great scheme of redemption. Whatever else is wanted is found in the covenant. Sometimes particulars are stated, going down to bread and water, yea even to the hairs of our heads. Nothing is omitted, which faith and love and hope need to sustain and encourage them. Tribulations are indeed the lot of God's people: but “the pain of them will soon be over; the happy consequences of them will be as lasting as our immortal souls." Justification is neither sanctification, nor glorification, yet “in it there is a real relative change of the man's state before God, so that in a moral and law sense he goeth for another man than he was formerly, and that even in God's account."

28. Christianity is true, and one proof of its divine origin is the fact that it comes to men loaded with unspeakable blessings, blessings such as no system of error has ever conveyed to mortals. See the list in Rom. 5:1-11. The true and infinitely wise and good God, and he alone could devise a scheme at once so perfect, so honorable to its author, and at the same time conveying such blessings to poor, lost, ignorant, guilty and depraved man.

Romans 6:12-23. — An Exhortation to Holiness. The True Doctrine of Grace Leads to Sanctification. All Ends Well.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 17:53 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 17:55 ]

Chapter 6:12-23.

An Exhortation to Holiness. The True Doctrine of Grace Leads to Sanctification. All Ends Well.

12. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15. What then ? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness,

20. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? for the end of those things is death.

22. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

23. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

LET not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. There is not an agreement respecting the latter part of the text. Griesbach has nothing after obey; the Hexapla, nothing after obey it; Flatt and Goschen omit it, and read obey the lusts thereof. Knapp and many others [[291]] admit the whole as we have it in the common Greek text and in the authorized version, in the old English versions, Peshito, Arabic and Vulgate. Several of these, however, drop it out of the verse. The apostle is still using bold figures of speech. In this verse sin is presented as a tyrant, lording it over men, reigning, wielding a sceptre of dominion, subjecting them to his vile wishes. Mortal body, variously understood. Locke: “Permit not, therefore, sin to reign over you by your mortal bodies, which you will do if you obey your carnal lusts." In a note he defends this paraphrase, contending that the apostle ‘places the root of sin in the body.' But we have seen this is not so. By your mortal body Rosenmuller and others understand yourselves. Diodati paraphrases it, “Whilst you live this corporeal life, which being also subject to death, it appears thereby that there are still some relics of sin against which we must fight, to mortify and suppress them." Olshausen thinks the words here used signify that sin “commonly makes itself known in the body by the excited sensuality." Chalmers thinks it “denotes all that may be designated by the single word carnality!' Others think it means the physical body which is mortal. So Chrysostom, Doddridge, Macknight, Tholuck, Stuart, Conybeare and Howson. Bengel: "The lusts of the body are the fuel; sin is the fire." Some have referred the mortal body to the body of sin in Rom. 6:6. Several of these views give a good sense. By the body in Rom. 1:24; 12:I we may understand the whole person; and why not here? It is said to be mortal, for we are dying creatures, and the sentence of death is upon us. The apostle designed to exhort us not to let sin reign in our persons, mind, will, affections, or corporeal nature. Calvin: “The word body is not to be taken for flesh, and skin, and bones, but, so to speak, for the whole of what man is." Speaking of our mortality was not intended to give us gloomy thoughts, but to remind us that the conflict would be short. I refers to sin, and thereof to the body. Obey, it occurs again in Rom. 6:16, 17. It is always rendered as here except once, where it is hearken, Acts 12:13. The sense is obvious. To obey sin in the lusts of the body is to suffer sin to sway us in our whole nature.

13. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Members, the same word twice in this verse and twice in Rom. 6:19. As the body is composed of members, so the whole .person consists of various powers or faculties, some mental and some corporeal, any and all of which may become aids to vice or virtue, to sin or holiness according as they are directed. To yield our [[292]] powers to sin is to decline the great spiritual warfare, is to let sin reign in us. To yield ourselves to God is to subject our whole nature to God, so that our powers and faculties of every kind shall be used for his honor. It seems impossible by body and members to understand less than our whole nature. Indeed in this verse the apostle has yourselves and in the next verse you as expressive of the same idea. If this is so, this verse is a repetition in other words of the exhortation of Rom. 6:12 — this being more minute and particular than that. Yield, in Rom. 12:1 and elsewhere present; it occurs again twice in Rom. 6:19. Stuart renders it proffer; several old versions, give, or give up.

14. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Instead of for at the beginning of the verse Peshito has and; Tyndale, Cranmer and Genevan, let not, &c. But the authorized version follows the original. For points to a reason. That reason is found in the foregoing argument. It is this: God has made provision for the death of sin — for destroying its power over his people; so that they are inexcusable for living in its service. By the whole work of Christ they are delivered from its condemning power and from its sovereign sway, and therefore it is reasonable that they should yield themselves, soul and body, unto God, to work righteousness. For ye are not under the law. In the Greek is no article: ye are not under law. God is not exacting of you in your own persons an impossible satisfaction to law, which you have broken, nor has he placed you under a covenant, where you must work out your own righteousness, and in your own strength perfect holiness. Christ has redeemed them that were under the law, Gal. 4:5. The strength of sin is the law, but sin has no power over any except those under law. It is a shallow attempt to fritter away the meaning of scripture to say that by law here Paul means only the ceremonial law. Stuart well says that such an explanation would “give the passage a sense frigid and inept." Hodge: “Freedom from the Mosaic institutions is no security that sin shall not have dominion over us." Being thus free from the curse of broken law, from law as a covenant of works, from law to which without help from God you must be morally conformed or perish, the dominant power, Wiclif the lordship of sin is broken, can be, and ought to be cast off. Ye are under grace, under a plan of unmerited favor, where the condemnation of sin is removed, where a glorious righteousness is provided and freely bestowed, where the feeble are by God's Spirit made strong, and the timid courageous, and the vile cleansed and sanctified. On grace see above on Rom. 1:5; 3:24. Such being the system, under which believers are placed, their spirit [[293]] corresponds thereto. They are not slaves but children. They feel that they are under grace. They are under restraint, but it is the restraint of filial fear. They are under constraint, but it is the love of Christ that constrains them.

15. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. This is the third time that Paul has virtually presented this objection, first in Rom. 3:19; then in Rom. 6:1; and now again. He blinked no fair or important point in his argument. He had established in the early part of the epistle that justification by law, by any law, was impossible, that God's plan of justifying sinners was by righteousness wrought out by Jesus Christ, and gratuitously bestowed, the sinner simply receiving it by faith. He now proves at length, his argument beginning in this chapter and running into the VIIIth., that our sanctification is effected, not by the precepts and penalties of the law, restraining and terrifying us, but by the same blessed scheme of gratuitous salvation — a scheme that brings in all-conquering love and infinite kindness as motives and methods of recovery! Stuart: “The legalist would ask, ‘Is not the law holy? Does it not forbid all sins? And does not grace forgive sin? How then can grace restrain sin?' That is, Why may we not sin, if we are under grace merely, and not under law?" In his usual indignant style expressive of his abhorrence he says, Let it never/ be. On God forbid see above on Rom. 3:4. ‘Freedom from the law is not freedom from moral obligation.' Who ever so charges slanders the gospel and perverts the grace of God.

16. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; 'whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. In his sermon on the mount our Lord gave us the principle, which settles this matter: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other,” Matt. 6:24. It is both a natural and a moral impossibility for one man to serve two masters. Sin and holiness, obedience and disobedience, righteousness and unrighteousness are utterly opposite. A state of grace and a state of nature are wholly irreconcileable. A man cannot go North and South at the same time and in the same sense. Scott: “The apostle demanded whether it might not be proved what master any one served, by observing the constant tenor of any one's conduct. A per son may do an occasional service for one, to whom he is not servant: but no doubt he is the servant of that man, to whom he habitually yields and addicts himself, and in whose work he spends his time and strength, and skill, and abilities, day after [[294]] day, and year after year." The principle is of easy application to any case. If one obeys sin, allowedly and habitually yielding his faculties or any of them to wickedness, he is not the servant of obedience or of righteousness. The forms of speech, sin unto death and obedience unto righteousness, are not only intensive, but show the results reached in each case by the natural tendency of both good and evil to growth. The apostle often employs this or like manner of speech. See Rom. 1:17; 2:5-10; 6:19. Paul is still using highly figurative but very appropriate language to express his conceptions.

17. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. No pious reader of the scripture supposes that the apostle intends to express gratitude that his Roman brethren had at any time lived in sin. His thanks to God are that their vile servitude to sin was past, and that now there was a great change. Owen of Thrussington renders it: “Thanks be to God; for ye have been the servants of sin, but have obeyed the form of doctrine, in which ye have been taught." Paul had previously used the words obey and obedience. In carrying out his personification he retains the same conception. But here the idea is all pleasant. They have obeyed, that is, they have given good heed, considered and yielded to the truth. The form, literally the type of doctrine, meaning the pattern or rule of doctrine. It is a just and beautiful figure to represent the soul as receiving the exact impress of the system of revealed truth, as the wax receives that of the stamp, or the melted metal, that of the mould into which it is cast. Only this is no mechanical or material process, for it is effected through God's Spirit, by the soul yielding a hearty obedience to the truth. This obedience was not the result of a hasty or inconsiderate purpose, nor of a reluctant or irksome action of the mind. It was a cheerfull, sincere, universal acceptance of the truth and submission to it as far as known. It excepted to no commandment — cavilled at no precept as being too strict — rejected no scripture doctrine as being too humbling. What the form of doctrine delivered to the Romans was, may be learned from all the New Testament. It was the truth as it is in Jesus, delivered by Christ and his apostles. From the heart indicates the cordiality with which the message of mercy and of obedience had been received. The attempt of some to prove thereby the ability of the soul without divine grace to turn to God has of course been a failure. Whenever the gospel is received so as to secure salvation, it is received with the whole heart. But grace to do this is from God. “Thy people shall be willing [willingnesses, free-will offerings] in the day of thy power,” Ps. no:3, is the secret of any hearty consent to being saved on gospel terms. How then can one, who has had his mind, will and affections cast into the mould of gospel doctrine, live like a heathen or a sinner?

18. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. There is no better rendering of the verse. The thought is the same already presented. No man can serve two masters. Ye were once the slaves of wickedness. The Son of God has made you free from that hard bondage, and then and thus were ye made the servants of righteousness, leading a life conformed to law. Chrysostom: “God has done the same as if one were to take an orphan, who had been carried away by savages into their own country, and were not only to free him from captivity', but were to set himself as a kind father over him, and bring him to very great dignity. This has been done in our case."

19. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. The first clause is no doubt parenthetical. I speak after the manner of men. i. e. I borrow an illustration from common life, which you will all understand, as in Rome you are specially familiar with servitude, with the fact of servants changing masters, and with their being freed. Other explanations have been given but this is the best. He says he used this homely metaphor because of the infirmity of their flesh. Locke: “because you are weak in these matters, being more accustomed to fleshly than spiritual things:" Macknight: "on account of the weakness of your understanding in spiritual matters;" Bp. Hall: “I use this familiar similitude of service and freedom, because I would descend to your weak capacity; that,: by these secular and civil things, ye might understand the spiritual." He repeats in words somewhat varied what he had said before, but retains the leading idea: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity. That is, Formerly ye were the willing slaves of low vices and degrading practices; ye waxed worse and worse; your course was only downward, from bad to worse, from worse to worst; Locke: “wholly employed in all manner of iniquity;" Conybeare and Howson: “slaves of uncleanness and licentiousness, to work the deeds of license;" Theophylact: “when you committed a sin, you did not stop at that; it but proved an incentive to further transgression." This is a better explanation than that which makes the clause merely mean that their course of uncleanness and iniquity terminated in iniquity. How could it terminate in anything, [[296]] else? It began in iniquity. It was all iniquity. See above on Rom. 6:16. This mode of explanation is applicable to the next clause: even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. Personal righteousness is holiness. But righteousness unto holiness is growing conformity to God, embracing all acts of sobriety, equity and piety. As they had sinned with a will, so now he exhorts them to yield their whole natures to the service of God. The idea suggested by service is not unsuitable to the matter in hand, for God is the absolute proprietor and owner of the soul and body, and has a sovereign and exclusive right to the highest worship and best services we can possibly render. The queen of Sheba thought it a great honor and privilege for one to be a servant of Solomon. Angels regard it as their glory to be the servants of God and implicitly to obey his will. All the redeemed are of the same mind. David never thought himself more honored than when for cause he esteemed himself the servant of the Lord.

20. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. Ye never did serve both God and Satan, both sin and righteousness. In the days of your unregeneracy, righteousness had I not the mastery over you. It is as if he had said, When ye did serve sin, you served it without hesitancy or double mindedness. You were wholly free from the restraints of righteousness; you had but one purpose. Let it be so now. Serve the Lord with all your might. Indeed if it were possible you ought to serve righteousness far more zealously than ye did sin, for in God's service ye shall have a rich blessing; whereas in evil courses you found no advantage whatever. I challenge you to tell me a single thing in which you were real gainers.

21. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. Fruit means good fruit, real profit, solid advantage. They had reaped a great harvest of disappointment, remorse, sorrow and often disease from their wicked courses. Destruction and misery had been in their ways of wickedness. They had indeed now repented of them, the proof of which was found in the fact that they were heartily ashamed of them, Ezek. 16:63; 36:32. But they ought not to forget the unprofitableness of their former courses, lest they be tempted to return to any of them; and especially lest they should slight the distinguished privileges they enjoyed under the gospel. Calvin: “The godly, as soon as they begin to be illuminated by the Spirit of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel, do freely ac knowledge their past life, which they have lived without Christ, to have been worthy of condemnation; and so far are they from [[297]] endeavoring to excuse it, that, on the contrary, they feel ashamed of themselves." The end of those things [which ye once unblushingly practised] is death. They are all followed by dire penal consequences — consequences, many of which are natural but. not a whit the less penal because by the constitution of things God has made them natural. On death see above on Rom. 1:32; 5:12.

22. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Among the Romans were the liberi or free men, the liberati or freedmen, and the servi or slaves. Paul here takes his forms of speech from the latter two. A freed man was no longer under the control of his former master. He was the friend of him, who redeemed him with silver or gold from his bondage, and he clung to him for life. Sometimes the service he rendered was more important as well as every way more agreeable than that which he had rendered in servitude. Cicero had such a freed man, who was his friend and correspondent. God's servants were once the slaves of corrup tion. Jesus freed them from the penalty and power of sin. Then with joyful and hearty willingness they became the servants of God, who had by his Son redeemed them. To him they held themselves firmly and for ever bound by ties which death could not dissolve, to devote all their powers of mind and body, their

'time, their property, their all. Fruit, the same word as in Rom. 6:21, but used in a different though legitimate sense. Before it meant the retribution of conduct. Here it means conduct consequent upon a reception of the gospel — holy living. Conybeare and Howson have another view: “The fruit which you gain tends to produce holiness." It is unto holiness. The same form of sentence is found in several parts of this section. See above on Rom. 6:16, 19. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples,” John 15:8. Holiness in his creatures greatly honors God. Nor is the end any thing but good to the creature. The end is not yet. It will come in due season, accompanied with great results — here expressed by everlasting life. On this phrase see above on Rom. 2:7; 5:12.

23. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Wages, a word found four times in the New Testament; Luke 3:14 John says to the soldiers, “Be content with your wages;" 1 Cor. 9:7 "No man goeth a warfare at his own charges;" 2 Cor. 11:8 “Taking wages of them to do you service." It denotes primarily the rations, raiment and hire of soldiers. The Greek word is transferred into the Latin without j any change of sound. Yet the Latin word more commonly used was stipendium. See Augustine. Its meaning was well [[298]] understood in Rome. The idea of desert and perhaps that of stipulated reward is involved in the word here. Nothing is more justly deserved than the rewards' of unrighteousness. On no matter has God more faithfully forewarned men. Tholuck: “At the time a man surrenders himself" to the sway of sin, it promises, indeed, something very different, but while he seeks what is durable, sin deceives him with apparent blessings, which prove afterwards to be destruction, his true nature being altogether overlooked in the enjoyment they impart." Death, see above on Rom. 6:21, and places there referred to. The gift of God, Chrysostom: "He does not say, the wages of your good deeds, but the gift of God; to shew, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about." The same substantially is said by every respectable commentator. Gift, the same as in Rom. 5:15, 16 rendered free gift. It is a gift wholly gratuitous. And it is all in, by and through Jesus Christ our Lord. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge, and love, and mercy, and grace.


1. Let good doctrine be followed by good exhortation, Rom. 6:12-23. We have had much sound instruction in all the former part of this epistle. It is fitting we should now have a lively application of it to our own hearts and consciences. Many a modern discussion is powerless for good because it is not pointed. No practical use is made of it.

2. Let us never be found with the formalist and the enemies of righteousness, objecting to the doctrines of free grace, or abusing them to vile purposes. If sinners cannot be freely justified, they cannot be saved. Hawker: “No child of God, with grace in his heart, can act but from that grace in all his deliberate purposes. The Lord hath put his fear in his heart that he 'shall not depart from him, Jer. 32:40. And this childlike fear becomes the most persuasive of all motives to love and obedience." It is a fact in the history of theological doctrine that no class of men have held so high a standard of pious living, as those who have been stanch advocates of the doctrine of gratuitous justification.

3. Let us dread sin, and teach others to dread it. It is easy to have an excessive fear of pain, of reproach, or of poverty; but it is not possible for any one excessively to abhor iniquity, Rom. 6:12. The reasons are many and obvious to any devout student of God's word. The motives to purity are drawn from heaven, earth and [[299]] hell, from ourselves, our neighbor and our God, from Mount Sinai, from Gethsemane and from Calvary. Of all these the most potent are those drawn from the goodness and love of God. Where there is the least ingenuousness of moral character, it will and must argue from the cross of Christ to the death of sin; from the love of God towards us to our infinite and pleasing obligations to seek his glory, and delight in his service.

4. And if we would avoid sin, we should avoid all needless trial of our principles. Indeed, if we would avoid sin, we must avoid occasions naturally leading thereto. We all ought daily to pray: “Lead us not into temptation." And when we sincerely thus pray, we shall be in the fear of the Lord all the day long. And the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death.

5. We must also from love to Christ and with gratitude for mercies already received guard all our powers and faculties, that we sin not against God, Rom. 6:12, 13. We must make a covenant with our eyes, not to look upon evil; for the eye affects the heart. Job 31:1; Lam. 3:51. When Eve gave her ear to the tempter, she began to fall. When the memory is stored with vanity and folly, the greater its retentiveness, the more it is a snare. When the imagination is under the control of the wicked one, the more vigorous it is, the more it runs riot. A mild disposition sometimes leads to sinful compliances. A rough temper sometimes causes men to say bitter things to those whom the Lord greatly loves. A hasty spirit leads to many a false step, which is followed by tears. A sad soul is in danger of yielding to the lessons of unbelief. A gay spirit is specially in danger of falling into sinful levity. Thus every power and faculty of soul and body may become an instrument of wickedness. Chrysostom: “If the eye be curious after the beauty of another, it becomes an instrument of iniquity, through the fault of the thought which commands it. But if you bridle it, it becomes an instrument of righteousness. Thus with the tongue, thus with the hands, thus with all the other members." Calvin: “As the soldier has ever his arms ready, that he may use them whenever he is ordered by his commander, and as he never uses them but at his command; so Christians ought to regard all their faculties to be weapons of the spiritual warfare: if then they employ any of their members in the indulgence of depravity, they are in the service of sin. But they have made the oath of soldiers to God and to Christ, and by this they are held bound: it hence behoves them to be far away from any intercourse with the camps of sin."

6. Sin has dominion over the wicked. They are under law, [[300]] not under grace, Rom. 6:14. The condemning power of sin over them is perfect. Fallen angels are not under a more righteous sentence. He that believeth not is condemned already. Then sin itself has the mastery over them. They are the willing slaves of corruption, , not all in the same way or to the same extent. Some commit beastly sins; others, the sins of devils. Some glory in their shame; some cover up their iniquity. Some cast off all restraint; others hug one darling vice. But every one, who has not fled to Jesus, is the bond-slave of depravity. “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray,” Pr. 5:22, 23.

7. Sin has not dominion over the righteous; they are not under law, but under grace, Rom. 6:14. The law condemns not one of them. They are free from its curse. They are free from it as a covenant of works. They are free to do the will of God. The highest class of motive actuates them to serve God, and that joyfully. They are redeemed and set at liberty. Their eternal life depends not on their own works or deservings. They believe in Christ as though they had no works; and yet they work far more than if they believed not, and all from love. Chrysostom: “The law promised them crown after toils, but grace crowned them first, and then led them to the contest." Evans: “God's promises to us are more powerful and effectual for the mortifying of sin than our promises to God. Sin may struggle in a believer, and may create him a great deal of trouble; but it shall not have dominion; may vex him, but it shall not rule over him. Hagar troubled Sarah not a little, but Sarah was Hagar's mistress all the time."

8. God's children are not lawless, nor without law to God, but under law to Christ. Compare 1 Cor. 9:21. Their freedom from a legal spirit and from legal hopes mightily inclines them to walk in the way of holiness — to keep the commandments. This is effected by grace alone. Such is its power over the believer that he is dead unto sin, is risen with Christ, is one with Christ, is a new creature, is alive unto God by Jesus Christ. No man more heartily approves the preceptive will of God than he, who owns that he is saved by grace alone. Nay, no other man has any principle that works by love, that makes him desire holiness as in itself a good thing. If Paul has made anything clear, it is that all believers are dead to the law as a covenant, are dead to sin as a master, are alive unto God in a way pleasing to God, and are pleased to do and to suffer his entire known will. Such people cannot but loathe and detest sin.

9. It is therefore right, safe and scriptural to proclaim, as Paul [[301]] teaches, that saints are under grace, Rom. 6:14. The effect of grace' is amazing. It wholly changes our relations to God, as we have seen in the former part of the epistle. It no less entirely changes our dispositions towards God, towards duty, and everything of a moral nature. It mortifies sin. It restores the soul to a heavenly life. It makes one long to be like Christ and to be with Christ. It admires and imitates the blessed Saviour. Sin made devils out of angels. Grace makes saints out of sinners, heirs of glory out of the heirs of perdition. If ever the world is to be made better, it will be by mankind embracing the true doctrines of grace. The history of the world furnishes no instance of a sinner being brought to love holiness, but by a just apprehension of the mild and winning truths of religion. Take an enemy of God to Mount Sinai; let its thunders roll, and he will exceedingly fear and quake, but he will sin on, secretly, if not openly. But let any man have a true apprehension of the mercy of God as displayed in the cross of Cavalry, and he says of his sins, They shall die. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God!" Does John speak thus to encourage loose living? Far from it: “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself as he is pure,” 1 John 3:1, 3.

10. But the adversary is very subtle and very untiring. Wickedness perverts every thing. It turns even the grace of God into lasciviousness. It specially delights in a show of reasoning. It pleads over and over again, that this humbling method of saving men after all leads to free sinning: at least, it asks, If there is not danger that free forgiveness will have such an effect? Paul answers with an indignant negative for the third time, Rom. 6:15. The renewed heart is the best preservative against such filthy fallacies. It abhors them. It cannot consent to the systematic dishonoring of God, who has lavished his kindness upon the undeserving, and shows mercy to the chief of sinners. Nothing is clearer than that one's life evinces his real character, Rom. 6:16. A good tree brings forth good fruit; and a corrupt tree, evil fruit. Even a child is known by his doings. There is no more shallow pretence than that the heart is right when the life is sinful and irregular. “His servants ye are to whom ye obey,” is the infallible rule. Fairly applied it always brings out the truth. Christ himself will apply it in the last day, Matt. 25:31-46. If this rule were not correct in all cases, moral distinctions would be obliterated, and wild confusion would reign; the humble man would have all the insolence of manner pertaining to the proud; the meek would display malignancy; the generous would act like the churl; the hypocrite would be as [[302]] consistent as the good man, and none could tell whether he himself were on the road to heaven or to hell.

12. Every change from sin to holiness, from Satan unto God, is to all right minded men matter of thankfulness to God, Rom. 6:17. So great is such an event, and so far-reaching its influence that it is made known to the happy inhabitants of the heavenly country, and among them awakens new joys, Luke 15:7, 10. Nor is this strange. A soul is saved from death. Immortal honor to God and immortal happiness to a soul that shall never die are thus secured. On this matter all converted men are agreed. Brown: “A gracious soul that has ever tasted of the sweetness of the work of God in his own soul will be unfeignedly glad at the work of God in others." How could it be otherwise? True religion makes men glad when God is glorified and when men are made truly happy. Both these things are done when a soul is soundly converted. 13. It is one of the glories of the gospel that it seeks and suits great sinners, and makes them, as well as others less foul and guilty, the monuments of its justifying and sanctifying power, Rom. 6:17. Nor do any on earth or in heaven more magnify the grace of God than those, who once were the vile servants of sin, sinning with greediness, and wantoning in wickedness. O how such will shine as illustrious patterns of what sovereign love can do. Never will all its wonders be told. Never will the song of redemption pall on the tongues of the redeemed.

14. The great change from the service of sin to the service of God has so many, and so pleasing aspects, that to the pious if is ever a welcome theme. Sometimes we are instructed in its necessity. Sometimes we are told of its divine author, God's Spirit. Sometimes we hear of its effects. Sometimes we have many points all brought out in few words in one terse sentence: “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren,” 1 Pet. 1:22. Here we have the means and process of renovation, described. “Ye have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine,” Rom. 6:17. The soul is renewed when it is moulded into conformity to the model of truth, and when it heartily loves that truth. All professed conversions, which are not by the truth but by falsehood, which are not to the truth, but to a sect or to a new set of human opinions, are utterly worthless.

15. Nor is it difficult to know when we have obeyed the truth from the heart. The rule of safe judgment is that in practice we follow it, wherever it leads, and are conformed to it in all things, so that we love the whole law as a rule to live by, and the whole gospel as a method of salvation.

[[303]] 16. True Christians would enjoy their spiritual privileges and advantages more, if they would oftener look back to the wretched bondage, far worse than that of Egypt, in which they so foolishly served divers lusts, and treasured up wrath. Israelites were wisely taught to say, "A Syrian ready to perish was my father." Good men are specially called upon to “look unto the rock whence they are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence they are digged,” Deut. 26:5; Isa. 51:1. Brown: “It is profitable now and then to be calling to mind the black and doleful state of nature which we were sometimes in, and out of which we are now delivered through free grace, that the unspeakable riches of his grace may never grow little bulked in our estimation." Surely if good men had a constant and more adequate estimate of what Christ has done for them, they would do more for Christ.

17. There is a form of doctrine delivered us. To it we ought to be conformed. To it we must be conformed. We are not left at liberty to choose out of the mass of human opinions and systems what pleases our fancy, our taste, or our practice; but we must receive and hold fast the form of sound words taught us in the Scriptures. “Thy word is truth." We must receive it as the very word of Jehovah, who cannot lie. We are to read and hear God's word, not as critics but as criminals, not as judges but as perishing sinners. Brown: “Wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ is kindly, heartily and sincerely welcomed and embraced, it will not be halved, or any way divided, but wholly accepted of, as all necessary, useful, and desirable."

18. Salvation is not merely a negation of evil, it is something positive. It sets those who receive it free from sin; it also makes them the servants of righteousness, Rom. 6:18. They not only cease to do evil; they learn to do well. Nor is a good man afraid of being too much broken off from corruption and unrighteousness; nor is he cautious lest he should serve God too devotedly. Nothing so works on the renewed nature of man as just thoughts of the grace manifested in the scheme of mercy. T. Adam: “There is great force of argument, great advantage for pure obedience, and a powerful inducement to it, in the belief and acknowledgment of complete deliverance from the guilt of sin, and restoration to eternal life, by the grace of God in Christ Jesus." The holy angels have had long experience of the excellence of God's service, and of his faithfulness to his obedient creatures. But it has sometimes seemed to me that one just born into the kingdom of grace has ties to bind him to God, which ought to be unspeakably more potent than any resting on those, who never sinned, and, consequently, never felt the power of redeeming love.

[[304]] 19. Every man will serve something, Rom. 6:18. There is no such thing as a state of moral indifference. Each one is God's friend, or God's foe; serves sin, or serves righteousness; willingly obeys God or the great adversary. The world over an affected neutrality is a declaration of hostility to God; because he not only has a right to our secret but also to our open and avowed friendship.

20. On this [[18th verse>> Rom. 6:18]] Chrysostom has a long and eloquent appeal and exhortation, warning men against various sins. He is specially earnest and eloquent on the sin of covetousness: “The love of money is the root of all evils. Hence come fightings, and enmities, and wars; hence emulations, and railings, and suspicions, and insults; hence murders, and thefts, and violations of sepulchres. Through this, not cities and villages only, but roads, and habitable and inhabitable parts, and mountains, and groves, and hills, and, in a word, all places are filled with blood and murder. And not even from the sea has this evil withdrawn, but even there also with great fury hath it revelled, since pirates beset on all sides, thus devising a new mode of robbery. Through this have the laws of nature been subverted, and the claims of relationship set aside, and the laws of our very being broken through." Such are some of the fruits of being under the mastery of one sin. But there are many other whelps in the same horrid den. Chrysostom dwells at length and with great eloquence on the superfluities and vain ostentation of his times. If our religion does not conquer our strongest evil inclinations, it is worthless. The Philippian jailor was a wretch, accustomed to acts of cruelty; but as soon as converted he was as tender as a woman. Saul of Tarsus was exceeding mad against Christ and his people; but when his heart was changed, he preached Christ, and was as tender to the disciples as a nurse to her children. A sound conversion conquers the strongest sinful inclinations, and gives scope to the noblest principles and motions.

21. Let us cheerfully condescend to men's weakness of understanding, if by any means we may do them good, Rom. 6:19. Compare 1 Cor. 9:18-23. A slovenly dress ill befits the truths of the gospel. But a plain, homely attire is by no means unbecoming the great things of salvation. If men insist on using the words, which man's wisdom teaches, they must not be surprised if they labor very much in vain. When the sword of the Spirit is all wrapped up in wreaths of flowers, its keen edge is often hardly felt. Mankind are very dull, and slow to believe, or even to apprehend the truth. Let us show no mercy to a guilty conscience. Let us use great plainness, and even familiarity of speech.

[[305]] 22. Everything, good and bad, is growing. Wickedness proceeds from iniquity unto iniquity. Evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse. Saints are growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Babes in Christ»are becoming strong young men. The redeemed are servants of righteousness unto holiness. Their past constancy and greediness in sinning ought to make the children of God the more diligent and zealous in his service. They have lost much time in sin; they have but little time left; therefore they should greatly bestir themselves with all their might.

23. Some think it a great thing to be free from the restraints and self-denial required by the laws of righteousness; but at that very time they are in a slavery, which will yet fill them with utter dismay, Rom. 6:20. No Algerine bondage was ever so cruel as that of sin. No prison, with its dungeons and victims, ever exhibited to a benevolent mind so appalling a spectacle as that of a soul, delivered over to iniquity, its noble faculties and affections subjected to the cruel tyranny of the devil. The burden of men's guilt is itself sufficient to sink them into the deepest sadness. Sometimes it does this very thing, even in the midst of their prosperity; and if they die unpardoned, it is a millstone around their necks for ever, and sinks them into the lowest hell.

24. Let us not attempt to serve two masters, Rom. 6:20. It cannot be done. The friend of the world is the enemy of God. The friend of God is the enemy of sin.

25. How sad is the history of every child of God up to the time of his new birth! Rom. 6:21. His works were the works of the devil; his principles and habits were all corrupt; he was tossed from vanity to vanity; his life was full of vexation and disappointment; his hopes were illusory; his fears were tormenting; his virtues were but polished vices. Good fruit there is none remaining. Clarke: “Among the Greeks and Romans, under a bad master, the lot of the slave was most oppressive and dreadful; his ease and comfort were never consulted; he was treated worse than a beast; and in many cases his life hung on the mere caprice of the master. This state is the state of every poor miserable sinner; he is the slave of Satan, and his own evil lusts and appetites are his most cruel task-masters." It would be a great thing if it were possible for us to induce the wicked to make an inventory of all they have gained in the service of sin. But commonly they will not think. Satan rushes them madly on from one thing to another till their doom is sealed. A rich man dying said: “What have I now of all my estates, except that they fearfully swell my account at the tribunal of God?” Byron said that in his life he could [[306]] remember but eleven days that he would care to live over. Voltaire exclaimed: “I wish I had never been born! “Solomon tried everything that could please the carnal nature, and his solemn judgment was that it was all vanity of vanities.

26. Well may all men blush and be ashamed of a course of sin, Rom. 6:21. The righteous are so indeed. The wonder is that all are not so. The brazen face exhibited by many shows how desperate their case is. God himself so speaks of them, Jer. 6:15; 8:12. Chrysostom: “Ye were injured in two ways, in doing things calling for shame, and in not even knowing what it was to be ashamed." If sin is of so foul and dreadful a nature as to make all good men ashamed, even when they know it is pardoned, it must be most malignant and dreadful. Nor is it possible for any man to be too much afraid of it or excessively to detest it. In temporal affairs the wicked often regret what they have clone. But it is only in moral matters that men pursue a course, which they know they will be sorry for, and which they hope they will be deeply sorry for and heartily ashamed of before they leave this world, knowing that if they shall not weep for it here, they will howl for vexation of spirit for ever.

27. The penal consequence of sinful courses is death, Rom. 6:21. In many cases penal consequences seem to be natural and inevitable. We may finally discover that they are so in all cases. None but the omniscient eye can trace all the connections of things; but sin certainly leads to hell, and it certainly leads nowhere else. It leads to the gulf of wo as naturally as the Mississippi leads to the Gulf of Mexico. It is in vain for men to delude themselves with the hope that shame and everlasting contempt will not follow transgression, or, if they do, that it will be only by some arbitrary arrangement. When the poor drunkard began his career, little did he dream that it would end in rags, and poverty, and beggary, and crime, and hell.

28. Great is the grace and rich are its provisions for effecting and completing the work of salvation, even here breaking the bondage of corruption, freeing believers from its dominion, and from all its roots and effects before they stand before the Lord in judgment, Rom. 6:22. And how great is this work of purification. The converted man could have no greater work, or one that called for greater help from heaven than to perfect holiness. Oh that all, who name the name of Christ, would depart from iniquity.

29. It is impossible to overstate the necessity of a godly life, in which we bear fruit unto holiness, bear much fruit to the glory of God, Rom. 6:22. To such a course not only all that is awful and authoritative in the character of God, but all that is mild and winning in [[307]] the dispensation of the gospel urges us. T. Adam: “Gratitude runs low in the nature of man; but if there is one spark of it in the heart, the belief of deliverance from death, and eternal life merited for us by the Son of God, will kindle it into a flame." Chalmers: “Let me urge that you proceed on the inseparable alliance, which the gospel has established, between your deliverance from the penalty of sin and your deliverance from its power — that you evidence the interest you have in the first of these privileges, by a life graced and exalted by the second of them." Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.

30. To those, who rely on the righteousness of Christ alone for justification, and heartily forsake their sins and serve God with a willing mind, everlasting life is certain. It is the end to which their present conduct tends; the end God has in view in all his dealings with them; the end they have before their minds in their best frames, Rom. 6:22. They are as sure of that as God's word can make such poor doubting souls.

31. All the penal sufferings of the wicked are deserved. They receive only the fruit of their doings. Death is their wages, Rom. 6:23. They are earning all the wo that will yet come upon them. The law of retribution returns into their own bosom all their evil deeds. They cannot justly complain of a righteous recompense.

32. But heaven is a gift — a free gift, without money and without price. Eternal life is deserved by no mere men. It is wholly free, Rom. 6:23. Nor is this a painful but an animating thought to the renewed soul. He is willing that God should have all the glory of salvation. The crown of glory cannot be purchased with such tin and dross as mingle with our best services. Clarke: “A man may MERIT hell, but he cannot MERIT heaven. The apostle does not say that the wages of righteousness is eternal life: no, but that this eternal life, even to the righteous, is the gracious GIFT of God; and even this gracious gift comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. He alone has procured it; and it is given to all those who find redemption in his blood. A sinner goes to hell because he deserves it; a righteous man goes to heaven, because Christ has died for him: and communicated that grace by which his sin is pardoned, and his soul made holy."

33. What a wonderful person is Jesus Christ our Lord. By him the worlds were made. By him all things consist. All the angels worship him. All the virgins love him. If our sins are washed away, it is by his blood. If we are accepted, it is in the Beloved. If we have sore conflicts here, and yet come off conquerors, it is because his grace is sufficient for us. He is all and in all, the first and the last, the author and the finisher of faith. Who would not [[308]] join with Hawker and say? “Through life, in death, and for evermore, be it my joy to acknowledge that there can be no wages mine, but the wages of sin, which is death; and all the Lord bestows, even eternal life, with all its preliminaries, can only be the free, the sovereign, the unmerited gift of GOD through JESUS CHRIST our LORD."

Romans 6: 1-11. — The Scriptural Doctrine of Gratuitous Justification does not Lead to Licentiousness, but to Holiness.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 17:51 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 17:51 ]

Chapter 6:1-11.

The Scriptural Doctrine of Gratuitous Justification does not Lead to Licentiousness, but to Holiness.

1. WHAT shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into' his death?

4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Mm, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9. Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1. WHAT shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? The apostle, having established the necessity of a gratuitous salvation, having shown how we obtain it by the righteousness of Christ, having evinced that Abraham himself was thus saved, having illustrated the method of our recovery by the method of our ruin, and having declared how grace is glorious in proportion to the dreadfulness of the apostasy, from which Jesus Christ saves us, he informally, not dramatically, refers to a specious objection, lively to be made by the opposers, or by the ill-informed, who might say, What shall we say then? as it one should say: Your doctrine is new to me. I am startled by it. [[272]] It is very different from my long cherished opinions. I had looked to the law of Moses for salvation. But your doctrine is that by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified, and that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Does it not follow from your doctrine that we may continue in the love and practice of sin that grace may abound yet more?

2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? God forbid, literally, Let it not be, let it never be so, q. d. to argue that way would be perverseness indeed. See above on Rom. 3:4. He expresses abhorrence of the thought. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Peshito: For if we are persons, who have died to sin, how can we again live in it? Hodge: “It is no fair inference from the fact that God has brought so much good out of the fall and sinfulness of men, that they may continue in sin." Calvin: “He who sins certainly lives to sin; we have died to sin through the grace of Christ; then it is false, that what abolishes sin gives vigor to it." In the preceding chapter he had shewed how death had justly come on the whole race for one sin of one man. It could not then be that under the government of a God, who so hates sin, provision should be made whereby God's chosen people in their march to glory should allowedly indulge in conduct offensive to the Most High. The chief difficulty in explaining this scripture satisfactorily is found in the question, What is it to be dead to sin? If light can be had from the use of the same or like phrases, we may find it in Rom. 6:6, 7, 8; 7:4; 8:13; Gal. 2:19; 5:24; 6:14; Col. 2:20; 3:3, 5; 1 Pet. 2:24. One, who looks at these passages is very apt to think that he understands precisely what is intended to be taught. But when he comes to express himself definitely, he is often at a loss. The fact is that death used figuratively has so many and wide reaching applications, all resulting from the nature of death itself, that we are apt to become confused. Where the scriptures speak of mortifying [putting to death] the deeds of the body and our members which are upon the earth, the meaning is clear. We are called to spare no sin, to kill it, knowing that our contest with it must prove fatal to it or to us. If we put not it to death, it will put us to death. So when the scripture speaks of our crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts, it is clear that the work done is that of warring against our carnal nature with a determination to destroy all its power over us; even though it lingers and struggles for the ascendancy. So when Paul says, The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world, clearly the meaning is that to the world Paul was an object as little regarded as the crucified malefactor; and that the world was to him as one [[273]] crucified. He sought not its smiles, its favors, its portion, its wealth, honors or pleasures. So when Paul says he is dead to the law, the meaning is that he looked no longer to the law for life and justification. He had no desire to be saved by his own works. Then we have the phrase dead zvith Christ, which in its connection shows that by and through Christ his people have wholly ceased to trust to rites and ceremonies, Jewish or Pagan; they rely not on them at all. Then again Paul says, Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God, where he teaches that they were dead to their old hopes, plans and objects of desire, and that their present reliance was on Christ Jesus, by the secret communications of his grace, unseen by the world. In 1 Pet. 2:24 we have the phrase we being dead to sins, sins of all sorts. The question still recurs what is it to be dead to sin? Is it not explained by such phrases as not serve sin, dead with Christ, living with Christ, etc. found in Rom. 6:6, 8, etc? Still is it the guilt or the power of sin that is spoken of in this place? Venema, Haldane and Chalmers think that it means we , are dead to the guilt of sin. It looks as if 1 Pet. 2:24 referred also to be being freed from the guilt of sin. And it cannot be denied that such a sense agrees with the argument of former chapters. Nor are these writers without support from the subsequent context. For instance in Rom. 6:10 Christ is said to have died unto sin once, where we must understand that he died for sin, or on account of sin; that is, he bore and so put away the guilt of sin. Others, and there are not a few of them, regard the apostle as speaking only of the power of sin, as a reigning principle. They rely much on the context to sustain this view. Paul's language in this chapter is very bold and highly figurative. Yet I believe no commentator has attempted to unite these two interpretations, and present sin as a tyrant and task master, tormenting his servants with the horrors of guilt, and wielding his vile power to seduce them into deeper pollution. Certainly some of the phrases seem inapplicable to an interpretation that would include both these ideas, but others do not. Owen of Thrussington says, “The question, 'Shall we continue in sin?' surely does not mean shall we continue in or under the guilt of sin? but in its service, and in the practice of it." It was the charge of practical licentiousness that the apostle rebuts; and he employs an argument suitable to the purpose, “If we are dead to sin, freed from it as our master, how absurd it is to suppose that we can live any longer therein." Then being dead to sin, it is contended, is just the opposite of living in sin. Evans: “We must not be as we have been, nor do as we have done. The time past of our life must suffice to have wrought the will of the flesh. Though there are none that live  [[274]] without sin, yet, blessed be God, there are those that do not live in sin; do not live in it as their element, do not make a trade of it." This is the substance of what is contended for by the great body of expositors.

3. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Baptized into Jesus Christ; in 1 Cor. 1:13 we have baptized in the name of Paul; in 1 Cor. 10:2, baptized unto Moses; in Matt. 3:11 we have baptize you with water unto repentance; in Mark 1:4, the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins; in 1 Cor. 12:13, baptized into one body. In each of these cases we have the same Greek word rendered, in, into, or unto. To be baptized unto or into Moses expresses the relation of the baptized to that great prophet. So when Paul denies that the Corinthians were baptized in or into his name, he denies that by their baptism he became their leader, denies that in their baptism they professed any subjection to him. To be baptized unto repentance, or unto the remission of sins expresses the relations of the baptized to the doctrines and dispensations of , repentance and of remission of sins. By baptism then our union with Christ is professed and declared. But those, who cordially receive Christ and with true faith profess their subjection to him, are baptized into his death, that is, have a union with him in his death, not only partaking of the benefits thereof, but as his death separated him from the world and terminated his work as a sin-bearer, so our baptism declares that we have done with the world as a portion, and with sin as a practice. We have died unto sin, and in baptism we so profess. Thus the first formal argument against the loose living, to which some allege the doctrines of free grace lead, is that a sinful life is contrary to our sacramental engagements. If baptism teaches anything, it teaches our cleansing from sin. He, who is baptized and lives in sin, is a hypocrite, a mere pretender. He has not put on Christ. He is not like Christ. He is not subject to Christ. If Christ does not save us from sin, he docs not save us from wrath. His name was “JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins,” Matt. 1:21. Compare Tit. 2:14.

4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Death is followed by burial. Death cuts us off from the world. Burial quite secludes us from it, puts us entirely out of it. So we are dead to sin; we are by baptism, if rightly received, separated from wickedness, and devoted unto Christ. But this death and burial must not be misunderstood. They are not without a [[275]] resurrection. No! They are followed by a new life. Calvin: “He rightly makes a transition from a fellowship in death to a fellowship in life; for these things are connected together by an indissoluble knot — that the old man is destroyed by the death of Christ, and that his resurrection brings righteousness, and renders us new creatures. And surely, since Christ has been given to us for life, to what purpose is it that we die with him except that we may rise to a better life?" By the death of Christ on the cross, the power of sin was broken. By our death unto sin, its dominion over us is destroyed, and this is signified in baptism. That it is not the mere rite of baptism, but the thing signified thereby, that he speaks of, is clear. Saving effects are said to follow. Many from the days of Simon Magus have been baptized but the power of their sins has continued unbroken. So in Col. 2:11, 12, where Paul teaches that circumcision and baptism have the same significancy, viz. putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, and rising with Christ through faith, we learn the same lesson, the necessity of holiness, as inculcated by every ordinance of God, especially the sacraments. By the glory of the Father; Peshito: Into the glory of his Father; Arabic: In the glory of the Father; Genevan: Unto the glory of the Father; Beza: To the glory of the Father. Were the word glory in the accusative, there would be no difficulty in adopting the rendering of the Genevan translation. But the preposition here used when it governs the genitive never signifies unto, or for the sake of. We know nothing to justify the rendering of the Peshito or Arabic, though each gives a good sense. By the glory of the Father must be taken as the fair rendering of the clause; and the meaning may be by the power of the Father, or by the divine nature, all of which is glorious. Bucer regards glory as denoting “the extraordinary presence of the Godhead." Tholuck: “Glory denotes the sum of the divine perfections." Power and glory are often united in the New Testament, as in Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; Rev. 5:12, 13. Compare Col. 1:11. Scholars point us to Ps. 68:34; Isa. 12:2; 45:25 as instances, in which the Septuagint employs the term here rendered glory to express the power or strength of Jehovah. In fact the word may be so understood in John 2:11; 11:40. We cannot conceive of a resurrection but by God's power, 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 13:4; Eph. 1:19, 20. By newness of life we understand the new life, which we lead after becoming new creatures and receiving a new heart and a 7iew spirit, as the scriptures speak, Gal. 6:15; Ezek. 18:31. 

Some are fond of making this passage designate the mode of baptism by immersion. But evidently it has no bearing on that [[276]] matter. Christ's burial consisted in laying his body in a new tomb, hewn out of a rock, and in rolling a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, Matt. 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53. His body was not covered up in the ground. Whatever is meant by the language here used is in Rom. 6:5 expressed by being planted. Scott: “Great stress has been laid upon the expression, ‘buried with him by baptism into death, ' as proving that baptism ought to be performed by immersion, to which the apostle is supposed to allude. But we are said also to be ‘crucified with Christ,' and ‘circumcised with him,' without any allusion to the outward manner in which crucifixion and circumcision were performed: and, as baptism is far more frequently mentioned, with reference to the 'pouring out' of the Holy Ghost (Notes Acts 1 14-8; 2:14-21; Tit. 3:4-7), and as the apostle is evidently treating on the inward meaning, not the outward form, of that ordinance; no conclusive argument is deducible from the expression, shewing that immersion is necessary to baptism, or even, apart from other proof, that baptism was generally thus administered."

5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. For planted, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer and Genevan, Calvin, Pareus, Bp. Hall, Locke, Hammond, Conybeare and Howson, and others have graft, grafted, or ingrafted. This would involve a figure of which Paul elsewhere makes use, Rom. 11:17-24, though for a different purpose. But later writers altogether reject the idea of grafting. Stuart renders the verse thus: For if we have become kindred with him by a death like his, then we shall be also by a resurrection. Doddridge leads the way in an explanation followed by many: “If we are thus made to grow together in the likeness of his death." Robinson renders it, “If we are grown together with the likeness of his death." Without dwelling on the mere word used, it will probably be agreed that the planting together, grafting together, or growing together implies what Hodge calls “an intimate and vital union with Christ, such as exists between a vine and its branches." But it may be observed that in nature this vital union between different trees can be effected in no way but by some kind of ingrafting or inarching. If sap and nourishment are to be derived such a union must be formed. Owen of Thrussington: “Evidently the truth intended to be conveyed is, that as the Christian's death to sin bears likeness to Christ's death, so his rising to a spiritual life is certain to bear a similar likeness to Christ's resurrection." Chrysostom explains the latter clause of the verse without supplying any words as our translators do, as declaring we shall be of the resurrection, or “we [[277]] shall belong to the resurrection,” making it of like import with that phrase in Luke 20:36, ye shall be “the children of the resurrection." The meaning usually drawn from the passage is thus obtained without supplying anything. But the blessed resurrection of the last day presupposes, in ordinary cases, a spiritual resurrection, a renewal of our moral nature followed by newness of life.

6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Knowing agrees with we. Old man, we find quite the same in Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds." These passages taken together clearly point to the sinful nature within us, which we bring into this world, and which we act out, until divine grace makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus. Crucified; some think it refers to the painful, lingering and ignominious death to which the believer subjects his old carnal nature, and in this respect the similitude is indeed striking. But two other ideas were probably foremost in the apostle's mind. The first is that it was by the cross of Christ that the old man was subdued, that from the death of Christ for sin it was made manifest that sin must die, and that by Christ's death sin was slain. The other is that to the new man, or regenerate nature, the old man is an object of aversion and abhorrence, as the crucified were to men generally. The body of sin may mean the mass of corruption in us, substantially the same as the old man. This form of expression is probably taken from the fact that nothing was crucified but living men, who of course had bodies. The body of sin is therefore but a continuance of the figure introduced by crucifying the old man. In Col. 2:11 we have the body of the sins of the flesh. Chrysostom: “He does not give that name to this body of ours, but to all iniquity." Oecumenius: "The body of sin is a circumlocution for sin itself." This body of sin must be destroyed, made of none effect, brought to naught, done away, put down, abolished, as the same word is elsewhere rendered. It is destroyed at and by the cross of Christ. It can be put to death in no other way. But in this way it can be so destroyed, Peshito: abolished, that henceforth we should not serve sin, or be the slaves of sin, as the verb means; Doddridge: “That we might no longer be in bondage to sin." The Canaanites did indeed tempt, annoy and seduce the Israelites after Joshua took possession of the promised land, but they were its masters and rulers no longer.

7. For he that is dead is freed from sin. There is considerable [[278]] diversity in rendering and interpreting this verse, and this diversity is rather increased by the fact that most of these interpretations give a good sense. Peshito: He that is dead [to it] is emancipated from sin. The Arabic, Vulgate, Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, Rheims, Doway, Calvin and Conybeare and Howson render it: He that is dead is justified from sin; Coverdale: “He that is dead is righteous from sin." The word rendered freed is everywhere else rendered justified, except in Rev. 22:11 where it is righteous. Nor is there more than one other place where it is claimed that the word means freed (Acts 13:39), and there the rendering of the authorized version is justified, and the sense thus obtained is good. The rendering of the common version is sustained by Chrysostom, Ferme, Bp. Hall, Rosenmuller, Macknight, Scott, Stuart and others, As to the meaning of being dead to sin, see above on Rom. 6:2. The various views taken of the passage may be thus classified: 1. Conybeare and Howson say the meaning is “that if a criminal charge is brought against a man who died before the perpetration of the crime, he must be acquitted, since he could not have committer! the act charged against him." The objection to this explanation is that it is recondite, not obvious, and not very pertinent to Paul's argument. 2. The second explanation is suggested by Ferme, viz. that Christ who died for sin did by his passion effect the complete liberation, both of himself as our surety and of his believing people, from sin and guilt. This is true, and it is pertinent to the leading doctrine of the epistle; but seems hardly to belong to this portion of it. Yet Ferme regards the very next verse as probably a logical inference from it. If it is so, he is right. Some regard 1 Pet 4:1 as lending support to this exposition. No doubt Christ and his people are one in law, so that his death for sin secured their death to sin, and his life in heaven secures their justification, sanctification, adoption and glorification. But is this what Paul would here teach us? 3. Another explanation is that he, who is dead to sin, is freed from its dominion. Some, who thus expound the place, find support, as they think, from the idea of servitude to sin spoken of in Rom. 6:6 and in subsequent parts of the epistle. Locke's paraphrase is: “He that is dead is set free from the vassalage of sin, as a slave is from the vassalage of his master." Macknight: “Sin has no title to rule you; for as the slave, who is dead, is freed from his master, he, who hath been put to death by sin, is freed from sin." In illustration of this thought Diodati and Evans refer to that beautiful description given by the man of Uz of the effect of death, in which he says, “the servant is free from his master,” Job 3:19. 4. The other opinion is that the mind of the Spirit in this verse is [[279]] this: “He that is dead to sin, and has renounced it, and abhors it, is a justified man, being absolved from the guilt of all his sins. His hatred of sin proves his justification before God." Doddridge says that the sense indicated by the English version is so uncommon, that he is in much doubt whether it ought not to be rendered justified here. And it cannot be denied that the term has a very decided forensic import. Indeed it is not certain that it can ever be taken in a sense different. This view is strengthened if we understand after dead, the words with Christ, as seems very reasonable we should. In Rom. 6:3 it is said we are baptised into his death; in Rom. 6:4 that we are buried with him; in Rom. 6:5 that we are planted in the likeness of his death; in Rom. 6:6 that we are crucified with him, and in Rom. 6:8 that we are dead with him, and shall live with him.

8. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Now indicates a connection, in the way of argument, between this and the preceding verse. The first clause clearly expresses communion with Christ in his death and sufferings; the latter, in his endless and glorious life and joy. The scripture often speaks of our communion with Christ in his sufferings and glory: “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ:" "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead;" “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” 2 Cor. 1:5; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13. Paul does not hesitate to call his sufferings “the afflictions of Christ,” Col. 1:24. In the last day Christ will say to each of his saints: “Enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matt. 25:21, not merely the joy which he has prepared and will bestow, but the joy of which he is a partaker. The same is taught by our Lord in his intercessory prayer: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one,” John 17:23. Indeed the church is a mystical body, of which Christ is the Head, and believers are the members. If one member suffers, all suffer. When Saul waged war on Christians, Jesus did not say, Why persecutest thou these good people? but, “Why persecutest thou me?" Now as Christ's resurrection and glory inevitably followed his humiliation and death, so the believer's death to sin by the cross of Christ shall certainly be followed by a life and glory which will, in its measure, be like the life and glory won by Christ. Only he possesses his by his own merits. His people hold entirely under him and by his righteousness. The pledge of this future glory is given in three ways, one [[280]] of which is mentioned in the context, viz., death to sin. Another is the sure promise of God variously given, and the third is the new life which is in all believers, which they live by the faith of the Son of God, and which is in God's word sometimes called eternal life, because it shall never become extinct, John 6:54; 10:28; 17:3; 1 John 5:i3.

9. Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. The scripture informs us that Christ suffered and died, and it as carefully informs us that he suffered and died but once, Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7; 27:9:25-28; 10:2, 11-14; 1 Pet. 3:18. This point is made so clear that there is no doubt left on the mind of any of God's people respecting it. Not one believes that Christ died twice or oftener, or that he ever will die again. This is for a perpetual joy to the saints in many ways. A second humiliation and death would argue the insufficiency of the first. Besides, how could believers have any confidence in their own salvation and the permanency of their spiritual or heavenly state, if their Lord must leave his throne and again become a man of sorrows? It is essential to the stability of Christian hopes, that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; yea, that he can die no more; for death hath no more dominion; Wiclif: lordschip; Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan: power over him. It has no commission against him, no claim upon him. He has satisfied the law; he has made an end of transgression; he has borne the whole curse; he has exhausted the penalty. His resurrection was the public and glorious acknowledgment before all worlds that the ransom price was all paid. Death once had a just claim on Christ, because he stood in the place of sinners and bore their guilt. But the shedding of his blood fully satisfied all the claims of the law, and now there is no cause for his suffering more.

10. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Once, in Heb. 10:10 the same word is rendered once for all. There can be but one sense in which Christ literally died to sin, and that is, he died on account of sin. See above on Rom. 6:2. But if we look on him as the Head of the mystical body and as having his people in union with him, in him they died unto sin, for he died “to redeem them from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. 2:14. Christ's work and sufferings were unto all the ends of a full and perfect deliverance of all his people from the guilt and power of sin, and from death as the curse, the penal consequence of sin. His release from suffering and humiliation is the token that his work was all done, and in that he liveth, he liveth unto God, that is [[281]] he lives to the perpetual honor, the highest and everlasting glory of God, he has an eternal life in the most blessed enjoyment of God. And in this his people are and ever shall be, in their measure, conformed to him. Because he lives, they shall live also, John 14:19. Their life is hid with Christ in God, Col. 3:3. As he lives and shall ever live unto God, so shall they.

11. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The meaning is, Understand aright the true nature of your relations to Christ. Look upon yourselves as having died and been crucified with Christ, that both the guilt and power of sin might be for ever taken away, and that you may always live or be alive unto God. You are dead and buried with Christ, you are planted and crucified with him, that as he arose and became the most famous and the most exalted of all creation, and ever lives in glory and renown, so you also may arise in newness of life, glorifying God here, and in due season, in your order, ascend and dwell with him in glory, partaking of his endless life and entering for ever into his joy. The life of a Christian on earth ought to be, and in some degree, is like the life of Christ in glory. It is unto God. Even here the life we live is so entirely by the faith of the Son of God, that Paul is very bold and says: “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” Gal. 2:19; yea, he says that Christ is formed in believers the hope of glory, Gal. 4:19; Col. 1:27. Nor is such an attainment in holiness or happiness impossible. Nothing is more confidently to be looked for, because it is all through Jesus Christ our Lord. If God gave us his Son, why should we be surprised at his giving us all things through him, or in him, as some prefer to read it, and as the Greek allows us to read it? Men do rightly construe the doctrine of the union of believers with Christ when they “love, serve, and glorify God, in thought, word and deed, as being quickened with a new principle of supernatural life, which is communicated from Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives, as well as died for us."


1. If we would be able and faithful ministers, we must state the doctrines of scripture clearly, and guard them well against abuse and perversion, Rom. 6:1-11. Then if any wrest them, it will be their fault and not ours. It is no sign of fidelity or of Christian intrepidity to state any doctrine either harshly or unguardedly, and leave it exposed to all manner of cavil and objection. For such a course we cannot plead inspired example.

[[282]] 2. Every doctrine in religion, whether true or false, has logical consequences, Rom. 6:1. This is delightfully true of great evangelical doctrines. We cannot state one of them, that may not fairly be followed by the interrogatory, What shall we say then? What is the fair consequence of such teaching? Truth is one, is harmonious. God is of one mind. He never contradicts himself. If we teach any principle or embrace any aspect of doctrine, which fairly contradicts any settled principle of truth or morals, we may know it is false.

3. All scripture doctrine may be abused, has been abused, even when stated in the most fitting manner. Let not the friends of sound doctrine think that any strange thing has happened to them, because from age to age they find their words wrested, and their meaning perverted. It has always been so. Brown: “Men of corrupt minds, who are filled with prejudice against any truth, cannot be soon satisfied with any answer that is made to any of the grounds of their stumbling, and gained to the truth; but the more that is said to satisfy them, they will have the more still to reply." Hawker: "Dear Paul! hadst thou lived in the present day of the church, and seen, as we see, thy sweet truths taught thee by the HOLY GHOST, wire-drawn by many of the various professors; divinely inspired as thou wert when writing this epistle, thou wouldest hardly have escaped the odium which is thrown upon those who subscribe with full consent of soul, and from the same teaching, to the doctrine of free grace!"

4. The fact that the truth is opposed and its friends maligned is no reason why we should waver in our profession and preaching of the doctrines of God's word, Rom. 6:1-11. It is rather a reason why we should be steadfast and intrepid in making known with all meekness the truth as it is in Jesus. T. Adam: “Observe, that the strength of the objection consists altogether in the supposition, that he really did teach and establish salvation by grace, or the imputed righteousness of Christ, through faith, in the plain, simple meaning of the words, and to the exclusion of all human righteousness, works, or merit, from any share in our justification. For if he had intended solely, or chiefly, to exclude works done before faith, or works of the ceremonial law, and not all works whatever, from the office of justification, there could have been no room for the objection; and now, if ever, was the time for him to have had recourse to such distinctions, and strike at the root of this prejudice, by denying the ground of it." That would not have been faithfulness but faithlessness to Christ and his truth. Guyse: “The objection that carnal minds are naturally apt to make against justification by God's grace through the [[283]] righteousness of Christ, is not to be answered by allowing that our own righteousness is to be joined in part with his to justify us, for, on that supposition, there would be no room for the objection: but it is to be answered by shewing, as the apostle doth, the indispensable necessity of personal holiness, on other accounts, in them that are justified, and the inseparable connection that is fixed, by the ordination of God in the gospel, between these things, without blending them together, or confounding one with the other." If sanctification were our sole object, we cannot attain to it but by cordially receiving the truth respecting justification. The world contains no record of any sinner being persuaded to righteousness and piety but by the hearty embracing of Jesus Christ as the Lord our righteousness. All scripture, the gospel in particular, says; “This is the will of God, even your sanctification,” 1 Thess. 4:3. Brown: “Such as imagine that justification by the imputed righteousness of another is a doctrine tending to open a door for licentiousness, do grossly bewray their ignorance of the state and condition of such as are justified by faith, and know not how they have changed masters, when once they have fled in to Christ, and have now a new nature, and a new principle of life in them." There is nothing more absurd than for one, who loves iniquity, to claim to be pardoned and accepted through Christ.

5. Of all the forms of error none is more loathsome to a pure mind than Antinomianism. To a renewed heart it is most sickening to see the friend of the world and the slave of sin going up to the cross of Christ, and saying, There in the death of my Lord, is my full license for drinking in iniquity. Hodge: “Antinomianism is not only an error; but it is a falsehood and a slander. It pronounces valid the very objection against the gospel which Paul pronounces a contradiction and absurdity, and which he evidently regards as a fatal objection, were it well founded, Rom. 6:2-4." The man, who so sins as to bring on him the curse of the law, is in a sad state indeed; but he, who so perverts the gospel as to make its best promises and richest provisions the means of sinking him lower in corruption, has a marked foulness and a deep damnation as his portion.

6. All objections to truth are capable of a fair answer, and should be fairly answered. We are not bound to give heed to mere cavils or frivolous objections. Much less may we waste time in foolish wranglings, or in a war of words. But when men show difficulties resulting from our scriptural teachings, we should with meekness, candor and ability show that they are of no force, or that they are fully met by a statement of the whole truth involved. [[284]] This is not surrendering the truth. It is following the example of Christ and his apostles in establishing the faith. Calvin: " Since every thing that is announced concerning Christ seems very paradoxical to human judgment, it ought not to be deemed a new thing, that the flesh, hearing of justification by faith, should so often strike, as it were, against so many stumbling stones. Let us, however, go on in our course; nor let Christ be suppressed. … We ought at the same time, ever to obviate unreasonable questions, lest the Christian faith should appear to contain any thing absurd."

7. While we make the freest possible proclamation of the gospel, let us never forget or fail to state that pardon and renewal, acceptance and holiness alike flow from the grace of God, and though always distinguishable, are yet never separable, Rom. 6:1-11. Sanctification and justification always go together. The necessity of both is clearly taught in scripture. Calvin: “It would be a most strange inversion of the work of God were sin to gather strength on account of the grace which is offered to us in Christ; for medicine is not a feeder of the disease which it destroys." So surely as we are accepted for the sake of the blood and righteousness of the Redeemer, so surely are we made partakers of the Holy Spirit, the author of the restored image of God on the heart of man. Paul does indeed preach the death of legal hope, but he no less clearly proclaims the death of the body of sin. Justification of the sinner by grace is with him a welcome theme; but the condemnation of the sin, which made such gratuity necessary, is no less welcome. He never takes part with the sinner against God or his law. But he never takes sides with the Pharisee in favor of salvation by our own deservings. In all this he is consistent.

8. Wickedness in any is vile, in one acquainted with the gospel is very ungrateful, but in one professing subjection to Christ is monstrous, Rom. 6:2. If it were possible for any to receive Christ's righteousness and yet really to cherish sin, the long mooted question, Whether there are any moral monsters? would be answered. Calvin: “Throughout this chapter the apostle proves, that they who imagine that gratuitous righteousness is given us by him, apart from newness of life, shamefully rend Christ asunder." Chrysostom: “When the fornicator becomes chaste, the covetous man merciful, the harsh mild, a resurrection takes place; an earnest of the resurrection of life." Diodati: “Christ is dead not only to expiate the guilt of sin, but also to take away all its strength and power over us; and to gain us wholly to God, and frame and consecrate us to his service." A hearty embracing of the gospel is of necessity fatal to corruption.

[[285]] 9. It is cruel to teach men that they can find the way of life and savingly embrace it without the aid and teaching of the Holy Ghost. The road to heaven is like the way that Jonathan and his armor-bearer went; there is a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. If unaided nature comes to the cross, it stumbles at every thing. Were it possible to impart to the unenlightened soul a confidence of full acceptance, it would sin the more. Call on the carnal to be holy, and, if they make any serious effort at purity, they at once present their good deeds as some ground of acceptance before God. Thus "self-righteous pride and antinomian licentiousness are two fatal rocks, on which immense multitudes are continually wrecked, and between which none but the Holy Spirit can pilot us." Compare 1 Cor. 2:14. The true gospel plan is understood aright by none but those, to whom it is revealed.

10. Yet the love of Christ in bestowing his grace and righteousness is a powerful constraining motive to hearty and entire obedience to the known will of God. No man ever works righteousness with all his heart, until with all his heart he accepts the righteousness wrought out by the Son of God. Hodge: “Instead of holiness being in order to pardon, pardon is in order to holiness. This is the mystery of evangelical morals, Rom. 6:4." This has been evinced by a thousand practical demonstrations. Chalmers proved it in his early ministry, as he informs us. Brainerd proved it among the savages, to whom his ministry was blessed as he tells us at length. When the love of Christ enters the soul, we see marvellously illustrated “the expulsive power of a new affection."

11. Baptism is a most solemn and significant rite, as much so as circumcision that preceded it, as much so as the Lord's Supper that accompanies it, Rom. 6:3, 4. We have no prescribed worship more binding in its nature than baptism, and none that teaches more important lessons. It is both a sign and a seal of our union with Christ. To those, who rightly receive it, it confirms all the blessings of Christ's mediatorial work. It seals to them all the blessings promised in the covenant of grace. Some, indeed, who boast of their baptism, live as if ‘the use and purpose of baptism had been altered, so as to allow a covenant with sin, and an agreement with hell.' But their perversion of this sacred rite can take nothing from its excellence to those, who receive it aright. True, it has been sadly perverted. Some have maintained and some still maintain that it is by opus operatum and by the inherent efficacy of the rite itself, that we are profited. Others contend that its efficacy is confined to the time of administration, and that sins after baptism are irremissible. But let us not despise the [[286]] ordinance because it has been abused. Baptism does certainly teach our death to sin, our separation from it, our mortification to it, and all by our blessed union with Christ. Voluntarily to live in sin after baptism is to follow the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. If, after we have by baptism given in our adhesion to Christ, we turn away from the holy commandment, we do declare, as Simon Magus did, that we have no part nor lot in this matter, but are in the bond of iniquity and in the gall of bitterness. How can he who is baptized into the death of Christ, and claims the benefits of that death, by allowed sin renounce all good and give sentence against his own soul? How can he thus act, unless by unbelief his baptism was a mockery of sacred things?

12. It is and shall be for a lamentation that so many wrong notions have been attached to baptism and that great stress has been laid on things of no importance whatever in regard to this ordinance. Some contend that the whole body must be immersed at once, else there is no baptism. Others have practiced trine immersion, and contended that is was obligatory. Others insist on making the sign of the cross at the time to make the rite complete. But all these and many other things are mere human inventions. The less stress we lay upon them, the better.

13. God's people are conformable to Christ, Rom. 6:3-8. All the terms and images used to express their relations to Christ either imply or declare it. Is the church a glorious temple unto the Lord? Christ is the chief corner stone, and believers are lively stones built up a spiritual house. Is Christ a husband? His church is his spouse, and is subject to him as her Beloved. Is he a vine? Believers are the branches. Is he a Shepherd? Saints are his flock, and feeble saints his lambs, carried in his bosom. Did Christ die? They are baptized into his death. Was he crucified? They are crucified with him. Is he risen from the dead? They are already risen from their death in sin, and shall, in their order, rise from their graves, and ascend up where the Son of man is, and sit down with him in his throne. True, any of these figures of speech, or methods of conveying precious truth, may be overstrained, and so perverted. Men may try to find resemblances where there are none. Calvin notices one of the many of these overstrained figures: “Between the grafting of trees, and this which is spiritual, a disparity soon meets us. In the former the graft draws its aliment from the root, but retains its own nature in the fruit; but in the latter not only do we derive the vigor and nourishment of life from Christ, but we also pass from our own to his nature." This illustration is itself sufficient to show us the [[287]] folly of carrying any metaphorical language beyond the bounds of sobriety — beyond the simple point or points intended to be thereby illustrated.

14. All true piety begins with right views of the person, work and death of Christ, Rom. 6:5.

15. As the death of believers to sin is not a sinking down into abiding inertness and sloth, but is early followed by a resurrection from death in sin to a life of holiness; so the temporal death of believers is not an eternal sleep but shall, at the right time, be followed by a blessed resurrection of the body, it being made like unto the glorious body of our Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 6:5. Seeing that these things are so, ‘let us set ourselves as in the presence of the God of our renewed lives, and account that time lost in which we are not acting for him, ' living unto him, drawing our motives from him, and hasting to his coming. Brown: "This life, which believers in Christ have gotten through quickening influence from him, is not an idle, fruitless life, without fruits of holiness, but an active stirring principle, setting folk on work constantly, and in this" life believers can never win to perfection, but are still advancing and growing in grace."

16. If the gospel fails to destroy the body of sin it fails wholly of accomplishing its great work, Rom. 6:5, 6. Luther: “The old man is not to be gradually sanctified, but must die as a sinner. … We must scourge the old man, and strike him on the face, pain him with thorns, and pierce him through with nails, until he bow his head and give up the ghost." Tholuck: “Crucifixion first painfully robs a man of all power of action. He still lives, but lives under constraint, and torture. By slow degrees does he sink away, until the breaking of his limbs puts an end to him at last. In like manner might it be said, is the love of sin pierced through by the impressions which the Holy Spirit makes upon the heart. It can no more do what it would, but still it does not expire. As the opposite thirst for holiness, however, which flows from and keeps pace with the believer's growing passion for his soul's invisible friend, augments in fervor, the love of sin feels itself miserable and tormented, and declines apace until death inflicts upon it the finishing stroke, and conducts the Christian, purified by the contest, into the peaceful bosom of his Saviour." Glory be to God.

17. We must not so construe, as some have done, the phrases old man and body of sin, as to teach that our animal nature is the cause of our sinfulness, or that sin is a substance, so that if we were disembodied, we should be sinless, or that our corruption controls us in some way rather than as moral agents, justly accountable to [[288]] God for all our sinful emotions, thoughts, words and deeds, Rom. 6:6, 7. It is a spiritual disease that infects our nature. It is a spiritual death to sin that we must undergo, in order to salvation. It is not our bodies, nor our mental constitutions, but our fall in Adam, the want of rectitude in our moral nature and the consequent corruption, which have made us what we are. Here is the source of all those evils, which sink and debase us, and make it necessary that we should die, yea, that we should be crucified with Christ.

18. If death unto sin proves men to be justified, the perfection of holiness finally secured by that death will be a great element in their glorification, Rom. 6:8, 9. As Christ dieth no more, his people cannot perish. Himself thus reasons and teaches us to reason, John 14:19. Glorious truth! Let us hold it fast for ever. What will not be the joy of the redeemed when they awake in the likeness of God, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.

19. Even in this world sin has lost its dominion over the justified, Rom. 6:6-8. It has not power to condemn them. It has not power to control them. They are not the servants of sin. They are tempted, they are sometimes ensnared, they sometimes lose a battle, but in the war they always come off conquerors.

20. Let not the godly complain that they are not made at once partakers of all the benefits of Christ's redemption. If now they are justified and regenerated, in due time they shall be perfected and glorified. If they are dead with Christ, they shall live with him, Rom. 6:8. Christ is never to any one a Prophet that he is not to him also a Priest and a King. He never begins a good work that he does not carry on to the day of Jesus Christ. In no sense is Christ divided. To each believer he is as complete and glorious a Saviour as if he had but one soul to save.

21. The prospects of the Christian are very bright, Rom. 6:8-11. A noble life has he here in and by Christ. That noble life shall itself be ennobled in the perfection and glory of heaven.

22. Saints on earth should learn to put a more just estimate upon their state and prospects. The)' greatly need more faith, and hope, and courage, not fewer trials, crosses and difficulties.

23. All that the righteous possess, or enjoy, or have in reversion, or hope for is in, by and through Jesus Christ. Oh that all Christ's friends made more of him in their plans, their prayers, their conflicts with the adversary. Clarke: “Die as truly unto sin, as Jesus Christ died for sin. Live as truly unto God as he lives with God." Let us fervently pray that such may be our aim and endeavor. Hawker: “Do thou, dearest Lord, cause me to have my redemption by thee always in remembrance. Ma)' my soul be [[289]] more and more humbled to the dust before thee that my GOD and SAVIOUR may be more and more exalted. Through life, in death, and for ever more, be it my joy to acknowledge that there can be no wages mine, but the wages of sin, which is death; and all the Lord bestows, even eternal life, with all its preliminaries, can only be the free, the sovereign, the unmerited gift of God through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD."

Romans 7: 7-13. — Though the Law neither Justifies nor Sanctifies, yet it is Excellent, and useful in other ways. But Man is Quite Wrong; and His Fallen Nature Perverts the Law.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 16:54 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 16:55 ]

Chapter 7:7-13.

Though the Law neither Justifies nor Sanctifies, yet it is Excellent, and useful in other ways. But Man is Quite Wrong; and His Fallen Nature Perverts the Law.

7. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

8. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

9. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

10. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

11. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

12. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

13. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

7. WHAT shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay . I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. What shall we say then f This form of interrogation, after the main argument on a point is finished, is quite common with Paul, Rom. 3:27; 4:1; 6:1, 15. It clearly marks the close logical connection. Is the law sin? Those, who would make Paul a fautor of sin, can do so only by imputing to him sentiments of which he expresses abhorrence, yes, indignant abhorrence, as here. Compare Rom. 6:1, 2, 11-15. Paul was no friend of loose living. Nor was he an enemy of the law. He never said the law was sin, or favored sin, or produced sin. It was not itself evil, nor did it countenance evil. Ambrose: “The law discovers sin, it does not beget sin." God forbid, let it not be. See above on Rom. 3:4. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law. So far [[323]] from the law favoring sin, it was the great reprover of sin. It made known its true nature, odiousness and guilt. The word rendered nay is in Rom. 3:31 rendered yea; in Rom. 8:31 nay; in Rom. 5:14 nevertheless. It is a following up of the Let it not be with notice of further statement or argument. I had not known sin; Tyndale and Genevan: I knewe not what synne meant; Conybeare and Howson: I should not have known what sin was. The meaning seems to be this: I should never have understood the real nature of sin, the enormity of my guilt, nor the multitude of my offences but for the law. One way of discovering the uncleanness of an apartment in a house is to bring in a light. One way of discovering the crookedness of a wall is to apply the plumb-line to it, Ps. 119:105; Amos 7:7, 8. God's law is such a light and such a line. Paul gives a particular illustration: I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. This tenth commandment was the key that unlocked the mystery of iniquity in the heart of the great apostle. It showed him the great storehouse of iniquity in his bosom. I had not known lust; Tyndale, Cranmer and Genevan: I had not knowne what lust had meant; Conybeare and Howson: I should not have known the sin of coveting; Locke: I had not known concupiscence to be sin; Bp. Hall: I had not known or observed lust to be a sin; Stuart: I had not known even inordinate desire. Calvin: “Municipal laws do indeed declare that intentions, and not results are to be punished. Philosophers also, with more refinement, place vices as well as virtues in the soul. But by this precept God goes deeper, and notices coveting, which is more hidden than the will; and this is not deemed a vice. It was pardoned not only by philosophers, but at this day the Papists fiercely contend that it is no sin in the regenerate. But Paul says he had found out his guilt from this hidden disease: it hence follows, that all those, who labor under it, are by no means free from guilt, except God pardons their sin. We ought, at the same time, to remember the difference between evil lustings or covetings which gain consent, and the lusting which tempts and moves our hearts, but stops in the midst of its course." Evil desires are evil things. It is sinful to indulge or even have them.

8. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. The word rendered occasion is found six times in the New Testament, twice in this chapter, and always rendered occasion, except in Gal. 5:13, where we read liberty. It never means impunity, as Grotius thinks it does here. There is no better rendering than occasion. So thought Wiclif, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan,  [[324]] Rheims, Doway, and many others. Peshito: Sin found occasion. How sin flamed out so terribly is here declared. The precept and penalty of the law both offended the carnal heart by bringing to light and by stirring up its evil inclinations. Pride, self-will and enmity refused to be restrained by the law or by the curse. In previous chapters Paul had dropped a hint to the same effect, Rom. 4:15; 5:20. Here he declares it in plain and strong terms. Chrysostom: “When we desire a thing, and then are hindered of it, the flame of the desire is but increased. Now this came not of the law; for it hindered us in a way to keep us off from it: but sin, that is, thy own listlessness and bad disposition used what was good for the reverse." Calvin: “The law is only the occasion. And though he may seem to speak only of that excitement, by which our lusting is instigated through the law, so that it boils out with greater fury; yet I refer this chiefly to the knowledge the law conveys; as though he had said, ‘It has discovered to me every lust or coveting, which, being hid, seemed somehow to have no existence.' “Stuart: “Opposition to the desires and passions of unsanctified men inflames them, and renders them more intense and unyielding." Hodge: “The effect of the law operating upon our corrupt hearts is to arouse their evil passions, and to lead to the desire of the very objects which the law forbids." Concupiscence, the same word rendered lust in Rom. 7:7, on which see above. It is sometimes used in a good sense for strong desire, Luke 22:15; 1 Thess. 2:17; but commonly in a bad sense; as lust of the eyes, worldly lusts, fleshly lusts, hurtful lusts, deceitful lusts, ungodly lusts. For without the law sin was dead. By dead Chrysostom understands “not so ascertainable;" Calvin: “Without the law sin is buried;" Locke: “Not able to hurt me;" Diodati: “As it were asleep and deaded, if it were not kindled again by the law working lively on the conscience;" Pool: “Comparatively dead;" Doddridge: “I was no more aware of any danger from it, or any power it had to hurt me, than if it had been a dead enemy;" Guyse: “Sin was a trivial harmless thing in my account: it did not terrify my conscience; but seemed, like a dead man, to have no strength in me, and to carry no danger in it; “Stuart: “Comparatively sluggish and inoperative; “Hodge: “Inactive, unproductive and unobserved." The principles involved in the exposition are these:1. Where there is absolutely no law, there is absolutely no sin, Rom. 4:15. 2. But all men have some knowledge of right and wrong, and therefore some conscience of sin, Rom. 2:15. 3. Ignorance of law naturally begets low conceptions of sin. 4. In the absence of law, sin is not felt even where it does actually exist. 5. The clear shining of the law discovers sins where none were [[325]] supposed to exist. 6. The restraints of law are irksome to the carnal nature of man, and actually provoke his evil desires. 7. But this provoking of lusts is wholly chargeable to the evil nature of sin, and not at all to the law itself; the law merely showing us the nature, prevalence and power of sin. The question, most mooted respecting Rom. 7:7, 8, is whether Paul is here speaking of himself, or merely stating a general truth in the first person singular. Calvin: “I wonder what could have come into the minds of interpreters to render the passage in the preterimperfect tense, as though Paul was speaking of himself; for it is easy to see that his purpose was to begin with a general proposition, and then to explain the subject by his own example." Doddridge thinks the apostle is “personating another character." But is this so? 1. Paul uses the only form of speech he could use, if he were speaking of himself. He has I and me. 2. It must be admitted that in subsequent verses the apostle does speak of himself, and why not here? The general structure of these and of subsequent verses is the same. 3. One clause of Rom. 7:7 absolutely requires us to understand the apostle as revealing his personal experience. He says that the tenth commandment was the means in the hand of the Spirit of showing him the true nature of sin or of evil desires. The experience of every converted man is not that the tenth commandment first opened his eyes to a just view of his lost condition. God often uses other portions of Scripture to bring about the same thing. 4. At some time Paul certainly had the experience here recorded, for it is substantially the experience of all God's people in the early stages of their religious impressions. That is, in some way, by some truth their eyes have been opened to see the number, heinousness and sinfulness of their sins. Paul was no exception.

9. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. The same experience in its consummation is related in Gal. 2:19, and more fully in Phil. 3:4-10. I was alive without the law once; Wiclif: I lyued with outen the lawe sumtyme; Tyndale and Cranmer: I once lived with out lawe; Peshito: I, without the law, was alive formerly; Doway: I lived some time without the law; Stuart: I was alive, once, without the law. In the Greek the article is wanting before law. The chief difficulty arises from the word rendered was alive. Some think it means, I lived, that is, I had my earthly existence. Mr. Locke so understands it, and applies the whole verse to one, who lived before and after the giving of the law of Moses. But this does not at all agree with the context, nor with the facts in the case. The contrast is twofold. First, we have the antithesis [[326]] between was alive and died; and secondly, between without law and the commandment came. To be alive cannot mean natural life unless to have died means to have died a temporal death. In what sense then may we understand these terms? By being alive Chrysostom understands, “I was not so much condemned;" and by died, he understands that Paul was distinctly made acquainted with the fact that he had been sinning. Calvin: “When I sinned, having not the knowledge of the law, the sin, which I did not observe, was so laid to sleep, that it seemed to be dead; on the other hand, as I seemed not to myself to be a sinner, I was satisfied with myself, thinking that I had a life of my own. But the death of sin is the life of man, and again the life of sin is the death of man." Paul was bred a Pharisee, and was early made acquainted with the letter of the law. But the letter convinces none of sin. None were more self-righteous than the Pharisees. But when God's Spirit opens the eyes to see the extent and spirituality of the law, a very different state of things is produced in the mind of even a Pharisee. His self-esteem dies; his hope of heaven by his own worthiness dies; his peace of mind leaves him; his false ideas of safety all forsake him. No man is absolutely without law. Paul certainly never was so.” That phrase therefore here must point to the time, when spiritual blindness excluded from his mind just apprehensions of the holiness, strictness, extent and spirituality of the law. So when the commandment came points to the time when by the tenth precept of the law his eyes were opened to see how his thoughts, words and deeds were at war with the true intent and just demands of the law. Then sin revived, came to life, i. e. I became sensible of the number and power of my sins and then died, as a legalist. When this great change in Paul's views occurred, he does not here inform us. But it doubtless began about the time that Jesus arrested him on his way to Damascus. Something of this sort occurs in the case of all truly converted men, nor does the change thus indicated cease till sanctification is complete.

10. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. The commandment, either the last precept of the decalogue, or the whole law. Was ordained is added also by Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Doway, Bp. Hall and others. The moral law is unto life among unsinning angels. It was unto life to our first parents till they ate the forbidden fruit. Had they and their posterity perfectly obeyed it, it would have been unto life to them all for ever. It is the law of heaven, and its observance there conduces to the highest good of that blessed society. But every man, who has had true conviction of sin, has, like Paul,  [[327]] found the law to be unto death, that is to condemnation, to the death of legal hope, and to the arousing of wicked principles in the soul into lively action. The law, rightly used, conduces to holiness and happiness; broken or misused, it conduces only to sin and misery.

11. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Notice it was sin that did this. Holiness would have clone just the opposite. As in Rom. 7:8 so here sin doubtless means the sinful principle in our fallen nature. Occasion, opportunity or advantage, as in Rom. 7:8, on which see above. The strength of sin is the law. It gives sin its damning power, and its power to make men vile and miserable; but it does all this by mans' abuse and perversion. In this way sin deceives by the commandment. The law shows a good way, a very good way, an angelical way, for the holy. Sin puts a veil over the heart, and persuades the poor sinner that he can win God's favor by deeds of law, by the law restrain and remove his corruptions, by degrees become tolerably good, and so secure heaven. All this was through the great treachery and desperate wickedness of the carnal heart. But the deceitfulness of sin knows no bounds. It does its work perfectly. None but God can countervail it. Acute as was Saul of Tarsus it deceived him; yea more it slezv him. Sin sunk him in guilt and misery, fastening upon him the fetters of iniquity and the chains of a fiery condemnation. It then showed him his sad condition, and let him see that by law he was a dead man — dead in the sight of God's purity, justice and omniscience — dead in trespasses and sins. Deceived, in 2 Cor. 11:3 beguiled. But the law itself is not seductive; it is sin alone that does the mischief.

12. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. T. Adam's paraphrase is: “Wherefore the law is (not sin, as might be objected, nor the cause of sin, but) holy (in its nature, end, and purpose); and the commandment holy (in itself), just (as coming from God), and good (for men)." Three explanations may be given of the terms law and commandment in this verse in their relation to each other. One is that these terms are used synonymously for the decalogue. Another is that by law Paul means the decalogue, and by commandment the tenth precept of the decalogue, which he had specially named in Rom. 7:7. The third is that by law he means the decalogue, and by commandment he means each precept separately. The whole law and the precepts thereof severally are holy, pure, manifesting the rectitude of the divine Lawgiver; just, equitable, capable of being shown to be righteous before any competent tribunal; and good, worthy of him, who alone has original and infinite goodness in his nature,  [[328]] and displays his benevolence in all his works and ways. There are perhaps no three words in the New Testament of so frequent occurrence, that vary less in their meaning than these three adjectives, which we render holy, just and good. The apostle, having proven what he asserted in Rom. 7:7, that the precepts of the law are not sin, but that they are holy, just and good, that they are of excellent use in showing us the true nature of sin and our lost condition by nature, proceeds to show that the penalty of the law cannot be fairly objected to, that death is the fruit and fault of sin, that the law curses no one who keeps it, and that we cannot blame the law but only sin for all our miseries.

13. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. By that which is good he of course means the law. Was it the law that brought death? By no means. On God forbid see, above on Rom. 3:4. It was not the law, but the transgression of the law that brought death. Sin did this that its true, its deadly nature might be seen, that it might appear sin. The worst thing that can be said of any thing, even of sin, is that it is sin; for it works death by that which is good, it perverts the very best things, even the excellent law of God, to the condemnation and ruin of the soul. Sin reveres no authority, however high and glorious. It bows to no will, even though it be that of God. It goes further still. It perverts the very gospel to its own ends, and thus to death. The effect of all this is that to the discerning sin becomes, that is appears to be exceeding sinful, literally sinful to a hyperbole, overleaping all bounds, knowing nothing but lawlessness, doing nothing but working wrath, ruin and death, and thus exposing to our view its mischievous and malignant nature.


1. Let us not blame what is good for what is evil, Rom. 7:7. Nathan was in no way a partaker of David's sin, because he brought it to his remembrance, and brought him to repentance for it. If David's zeal and indignation had been turned against the prophet, and not against his sin, it would have shown that he was yet un-humbled. And if we find fault with the law, and not with ourselves for breaking the law, we may know that all is still wrong in us. The law is not sin. If the law were not perfect, it would not be worthy of God; and how can a bad man be saved by a good law? 2. Whoever undertakes to expound any part ot the truth of God should guard it against any liability to reasonable [[329]] misapprehension, and defend it against plausible objections, Rom. 7:7. Much damage has been done to the law of God and to the gospel also by the loose statements of professed friends. God's word is exact, precise. Let us not fall into habits of careless or confused thinking or speaking on divine things. If men pervert what we say, let the fault be wholly theirs, and not partly ours. This care on our part is the more necessary in proportion as our readers or hearers are ignorant, prejudiced or sinful. Let us never consent, or seem to consent that any part of God's word is not very pure.

5. Against one form of error — anti-nominanism — it is hardly possible too carefully to guard our statements or mankind, Rom. 7:7. Every man in love with sin is at heart an enemy of the law in its true intent and spirit. Some express their opposition to the law by shamelessly breaking it, others by secretly sinning against it, others by arguing against it, and others by turning the grace of God into licentiousness. Let us have no fellowship with either class of these opposers of righteousness. For the very reason that the law is too strict to justify us, and of a nature utterly at war with the carnal nature of man, we ought to commend it, and blame ourselves. It is its purity that gives it its power to reveal our sinfulness.

4. It is a pleasing truth that God puts honor on all the truths of scripture in awakening the careless, in convincing the self-righteous, in leading men to hope in his mercy, and in carrying on the work of sanctification, Rom. 7:7. Some writers of the XVIIth century tell of a man whose attention was called to religion by the words "and he died,” which occur so often in Gen. 5. The late Dr. Hamilton of London in one of his fine tracts has brought together the cases of several, whose religious experience began or was very much moulded by different portions of God's word, as that of Paul by the tenth commandment, the elder Jonathan Edwards by 1 Tim. 1:17, etc. It is perhaps he who suggests that if we knew the minute religious history of all the pious, and should mark with red the text blessed to the conversion of each, nearly the whole Bible would thus be rubric.

5. There is such a thing as religious experience, Rom. 7:7-13. That is, God's Spirit does lead men to feel and be exercised by the truths of the divine word. This experience begins when men's attention is truly awakened to the word of God, nor is it ended till they pass over Jordan. But a peculiar interest always attaches to the early stages of such personal religious history. A scriptural discourse on conviction and conversion is sure to be eagerly listened to by real Christians. That, which has awakened so strong prejudice against public narrations of God's dealings with one's soul,  [[330]] is the ignorance, the self-conceit and the imprudence, with which men have often spoken of themselves. But does not Paul often tell his religious experience? Did not David often do the same? And where is the good man that is prepared to condemn or even censure Bunyan's “Grace Abounding,” or the memoirs of Halyburton, Brainerd, John Newton, Henry Martyn, Scott's "Force of Truth,” or a multitude of such books? Truth is chiefly valuable as it can be wrought into our experience and thus mould our characters. Who ever received the Lord Jesus as all his salvation till he saw and felt that in himself he was poor, and blind, and naked, and guilty, and vile, and wretched, and helpless? Hodge: "If our religious experience does not correspond with that of the people of God, as detailed in the scriptures, we cannot be true Christians. Unless we have felt as Paul felt, we have not the religion of Paul, and cannot expect to share his rewards."

6. The law of God and God himself look chiefly at the heart, Rom. 7:7. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Pr. 23:7. In God's esteem covetousness is as truly idolatry as bowing down to images of wood and stone, Col. 3:5; hatred is murder, Matt. 5:22; and lust is adultery, Matt. 5:28. That was a fearful charge Christ brought against some, “I know you that ye have not the love of God in you,” John 5:42. And it is as fearful to be without the love of God now as it ever was. To be in that state proves that one is every day breaking, in their true spirit, all the commandments. For long years Saul of Tarsus had been a Pharisee, proud, self-righteous, and confident of his being in favor with God, but when his eyes were opened to see the spiritual nature of one precept, he soon saw himself guilty of violating all. All inordinate and irregular desires and affections are as truly sin as overt acts against the letter of the commandments. The very first impulses to evil are evil. How very low poor human nature is fallen! Aims, motives, dispositions and inclinations may be as truly offensive to God as words and overt acts. This should never be forgotten. Otherwise we shall continually make fatal mistakes, calling bitter sweet, and evil good. Let men everywhere study the law as expounded in all the scriptures, especially in the sermon on the mount. It is not our enemy, even when it condemns us, although it cannot justify or sanctify us. But by God's blessing it can show us that we are sick and need a Physician, weak and need a Helper, guilty and need a Redeemer.

7. We must make just distinctions, and we must heed those made in the word of God. A sound discrimination in things temporal is a mark of earthly wisdom; in things spiritual it is a [[331]] mark of heavenly wisdom. If the law were the cause of sin it would be sin. But its being the occasion of sin argues nothing against it, Rom. 7:8. Abel's acceptance before God was the occasion of Cain's violence; but the cause of his murderous conduct was his own wicked envy. Naboth's inheritance of a vineyard gave occasion to Ahab and Jezebel to shed innocent blood. But the cause of that crime was their accursed cruelty and covetousness. We must regard moral distinctions. To do this aright we must rightly use our powers of discrimination. Some distinctions are wide and obvious; but others are nice and minute. Some of this latter class are as important as any we make. Refinements of thought, which are merely for scholastic or dialectic purposes, may easily be perverted to bad ends; but anything which enables us the more' clearly to apprehend truth, in particular moral and religious truth, is of importance to us.

8. Spiritual Christians will study and faithful ministers will preach the law of God. Salvation is not by the law, but by it is the knowledge of sin. The law is itself no means of sanctification, but it presents the true standard of holiness. The corruption, which the law stirs up, exists before the law comes, and is not created by the law, Rom. 7:8. Brown: “It is not unsuitable unto the days of the gospel, for ministers to be treating of the law, and explaining it unto people, nor ought they for so doing, to be reproachfully styled legal preachers." On this point Paul has instructed us by his example, and Paul's Master did the same. A considerable part of the sermon on the mount was directed to the rescuing of the law from false glosses and popular errors. Hodge: “Though the law cannot save us, it must prepare us for salvation."

9. There must be something very dreadful in the nature of sin, for it not only flies in the face of law, contemns law and refuses subjection to law, but is by it actually aroused into greater activity and desperateness, so that by the law it excites many unholy desires, and ‘so works in men all manner of concupiscence,' Rom. 7:8. Fraser: “The more the law, with its authority, light, and terror, reached the heart and sin in it, sin exerted itself the more vehemently." A running stream may be dammed up for a while but it is gaining head and force all the while, and must in the end rise above the obstruction or sweep it away. Brown: “So prone are these naturally corrupted hearts of ours to break out into all manner of actual transgressions, till grace make a change, and diminish the strength and vigor of original corruption, that what should prove a curb, proves a spur." Sin perverts everything, law, authority, love and mercy.

[[332]] 10. It is no marvel that, without any right rule of moral judgment before their minds, men should have high though false hopes of even heavenly felicity, Rom. 7:9. How could it be otherwise? When men believe that God is either the patron of vice, or indifferent to moral character, that wicked desires and affections, which are not acted out, are not sinful, or that God will accept a moral reformation or some tears of sorrow for atonement, why should they not be confident of future happiness, at least some measure of it? Blindness of mind, stupidity of conscience, popular errors among worldly men, false religious doctrines, the seductions of Satan and self-flattery may well account for all the delusive dreams entertained by men concerning their spiritual state. Such self-deception is not uncommon. Many a man might save his soul, if he would give up his false hope; but if he hugs his hope to the last, his damnation is sure.

11. Yet the slumber of the soul under such delusion may be broken at any time; for no man can tell when the commandment may come with such light and power as shall at once plunge him into the deepest distress, Rom. 7:9. Scott: "The proudest Pharisee on earth would, from his towering height of vain confidence, sink into despair, if the commandments of God were once discovered to his soul, in all their spirituality and excellency, without a correspondent view of the salvation of Christ." Great activity in corruption is not at all inconsistent with excessive spiritual pride. High conceits and high looks entirely consist with a depravity, which will frighten any one, whose eyes are by divine grace opened to see his true character in the glass of God's word.

12. Sin may sleep without dying, Rom. 7:9. Sometimes for a season Satan seems to leave a man, corruption seems to be very much gone, but if the change is not owing to a thorough work of grace, these specious appearances will all vanish. Our Saviour told us how all this was, Matt. 12:43-45.

13. Knowing God's will and not doing it will save no man. Non-compliance with truth revealed will turn all divine revelations into means of sorer destruction. Through sin Paul found even the law to be unto death, Rom. 7:10. Thousands have done the same. Yea more, by unbelief, which is the great master sin, the glorious gospel of the blessed God, becomes a savor of death unto death. “Sin over-turneth all things." In our fallen state we never rightly regard the law, till we see how to us by reason of sin it works death.

14. Sin is a terrible delusion. It deceives and seduces in many ways, Rom. 7:11. There is danger that even converted men will be [[333]] hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, for the old man is very corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, Heb. 3:13; Eph. 4:22. The heart' is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Jer. 17:9. Men cannot be too much on their guard, lest there should be among them a root that beareth gall and wormwood; and it come to pass that when they hear the very words of the curse, that they bless themselves in their hearts saying, We shall have peace, though we walk in the imagination of our hearts, Deut. 29:18, 19.

15. It is a sad error into which some fall that even a bias to sin is not sinful, that sinful inclinations are not themselves wicked, or that there may be a proper cause of sin, which is not sinful. This whole section condemns such doctrine. Lust, covetousness, evil concupiscence are as truly worthy of God's displeasure as overt acts of profaneness or violence.

16. The wrath of God, foreshadowed by men's alarms of conscience and by conviction for sin, slaying all false hopes, does not come on men capriciously but by the measure of a holy, just and good law, Rom. 7:11. Death is by sin and the strength of sin, in working man's ruin, is the law. The great trouble with a very sick man is that his disease turns both food and medicine to his further injury. Cathartics weaken him. Stimulants produce febrile action. Sedatives nauseate him. Every thing works against him. Just so sin makes law and gospel, precepts and promises, warnings and threatenings all conducive to the death of the sinner.

17. Let us, therefore, at all times defend the law against all charges brought against it, and study it with care. Luther said that if for a day he ceased to meditate on the law, he was sensible of a decline in his pious feelings, True the law has curses, but they are all deserved. It has precepts too strict for a sinner to keep perfectly, but they are all holy, just and good. It forbids nothing that omniscience regards as good for us. The only perfectly happy society in the universe is one where the law is perfectly and universally obeyed. Chalmers: “God loves what is wise and holy and just and good in the world of mind; and with a far higher affection too, than he loves what is fair and graceful and comely in the world of matter." Let our taste coincide with his.

18. We cannot be too guarded against a temper that shall lead us to pervert the right ways of God, find fault with his orderings, or oppose his known will. Reasonable difficulties we may properly state that they may be solved; but the spirit of cavilling is as wicked as it is foolish. We may never find fault with God. To do so is impiety. To accuse his law of working death is wicked, Rom. 7:13.

[[334]] 19. It is bad to De justly charged with want of civility. Even awkwardness may do harm. But the worst thing that can be truly said of any thing is that it is sinful. Yea, the worst thing that can be said of sin itself is that it is exceeding sinful, Rom. 7:13. Pool: “Sin is so evil, that he cannot call it by a worse name than its own."

Romans 7: 1-6. — Believers are in No Sense under Law as a Motive to Holiness. They are Moved by a more Effective Principle.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 16:52 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 16:58 ]

Chapter 7:1-6.

Believers are in No Sense under Law as a Motive to Holiness. They are Moved by a more Effective Principle.

1. KNOW ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

2. For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

3. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

4. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

5. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

6. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

1. KNOW ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? Most will agree that the apostle, having answered the objection stated in Rom. 6:15, and having completed the exhortation fitly growing out of that answer, here resumes the matter announced in Rom. 5:14: Sin shall not have dominion over yon: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. He proceeds to show how we are not under law. Many for he read it. So Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, Grotius, Bp. Hall and others. The Doway in the text has it liveth; but in a note admits that we may read, he liveth. The Vulgate does not decide the matter, omitting the pronoun, as does also the Greek. The doctrine is the same which way soever one decides. The death of either party in a marriage contract releases the survivor. And whatever the apostle intends to teach [[310]] in Rom. 7:1, it is something consistent with this idea, for he expressly introduces it in Rom. 7:2. The word rendered man in this verse is the generic word, corresponding to the Latin homo, meaning one of the human family, a man or woman, a human being. It is not the word corresponding to the Latin vir, meaning one of the male sex. Schleusner even thinks that the word here denotes a woman. Wolf and Pool interpret it indifferently of male ox female, supposing, as Olshausen and some others do, that the law even in this verse means the law of marriage. Thus the passage would teach that the death of either party releases the other in marriage. Clarke thinks it all the same whether we read he liveth or it liveth. Speaking of these two renderings Chalmers says, “that either supposition, of the law being dead or of the subject being dead, stands linked with very important and unquestionable truth so that by admitting both, you may exhibit this passage as the envelope of two meanings or lessons, both of which are incontrovertibly sound and practically of very great consequence." But it is better to confine the attention to one rather than to both of these conceptions. Each seems to have some claims to consideration. The great objection to reading it liveth is that stated by Wolf — “It is very unusual and surely unknown to scripture to say that the law liveth, or the law is dead." The only place cited to prove such language admissible is Rom. 7:6 of this section, and there a different reading is accepted by many. The great argument in favor of the sense gathered from the authorized version is that it coincides well with Paul's language in Rom. 7:4, where he says Christians themselves are dead to the law, not the law dead to them. But what does Paul here mean by the law? Some say he points to the ceremonial law. But why should we thus hold? Men were sanctified while obeying the ceremonial law, and observing (not abusing) its precepts. It was indeed burdensome, and those, who put it in the place of the grace of God, sadly perverted it. But men might be dead to it as a way of salvation, and yet not be in a state of salvation, relying on the moral law to save them. With the necessary qualifications the same things may be said of the Mosaic institute as a whole. But why may we not apply the term to law generally — to all law as a method of justification or of sanctification? This covers the whole ground, well agrees with what Paul has said elsewhere, and leaves no room for evasion. Some, indeed, think that in this verse the apostle by law means the law of marriage only. But that is not necessary to a right understanding of the verse. The law of marriage is an illustration of the principle here avowed, and a very good one too, brought forward in Rom. 7:2, 3. Some have suggested that this argument is specially [[311]] addressed to Jewish converts to Christianity; but all the early Christians were, according to their several grades of intelligence, acquainted with the moral law, even as contained in the decalogue, yes, and even with the general character of the old dispensation, And nothing could hinder even the Gentiles from knowing the general character of the moral law, for it was written on their hearts. And Jew and Gentile are alike wedded to law as a scheme of commending themselves to God and of assimilating their characters to his. Now God's people have no more to do with moral law as a method of salvation, nothing more to do with the covenant of works as a means of pardon, acceptance or sanctification, than a dead man has to do with laws of any kind enacted for the government of the living. One's death releases him from any and every law, by which man ever held him in subjection or had dominion over him. We might thus express the sense: “My brethren, whether Jews or Gentiles in origin, ' I have fully showed you that justification is by no means to be obtained by any conformity sinful men can acquire to the precepts of law. I have in the last chapter shown that neither can holiness be acquired by a legal spirit, nor by motives drawn from the rigors of law. If you would obtain sanctification, you must seek it by the grace of the gospel. I wish this matter to be understood by you, and well settled in your minds. So I ask your intelligent attention to an illustrated argument on the subject. Will you not admit thus much that one's death releases him from the binding force of any law, under which he may have lived? Will you not concede that neither good nor bad governments have power to pursue a man beyond the grave? Even the prisoner and the slave are free among the dead. Now, my argument is that you are dead to the law; you are dead with Christ, who is the head and surety of the covenant of grace, and so no law, as a means of salvation, can bind you. I have proved that no man can be justified by any law. I am now proving that his heart cannot be purified by any law, as a master or as a means, supplying adequate motives or helps thereto."

2. For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. The single word rendered, which hath a husband, is found nowhere else in the New Testament; but we have it in the Septuagint in Num. 5:29. There is no doubt that it is correctly rendered. The law of her husband is the law of marriage which binds her to her husband. He liveth, in this verse corresponds to the same words in Rom. 7:1, and shows that the rendering there is probably correct.

[[312]] 3. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free front that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. The terms and phrases are simple and easily understood. The principle avowed is that even the law of marriage, sacred as it is, binds not after either party has departed this life. For adulteress Tyndale and Cranmer read wedlocke breaker; but the sense is the same. This verse and the preceding contain the illustration plainly stated. Some indeed find difficulty from trying to make the illustration in all things parallel to the matter illustrated. But this can seldom be done. It certainly cannot be done here. The application of the illustration is found in verse

4. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christy that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Believers are dead in two senses. 1. They are said to have died with Christ, to have been crucified with him. See above on Rom. 6:2-13. In his death they are so much interested and their union with him is so close, that his death is spoken of as if it were theirs. This is probably the sense here. 2. Believers are as to their hopes dead to the law. They have no expectation whatever of salvation from that quarter. If they had nothing better to look to, they know they are all dead men. The death of believers to the law is by the body of Christ. This phrase in its connection receives various explanations. 1. By far the most common is that which refers it to the death of Christ on Calvary. Chrysostom explains it as "through the Lord's death;" Calvin: "through his body, as fixed to the cross;" Bp. Hall: “By that all-sufficient sacrifice which Christ offered up in his flesh for us;" Pool: “by the sacrifice of Christ's body upon the cross; “Doddridge: “Christ's death and sufferings having now accomplished the design of the law, and abrogated its authority;" Scott: “by his incarnation, obedience and sacrifice on the cross for their transgressions;" Stuart: “He must of course mean, the body of Christ as crucified, as having suffered in order to redeem us from the curse of the law;" Hodge: “by the sacrifice of that body, or by his death." The texts relied on as sustaining this interpretation are Rom. 8:2; Gal. 2:19; 3:13; Eph.2:13, 15, 16; Col. 1:22; 2:14; Tit. 2:14; Heb. 10:5-10; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18. This is by far the most common and it is the best method of explanation. 2. Others think that the prominent idea is that of our union with Christ in his mystical body. Locke: “B)' the body of Christ, in which you as members died with him;" Macknight: “Believers being considered as members of Christ's body [[313]] on account of the intimate union which subsists between them and him, every thing happening to him is in scripture said to have happened to them." The texts relied on to justify such an explanation are such as Col. 2:11, 20. 3. Evans unites these views: “By the body of Christ, that is, by the sufferings of Christ in his body, by his crucified body, which abrogated the law, answered the demands of it, made satisfaction for our violation of it, purchased for us a covenant of grace, in which righteousness and strength are laid up for us, such as were not, nor could be, by the law. We are dead to the law by our union with the mystical body of Christ; by being incorporated into Christ in our baptism professedly, in our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, have no more to do with it than the dead servant, that is free from his master, hath to do with the master's yoke." 4. Ferme says: “' We are dead to the law in the body of Christ' — first, because we die to the law with Christ; secondly, because Christ died in the body only; and thirdly, because we are in a manner crucified with the crucified body of Christ, inasmuch as his crucified body was a ransom for all: so that by his one death we are all set free from and dead to the law and sin." 5. Not a few Roman Catholic expositors by the body of Christ understand the church, into which we are introduced by baptism, and refer to 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:12 etc., in proof. The first of these views covers the ground and is to be preferred. Being thus dead to the law, believers are lawfully married to Christ, who is raised from the dead to the very end that we might be effectually placed under a system of grace, where both justification (see Rom. 4:25) and sanctification might be secured to us; that we should bring forth fruit unto God; at the command and to the glory of God, and so be like him. This fruit-bearing is the only infallible sign of renewal and of sanctification. That this fruitfulness is most reasonably to be expected might be argued from the new state of those, who had accepted Christ, and were under grace. To this the brethren at Rome were urged (and the same might have been said to the brethren of any of the churches) by the fact that in their unregenerate state they had been diligent in doing wickedness, and had done much dishonor to God:

5. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. On the term flesh see above on Rom. 3:20. Here it evidently means the natural corrupt state of man previous to a work of grace on the heart. The motions of sins, an expression not elsewhere found in scripture. In the Greek Testament the word rendered motions occurs sixteen times, is eleven times rendered sufferings or in [[314]] the singular suffering; three times, afflictions; once, affections; here, only, motions. In Gal. 5:24 where it is rendered affections it has very much the same signification as here. Peshito has emotions of sin; Wiclif, Rheims, Arabic and Doway, passions of sin; Tyndale and Cranmer, lustes of synne; Coverdale, synful lustes; Stuart, Conybeare and Howson, sinful passions; Macknight, sinful inclinations, Diodati, the perverse affections; Grotius, lusts; Scott, those desires and affections which the law forbade; Clarke, the evil propensities to sins; Hodge, the emotions or feelings of sin. The word passions as it was understood two or three centuries ago would be the best rendering. Perhaps sinful affections more nearly expresses the exact idea than any other words. These sinful affections were by the law; Chrysostom: were produced by the law; Calvin: the law excited in us evil emotions, which exerted their influence through all our faculties; Diodati: the perverse affections, which are the roots of sins, being pricked forward, rather than corrected or repressed by the law, did produce their effects in all the parts of our souls; Guyse: the violent passions of indwelling corruption, which were irritated by the opposition, that the purity of the precepts and the severity of the curse of the law made against them, powerfully worked and exerted themselves in the whole man, unto the employing and commanding of all the members of our bodies, and all the faculties of our souls, as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. Members, as in Rom. 6:13, 19, on which see above. We should bring forth fruit, in the Greek one word, a verb well rendered, found several times do the New Testament. We had it in Rom. 7:4. Here the fruit is unto death, to the promotion of death in ourselves and others, to the service and honor of death, personified as a tyrant, and opposed to God, in Rom. 7:4.

6. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. If this is the correct reading of this verse, then in Rom. 7:1 we may read it liveth. But it is probable it should read, we being dead to that wherein we were held. The weight of authority is quite that way. This reading is supported by Peshito, Arabic, Ethiopic, Wiclif, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Rheims, Erasmus, Calvin, Knapp, Ferme, Bengel, Mill, Wetstein, Stephens, Griesbach, Rosenmuller, Conybeare and Howson, Stuart and others. Very seldom is there so strong ground for giving up a received English reading. Not a single manuscript supports our authorized version. The Doway, following the Vulgate reads: But now we are loosed from the law of death wherein we were detained. It is true indeed that the same doctrine is taught whether we read we [[315]] are dead to the law, or the law is dead to us; but it is best to follow the true Greek text, and to preserve, as far as we can, the harmony of the figures of scripture. All agree that we are delivered from the law, but to what intent? That we should serve in newness of spirit. It is perhaps best to supply God after serve. For it is to him all religious service is due. In the latter part of the preceding chapter he had spoken of our being the servants of God. This is better than any other construction proposed. Some think the meaning is, we serve the Holy Spirit. All God's people do indeed serve him, but that is hardly the truth taught here. Newness of spirit here corresponds to newness of life in Rom. 6:4; only here we have the source of strength pointed out — even the Holy Spirit. God's regenerated servants have new apprehensions of truth and of duty, of privilege and of obligation; new dispositions towards God and man, towards God's word and people, his laws and his promises; new qualities of heart, loving what they once hated, hating what they once loved, fearing and hoping as they never did before; faith displacing unbelief, love superseding enmity and penitence taking the place of hardness of heart. And all this is done with a freshness of spirit, a vigor and an earnestness, which wholly distinguish it from the oldness of the letter, in which they had once lived; formalism, servility, the spirit of bondage, and dead works marking the whole of that old life, even where there was some form of godliness, sin virtually gaining an advantage all the time. For an account of the great effects of conversion to and by the Gospel read Acts 2:41-47.


1. If we would profit others, we must speak to them as kindly as truth will allow, following the example of Paul, who here addresses the Romans as brethren, Rom. 7:1, 4. However we may be grieved by the dulness and apparent perverseness of men, we must have that charity which beareth all things, and remember that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. We may not indulge suspicious and harsh tempers. Our Saviour carried his gentleness so far that he even called Judas friend, in the very moment of betrayal. The law of kindness never reigns more gracefully than in the speech of God's ministers. Brown: “If people were thoroughly convinced that they had a room in the affections of pastors, it would much help them to profit by them, and to receive the truth at their hands." It is a saying not less than fourteen or fifteen hundred years old, “Love and say what you please."

[[316]] 2. If truths are manifestly scriptural and important, let us thoroughly explain them, and earnestly insist upon them; so that if men reject or misapprehend them, the fault shall be wholly their own. In Rom. 6:14 Paul had laid down the great truth that we are not under law, but under grace; that as justification had been shown to be impossible by the deeds of the law, so sanctification was no less unattainable by legal means or in a legal spirit, In chapter VI. he had stated and proven that we were free from sin as a master, that it had not dominion over us. Here he shows that we are free from the law, and this was necessary, for the strength of sin is the law. If we are still under the reign of law, we are still under the reign of sin. The power of sin is in the power of the law, as a covenant of works, Rom. 7:1-6. If one even religiously believes any thing, and yet the church of God does not receive it, the best and ablest men looking upon it as doubtful, or of slight importance, he may well keep silence respecting it, Rom. 14:22. But where we surely have the mind of the Spirit, and a doctrine or practice is weighty, and of present importance, let us spare no pains truly to set it forth.

3. It is a great advantage to the cause of Christ when in vindicating and establishing the truth we have intelligent hearers or readers, Rom. 7:1. It is well indeed that in malice men should be children, but in understanding they should be men, 1 Cor. 14:20. We should therefore labor to come, and to bring others to a full assurance of understanding in all the great things of God, Col. 2:2.

4. As we are bound not to exaggerate the errors or infirmities of our brethren, so we ought candidly to admit their attainments and excellencies as Paul does here, saying, I speak to them that know the law, Rom. 7:1. Augustin freely admitted the good moral character of Pelagius. When one of the Reformers used harsh language to Calvin, the Genevan replied: “If thou shouldest call me a devil, I would still esteem thee an eminent servant of Christ." We strengthen no good cause (and we ought not by any means to strengthen a bad cause) by suspicious or slanderous allegations against any.

5. Scriptural holiness, no less than Christian comfort, requires of us that we insist upon the truth (and never fail, on a fit occasion, to vindicate it), that believers are dead to the law, or that it is dead to them, as a means, or as a motive to holy living, no less than as a means of justification before God, Rom. 7:1-6. Chrysostom: "The marvel is that it is the law itself acquits us who are divorced from it of any charge, and so the mind of it was that we should be come Christ's." We must be dead to the law before we can be [[317]] joined to Christ; and until we are joined to Christ we can do nothing, John 15:5. It is greatly to be regretted that so many, who seem to begin in the right way, aim to be made perfect in the wrong way. T. Adam: “O! what pains are taken to conjure up the ghost of the law, and how many mistaken souls frighten themselves all their days with the ghastly apparition of it, instead of seeing it slain by Christ, and rejoicing over it as a dead enemy. Reader, do not charge me with Antinomianism: I abhor the imputation: it is the desire of my soul to say with the Psalmist, 'Lord, how love I thy law!' I believe it to be the rule of our duty, and that it will be the measure of our reward or condemnation. I believe, from my heart, that we are only miserable by transgressing it, and can never be happy but in conforming to it. But then I must learn from St. Paul the Spirit's order of coming to the love of it. And I understand from him, that I can never look upon it with a friendly eye till I see the sting of death taken out of it, never be in a fruit-bearing state according to it, nor delight in it as a rule, till I am freed from it as a covenant."

6. In its nature marriage is of perpetual obligation, and can be dissolved in no way during the life of the parties but by some crime, which wholly subverts its design. The scriptures mention two such, adultery, and wilful permanent desertion, Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mark 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:15. Irritability of temper, want of congeniality, ungodliness, scolding, penuriousness, insanity, incurable disease, helplessness, or consent of parties can give no right to dissolve the marriage bond. The law of God is decisive. The laws of man should be no less so. Nor is it possible that either piety or good morals should pervade a community, where the marriage relation is not maintained in its purity. “Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled." Only let neither men, nor churches attempt to make marriage more holy than it is, nor surround it with hindrances that are not sanctioned by God himself. Scott: “It would be foreign to the apostle's design to interpret his words, as meaning that a woman, who had been equitably divorced for consanguinity, which rendered her former marriage a nullity, or for any other cause, would be guilty of adultery, if she married again during her former husband's life; for neither the law of Moses, nor the precepts of Christ inculcate any such thing." Nor should churches or christians discourage second marriages, where death has loosed the bond, Rom. 7:2, 3. There may be as good reason for a second or third as for a first marriage; and it is every way as lawful, 1 Cor. 7:39.

7. Good men, enlightened from above, have given up all [[318]] expectation of being saved by a righteousness founded on their personal obedience to law, or by motives drawn from the covenant of works, Rom. 7:4. The legal spirit is a great enemy of the gospel. Legal repentance is wholly diverse from evangelical sorrow for sin. Mount Sinai is far from Mount Calvary. It was Joshua, not Moses, that led Israel into Canaan.

8. The state of unbelievers is sad indeed. They are wedded to a law, which they never kept, which presents no incentives strong enough to secure obedience, and which pours its curses on the heads of all, who continue not in all things which it requires. The law demands perfect obedience, but gives no strength; unspotted holiness, but provides no means or motives, that can control the heart even for a day, The thought of foolishness is sin, Pr. 24:9; but vain thoughts lodge within the unrenewed all the time. Their ploughing is sin, Pr. 21:4; for they plough like atheists. Their sacrifice is an abomination, Pr. 21:27; because they bring it with a wicked mind. Without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6; but they utterly discredit in their hearts the testimony of God concerning his Son. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Heb. 12:14; but they wear the image and do the works of the wicked one. Redemption by blood, without money and without price, is offered to them; but in their self-righteousness they reject it. The yoke of Christ is tendered to them; but in their self-will they say, We will not have this man to reign over us. The gates of the kingdom of heaven are thrown open to them; but they madly press on till they drop into hell. Nothing can be so dismal as the future of an incorrigible sinner, who has heard the gospel, and died without repentance. So many of them say before they leave the world. So God's word says.

9. The incarnation and death of Christ are truly wonderful in their nature and in their effects. They reach so far, delivering poor lost souls from sin, and wrath, and guilty fears. Indeed it is by his body sacrificed for us that we become dead to the law, cease to strive for heaven by a self-righteous course, and become zealous of good works, and perfect holiness in the fear of God. We must thus be dead to the law before wc can lay hold on Christ. The gospel plan in its very nature requires an utter renunciation of all other plans. Christ will divide the glories of redemption with none other. He alone will save us entirely or not at all. And there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.

10. Great is the mystery of godliness, whereby poor lost souls are married to Christ, Rom. 7:4. Of all the forms of speech used to [[319]] express the relations of saints to the Saviour and of the Saviour to saints none is more appropriate, more refreshing or perhaps oftener adopted in scripture than that of marriage. In Ps. 45:8-15 is a beautiful illustration of this remark. Then we have the whole of the Song of Songs, which is Solomon's, entirely on the same subject. No equal portion of scripture has probably been more admired by the experienced child of God. Then by the evangelical prophet God brings forth the same idea: “Thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of hosts is his name,” Isa. 54:5. Then by the husband of Gomer the daughter of Diblaim God says: “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord,” Hos. 2:19, 20. Paul takes up the same glorious truth and says: “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ,” 2 Cor. 11:2. And in another epistle he has an allegory on the same blessed theme, Eph. 5:22-32. In the Apocalypse John has much to say about the bride, the Lamb's wife. With a splendor that shall amaze men and angels her nuptials shall be publicly celebrated on the evening of the day of judgment.

11. It is by forgetting her marriage covenant and turning to folly that the church brings on herself such disgrace and such misery. So that God often charges her with harlotry and whoredom, a form of wickedness detestable in all ages; and yet in comparison of unfaithfulness to God small is the sin against man of unfaithfulness in the marriage bond. Oh that every backsliding soul and church would say: “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now,” Hos. 2:7. Such a return would but be in response to the Lord's glorious invitation: “Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord,” Jer. 3:1.

12. All religious profession and service without holy living — fruit unto God — are vain and worthless, Rom. 7:4. Evans: “The great end of our marriage to Christ is our fruitfulness in love, and grace, and every good work. That is fruit unto God, pleasing to God, according to his will, aiming at his glory." But let us never forget that it is only in Christ Jesus that we are created unto good works, Eph. 2:10. The way in which the church avoids the sin and shame of not honoring her head is by holiness in life. Otherwise the foul blot of at least practical antinomianism would attach to her. Chalmers: “While the law is abolished as a covenant, it is not abolished as a rule of life. Though not under the economy of do and live, still you are under the economy of live and do.

[[320]] Your obedience to the law is no longer the purchase-money, by which heaven is bought; but still your obedience to the law is the preparation by which you are beautified and arrayed for heaven. It is no longer the righteousness by which the rewards of eternity are earned; but still it is the righteousness, which fits us to enjoy the sacred rest, and the hallowed recreations of eternity." Blessed be God, the King's highway is the way of holiness.

13. Let Christians hold fast the fact and the doctrine of Christ's resurrection from the dead, Rom. 7:4. It can never be yielded without surrendering the gospel. No truth is fundamental, if this is not. It is connected with all good hopes, with all right practice, with salvation itself. He had power to lay down his life; but he had power to take it again, John 10:18. Compare 1 Cor. 15:14-20; were he not the first begotten of the dead, he would not be the prince of the kings of the earth.

14. A good deal may be learned concerning our spiritual state by observing our thoughts and words respecting our conduct in that state, which we confess to have been one of unregeneracy, Rom. 7:5. If our former sinfulness is dwelt upon with pleasure, it is a dark sign. But if it is used as an incentive to greater humility, diligence and love, it is a good sign. Those, who have been strong sinners, should not be feeble saints. Let the zeal of God's house consume us.

15. What a horrible thing sin is. Its very motions so work as to bring forth fruit unto death, Rom. 7:5. Since the world began sin has produced evil, only evil and that continually. Though in his infinite wisdom, power and goodness God has brought great good out of evil, making the wrath of men to praise him, yet sin works no good to man, nor glory to God. It brings no good out of itself. It is evil; it is rebellion; it is iniquity; it is transgression; it is unrighteousness; it is want of conformity to law; it is the folly of fools; it is a lie. God hates it with the whole of his nature. It is the only thing he does hate. The worst thing that can be said of sin is not that it carries death and hell in its train; but that it is exceeding sinful. It is so stubborn that if divine grace were not armed with omnipotence, even it would not be able to bend the will.

16. The natural state of man is, therefore, very alarming. It is a state of unregeneracy, of impenitence, of unbelief, of war with God. The heart is naturally dead to good, but keenly alive to evil. It is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The affections are all disordered and far from God. The whole tends directly to death and ruin. No awakened sinner ever had [[321]] too strong a sense of his lost condition, too dark a view of the heinousness of his sins.

17. The deliverance from the law as a covenant was a great deliverance, Rom. 7:6. None but God could devise, execute or apply any fit scheme of redeeming mercy. The power that held men, though not almighty, was too mighty for any arm of flesh. They were in the hands of the strong man. Great is the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

18. Why should not God's people lead a new life? Rom. 7:6. They have new views, new hopes, new fears, new joys, new principles, new objects of attraction, new motives. Our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees. We must not only not murder; we must not strike; we must not slander; we must not bear ill-will. We must love purity for its own sake. And if we do, we will surely shew it in our walk. If we become not like Christ, we may not hope to be with him;

19. No wonder the oldness of the letter amounts to nothing in the service of God. The letter killeth. It is stern, inexorable. It is clothed with terrors. It goads the conscience to madness. It works wrath. Those, who cling to it, make no progress in overcoming the world. They live and die the slaves of corruption.

Romans 8: 1-11. — The Safety of Believers. They are Justified. They are Sanctified. The Spirit Dwells in them. They differ from the Wicked.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 16:10 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 16:58 ]

Chapter 8:1-11.

The Safety of Believers. They are Justified. They are Sanctified. The Spirit Dwells in them. They differ from the Wicked.

1. THERE is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

5. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

6. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

10. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

WE now proceed to consider a chapter long regarded with peculiar delight by the pious. Some have spoken of it as the crowning gem of this epistle. Hitherto we have commonly had logical argument, with digressions to answer important objections,  [[368]] and to make some application of the truths taught. Now for thirty-nine verses we have as strong language of triumph as is commonly found even in the most exultant parts of scripture. Nothing in the song of Miriam, or in the song of Deborah can compare with portions of this chapter for sublimity. A noble young hero of the cross, Rev. William Hoge, D.D., whose sun not long since went down in a blaze of glory, such as never surrounds any but the dying Christian, in a manuscript kindly lent me by surviving friends, says: “For fervor and strength of expression, for rapidity and vigor of argument, for richness in doctrine, for revelation of high and precious mysteries, and for a noble elevation of sentiments, which pervades the whole, and bursts out at the end with irrepressible ardor, there are few passages equal to it, even in the sacred oracles, and certainly none out of them." This witness is true.

This chapter brings to a happy and practical conclusion all that had been stated in the former part of the epistle respecting justification by union with Christ, sanctification by the gospel, and victory over corruption by believers, even if their spiritual warfare is long and distressing. It shows many of the excellent uses of these doctrines. Very few sound commentators deny that the first verse contains the pregnant truths, on which depends the just exultation, which follows.

1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Therefore connects this chapter with the whole preceding argument. The meaning is, that the truths of the gospel being thus clear and settled, it is not possible there should be condemnation resting on believers. Condemnation, in many old English versions damnation; the same word occurs in the Greek in Rom. 5:16, 18, and nowhere else in the New Testament. The reason why believers are free from a condemning sentence is that they are in Christ Jesus. These words point to a vital union with Christ, such as the branch has with the vine, the limb with the body. Locke says it means “the professing the religion and owning a subjection to the law of Christ." But Whitby justly observes that it must mean much more than being members of the Christian church by profession. And Paul in more than one place teaches the same thing: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” 2 Cor. 5:17. Compare 1 Thess. 4:16 and many other places. It has been an old device of the adversary to corrupt the truth, that justification is not perfect without some rite or addition, and that it may become imperfect, even when real. This verse is fatal to both these errors. If justification exists at all, it is complete. There is to him that is [[369]] a partaker of this benefit no condemnation; none for old sins, none for sins committed after admission to the church; none for original sin, none for actual sin. There was special propriety in here presenting the truth contained in Rom. 8:1, for the apostle had dwelt . considerably on the infirmity, temptation and trouble of a child of God. It was very fitting that he should announce that the spiritual warfare did in no way impair the completeness of justification. He adds that those who are in Christ Jesus prove it in a very decisive way: they walk not after the flesh, bat after the spirit. This part of the verse is entirely omitted in the Greek text of the English Hexapla, and also by Griesbach, Mill and others. But the Greek manuscripts generally retain it, as we do on their authority. It is all found in Rom. 8:4. In Eph. 3:1 the words hath he quickened in the English translation are very properly brought forward from Rom. 8:5, where they are found in the original. So here, there is no error taught by inserting these words, though we may not vary the text without authority. They are all admitted by Wiclif, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Rheims and Bp. Hall; and the first clause is admitted by the Vulgate, Doway, Bengel, Morus and Peshito. To walk in both Testaments indicates the course of the life. Compare Ps. 1:1; 2 Cor. 10:2; 12:i'8; Gal. 2:14; Eph. 2:2. To walk after the flesh therefore is to be habitually or prevailingly governed by carnal inclinations. So to walk after the Spirit is to be governed by his word, and actuated by his motions. In Ps. 32:2 David in like manner unites justification and sanctification: “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." Compare Rom. 4:6-8.

2. For the law of the Spirit of .life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For the Spirit of life Tyndale has the Spirit that bringeth life. For set free Peshito has emancipated. We had the same word in Rom. 6:18, 22. It occurs again in Rom. 8:21. Our Lord used it when he said, The truth shall make you free; the Son shall make you free, John 8:32, 36. In the exposition of Rom. 7:21 the word law was explained as. having the same import as here, that of a powerful impelling principle in the soul. If the former, the law of sin, was potential for evil, much more is this, the law of the Spirit of life, mighty for good; for it liberates believers from the law of sin and death. That exposition is supported by Owen of Oxford and many others.. It makes the work of grace by the Spirit efficacious in destroying the work of sin and death in the soul. It has destroyed the dominion of sin. It is destroying its power, and it shall finally destroy the whole force of sin and death in the soul, not leaving [[370]] spot, or wrinkle or any such thing. The whole efficacy of this law in Christ Jesus is by the Spirit. This is substantially the view taken by Chrysostom, Calvin, Diodati, Beza, Vitringa, Doddridge, l/Scott, Stuart and Chalmers. But Ambrose, Pareus, Witsius, Hodge, Haldane and others prefer another explanation, which may be thus stated. Believers are not under the moral law as a covenant of works, or as a means of sanctification. They are not under law but under grace. They are thus freed from the moral law by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, that is by the gospel, of which the Spirit is the author — the gospel revealing a scheme of gratuitous justification. The obvious objections to this exposition are such as these. 1. It is unusual to call the gospel a law. It is sometimes done, Rom. 3:27, but it is in such a connection and with such explanations as leave no room for mistake. 2. It is still more unusual to denominate the moral law by. such terms as are here employed. Calvin: “I dare not, with some, take the law of sin and death for the law of God, because it seems a harsh expression." This consideration is the more weighty inasmuch as Paul has been in the preceding context carefully guarding against views derogatory to the excellence of the law. 3. Believers are so far made free from the law of sin and death within them, that sin no longer lords it over them, nor has dominion over them, nor controls their wills, nor shall it prove to them a law of death, for it shall itself be utterly destroyed. It does indeed vex and harass the good man, but like the house of Saul it waxes weaker and weaker, while the gracious principle, like the house of David, waxes stronger and stronger. 4. The plea for connection with Rom. 8:1 quite overlooks all of that verse but the first clause of it. 5. The subsequent context may without any violation of the laws of language as well be connected with Rom. 8:1, if we follow the former as the latter exposition. But if any still prefer the latter, we have no contention with them.

3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Here the law no doubt means the moral law. It was impotent for justification and for sanctification also. It condemned; it could not justify. It gave the knowledge but not the cure of sin. It is said to have been weak, wanting strength, lacking power. This was no inherent fault of the law; in fact, its working wrath arose from its very perfection, which brought a knowledge of the heinous nature of sin, revealed its power, and unmistakeably threatened righteous and awful retribution on the transgressor. Nor could it give any strength to [[371]] believer or unbeliever to resist the seductions of fallen human nature. To each and all of these ends it was impotent. In this our sad state the Lord undertook for us, sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. God's own Son was he, who counted it not robbery to be equal with God. He was with God and he was God. The likeness of sinful flesh is not sinful flesh, but “the likeness of that flesh which was sinful,” elsewhere expressed by the phrase in the likeness of men, Phil. 2:7. He was in all things made like unto his brethren, having a true body and a reasonable soul, Heb. 2:16-18. But he was not born in sin, nor did he ever offend against God, but was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. His Father, his friends, his judge, his betrayer all pronounced him faultless. It is said God sent his Son for sin, Peshito, on account of sin; Theophylact, in respect of sin. But from Augustine down many have explained the words for sin as meaning' for a sin-offering. So Melancthon, Calvin and many others. Whitby cites more than thirty cases in the Septuagint where the same words mean for a sin-offering. In Heb. 10:6 undoubtedly this is the meaning. The margin in this place has a sacrifice for sin. The foregoing, among good writers, is the more common method of exposition. But some contend that Paul is still speaking of sanctification, not of justification. Nor can it be denied that in many parts of scripture the sanctification of believers is stated in close connection with the sacrifice and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, John 17:19; Eph. 5:25, 26; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19. Nor is it safe to deny that by a figure of speech often only one thing in salvation is named, when the whole is intended to be included. And Fraser is quite confident that in this verse Paul is still showing how men must be sanctified. He says: “The general point is clear, that the scripture connects making men free from the dominion of sin with Christ's sufferings and sacrifice." He also cites Gal. 3:13, 14 in confirmation of the truth that the Spirit is received through the faith which lays hold of the redemption of Christ. We may and we must distinguish, but we may never separate between justification and sanctification, and either of these words, or their synonyms may be chosen to represent to us all the benefits obtained by believers in Christ Jesus. Condemned, always so rendered except a few times where it is rendered damned. It is found again in Rom. 8:34 of this chapter. Peshito has condemned; Schleusner, Hodge and Haldane: punished; Locke: put to death, extinguished or suppressed; Conybeare and Howson: overcome or conquered. The prominent idea in the verb is that of sentencing to death, or of putting to death in execution of a sentence. The doubt among interpreters [[372]] is whether Paul is speaking of justification or sanctification, , of the removal of the guilt of sin or of the destruction of its power. On this point they are much divided. Venema, Parens, Pool, Bp. Hall, Whitby, Hodge and Haldane refer it to justification. But Chrysostom, Fraser, Locke, Doddridge, Scott, Macknight, Owen of Thrussington and Stuart refer it to sanctification. Man)' admit that in this verse sin is personified. If it is, we know how it fared in the sacrifice of Calvary. It was punished, condemned and overcome. By that one offering it was made certain that sin should be put down, or as Calvin says: “cast down from its power, so that it does not now hold us subject to itself." The chains of its guilt are knocked off; the sceptre of its power is broken; it is no longer lord over any one who is in Christ Jesus. The more these verses are considered, the more it looks as if Paul was not nicely discriminating between the guilt and the power of sin, but was speaking of its utter destruction in every sense, so that it shall neither condemn us nor hold us in bondage. The word condemned is cognate to the word condemnation in Rom. 8:1. Those who are in Christ are not in any sense condemned, but sin is in every sense condemned. The sentence has gone forth, the death on Calvary was decisive, and the application of redemption by the Spirit is giving the victory more and more, till in all who are in Christ there shall be left neither spot nor wrinkle. In other words complete deliverance from sin itself and from all its effects seems to be spoken of in these verses, by a figure of speech, a part being often put for the whole. This mode of explanation seems to have been in the mind of Evans: “By the appearance of Christ sin was condemned, that is, God did therein more than ever manifest his hatred of sin; and not only so, but for all that are Christ's both the damning and the domineering power of sin is broken and taken out of the way. He that is condemned can neither accuse nor rule; his testimony is null, and his authority null. Thus by Christ is sin condemned, though it live and remain, its life in the saints is still but that of a condemned malefactor. It was by the condemning of sin that death was disarmed, and the devil, who had the power of death, destroyed. The condemning of sin saved the sinner from condemnation." This mode of explanation, taking a part for the whole, and personifying sin, covers the whole ground, and allows us to see how by the union of the legal and moral effects of Christ's death believers have full salvation. It is said that God condemned sin in the flesh. Two explanations are offered. One is that God condemned sin in the flesh of Christ. So Peshito. The other is that he condemned it in human nature. But it is better to unite the two and say that God condemned sin [[373]] in human nature, of which Christ is a partaker. All this was done,

4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Perhaps the best method of expounding this verse is the same as that adopted in Rom. 8:3. The righteousness of the law is the righteousness which the law demands. By living union with Jesus Christ we receive his perfect active and passive obedience to the law in our room and stead as our justifying righteousness. The law demands no more. This robe is without a rent; and so the righteousness of the law is perfectly fulfilled in our justification. Some contend that this is all. But if the view given of Rom. 8:3 is correct, we may in the same way add that this verse also embraces the sanctification of believers; and that the righteousness of the law through Jesus Christ and by his Spirit is fulfilled in them just sofar and so fast as their sanctification progresses. The great objection urged to this view is that the law calls for perfect conformity to its demands, and that the best of mere men freely confess they come far short of perfection. In answer it may be said 1. that whatever may be the imperfection of good men in this life, it shall not be so always. They shall at last have in their hearts and characters all that holiness which the law requires. If the gospel should fail in producing this effect, it would fail utterly in bringing glory to God or good to men. 2. Although the holiness of a believer is not in degree what the law requires,)'et to a pleasing extent it is in kind much what the commandments call for. 1. This obedience is personal. 2. It is to the law as coming from God, having his authority and expressing his will. 3. It is from the heart. 4. It flows from love to God. 5. It flows from godly fear. 6. It springs from true and lively faith." 7. It is humble and accompanied by a just and deep sense of imperfection. 8. It is universal, extending without partiality to all the commands of God. 9. It is habitual and not by fits and starts. 10. It is evangelical, drawing its strongest motives from the love of God manifested in the cross of Christ. Colquhoun: “True holiness is spiritual and sincere obedience to the law as a rule of life, in the hand of the blessed Mediator, and is commonly styled evangelical holiness or true godliness." Were this obedience perfect, as it is sincere; spotless, as it is accepted and rewarded of God; without defect, as soon it shall be; it would in every respect be the very righteousness of the law, that is, the very holiness of the spirits of just men made perfect. Even now regenerate men walk not after the flesh. They are often carnal to an extent very mortifying to themselves, but the tenor of their lives and the aim of their hearts even now are towards holiness, not sin, after the Spirit, [[374]] not after the flesh. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. A professed reliance on the merits of Christ, not followed by conformity to the perceptive will of God, is utterly vain and unprofitable.

5. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. The same doctrine is taught by our Lord: “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit;" “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing,” John 3:6; 6:63. It is much the same as that announcement by the great prophet of the captivity: “The wicked shall do wickedly; but the wise shall understand,” Dan. 12:10; or by Christ in the sermon on the mount: “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit,” Matt. 7:17. In other words, sin and holiness have very different fruits, appropriate to their respective natures. The special object of introducing these thoughts here is to show that we in vain plead that we are in Christ, if we have not the Spirit of Christ, and walk not in his footsteps; and that we are certainly corrupt and unregenerate if our lives are wicked. The word mind is to be taken in the sense of fixing the attention and setting the heart on any thing. In Matt. 16:32 and elsewhere it is rendered savorest. In Rom. 14:6 it is four times rendered regard. In Col. 3:2 it is rendered, set your affection on things above. Elsewhere we read, “Let us mind the same thing;" “who mind earthly things,” etc. Here it clearly designates two very opposite characters, as evinced by their diverse preferences; one hotly pursuing carnal things; the other eagerly turning to spiritual things.

6. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. The word rendered minded, which occurs twice in this verse is a noun, the same rendered mind in Rom. 8:7, 27. It is cognate to the verb rendered mind in Rom. 8:5. It embraces the whole moral man, mind, will and affections. To have these under the control of our sinful nature is death, is spiritual death, which, unless removed, will be followed by eternal death. In all cases the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6:23. But to have the mind, will and affections set on spiritual things is eternal life and the peace of God begun in the soul, giving an infallible pledge of eternal life and undying peace in the heavenly world. Calvin thinks this minding corresponds to the word imagination as used by Moses, Gen. 6:5; 8:21; and that peace is equivalent to every kind of happiness. It does not materially alter the sense whether we make for refer to Rom. 8:4 or to Rom. 8:5, as they both are very much on the same subject; though the more natural connection is with [[375]] Rom. 8:5. The aim of Rom. 8:6 is to show the fatal end of sin and the happy issue of true piety.

7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can he. Sin is no trifle, no unconscious aberration, no unfortunate mistake. O no. It is wholly contrary to all that is lovely and righteous in the character of God. Even if it breaks not forth in crimes to be punished by the judges, yet the minding of the flesh, the going out of the heart after the things that perish, is wicked and wholly opposed to the divine will, law and nature. It is enmity against God. In Gal. 5:20 the same word is rendered hatred; every where else, enmity, as in Jas. 4:4 "the friendship of the world is enmity with God." The cognate noun, which occurs often, is always rendered enemy or foe. We met it in Rom. 5:10, and shall meet it again in chapters XI. and XII. The language of the apostle is very strong. He does not say that the natural mind of man has some shyness, prejudice, or aversion to some things pertaining to God; but it is enmity, hostility, against God, against his attributes, against his will, his government. Nothing is more contrary to any other thing, than is the carnal mind, to God. Stuart: “It is inimical to God, or (in plain terms) hates him, dislikes his precepts, his character, and his ways." Compare John 15:18, 19, 24, 25; 1 Cor. 2:14; Gal. 5:17. It is not subject to the law of God. It does not consent to the law that it is good, it does not serve the law, it does not delight in the law of God, it does not submit to the law. The will of the carnal mind is hostile to the will of God. Where is the man, who, without the Spirit, ever makes it his business to know, study and practice the precepts of the Decalogue, because they are ordained by God. What wicked man feels his conscience fully bound by that code? Where he is outwardly conformed to the letter of it, it is not because he loves God, or has reverently submitted to his authority. This is proven by the fact that such in their hearts break the very commandments whose letter they seem to observe. Neither indeed can he. On opening a whole class of commentators one cannot avoid the impression that they find this clause inconvenient. They at once begin to complain of metaphysics. They propose to take broader views than the apostle. They do fairly wriggle. But Paul had used no metaphysics; and the interpreters, who follow him most literally, are those whose opinions are most offensive to this school. The great and plain fact is that Paul says the carnal or unrenewed mind cannot be subject to that law which is holy, just and good. There is no dispute about the Greek text. There is no doubt concerning the translation. There ought to be no doubt concerning the [[376]] doctrine taught. It is never said that men ought not to obey the law, but that unrenewed men cannot submit to it. The next verse asserts the same thing in another form.

8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. How can they please him when they cast off his whole law; when they are so much opposed to him that they cannot be subject to his authority; when his revealed will is in every shape offensive to them? They cast off the yoke of the Decalogue; they refuse submission to the will of God made known in his providence; they' will not wear the yoke of Jesus Christ. No unregenerate man with the heart believes in Jesus Christ, nor loves the precious Saviour. How then can he please God? If he ploughs, or sows, or reaps, he does all irrespective of God's will or authority. God's will, precepts, authority, nature, justice, love, mercy and holiness are most opposite to the heart and will of him, who is and who walks after the flesh. All this is the fruit of that sad fall of our first parent, by which we come into the world, children of wrath, Eph. 2:3. The want of original righteousness is the infallible sign of the image of the wicked one. Such a one neither loves, nor fears, nor regards, nor trusts, nor obeys God so as is his due. And this is true of every man, who is not renewed by the Holy Ghost; he does not please God. If the matter of the act is right, the manner or the motive is Wrong.

9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Paul had in Rom. 8:1, 4, 5 stated a contrast between the children of God and the children of the wicked one. The latter were after the flesh. The former were after the Spirit. In Rom. 8:7, 8 he had shown why and how a carnal mind was death. He now proceeds to show the blessedness of a spiritual mind. First, he asserts that all men are not in the flesh. Some are changed. In particular he admits that the body of the church, to which he was writing, were, in the judgment of charity, converted people. Ye are in the Spirit. Secondly, he asserts that permanent effects will follow a saving change wrought in the soul. The “Spirit of God dwells “in such. Thirdly, the lack of the indwelling of the Spirit is fatal to any pretensions to a saving change of heart, or to a safe spiritual state. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Fourthly, the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ. The terms are convertible. Perhaps no equally brief portion of scripture presents more weighty, practical truths, clearly stated and well guarded.

10. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. In Rom. 8:9 he spoke of the [[377]] Spirit of Christ being in you; here he speaks of Christ being in you. Rom. 8:9 explains Rom. 8:10, so far that it tells us how Christ dwells in his people, viz. by his Spirit. This solves what would otherwise be to us a painful mystery concerning the presence of Christ in and with his people. Christ dwells in us by his Spirit. But this does not save us from temporal death. Notwithstanding this great spiritual renovation, “the body is dead because of sin." Death is by sin. The sins of believers are all pardoned, yet believers still die. How is this? The answers are many and solid. 1. If we had no light on the subject any more than Abraham had in the matter of offering Isaac, yet it would be no great thing in us to trust the living and the loving Lord that it was all right, and wise and every way best for us to die. 2. Our Saviour died. Is it not right that we should be made conformable to his death? Phil. 3:10. How could we otherwise so well know the fellowship of his sufferings? How otherwise could we so fully know by personal experience the power of his resurrection? 3. In the death of believers there is no curse. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 15:56, 57. 4. In no sense essentially, but only in appearance, does the righteous die as the wicked dieth. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness. The righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, Pr. 14:32; Isa. 57:1, 2. 5. The body of the believer is not fit for the heavenly state, and cannot be fit for it, without dying' and being raised, or without undergoing a change equivalent to death and the resurrection. It is now in corruption; it must be brought into a state of incorruption. It is now in dishonor; it must be put into a state to fit it for glory. It is now full of weakness; it must be filled with power. It is now a natural body; to be fit for heaven, it must be fashioned anew by the Holy Ghost, and so become a spiritual body, 1 Cor. 15:42-44. 6. The death of Christ was followed by the most glorious results to him — results dependent on his death. No doubt the same is true in their measure of his people, John 12:24; l Cor. 15:36 — 38. 7. When a believer dies there is a real and rich blessing resting upon him. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth,” Rev. 14:13. 8. Believers shall finally and fully be in every sense delivered from death. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” 1 Cor. 15:26. 9. We know that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, .1 John 3:8. Compare 2 Cor. 5:6, 8. The Spirit is life, that is the new nature wrought in men by the Spirit, the opposite of the flesh. Our Lord uses the word Spirit in [[378]] application to the new nature imparted by him, John 3:6. This new nature is not dead nor dying, it is living, yea it is life, eternal life begun in the soul, having in it the elements of an imperishable vitality, John 6:54. All the saints are born of incorruptible seed, 1 Pet. 1:23. Then what secures beyond all doubt the perpetuity of this life is that the Holy Spirit, who gave it, nourishes it. And all this is so because of righteousness. Righteousness may mean either, 1. the rectitude of God, by which he is faithful to all his covenant engagements; 2. the righteousness of Christ, wrought out for believers and imputed to them when they believe, thus se curing to them the blessings of the covenant ordered in all things and sure; or 3. the righteousness wrought in the souls of believers, thus quite changing their natures, and conforming them to God. Though the rectitude of God is always to be regarded as lying at the foundation of his engagements, and though the righteousness of Christ is essential to the covering of the nakedness of his people, yet it is probable that the prominent idea in the word righteousness in this verse is newness of nature, holiness inwrought in believers by the Holy Ghost, producing a blessed conformity to the whole revealed will of God in their views, tempers, aims, thoughts, words and deeds. Thus is the Spirit life because of righteousness. Other expositions of this verse are given even by sound and scholarly commentators. But this best coincides with the context, is the most simple, taking the terms in a sense ac knowledged by all to be scriptural and common.

11. But if the Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies. The resurrection of Christ is ascribed first to his own power, John 2:19; 10:18; then to the power of the Father, Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:12; 5:30; 10:40 and often; then in our verse he is said to have been raised by the Spirit. Creation was the joint work of Father, Son and Holy Ghost; so is the providential care of the world; so is salvation; so is that crowning work of salvation, the resurrection of the body and glorification of the entire person of the believer. Chrysostom: “Whereso ever one person of the Trinity is, there the whole Trinity is pre sent." Such language need produce no confusion. Jesus says,” my Father worketh hitherto and I work,” John 5:17. Compare John 10:37, 38. The indwelling of the Spirit makes certain the resurrection of believers in two ways. 1. His presence is the pledge and proof of their sonship with God. He has begun in them a great and good work, and it would be unworthy of him to drop it in the midst and leave it unfinished. We read of the earnest of the Spirit. God could give us nothing else so [[379]] suitable and so satisfying as an earnest. 2. The Spirit has the energy to raise up believers and is already in them as a power. By that power the body of Christ was raised up. By the same power the souls of believers have been regenerated. They are born of the Spirit, John 3:5. In Eph. 1:19, 20 these two great works, the implanting of grace and the raising of Christ from the dead are compared, and both are said to have been effected by the exceeding greatness of God's power, etc. Thus the resurrection and eternal life of believers is made, not merely probable, but infallibly certain. One can but regret that some respectable commentators explain this verse as though “mortal bodies “meant the remains of sin, or the fallen natures of men.


1. It is both pleasing and edifying to the pious to notice the connections of divine truth. Paul closed chapter VII. with a declaration of the sad power of indwelling sin. He begins this by stating that notwithstanding inbred corruption the justification of the believer is complete, and that with it is connected a sanctification that even now prevails to the government of the life or walk of the justified. The scheme of salvation is a golden chain of many links. Let us hold fast the truth in its connections. All scripture is profitable for doctrine.

2. We may rest assured that we are on the domain of error, if we in any way divorce justification and sanctification, Rom. 8:1. What God hath joined together let not man put asunder. It is as dangerous to rest on a justification unattended with holiness, as it is to rest on a justification that has our works for its basis.

3. Nor can we easily present with too much frequency or with too great simplicity each of these doctrines in its scriptural connections, Rom. 8:1. We need not, we must not deny the reality of our need of a free pardon and a gratuitous acceptance, nor of the absolute necessity of a thorough cleansing of our nature in renewal begun in regeneration and completed in the work of the Spirit. And let us declare how these inestimable benefits may be secured. They are to be had in Christ Jesus. His mediation has made all needed provision. It has fully satisfied justice and truth. It has secured to us the gift of the Spirit. It shall finally effect a complete deliverance from all sin and from all the effects of sin.

4. There is in scripture no ground for the doctrine of a partial forgiveness of sins. God forgives all sin or none at all, Rom. 8:1. There is 110 condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. David loudly calls on his soul to bless the Lord, ‘who forgiveth all thine [[380]] iniquities,' Ps. 103:3. To forgive all but one in a thousand would save no man's soul.

5. It is in vain for us to hope for any saving blessings without a vital union with Christ. We must be in him, Rom. 8:1. Out of Christ all is wrath and ruin to a sinner; God is a consuming fire to such; their sins are their tyrants, and will surely deliver them over to the tormentors. Our union with Christ is not personal but mystical. He and believers are not one as his human and divine natures are one person. But he and believers are one as the stock and the branches are one vine, as the head and the members are one body. From him his people derive sap and nourishment, guidance and wisdom, supplies of all needed spiritual things.

6. There is such a thing as the tenor of one's life, his course, his way, his conversation, his walk, Rom. 8:1, 4, 5. The course of Enoch's life was heavenly and divine. He walked with God. A good man walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Ps. 1:1. This tenor decides the character. It was the habit of Judas to steal. It was not the habit of Peter to deny his master.

7. A life of sin and a life of holiness are alike in one thing — they are active, always advancing. Every man is walking after the flesh or after the Spirit, Rom. 8:1, 4. Every man is making daily attainments in good or evil. The longer he lives, the better or the worse man he is. As in a life of sin those, who are now Christians, were once very diligent and untiring, now that they have turned to the Lord they ought to be mightily stirred up to take hold on God and to run with patience the race that is set before them. Nor does it in fact repress any genuine feeling of zeal to know that our justification is wholly gratuitous, or that our sanctification is by the gospel, not by the law; for of all the principles of obedience in the heart of sinful man, none is so mighty as the love of gratitude for undeserved kindness.

8. In preaching great pains should be taken to state the doctrines of the gospel with clearness and discrimination, as well as in their connection, Rom. 8:1. If glorious privileges are preached, let it be done in such a way as not to lead to antinomian laxity. This will require a statement of the awful responsibilities, under which men live and act. Indiscriminate comfort to all classes of men is as unscriptural as indiscriminate denunciation. Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him. Wo to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, Isa. 3:10, 11. A loose mode of stating truth does it great injustice, and sometimes, because the truth is misunderstood, has the same effect as error.

9. No two things are more opposed than flesh and Spirit, [[381]] Rom. 8:1, 4, 5. One is darkness; the other is light. One is earthly, sensual, devilish; the other is holy, godly, heavenly. One is folly; the other is wisdom. One is death; the other is life and peace. How could it be otherwise? One is sin, which wars on God and goodness, on all that is lovely and of good report, on all that is sacred and divine, on all that honors God. The other is gospel holiness, which, abasing itself in the dust, and declaring itself deserving of no good thing, out of admiration of the glorious character of God and out of gratitude for his saving mercies in Christ, gladly works and suffers for him, to whom all is due.

10. The true doctrine of the divinity, personality, and agency of the Holy Spirit in man's salvation is of vital importance, Rom. 8:4, 5, 6, 9-11. Without the mediation of Christ we should not be in a more hopeless case than we should be without the effectual working and mighty energy of the Holy Ghost. Poor deluded souls, still sunk in gross ignorance and under the power of the wicked one, have sometimes brought great reproach upon this precious doctrine by their hypocritical cant and ungodly lives; but what doctrine have such men or others not abused? Let us not for a moment yield the truth because some pervert it and others scoff at it. It is freely conceded that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, so abundantly granted at the first planting of churches, have ceased; but his ordinary and special influences in the church are as much needed as ever. The promise of the Holy Spirit to all God's people is one of the vital promises of the covenant of grace, Isa. 44:3-5; Ezek. 36:25-27. Nor have we higher authority or more encouragement to seek for anything than we have to pray for large measures of the Holy Spirit, Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13; John 4:10. The gift of the Holy Spirit is a chief fruit of Christ's undertaking, Acts 2:33. It is alike a fruit of his intercession, John 14:16, 17. The fact is, we are powerless for any good, unless we have the presence and aid of the Spirit. If there have been fanatics and filthy dreamers in the world, let us not turn formalists, and renounce the unspeakable blessing of the gift of the Spirit. Without him we be all dead men.

11. There is a power in true piety, a mighty power. It is a law, Rom. 8:2. It is the law of the Spirit of life. If anything is efficient, that is. No greater wonders have ever been manifested in this world than in the case of martyrs and confessors, who have leaped for joy at the prospect of a death intended to be made horrible by the cruel arts of persecutors. The best men now in this world, were once darkness, but now are the}' light in the Lord; once aliens and strangers, but now brought nigh by the blood and Spirit of Christ. The law of the Spirit must be prodigious when it has [[382]] already weakened and shall finally abolish the law of sin and death. Chalmers: “It is like the awakening of man to a new moral existence, when he is awakened to the love of that God whom before he was glad to forget, and of whom he never thought but as a being shrouded in unapproachable majesty, and compassed about with the jealousies of a law that had been violated. It is like a resurrection from the grave, when, quickened and aroused from the deep oblivion of nature, man enters into living fellowship with his God; and he, who ere now had been regarded with terror or utterly disregarded, hath at length reclaimed to himself all our trust and all our tenderness." If there is power anywhere dis played in this world, it is in the glorious gospel of the happy God. K 12. But let us never forget that all the vitality and power of even true religion is from the Holy Ghost, Rom. 8:2. If he shall not take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, we shall never see them aright. Chalmers: “The doctrine of the Holy Ghost is too much neglected in practice. It is not adverted to that all acceptable virtue in man is the product of a creating energy, that is actually put forth upon him; and that it is his business to wrestle in supplication with Heaven, that it may be put forth upon him." Jesus Christ taught that the gift of the Holy Ghost was the sum of all good things. Oh that all his people acted on that truth. It is only by the Holy Ghost that any man can say that Jesus Christ is Lord; or that he can see in Christ anything but a root out of a dry ground. Rom. 8:13. Until the gospel is carried to the heart with power by the

Holy Ghost, it is amazing in what undisturbed possession the strong man keeps his goods. Tyrannical despotisms, when fully set up, are the most quiet governments in the world. They open not the house of their prisoners. They .silence outcries and clamor by measures the most effectual. Pass through a country thus ruled and you shall hardly hear a complaint. So it is with the wicked. They are under the cruel tyranny of the devil. Their noblest faculties are loaded with the chains of iniquity. The dungeons of the Bastile exhibited no sights so mournful as those revealed to a man, when he first fairly sees himself a prisoner of sin and Satan, a man wholly after the flesh.

14. It is proof of amazing madness and folly that, after all man has done and God has taught, men will still fly to the law for justification and sanctification. The law is weak, impotent to either of these ends, Rom. 8:3. Read the Decalogue through and you shall find not one word of mercy for the guilty. Do and live, sin and die, is all it says. Calvin: “It is absurd to measure human [[383]] strength by the precepts of the law; as though God in requiring what is justly due had regarded what and how much we are able to do." The law never demanded more than was holy, just and good. It can demand no less. The gospel is not an apology to man for having given him the law. God never acts more righteously than in demanding perfect obedience to the moral law on pain of his sore displeasure — even death itself. But the gospel does suit our case. It is not weak. It is mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. It is the power of God unto salvation. How could it be otherwise?

15. Its author is God's own Son, Rom. 8:3. He is not the son of God as Adam was and as the angels were, by creation; nor as Christians are, by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. But he is God's own Son by an eternal generation. He is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person. He is the only begotten Son of God, John 1:18; 3:16. He often called himself the Son of God, and the whole controversy concerning his sonship and divinity ought to have been settled, and to all well taught from heaven was settled by his resurrection from the dead. See above comment and remarks on Rom. 1:4.

16. Paul never utters a doubt respecting the fact or the necessity of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Rom. 8:3. It was human nature that had fallen, and was to be redeemed. It was right that the nature which sinned should bear the punishment of sin, be exalted to honor and glory, and should appear for us in heaven. We needed a High Priest, who should not only be equal with God, and be able to lay his hand on the eternal throne, because he was the Fellow of the Father, but who should also be bone of our bone, and not be ashamed to call us brethren, that he might be a merciful High Priest. This incarnation, involving so profound humiliation on the part of Christ, is, when duly considered, very humbling to us. It was designed to “remind us that righteousness by no means dwells in us, for it is to be sought from him, and that men in vain confide in their own merits, who become not just but at the pleasure of another, or who obtain righteousness from that expiation which Christ accomplished in his own flesh." Christ took our nature, its innocent infirmities, our place under the law, our load of guilt, the curse due to us; and in his love and mercy he gives us his blessing, his righteousness, his Spirit, his glory, his joy, his kingdom, a seat with him on his throne. It would be worse than swollen bombast to say these things, but God has taught them all to us.

17. Sin is condemned, was condemned on Calvary, Rom. 8:3. It was condemned and punished as outlawry, as usurpation, as [[384]] deserving God's wrath and curse, and man's abhorrence and detestation for ever. Diodati: “God has as it were by his sovereign decree taken away all command over believers from sin, has crucified and mortified it in them, whilst they live in this animal and corporeal life. He has done this in the flesh, to the end that we may not doubt of the forgiveness of our sins, which are destroyed in our proper nature, which the Son of God has taken upon him." Whatever sin is or does, it is and does without any rightful claim. Once those, who are now believers, were held as lawful captives; but all who accept of Christ, are no longer under the dominion of its guilt or of its power. The guilt is all removed, and in the matter of sanctification they have made by the grace of Christ a blessed beginning, which is a sure pledge of final and complete victory.

18. How clearly in all the scriptures the doctrine of a sacrifice for sin is so taught as to imply its absolute necessity, Rom. 8:3. Indeed who can believe that God would have sent his own Son to endure any pain or shame, if our case had not been such as to require it? If remission without the shedding of blood could have been had, there would have been no blood shed. Under the law almost all things were purged with blood; not that God regarded as of any saving efficacy the sacrifice of an innocent lamb, but he thus taught the pious to look away from all human merits and offerings to the one great sacrifice on Calvary. Here is a vital matter. Men may be saved without science, without literature, without wealth, without civilization; but without faith in the atonement of Christ there is no hope of future blessedness. “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."

19. Men are not saved in derogation of the honor of God's government. They enter not paradise trampling on the hoi}' sovereignty of the Most High. The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them. First their justifying righteousness, being the spotless obedience of the Lord Jesus, is without any defect. No sinner, however guilty and terribly awakened to a sense of his lost condition on account of the number and aggravation of his sins, when brought to rest on Christ alone for salvation, ever found any rent in his seamless robe, any spot in his glorious righteousness. How could he? Omniscient purity itself pronounced it faultless, and so released Christ from all further humiliation and raised him to glory and honor at God's right hand. The Lord Jesus was made under the law, under its precept for obedience and under its penalty for the suffering of death, that he might redeem them that were under the law and should believe on him. Then the righteousness, which the law demands, is finally and perfectly [[385]] wrought in the souls of believers by the power of the Holy Ghost. This work is begun in regeneration. It is carried on by the same divine power until in glory the redeemed soul finds itself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Believers do in no sense enter heaven in derogation of law. Men are not saved without righteousness, both justifying and sanctifying.

20. As God has condemned sin, let us condemn it also, Rom. 8:3. As he abhors it, so let us abhor it. As he has punished it, so let us mortify it and crucify it. There is no danger of excess in our hatred of sin. It is horrible. It is a horrible dishonor to God, a horrible defilement of the soul, a horrible torment to him, in whom ‘it reigns, and followed by torments so horrible, that if the gayest sinner had a just view of his sad state and dismal prospects he would never smile again unless he could be brought to believe in Jesus. Chalmers: “However zealously the righteousness of Christ must be contended for as the alone plea of a sinner's acceptance, yet the benefit thereof rests upon none save those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Light where it may, it must carry a sanctifying power with it; and you have no part nor lot in the matter, if you are not pressing onward in grace and in all godliness. It is not enough that upon Christ all its honors have been amply vindicated — upon you who believe in Christ all its virtues must be engraven." All ye that love the Lord hate iniquity. If you do not kill sin, it will kill you. If you do not crucify it, it will torment you for ever.

21. If a man can discover the bent of his mind, will and affections, he can know whether he is a child of God, or of the wicked one. If he minds the things of the flesh, he is a wicked man; if he minds the things of the Spirit, he is a new man, Rom. 8:5. Old things have passed away. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. He, whose heart goes out after his covetousness, is an idolater. He, whose soul followeth hard after God, is regenerate. He, who studies to gratify his unholy desires, is not born from above. Evans: “The man is as the mind is. The mind is the forge of thoughts. Which way do the thoughts move with most pleasure? On what do they dwell with most satisfaction? Which way go the projects and contrivances?" What kind of news is most refreshing, that which relates to the kingdom of Christ, or that which is secular? Are you eager after those things which the Gentiles seek? Matt. 6:32. Your heart is where your treasure is,

22. Death must attend and follow a carnal mind, Rom. 8:6. It cannot be otherwise. A carnal mind is always at war with the very laws of our being. It outrages all the principles conducive to our [[386]] well-being. It never rests till it drags the soul down from all that is ennobling. Even here it is a death, an extinction of all that should lift the soul above low and sordid things. Chalmers: “Such a death is not merely a thing of negation, but a thing of positive wretchedness. For with the want of all that is sacred or spiritual about him, there is still a remainder of feeling which makes him sensible of his want — a general restlessness of the soul, on whose capacities there has been inflicted a sore mutilation." Wars sometimes close, leaving poor mutilated men in hospitals — men who have neither leg nor arm left. The sight of them often brings tears in the eyes of spectators. Yet such may walk with God, may have the noblest aspirations, thoughts and hopes. But a poor soul under the sway of carnality is a body without a spirit, a mass of death, still, however, responsible, still waxing worse and worse, still preparing for the second death. “Woful and sad is the change that has turned a friend into a foe, a favorite into an enemy, displaced the spiritual, enthroned the sensual, made the very imaginations of the heart only evil, and that continually, and clad with carnality sense, affection, desire, and all the powers of the soul."

23. Nor can it be but that life and peace accompany and follow a spiritual mind, Rom. 8:6. It is impossible that the good Spirit of the Lord should work in us anything contrary to our well-being. A spiritual mind is life, it is all activity. Its energies are drawn forth by thoughts of time misspent, mercies abused, kindness insulted, the divine glory obscured and souls perishing. This life was bought by blood, was infused by the Spirit, and consists of the noblest thoughts, emotions and principles. It is the life of God in the soul of man. It is indeed even now eternal life, John 6:47. Its best hopes will in the future be far more than realized. This life is hid with Christ in God. But he who has this life has peace also. Carking care reigns not in him. The discords of the people agitate him not. His spirit is calm and hushed on the bosom of his God. His conscience approves of all that is right in his aims, principles and hopes. He has peace with God, and peace within, and peace (at least in his heart) with all men. Chalmers in his lecture on this, place embodies a fine story respecting a clerk in Calcutta, who gave up a fine situation that he might devote his time to spreading the gospel among the heathen. His employer, amazed at. his conduct, applied to Dr. Carey of Serampore for an explanation of so remarkable a procedure, and when he found that no emoluments, no honors, no pleasures (that suit the taste of the carnal) were to be secured, his amazement was surpassing. The secret of holy, [[387]] heavenly peace was unknown to him. Hodge: "God has made the connection between sin and misery, holiness and happiness, necessary and immutable. … The divine Spirit is a well-spring within of joy and peace to all who are sanctified. In itself considered, therefore, moral purity is essentially connected with happiness, as cause and effect." It must be so. God has ordained it. 24. No wonder men must be born again; the carnal mind is enmity against God. No wonder men are distressed for their sins of heart, so soon as they see the real state of case; for the carnal mind is enmity against God. No wonder God has set the whole of his nature and the whole course of his providence against sin; for the carnal mind is enmity against God. No wonder finally impenitent sinners are finally lost; for the carnal mind is enmity against God. On this point we have the very words of inspiration, expressed in terms both clear and various. We have also great facts in sacred and secular history, and presented to our personal observation, such as these:1. Men prove their hatred to God by the dislike which they manifest to a sound knowledge of him. In two periods of the history of the world, once in the family of Adam and once in the family of Noah, every human being on earth possessed the true knowledge of the true God. But because men held the truth in unrighteousness and did not like to retain God in their knowledge; ignorance, superstition, idolatry and cruelty soon obtained a fearful prevalence and hold it still. For thousands of years God has raised up great companies of faithful and able witnesses for the true knowledge of himself, and they have proclaimed it with zeal. And yet how many even in Christian lands have not the saving knowledge of God. This great fact cannot be accounted for, if the carnal mind is not enmity against God. 2. Men evince their hostility to God by the manner in which they treat his name. They take it in vain with mournful frequency. They mingle it up with profane oaths and horrid curses. The ungodly often use his names and titles in connection with their senseless and malignant ribaldry, or with their wicked prejudices or religious errors. Millions profane his name, and when reproved, declare that they do it without being aware of the fact. The name of no pest of society, no scourge of mortals, is so often used in scorn or contempt as is the name of the loving and glorious God. Does not this prove that the carnal mind is enmity against God? 3. Men prove their enmity to God by their unwillingness to see his honor advanced. When Joseph's brethren saw that their father tenderly loved him, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him, Gen. 37:4. And when his prophetic dreams told of his coming honors, they hated him yet the [[388]] more for his dreams and for his words; and they envied him, Gen. 37:8, 11. They were hostile to him. The higher he rose, the stronger was their dislike of him. So sinners are pained when God is honored. “When the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that Jesus did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, they were sore displeased,” Matt. 21:15. Why? Because their minds were enmity against him. 4. Men evidence their hostility to God by their opposition to his law and government. Every unrenewed man on earth does daily, willingly, allowedly break the spirit of the moral law and every precept thereof. Where is the man, who is not under grace, who loves the Sabbath, as a day of sacred rest, holy unto the Lord? Where is the carnal mind that hesitates to covet whatever it desires? 5. If men did not hate God, they would not hate his people as they do. A child of God knows that he has passed from death unto life because he loves the brethren. But from the days of Cain to this hour, the people of God have been hated, hunted, hounded, misjudged, misrepresented and murdered, till the earth almost everywhere is ready to disclose her blood. Since Christ ascended to glory, fifty millions have been martyred for their professed subjection to him. 6. Men hate the attributes of God, in particular such as are mild and merciful. The pious everywhere exult in God's almightiness, his omniscience, his omnipresence; but the wicked have no hallelujahs for any such perfections. The cry of the carnal heart everywhere is: “Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us,” Isa. 13:11. And when God displays his saving mercy and rich grace in the salvation of many sinners, how does the carnal mind (unless divinely restrained) rise up in opposition to so glorious a work. 7. The ingratitude of men for God's mercies (which they cannot deny are great and numerous) shows the same enmity. Now then if any man would have true piety he must avail himself of some means of slaying this enmity; and if he would do effectual good to the souls of his fellowmen, he must not disguise, but proclaim the truth that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and must be slain.

25. In the light of the clear teachings of scripture, what becomes of the boasted ability of men to keep the commandments? The carnal mind is not even subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom. 8:7. After regeneration Paul says; “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing,” Rom. 7:18. How can a man turn to God, when no good thing dwells in him? Compare Gal. 5:17; John 8:43; Rom. 14523; Heb. 11:6; Eph. 2:12 and many other places. Calvin: “Paul here affirms, in [[389]] express words, what the Sophists who carry high the power of freewill, openly detest." Chalmers: “There is nothing more undeniable, than the antipathy of nature to the peculiar doctrines of the gospel." He then at length applies his remark to the great matter of the utter helplessness of men to save themselves.

26. What dismal prospects are before all men, who from the very state of their hearts and minds cannot please God, Rom. 8:8. Every hope built on human merit or human strength is delusive. Scott: “No unregenerate man can delight in God's holy law, or be subject to it; and how can it be expected that God should be pleased with the formal services of enemies and rebels? "

27. The same man cannot at one and the same time be both in the flesh, and in the Spirit, Rom. 8:9. No man can at the same time work righteousness and be a worker of iniquity. There is no possible way of dissolving the connection between incurable obstinacy and death. Nor let any man suppose himself safe because his are the sins of devils and not of beasts. Spiritual pride, or an evil covetousness areas fatal as debauchery or theft. Chalmers: "It is not necessary that you mind all the things of the flesh in order to constitute you a carnal man. It is enough to fasten this character upon you, that you have given yourself over to the indulgence or the pursuit, even of so few as one of these things."

28. In good men God's Spirit dwells, Rom. 8:9. This is the uniform doctrine of scripture, 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:22; 2 Tim. 1:14, compared with John 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7-11; Gal. 4: C Calvin: “The reign of the Spirit is the abolition of the flesh." Nothing else secures that great end. Evans: “To be Christ's, to be a Christian indeed, one of his children, his servants, his friends, in union with him, is a privilege and honor which many pretend to, that have no part nor lot in the matter. None are his but those that have his Spirit." Without the Holy Spirit man is vain and vile. All professions, all works, all mental exercises without the Spirit of Christ are no better than a beautiful corpse. If a man is without the Spirit of Christ he is none of his, has no saving interest in Christ, is not like him, is no member of his mystical body.

29. Let us acknowledge the justice of the sentence of death upon our bodies, Rom. 8:10. They are dead, that is they are dying, are under the sentence of death, are liable to death at any moment. This should not, need not disturb us. Jesus has conquered death. Though death is naturally the king of terrors, yet Jesus has triumphed over him and taught his people to do the same. To the believer death is no longer a judicial infliction. It is the consecrated way to his Father's house on high. But were the death [[390]] of believers even something more painful and terrible than it is, the resurrection will make all right! Christ's resurrection makes sure the resurrection of all who are his, 1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5. Christ and his people are one. All that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. The resurrection of believers will be a very different thing from that of the wicked, Luke 14:14; 20:36.

30. Christian, if thou hope for such things, possess thy vessel in sanctification and honor, 1 Thess. 4:4. Remember that if any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy, 1 Cor. 3:17. Go on. Perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Lay out all your strength in the cause of your Master. Keep back nothing. Give him all. 

Romans 7:14-25. — The Great Spiritual Warfare of the Christian.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 16:07 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 16:25 ]

Chapter 7:14-25.

The Great Spiritual Warfare of the Christian.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For 1 delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 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.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

FROM this to the end of the chapter we have twelve verses, giving us a full account of the spiritual warfare, carried on in the heart of believers. That this is the real subject of these verses has long been held by many in the church of God. But this view has been by some much opposed. In particular Whitby and Stuart have shown great zeal in attempting to prove that these verses do not describe the exercises of a converted man. Instead of arguing this matter in each verse, it will be more satisfactory to make the discussion of it preliminary to the exposition of these verses. Whitby: “I think, nothing can be more evident, and unquestionably true than this, that the apostle doth not here speak of himself in his own person, or in the state he was then in."

[[366]] Stuart: “I suppose the apostle to be here speaking of himself when in a legal state, or under the law, and before he was united to Christ." These writers are agreed in their interpretation only negatively, viz. that Paul is not speaking of himself in a regenerate state. Stuart admits that Paul is speaking of himself, but Whitby thinks he is speaking “only in the person of a Jew, conflicting with the motions of his lusts, only by the assistance of the letter of the law, without the aids and powerful assistance of the Holy Spirit." These general remarks are offered.

1. The controversy respecting this portion of scripture is not to be settled by scorn or vituperation. Stuart seems greatly moved on this subject and exclaims: “When will it be believed, that scorn is not critical acumen, and that calling men heretics, is not an argument that will convince such as take the liberty to think and examine for themselves? When will such appeals cease? And when shall we have reasons instead of assertions, criticism in the place of denunciation, and a full practical exhibition of the truth, that the simple testimony of the divine word stands immeasurably higher than all human authority?" If this quotation has any pertinency to the matter in hand, it is a pretty distinct intimation from the Andover Professor, that those, who hold views directly opposite to his are deficient in “critical acumen,” do not “think and examine for themselves,” offer “assertions" instead of reasons, and denunciation in the place of “criticism,” put “human authority" above the “divine word,” or along side of it; and that they resort to scorn and vituperation instead of argument. If this is the intent and meaning of the words quoted, they contain more that is harsh and scornful towards opponents than I have yet found in all the writers on the other side. The same author says a good deal that is quite as harsh. Whitby says that those who hold the view commonly approved by sound divines present “as great an instance of the force of prejudice, and the heat of opposition, to pervert the plainest truths as can be haply produced." Whitby was of course not ignorant of the instance of prejudice and heated opposition furnished by the history of the enemies of Christ, and recorded in the gospels, for he had written much about it, and yet he thinks that no greater than that of the many good and learned men, who think Paul is here speaking of himself while in a state of grace! Is not scorn or something very much like it apparent here? Many instances of a like strain of remark from writers on the same side could easily be pointed out. Take one more. Clarke: “This opinion has most pitifully and most shamefully lowered the standard of Christianity, and even destroyed its influence and disgraced its character." Again: “Of Paul the apostle [[337]] all here said would be monstrous, and absurd, if not blasphemous." Is this critical acumen? Is this reasoning? Is it any thing better than railing? Socinus himself warning men against understanding this passage of persons regenerate and under grace exclaims: “Beware as of the pestilence." Of course he means a deadly pestilence.

2. It has been shown, (see above on Rom. 7:8) that Paul is there for several verses preceding the [[14th>> Rom. 7:8-14]], speaking of himself, and if now he begins to speak of another man, or of himself merely as personating a Jew, let it be manifested. It has not yet been made to appear. The place so much relied on to prove that Paul is in the habit of personating others or of using himself merely as a figure to teach important truth can have no pertinency to this matter: “These things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos, for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written,” 1 Cor. 4:6. Whatever may be the precise idea here suggested, it cannot be regarded as proving that in Rom. 7:14-25 Paul is speaking of some one else than himself for two reasons: 1. In 1 Cor. 4:6 he gives fair notice that he had in a figure transferred certain things to himself and Apollos; but he gives no such notice in Rom. 7:14-25. 2. In 1 Cor. he says nothing of himself or of Apollos, that is not true of himself or of Apollos, as is apparent on the face of the text. See the place. Now if it is admitted that all Paul says here is literally true of himself as well as of other good men, we have made some progress towards ending the controversy. For those, who take the view of the best divines, admit that Paul is here giving his own experience, not as peculiar to himself, but in common with the body of believers. And Stuart says: “Does the apostle mean to designate himself specially and peculiarly, or does he include others with himself? Others certainly are included, understand him as you please. If he speaks of himself while under the law, he means by a parity of reasoning to include all others who are in the same condition. If he speaks of himself as a Christian, he means in the same manner to include all other Christians, who of course must have similar experience. … Whatever ground of exegesis one takes, as to chap VII. in general, the principle that Paul speaks of himself only as an example of what others are in like circumstances, must of course be admitted."

3. Stuart admits, and very correctly too, that what is said in Rom. 7:14-25 is substantially Christian experience. His language is clear: “The question is not whether it be true that there is a contest in the breast of Christians, which might (at least for the most part) be well described by the words there found; but whether such a view of the subject is congruous with the present design and [[338]] argument of the apostle." Again: “I concede, in the first place, that Christians have a contest with sin; and that this is as plain and certain, as that the)r _ are not wholly sanctified in this life. It is developed by almost every page of scripture, and by every day's experience. That this contest is often a vehement one; that the passions rage, yea, that they do sometimes gain the victory; is equally plain and certain. It follows now, of course, that as the language of Rom. 7:14-25 is intended to describe a contest between the good principle and the bad one in men, and also a contest in which the evil principle comes off victorious; so this language can hardly fail of being appropriate to describe all those cases in a Christian's experience, in which sin triumphs. Every Christian at once recognizes and feels, that such cases may be described in language like that which the apostle employs." This is a concession called for by the very nature of the case. Rightly used it may aid us in coming at the truth. Here then it is conceded that the language of Rom. 7:14-25 is appropriate to the case of Christians; that all Christians have a contest like that here described; and that the matter is of a very weighty character — a matter of universal Christian experience, than which nothing is to us more important to be rightly understood.

4. This controversy cannot be settled by human authority, although" the friends of truth need not blush to let it be known what company they are in. It is freely admitted that among the early fathers of the church Origen, Tertullian, Chrysostom and Theodoret interpreted the passage of an unregenerate man. Grotius is so delighted with this fact that he exclaims: “Praise be to God, that the best Christians, those of the first three centuries, understood this place, as they ought,” etc. But Stuart goes too far when he says, “that Augustine was the first, who suggested the idea that it (Rom. 7:14-25) must be applied to Christian experience." Augustine himself in his Retractions B. I. Chap. 23, expressly denies this: “Hence it came to pass, that I came to understand these things, as HILARY, GREGORY, AMBROSE and other holy and famous [noti] doctors of the church understood them, who' thought that the apostle himself strenuously struggled against carnal lusts, which he was unwilling to have, and yet had, and that he bore witness to this conflict in these words." Stuart is altogether wrong also in saying that Augustine was led to his views "in the heat of dispute with Pelagius,” and that he "felt himself pressed" by the arguments of Pelagius, and “made his escape by protesting against the exegesis of his antagonist." That Augustine did at one time regard Rom. 7:14-25 as inapplicable [[339]] to one in a state of grace is denied by no one, not even by himself. “But as a deeper insight into his own heart" [says Hodge] “and a more thorough investigation of the scriptures, led to the modification of his opinions on so many other points, they produced a change on this also. This general alteration of his views cannot be attributed to his controversy with Pelagius, because it took place long before that controversy commenced. It is to be ascribed to his religious experience, and his study of the word of God." Beyond controversy this is the fair historic verity. On the same side with the earlier fathers we find Photius in the IX. and Oecumenius in the X. century. After them came Erasmus, Alfonso Turrettin, Le Clerc, Bengel, Arminius, Episcopius, Limborch, Locke, Bull, Hammond, Whitby, Doddridge, Kettlewell, Macknight, Tholuck, Storr, Flatt, Stier, Conybeare and Howson, and others, whose names have already been mentioned.

On the other side we have Augustine (with his matured views), Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Cornelius a Lapide, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Beza, Diodati, Buddaeus, T. Adam, Bp. Hall, Ferme, John Owen of Oxford, John Brown of Wamphray, Guyse, Burkitt, Dutch Annotations, Assembly's Annotations, Gill, Pool, Koppe, Dickinson, Hawker, Scott, Fraser, Wardlaw, Andrew Fuller, Haldane, Chalmers, and others. The great treatise of Owen on “Indwelling Sin" is founded on this portion of scripture. Hawker says, “Nothing can be more plain, than that it is Paul's own history he writes, and his own experience in the very moment of writing; and which the Holy Ghost taught him to instruct the church concerning. And sure I am, that every child of God, savingly called of God, and long taught of God as Paul was when he thus committed to writing what daily passed in his heart, will not only bear testimony to the same, but bless God the Holy Ghost for the history, for it is most precious." Those, who embrace the views defended in this work, are generally very decided in their utterances. Their convictions seem to be very clear. Commonly they appeal to the universal experience of God's people in confirmation of their views; nor do they appeal in vain, if we take as a proof the exercises of the most experienced servants of God.

5. If the apostle had designed to speak of himself in a state of grace, he has certainly used the appropriate terms and forms of speech to that end. We have in the passage itself the personal pronoun, my, me, repeated fifteen or sixteen times; and that there may be no room left for doubt as to the designation Paul once says I myself . Then we thrice have the participle or [[340]] adjective agreeing with this pronoun, and in more than twenty cases we have the verb in the first person singular. It very seldom happens that in the space of twelve verses there is so remarkable a combination of verbs, participles, adjectives and pronouns determining the person spoken of, and this appears in every translation now at hand. And after the apostle begins to speak of himself in Rom. 7:14 he does never change the person or the number. It is  my, me to the end of the chapter. This is the more remarkable as Paul does sometimes make a transition from the singular to the plural and back again to the singular, as in 1 Cor. 13:11, 12. If the language of Psalms 32, 51 points out David as speaking of himself, these twelve verses do as clearly make Paul to speak of himself.

6. This view is strengthened by the fact that in Rom. 7:7-13 Paul invariably uses the past tense; but in Rom. 7:14-25 he uses the present tense, when speaking of himself, never varying from it. Here Tare verbs found more than twenty times in the present tense, without one exception, while just before Paul had for seven verses as carefully used the past tense. In no writer adopting the views of Whitby, Stuart, etc. have I found the least, respectful notice of this change in tenses. Yet many, who favor their views, could not be ignorant of the fact that in construing an author such a change ought to affect the sense, and should therefore be carefully noticed. The Dutch Annotations on Rom. 7:14 says: “Hitherto the apostle hath spoken of the power of the law and of sin, in the corrupt and unregenerate man; as he himself also had formed}' experienced, when he was yet in such a state, Rom. 7:9, but now he cometh and speaketh of himself as he then was, and declares what power the remainder of sinful flesh had still in him, now after that he was delivered from the dominion of sin, like as all his reasons, which follow, speak of the present time, 'and not of the time past." Fraser: “He had been speaking of himself in the past tense. … He now from Rom. 7:14. speaks of himself in the present tense." Olshausen notes the same thing: "The passage (Rom. 7:7-13), indeed, according to the opinion of all expositors, applies to the state before regeneration, as the apostle also sufficiently indicates by the aorist that the state described is gone by; but whether the passage (Rom. 7:14-24) is likewise to be considered as before regeneration, seems very uncertain, since in this section Paul makes use of the present only, while in Rom. 8:2 the aorist again appears." Wardlaw: “Of this change this transition from past to present time, neither Tholuck nor Stuart takes any notice. Yet surely it is no unimportant item in the case. … When a man has once been speaking of the views which he once entertained, and which [[341]] he had continued for a length of time to hold, respecting his own character and state, and in doing so uses the past tense, and then makes a transition from the past to the present, it cannot but appear unnatural in a high degree to consider him as still meaning the past, and still continuing to speak of what he had been. When the same man, in speaking of his own views and principles and character, says first I was, and then changes to I am, is it not reasonable to conceive that he is speaking of his former and his present self? “See also Guyse and others to the same effect. If there is no significance in this change of tense, it seems useless to pay any attention to the grammar of a language. If this matter is not important here, it is important no where. Nor can anything like this construction of verbs in an extended passage be found elsewhere in Paul's writings or in the New Testament, unless this is significant.

7. In these twelve verses there are things said, which can by no fair interpretation be applied to an unregenerate man, and therefore they must refer to Paul or some one in a state of grace. If anything in religious character is decisive, it is one's state of mind towards the law of God. On this matter the scriptures are decisive and harmonious. One of David's marks of a good man is that “his delight is in the law of the Lord: and in his law doth he meditate day and night,” Ps. 1:2;" The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver,” Ps. 119:72. “I will meditate in thy precepts,” Ps. 119:78. “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments,” Ps. 112:1. "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments,” Ps. 119:6. So in many other places human character is said to be good or bad, as it stands well or ill affected to the law of God. In the portion of scripture under consideration the apostle makes three statements respecting the law, either of which ought to be regarded as decisive of his real state of mind and of heart in the sight of God. One is in Rom. 7:16, “I consent unto the law that it is good." One is in Rom. 7:22, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." The other is in Rom. 7:25, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God." Some very strange things have been said to do away with these declarations, which upon the face of them seem to be decisive of the whole matter. Clarke says: “So far is it from being true that none but a REGENERATE man can delight in the law of God, we find even a proud, unhumbled Pharisee can do it." And that this is no careless assertion is evident from much more that he says like it: “If it be said, that it is not possible for an unregenerate man to delight in the law of God, the experience of millions contradicts the [[342]] assertion. Every true penitent admires the moral law: longs most earnestly for a conformity to it: and feels that he never can be happy till he awakes up after this divine likeness; and he hates himself, because he feels that he has broken it, and that his evil passions are still in a state of hostility to it." One hardly knows how to cease to wonder at such language. An unregenerate man is stated to be a true penitent! No man can be saved without the new birth. Yet here is a true penitent still unregenerate; and an unregenerate true penitent, who still gives the very best scriptural evidence of being a new creature. Can any but a renewed heart love holiness? Yet the law of God is holy, and is the standard of holiness. How can one, who is not in a state of grace, love holiness, or the perfect law that enjoins it? The language of each of the three clauses is, and upon their face was evidently intended to be unmistakeable: “I consent unto the law that it is good." He does not say “I assent to the law;" that would be merely an act of the understanding, and might be cold and heartless. But he says “I consent" to it. He here uses a word found no where else in the New. Testament. Wiclif, Cranmer, Rheims, Doway and Stuart render it consent. He consents to the law that it is good. An unregenerate man may see and say that the law is strict and rigorous, but when did an unrenewed man ever say that the law, the whole law, was good, good for himself, good for every man? He adds: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Here each important word may in succession be emphasised and the sense will be evolved and not obscured. Paul expresses delight in the law of God. Here too we have a word found no where else in the New Testament. It is very strong — I delight myself in the law. What is it but saying — “I delight in real, hearty, entire, universal obedience and holiness, just such as the law demands? “What more did David mean when he said? "Thy law is my delight,” Ps. 119:77, 174; “Thy testimonies are my delight,” Ps. 119:24; "I will delight myself in thy statutes,” Ps. 119:16, 35; “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight,” Ps. 119:35; "I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved,” Ps. 119:47; "For I delight in thy law,” Ps. 119:70. For ages the church of God has regarded delight in the law of God, as a conclusive evidence of a renewed heart. Nor was this a wild notion as we have seen. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” Rom. 8:7. And that there maybe no mistake in his meaning he says: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man." The word rendered inward or inner is an adverb and means within. He delights in the law of [[343]] God after the man within. It is not some outward or carnal delight. We have precisely the same words rendered the inner man in Eph. 3:16. What do they mean there? What can they mean but the renewed heart of man? They are very explicit: “That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." Does not this mean the new nature, the new creature, the new man? Is not that what needs strengthening? Is it not that which is strengthened with might by the Spirit? Paul was not praying that their natural faculties might be invigorated, but that their gracious habits and principles might be increased in power. Then we have a cognate adverb, just the same as this except in termination and rendered as in Rom. 7:22. “For which cause we faint not; but though our. outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." Does this mean that the natural faculties were growing while the body was decaying? Surely not. Often the mental powers of aged Christians are daily losing their vigor, while they are rapidly ripening for heaven, and their gracious characters are becoming exceedingly refined, elevated and invigorated. The third of these remarkable expressions concerning the law is this: “So then with the mind I myself serve the law." Here mind evidently means the same as the inward man in Rom. 7:22; for although the word does often mean the understanding, yet it also means the controlling moral character of the man; and so we read of a "reprobate mind,” “the renewing of your mind,” “the vanity of their mind,” "fleshly mind,” "men of corrupt minds,” Rom. 1:28; 12:2; Eph. 4:17; Col. 2:18; 2 Tim. 3:8. In Eph. 4:23, Paul says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Here the very same word is used as in Rom. 7:25. Evidently the meaning is, my heart goes out after the law and truly engages me to serve it. That he means as much as this is evident from the use of the two pronouns, I myself. There is no dispute concerning the Greek text. There ought to be none about the rendering. We have quite the same in these places: “It is I myself,” Luke 24:39; "I could wish that myself were accursed,” Rom. 9:3; “I myself am persuaded,” Rom. 15:14; "Now I Paul myself beseech you,” 2 Cor. 10:1; "I myself was not burdensome to you,” 2 Cor. 12:13. If anything can settle entire identity these words must be allowed that power. Serve, the same verb so rendered in Rom. 6:6; 7:6. Its cognate noun is rendered servant in Rom. 1:1; 6:16, 17, 20. It expresses subjection and obedience. “His servants ye are to whom ye obey." Here it expresses the willing service rendered to the precepts of God's law. I am minded to keep God's law. My soul by divine grace [[334]] is set on this thing. My new nature inclines me that way, I do it. I myself do it.

In these verses are many other things, which can by no fair interpretation be applied to an unregenerate man, as the reader will see in the exposition. But it has been shown that there are three such. One ought to be sufficient for the purpose of satisfying a fair mind.

8. In these twelve verses there is nothing said, which may not enter into the experience of a regenerate man; nothing said stronger than is said of good men by themselves or by others in various parts of scripture. This will of course be more and more manifest as we consider in detail the several verses. At this time attention is called to several direct declarations of God's word on the matter of human imperfection. “There is. no man that sinneth not,” 1 Kings 8:46. If possible the following language is still stronger: “There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not,” Ecc. 7:20. “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults,” Ps. 19:12. “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sins? “Pr. 20:9. “In many things we offend all,” Jas. 3:2. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” 1 John 1:8. In like manner the best of mere men in telling us their thoughts of themselves use language as strong as any Paul employs in Rom. 7:14-25. After unusual discoveries of the glory, majesty and holiness of God, Job says: “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes,” Job 42:6. David in several penitential Psalms bewails his depravity, and pleads for mercy. “Peter fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” Luke 5:8. Elsewhere Paul thus speaks of himself, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect,” Phil. 3:12. There is as much strength in these expressions as in any found in Rom. 7:14-25. If Paul says, “The evil that I would not, that I do;" David says, “Iniquities prevail against me." If Paul says, “O wretched man that I am;" Isaiah says, “Wo is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." If Paul says, “I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing;" Isaiah says, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our inquiries, like the wind, have taken us away,” Isa. 64:6. If Paul here says of himself, "The good that I would, I do not;" he elsewhere says the same of the churches in a whole province: “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,” Gal. 5:17. y Instead, therefore, [[345]] of regarding a man as a bad man because he has a deep sense of his own vileness and weakness, the scriptures teach us to form an estimate just the reverse. Perhaps no one has ever dared to say that Job was an unregenerate man because he said, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth,” Job 40:4. The very book that says of Job that he was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil,” yea, God himself said, "There is none like him,” Job 1:1, 8, brings that good man before us saying: “If I wash myself in snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me,” Job 9:30, 31. The fact is that no man's piety goes beyond his humility. Saul of Tarsus, though a murderer of holy men and women, was full of self-complacency; but Paul the apostle says, “I am not worthy to be called an apostle,” “I am less than the least of all saints;" and, just before he leaves the world, “I am the chief of sinners." The worse a man is the better he thinks himself to be. The better a man is, the lower is his estimate of his own righteousness. The more the light shines into an apartment, the easier it is to sec millions of particles of dust before unperceived. To interpret Rom. 7:14-25 aright, it must be remembered that it is a complaint, that the apostle is bitterly bemoaning his state, and that his language is that of a heart-broken penitent, every word of which is felt to be true, as he stands in the presence of omniscient purity. Such notes are never heard from the Pharisee, from the careless, nor from the unregenerate. Wardlaw: “We never expect to hear an unrenewed man bewailing his carnality and opposition to the divine law, as through the whole of the passage before us, this writer does. But on the other hand, the more truly holy a person becomes — the more spiritual in mind and affections, the stronger will be his impressions of the evil of sin, and of his own sin, and of the extent of his disconformity to the character and law of God. … As a man advances in holiness, corruption at the same time remaining in him, he will be disposed to express his abhorrence of himself in exceedingly strong and vehement terms, in proportion as the loathing of the spiritual nature is experienced as regards everything that is evil." Fraser: “The expressions here are not used by another concerning a person historically; but by himself in the way of bitter regret and complaint. A man may in this way, and in the bitterness of his heart, say very strong things concerning himself and his condition, which it were unjust and absurd for another to say of him, in giving his character historically." The renewed and experienced Christian knows the plague of his own heart, and speaks of himself in much lowliness [[346]] as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God. It is no mock humility. Every word he utters respecting his own sinfulness is sincere and is true. By the Holy Spirit he is taught how exceedingly broad is the commandment. And yet in the main his walk before men is upright, and it would be mere uncharitableness for other men, not inspired, to charge him with what his own heart and the Most High know he is chargeable with before God.

9. Stuart insists that it is “a fundamental point in the interpretation of the whole “that Rom. 7:7-25 is plainly a comment on Rom. 7:5; and that Rom. 8:1-17 is plainly a comment on Rom. J:6; and that there is plainly and certainly an antithesis between Rom. 7:7-25 and Rom. 8:1-25. This is a favorite postulate of writers of the same school. It takes for granted that Rom. 7:5 is in antithesis with Rom. 7:6, and then that Rom. 7:7-25 is a comment on Rom. 7:5, in antithesis with the comment on Rom. 7:6 found in Rom. 8:1-17. To maintain this mode of explanation they take for granted that there are such comments and antitheses, and give their exposition accordingly, and then from their exposition prove that there are such comments and antitheses. The first objection to this mode of explanation is that it is a mere assumption, the text and context hinting no such thing. A second objection is that it is a very awkward kind of assumption, making the apostle lay down a truth, then drop it, and lay down another, then drop it, and then argue the first at the length of 18 verses, and then drop it, and without any hint to that effect take up the second and argue it. A third objection is that this assumption takes no notice of the change of tense at Rom. 7:14. It is a fatal objection that anti thesis is assumed for exposition and the exposition is cited to prove antithesis. Wardlaw well says: “This is not fair,” and quotes some one as saying: "A particular interpretation cannot first be assumed to make out the antithesis, and then the antithesis be assumed to justify the interpretation." In other words, we cannot argue in a circle. So the “fundamental point in the interpretation “of this passage wholly vanishes out of sight. It will not bear its own weight.

10. Another demand often made by writers of the same class is that we shall look upon Paul as endeavoring to allay prejudice by using soft words, and by insinuating offensive truth into the minds of the prejudiced. Thus Whitby: “He saith not, you that are under the law are carnal, but representing what belonged to them in his own person, and so taking off the harshness, and mollifying the invidiousness of the sentence, by speaking of it in his own person, he saith, I am carnal, sold under sin." He cites Photius and Oecumenius as endorsing this sentiment. Others [[347]] follow Whitby. Now what is the truth respecting Paul's course as to candor and the avoiding of prejudice? 1. None will deny that he displayed consummate ministerial address. He availed himself of all lawful and fair means to allay prejudices, and to commend his Master's cause. 2. We have no proof that Paul ever resorted to the arts of the sophists or orators of ancient times to win favor to himself, or to avoid odium on account of the character of the doctrines he was called to preach. Himself says, we “have renounced the hidden things of dishonest}', not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God,” 2 Cor. 4:2. Much more does he say to the same effect. 3. In this epistle Paul has everywhere else displayed great candor, and entire fearlessness in directly stating the doctrines of the gospel most offensive to Pharisaic pride and Jewish prejudice. Why should he now begin to mince matters, or to speak by indirection, and that on a point surely not more calculated to give offence than others, which he had stated in the plainest manner and the most direct terms? If, as some contend, Paul was addressing Jews already converted to Christianity, he had already informed them that they were dead to the law, and were delivered from the law, Rom. 7:4, 6. There is nothing here to offend them, if Paul is speaking of a man under law, and not under grace. None will contend that Paul is here addressing unbelieving Jews. If he had been, his language would have been of a very different sort, as we know from samples left us of his addresses to such. Had this epistle been sent to such, they would doubtless have consented that Paul was even a worse man than any fair exposition of this chapter could make him appear. 4. “If it be allowed, that, on some occasions, Paul doth in very few words express arguments, objections and reproaches used by others against himself, his doctrine or conduct; yet in every such case the thing evidently appears by the obvious import of the expressions, and by the answers immediately subjoined; so that there is no room left for mistaking." All such cases are very different from a discourse running through twelve verses, and peculiarly marked as pertaining to himself.

11. It is remarkable that while in these twelve verses Paul constantly speaks of his will (as much as six or seven times) and of his delight (one of the highest pleasurable affections), yet of all those who hold that he is here speaking of an unregenerate man, few, perhaps none, pay any serious attention to the true state of case, and generally hold that when he says anything good of himself he is merely telling what his reason and conscience urge and [[348]] demand. So Stuart: “Nothing can be more unfounded, than the supposition that moral good is put to the account of the sinner, merely because one assigns to him reason to discern its nature, and conscience to approve it." The context shows that all he admits this man to have is what is here expressed, some intellect and some conscience. To admit that the man here spoken of had a 'will to that, which is good, would be fatal to his interpretation. And yet it is the will Paul chiefly speaks of, and never here once in any form mentions his conscience. Nor is this the course of one scholar merely. It seems to have been so generally. Grotius took the same course. And Fraser, who died in 1769, says the same course was pursued in his day: “They, who hold this interpretation, do most commonly seem to understand by what good is here ascribed to the unregenerate, no more than the light of reason in the mind or understanding; with the urgent testimony for duty, and against sin, that is in the conscience of the unregenerate, with different degrees of light and force." Should we apply this mode of explanation to other parts of scripture what sad havoc we should make of the truth. In Rom. 1:13 Paul says: “I would not have you ignorant,” etc. In Rom. 16:19 he says: “I would have you wise." Does he mean no more than that his reason and conscience are in favor of their being wise and intelligent? or does he not declare that his heart was set upon their making these attainments? Man)' other cases where the same verb is used might be cited with as much pertinency as those just given. Of a like character is the attempt to ignore all the significancy of the word delight. Whitby thus paraphrases the words, “I delight in the law of God,” “my mind approving for some time, and being pleased with its good and holy precepts." In like manner expositions of this scripture by writers of the same school do much tend to show that the apostle meant very little by anything he said unless it is something that can be used to show that he is speaking of one unregenerate.

12. A number of writers, who in the main expound these twelve verses of an unregenerate man, do yet admit that in them are many things that a true Christian might say and think of himself. This has been done to such an extent that Olshausen actually proposes an interpretation which shall show “what is right and what erroneous" in these two classes. He has probably satisfied very few that his middle way is feasible. But that is not the matter now before us. His testimony to the concessions of others is striking: “After Spener, Franke, Bengel, Gottfreid Arnold, Zinzendorf, the words of the apostle were again begun to be explained of the state before regeneration, and Stier, Tholuck, Ruckert, De [[349]] Wette, Meyer follow them in their interpretation. These learned men nevertheless quite rightly acknowledge, that the Augustinian representation has also something true in it, since that in the life of the regenerate moments occur, in which they must speak entirely as Paul expresses himself here; and, moreover, as it is only by degrees that the transforming power of the gospel penetrates the different tendencies of the inner life, congenial phenomena extend through the whole life of the believer; and this leads to the thought, that the two views might admit of being united in a higher one. For it is little probable that men like Augustine and the reformers should have entirety erred in the conception of so important a passage." This quotation is weighty and important. It concedes as much as most sound interpreters would desire as the basis of an exposition.

13. If the exposition, to which we object, is correct, what need is there of divine grace to accomplish the salvation of unregenerate men? If a man, not under grace, can “consent to the law that it is good,” can “delight in the law of God after the inward man,” can himself “with his mind serve the law of God,” can "hate" sin, can "will" all that God's word demands and enjoins, and can in the midst of his greatest conflicts with temptation and sin still sing out in triumph, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” there seems to be nothing left to be accomplished in setting one in the strait and narrow way that leads to life and peace. If “the moral powers of nature" can do all these things, why cannot these same moral powers without special grace go on and complete the work so happily begun? Encouragement would no doubt be acceptable to any one, moral suasion would certainly not be amiss, but surely they would not be essential. And if an unregenerate man himself without God's grace can do all these wonderful things, what could not a man do who was regenerate even if he were left to work his way without God's Spirit? Yet how differently do the scriptures speak. In one place Paul confesses the total inability of himself and his brethren even to think a good thought: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” 2 Cor. 3:5. In another place he declares the inability of even Christians to approach God acceptably in prayer unless God teaches and helps them: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered,” Rom. 8:26. If even Christians and apostles converted and experienced, can neither think nor pray aright without special help from God, how shall an [[350]] unregenerate man, "with his mind serve the law,” which is holy, just and good, and which forbids all sin and enjoins all obedience pleasing to God: yes, and also "hate" all that is opposed to it, and "delight" (Stuart translates it take pleasure) “in the law of God after the inward man?" Fraser: “If a natural man, destitute of the Holy Spirit, can sincerely will, love, delight, and hate, as is here said; I would wish to know, what is left for divine grace to do in regeneration, according to the sentiments of these writers? What but external revelation, and moral suasion well inculcated, to give the proper excitement to the more languid will, inclination and affection towards holiness, which a man in nature hath, from rational nature itself, that these may exert themselves with due activity and force? This is divine grace, and the human will consenting to this suasion, and so exerting itself in practice, is, according to them, regeneration.

"Moral suasion must indeed have its own place, in dealing with rational creatures. They are not dealt with as stocks or stones under the hand of the mechanic. Conversion to God through Jesus Christ, and to holiness, is the consequence of proper evidence, and of proper motives. Conversion is the effect of suasion; but not of that merely: suasion is not of itself a cause adequate to such an effect in sinful men. In using that suasion, and that the proper evidence and motives should have effect on the hearts of men, there is needful the immediate operation and influence of divine power and grace on the hearts of men." How necessary God's almighty power and grace, and the effectual working of his Spirit are in regeneration the scriptures very fully declare, John 1:1353:5; Eph. 1:18-20 53:7; Jas, 1:18. That the same power and grace are necessary to keep believers in the right way after regeneration is no less clear, John 10:28, 29; 1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 1. But how is this, if one not under grace can do all that is in Rom. 7:14-25 said to be done?

14. If the passage (Rom. 7:14-25) does not teach what is claimed for it by Whitby, Stuart, and that class of writers, it may be asked what does it teach? This is a fair question. The object in connection with the great argument of the apostle is very important indeed. He had demonstrated that justification was not and could not be by deeds of law; that it was by faith laying hold of the righteousness of Jesus Christ; that the fruits of gratuitous justification were exceedingly rich; that man's recovery by the second Adam, like his ruin by the first Adam, was by representation and covenant headship; that as a consequence believers are dead to sin and alive to God by Jesus Christ; that believers are dead to the law as a covenant; that when those,  [[351]] who are now God's children, were unregenerate, they had a thorough experience of the impossibility of gaining by the law the mastery over their sins, but were by it only made acquainted with their number, guilt and power. This brings him to the end of the thirteenth verse of the seventh chapter of this epistle. Then in Rom. 7:14-25 he shows the utter powerlessness of law to carry on the work of sanctification even in the hearts of renewed men, thus warning them against the legal spirit. Even in converted men mere precepts do not day by day renew the soul. That is peculiarly the effect of evangelical doctrine and truth. So that to believers Jesus Christ is of God made wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. The capital error of the Galatian churches was that having begun in the gospel, they sought to be made perfect by the law, Gal. 3:3. They so changed their base of proceeding as to bring on themselves many and sore calamities, confusion, perplexity and loss of comfort. It must be so in every case. Hodge: “The law excites in the unrenewed mind opposition and hatred; in the pious mind complacency and delight; but in neither case can it break the power of sin, or introduce the soul into the true liberty of the children of God."

Let us now proceed to a consideration of the several verses.

14. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. We know, we, Christians generally, have no doubt on the point. All admit it. It is one of the truths learned in the early stages of a saving acquaintance with the gospel. Some prefer to read I know indeed and the Greek admits either. The change does not affect the sense of the context. The law is spiritual, the context shows that it is the moral law of which he speaks. Spiritual, a word found in the New Testament as much as twenty-five times. It is sometimes the opposite of natural. Thus speaking of the human body in death and the resurrection Paul says: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body,” 1 Cor. 15:44. Compare 1 Cor. 2:14, 15. Sometimes it is the opposite of secular or temporal. “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" 1 Cor. 9:11. The context shows that he is speaking of the temporal support of ministers of the gospel. Compare Rom. 15:27. In both these verses we may read secular or temporal as the opposite of spiritual, and we shall get the sense. So when Paul speaks of spiritual songs he designates not only such as were the opposite of lascivious, profane, or idolatrous, but such as were the opposite of secular, witty, amusing, though they might be free from any thing wicked. Then it is used to designate things the opposite of material, which material things set forth blessings [[352]] or privileges provided by Christ. So we read of spiritual meat, spiritual drink and spiritual Rock, 1 Cor. 10:3, 4, a spiritual house and spiritual sacrifices, 1 Pet. 2:5. Spiritual is also an epithet applied to consistent Christians, who by the Spirit of God have attained a good degree of holiness and stability. Thus Paid says: “I brethren could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ,” 1 Cor. 3:1. Here spiritual designates a strong or matured believer in opposition to a feeble one. The word spiritual evidently has the same meaning in Gal. 6:1. Sometimes the word simply means pertaining to spirits as where we read of spiritual wickedness, Eph. 6:12. But what is the precise meaning of the word here? Wardlaw: “Spiritual, as contrasted with carnal, evidently signifies not only the law's reaching to the inward thoughts, affections and desires; but its perfection of accordance in all that it requires, both inwardly and outwardly, with the character and mind of God's Spirit, as opposite to the moral corruption of man's fallen nature, called the flesh." Stuart: “The law enjoins those things which are agreeable to the mind of the Spirit." Owen of Thrussington: “As carnal means what is sinful and corrupt, so spiritual imports what is holy, just and good." Hodge: "The word spiritual is here expressive of general excellence, and includes all that is meant by holy, just and good." The ideas of excellence, holiness, justness and goodness are in scripture always connected with the law of God, but we must on no account drop the idea that the law is spiritual in the sense of being a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It was by this means that Paid formerly received conviction of the true nature and terrible extent of sin as stated, Rom. 7:8-12. I am carnal. In considering the word spiritual, we have seen that the opposite in some cases is carnal. See also above on Rom. 3:20 where the cognate noun flesh is explained. So here Paul admits the excellence of the law and his own idleness. If the law is holy, he is sadly deficient in holiness. If it is just, he sees he is far from being personally righteous as the law requires. If it is good, he is so evil as to be a loathing to himself. In considering 1 Cor. 3:1 it has been shown that the word carnal does sometimes mean comparatively carnal. Paul might say, I am carnal, compared with the perfect and holy law of God, compared with my own imperfect perceptions of what the law demands, compared with what I sincerely desire to be. See also 1 Cor. 3:3, 4. To be carnal is not in scripture the same as to be in the flesh; for Paul addresses the Corinthians as brethren, which he would not have done, if he had regarded them as unregenerate. Surely this place demonstrates that saints, brethren, may in some [[353]] respects be sadly carnal, even in the eyes of other good and charitable men. Much more may a man in his own eyes have many remains of sin in him. So that he may truly utter the complaint of this verse Sold under sin. There were two classes of slaves. One was so by voluntary act. Provision was made for men becoming so in the Jewish commonwealth, Ex. 21:6. Such were willing slaves. They preferred that state to freedom. If they had any good principles they served their masters with a will. Ahab was like one of these, in this that it was his own perverse and continued choice to work wickedness. He sold himself to work evil in the sight of the Lord, 1 Kings 21:20, 25. God tells us of others who willingly and greedily wrought evil and so sold themselves to do evil, 2 Kings 17:17. The other way of being a slave was without the consent of the slave. He was sold for debt, or as a prisoner of war. In no sense did he sell himself; yet he had a master whom he was forced to serve. He did so reluctantly, wishing all the time that he should be free from his master. This was the servitude of Paul. He hated his tyrant, indwelling sin, and hoped to be wholly free in God's good time; but now he was a captive.

15. For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do 1 not; but what I hate that I do. For allow Stuart reads approve. The original is literally know, but must here be taken, as the word often is, in the sense of allowing, approving, or owning as friends, Matt. 7:23; 2 Cor. 5:21; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 3:1. When he says that which I do I allow not, he does not mean all that he does, but whatever he does in his spiritual captivity. He did not mean to say that he did not approve of praying, preaching, and serving Christ; but he says that in the service he renders to God there is such deficiency as fills him with shame and self-reproach. The same limitation must be applied to the next clause: for what I would, that do I not, q. d. the will of my renewed nature is to serve God perfectly; I wish to be entirely holy, and do God's will as the angels and spirits of just men made perfect in heaven do. But I continually come short of even my own standard, and certainly I come short of the law of God. But what I hate, that do I. Every translation at hand has hate. The Greek admits of no other rendering. No unregenerate man hates sin, abhors himself for it, repenting in dust and ashes. It is sometimes said that the three verbs in this verse rendered do must exclusively refer to external acts. But the context clearly uses them of acts of the mind and heart. Every experienced Christian knows that when he has made the greatest attainments in holiness, he has the deepest sense of his own vileness. Hodge: “The language of this verse may not be metaphysical, though it is perfectly correct language. It is the [[354]] language of common life, which as it proceeds from the common consciousness of men, is often a better indication of what that consciousness teaches than the language of the schools."

16. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. He does not say, nor mean to intimate that he is not responsible for his failures, much less does he deny that his failures are sinful. But he does declare that all the time his conflict is going on, his better, his new nature resisted temptation. In proof he gave his hearty consent to the law, which is the standard of moral excellence. On consenting to the law see above preliminary remarks No. 7. Hodge: “To disapprove and condemn what the law forbids, is to assent to the excellence of the law."

17. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. The apostle could not more decidedly adhere to the profession of his confidence in the reality of his great change from a state of nature to a state of grace. It was not he, not his new nature, not his better part, that did wrong or failed to do right. No! it was the old man, the fallen nature, the flesh that thus involved him in trouble. Fraser: “It is reasonable to consider it as a fixed point, that to consent to the goodness of the law, as it is spiritual, giving rule to men's spirits, which is the apostle's special view in this place, is far from the disposition of any unregenerated soul." Could words more clearly state that the Christian man Paul, whom he calls I was truly sincere, and his heart in the main right with God? It was sin that gave all the trouble, not Paul's new nature.

18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. Divine grace makes a wonderful change, long before it brings its subjects to spotless purity and' angelic perfection. The unrenewed sinner's heart is fully set in him to do evil, he will not accept the gospel offer. His will and affections are bent to evil. The remains of this sinful nature, called the flesh, had in it no good thing. It did not see, or think, or feel, or purpose, or act aright. But Paul's will, in his new nature, was right. If he could have had his way he never would have sinned any more. Grace wrought this change, and it was a great one. But he had such temptations, and sin was so urgent and instant that he often found himself unable to carry out his best volitions and purposes, at least to the degree which the law justly demanded. That willing what is holy is a fruit of God's spirit and is proof of the presence of divine grace is evident from Phil. 2:13, “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Here is a direct and unmistakeable assertion that we are as dependent on divine grace for a right will as for anything else.

[[335]] 19. For the good that I would, I do not: hut the evil which I would not, that I do. He still maintains that his will is for the good, for would is the same verb and in precisely the same form as in Rom. 7:18 is rendered will. Stuart does not alter the force of the argument by substituting desire for would in this verse. For real hearty desires after holiness prove a man to have been born again. On this verse some, who plead for the application of the passage to an unregenerate man, bring many quotations from heathen authors to show that what Paul says of himself here might be said of a man not under grace. And it is freely admitted that conscience has often mightily moved men in favor of the right, and that at times they are full of grief for misconduct, which has brought on them much disappointment and vexation. But when was the will of the unrenewed man ever set on the good? when did he earnestly desire holiness?

20. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. This is nearly a repetition of Rom. 7:17. The object of saying the matter again probably is to remove all doubt on the point that Paul speaks as a Christian, having the will of his new nature right before God, and yet unwillingly led into sad imperfections. Arminius has labored to show that the word dwelleth found here signifies the possession of dominion. II he had succeeded in his argument, it would have been fatal to the interpretation maintained in this work. It is true that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit does always imply dominion over the soul, Rom. 8:9, 11; .1 Cor. 3:16. This results from the sovereign authority and glorious nature of the third person of the Trinity. But that there is no such idea as sovereign sway involved in the word dwell is perfectly manifest. In 1 Cor. 7:12 Paul says: "If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away." Surely he does not mean that the wife should rule her husband. Here we have the same word rendered dwell as in our verse. The only idea essentially connected with the word dwelling is habitation, as every scholar must see on examining the word and its cognates.

21. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. I find, I have experience of the fact. With me it is no matter of conjecture, nor of vague theory. I have the sad reality to deal with. I find a law; in Rom. 7:20 he told us what this law was — “sin that dwelleth in me." The term law here denotes a powerful principle. Owen of Oxford: “It is not an outward, written, commanding, directing law, but an inbred, working, impelling, urging law. A law proposed to us is not to be compared for efficacy to a law inbred in us." By the power of divine grace we are set free [[356]] from the dominion but not from the annoyance of sin. The tribes of Canaanites were not the Lords of Palestine after the days of Joshua, but they still dwelt in the land and greatly tempted, vexed and harassed the people of God. In the unregenerate this law is unbroken in its power. They obey it habitually and promptly. Their wills yield to its demands. In the regenerate its dominion is cast off, but it still has great force to mar their good works, and hinder their conformity to God. It does not lord it over the saints, but it seduces them. It is terribly deceitful and terribly wicked. That we may thus understand the word law, as synonymous with inward, urging principle is clear. See Rom. 7:23 and compare Rom. 8:2. This law has power in a renewed man, one that would do good, one the prevailing inclinations of whose will are right. As Owen says this indwelling sin 'is a law or power in believers, but it is not a law unto them.' It meets not their approval; it commends not itself to their consciences, nor to their spiritual tastes. They were once fully under its dominion; but that is now broken. Yet old habits of sinning, the weakness of grace and the urgency of temptation do still give it much power, to annoy, vex and betray the soul. The apostle specially mentions the urgency of sin. Evil is present with me. The tow is always in our hearts, so long as our sanctification is incomplete, and we know not at what moment the enemy may hurl his fiery darts.

22. For J delight in the law of God after the inward man. For an explanation of the terms and phrases of this verse, see above preliminary remarks No. 7. The law of God certainly includes the ten commandments as explained in scripture. Sometimes law is a name given to the whole word of God, of which his preceptive will forms an important part. For delight Taylor of Norwich has esteem. But this is trifling. That this verse describes the exercises of a renewed man is as clear as any mark of regeneration laid down in scripture. If an unregenerate man can delight in the law of God, why cannot he love God supremely and his neighbor equally? why cannot he love the brethren and do every thing else required of men? The fact is the carnal mind is enmity against God: it is not subject to his law. How then can it delight in anything holy? for the law is to us the standard of holiness.

23. 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. Here again we have the word law in the Same sense as in Rom. 7:21; and in contrast with the law of God in Rom. 7:22. Members, the same word so rendered in Rom. 6:13, 19; 7:5, on which see above. Warring against, the word is literal by rendered. Indwelling sin never reasons or remonstrates but seduces, [[357]] deceives, wages war, and commits acts of violence. It arrays its whole forces against the inner man, or new creature, the law of the mind, established in regeneration. God had so far fulfilled the provisions of the covenant as to write the law on Paul's heart, Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10. Yet the remains of his fallen nature brought him into the condition of an unwilling captive, who felt the force though he hated the power of that which kept him in bondage. The law of his mind was utterly contrary to the law of sin. Though the latter had long had possession, yet it had no longer in any sense a right there. All it claimed and controlled was by usurpation. Wardlaw: “Bringing me into captivity has been interpreted as if it signified that he was uniformly overcome, actually brought into full captivity. But it expresses no such thing, as that the power of corruption was either uniformly, or even prevailingly successful. Similar expressions are used to denote a tendency that has not effect. It was the case with the apostle, and it is the case with every saint of God, that he feels this law in his members bringing him, i. e. he feels it to be its constant tendency to bring him into captivity; so that were it not resisted by ‘the law of his mind, ' by the energy of the new man under the influence of the Spirit of God, such would infallibly be its effect." This is all that can fairly be educed from these words. Thus much they do certainly teach. The same truth is expressly set forth in Gal. 5:17. Some have cited Ezek. 24:13 as conveying the same truth. Possibly it does, but it fairly admits of another exposition.

24. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from, the body of this death? Wretched, the word occurs but once more in the New Testament, Rev. 3:17, and is rendered as here. The cognate noun occurs twice and is rendered misery, Rom. 3:16; Jas. 5:1. The cognate verb occurs once and is rendered, Be afflicted, Jas. 4:9. It expresses extreme unhappiness. Rheims has unhappie. The language is so strong that some have said it cannot possibly apply to the Christian for he is happy not wretched. Wardlaw well says: “It is truly marvellous that such an argument should ever have been used. One is strongly tempted to suspect that he by whom such an argument could be used, can never himself have felt the burden of corruption, the plagues of his own heart. Is it not the very man whose heart is most under the influence of holiness and the love of God that feels most acutely the anguish of a sense of remaining corruption?" The fact is these words express the same idea made familiar to us by patriarchs and prophets, as has been already shown. In this whole section the apostle has not been expressing an apprehension of [[358]] wrath for unpardoned sin, but a sense of self-loathing on account of indwelling corruption. The word rendered deliver has not before occured in this epistle. It is very strong. Owen of Thrussington says it means to pluck out, rescue, take away by force, and is applied to a forcible act, effected by power. By the body of this death some understand this mortal body, and think the speaker here was expressing a wish to die. But such an exposition certainly does not suit Paul. He himself tells us that on the subject of dying he was in a strait, Phil. 1:23, 24. Nor does it suit the case of an awakened unregenerate man; for he, who rightly sees his sins and does not behold the Lamb of God, is for very good cause, the best cause in the world, both afraid and unwilling to die and meet God in judgment.' His cry “is not the utterance of despair, but of longing and vehement desire." The next verse clearly shows this. By the body of this death others understand the body of sin consisting of the members; Hall: "the mass of inward corruption;" Stuart: “the seat of carnal and sinful principles;" Hodge: “it may be taken metaphorically for sin considered as a body." Some give an illustration of the conception in the apostle's mind by referring us to an ancient mode of punishment resorted to in some cases, where the culprit — perhaps a murderer — was punished by having a dead human body fastened firmly to his own, limb to limb, and then the criminal turned loose. Soon the stench was horrible; soon the virus of the corrupting body communicated its deadly poison, and a horrible though not a very speedy death ensued. No doubt Paul was aware of this practice. Nor is it improbable that he here alludes to it. So think Scott, Clarke and others.

25. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with my mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Fraser: “I thank God, who hath provided comfort for me with respect to this my present wretchedness, through Jesus Christ our Lord: by virtue of whose cross the old man in me is crucified: which gives me the sure and delightful prospect, that this body of sin and death shall, in due time, be absolutely destroyed, and I completely and for ever delivered from it." This paraphrase seems to cover very much the ground of thankfulness here expressed. This language puts the grace of Christ in strong contrast with the rigors of law and its powerlessness to aid a sinner in his conflict with inbred sin. For many verses the apostle had been describing the great conflict of his renewed nature with indwelling sin, the law yielding him no help in the fight, until at last he utters that bitter cry, O wretched man! But he lets us see that he is not in despair. He yields not to the enemy, but [[359]] directing the eye of his faith to the great Deliverer, he says the first cheerful word we have had for many verses: I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Instead of I thank God, the Vulgate, Wiclif, Rheims, Doway, Locke and others, following the Clermont, and other Greek manuscripts read, the grace of God. This requires but a slight change in the Greek and gives a good sense. Paul says, Who shall deliver me? The answer is, The grace of God through or by Jesus Christ our Lord shall deliver me. But we do virtually get the same idea from the authorized version. Sanctification, no more than justification, is by the law, but both of them are by grace, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. But for the gospel men might well despair of pardon, acceptance, any fitness for communion with God, or an}' victory over sin. Pleasant as this theme is he dwells no longer on it, but reverts to the burden of the paragraph. So then with the mind, with the will, with the person so often called I, with the inward man, with the law of my mind, with the affection of delight, which so influences cheerful obedience, I myself, I Paul, who hate sin, and will what is good, serve the law of God. In this I am not deceived, nor am I a deceiver — I am no hypocrite — my heart is truly engaged — I love the law — my most animating hope is that I shall be as holy as the law requires; but with the flesh, with sin, with another law in my members, I serve the law of sin. This warfare I have, and expect to have, till I close my earthly career. But I will fight on. I shall never be satisfied till I awake in the likeness of the Redeemer. Some have objected to the general view taken of these verses that no man can serve two masters. And it is true that no man can in the same sense and to the same extent serve two masters. But neither of these things occurred with Paul. Sin had not dominion over him, though it had power against him. He did highly and prevailingly please Christ, and did not willingly or habitually serve sin. He was imperfect, but not a hypocrite, a true penitent, not a self-deceiver.


1. There is such a thing as religious experience, and it is dangerous to treat it with contempt or despite, Rom. 7:14-25. No man has any more piety which will stand the tests of the last day, than has made itself felt in the depths of his nature. One may be a real child of God without having yet experienced all Paul felt; but as he advances in the divine life, he will know more and more of what is here described. Scott: “Every believer knows a little of the things spoken of by the apostle in these verses, when he [[360]] first flees for refuge to the hope of the gospel: but his subsequent experience gives him still further insight into them." Owen of Thrussington: “The apostle says nothing here of himself, but what every real Christian finds to be true. It was the saying of a good man, lately gone to his rest, whose extended pilgrimage was ninety-three years, that he must often have been swallowed up by despair, had it not been for the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans. The best interpreter of many things in scripture is spiritual experience." Hawker: “Blessed and eternal SPIRIT! I praise thee for the account, which thou hast caused thy servant the apostle to give of himself in this sweet chapter." True, indeed, much odium has been cast on the subject of Christian experience by the ignorance, folly, and self-conceit of some, who have spoken much on the matter. But it is not wise to give up any thing vital in religion because it has sometimes been abused.

2. There is a vast difference between sin indulged and sin resisted, between corruption nourished and corruption lamented. This marks one of the prominent distinctions between good and bad men in this world. No two things are more contrary to each other than sin and grace, the flesh and the spirit. Chalmers: “In the case of an unconverted man, the flesh is weak and the spirit is not willing; and so there is no conflict — nothing that can force those outcries of shame and remorse and bitter lamentation, that we have in the passage before us. With a Christian the flesh is weak too but the spirit is willing; and under its influence there must from the necessary connection that there is between the human faculties, there must from the desires of his heart be such an efflux of doings upon his history, as shall make his life distinguishable in the world, and most distinguishable on the day of judgment from the life of an unbeliever." The difference between the weakest of converted men and the most amiable of the unregenerate is the difference between friendship and hostility to God. Wardlaw: “Indulged corruption, indeed, may and ought to lead to doubt and despair. But corruption itself should not. It should only lead us to have more constant and simple-hearted recourse to the blood of sprinkling, and to more earnest supplications for the restraining and sanctifying influences of the promised Spirit."

3. Christ's people may fall into melancholy and write more bitter things against themselves than the truth demands or allows; but even real, exemplary Christians, contemplated in the light of God's holy word and of Christ's perfect example, are poor creatures. So Paul judged of himself, Rom. 7:14-25. So others judge of themselves. Fraser: “All professed Christians will acknowledge, that it is very consistent with a state of grace, to have much [[361]] imperfection in holiness, and much remaining sinfulness. Upon this view it is most reasonable to suppose, that the farther one is advanced in holiness, and the more his heart is truly sanctified, he will have the greater sensibility with regard to sin, and it must give him the more pain and bitterness." Increase of sanctification is not increase of sanctimoniousness, nor is it marked by grimace, or pomp, or high self-estimation, but by humility, gentleness and modesty.

4. Let no man think his spiritual state good, who does not in his heart consent to the excellence of the law of God, Rom. 7:14, 16, 22, 25. If one objects to the perfection of that standard, the evidence against him is very strong. Guyse: “How excellent is the moral law, as the rule of obedience! In this view of it, it is unchangeably and everlastingly binding, and is fit and worthy to be so; for it is all holy, just and good, and reaches to the thoughts of the heart, as well as to the actions of the life: it discovers and strictly forbids every sin, and stands clear of all charges of defect;" aye, and of excess also. Wardlaw: “The whole system of salvation by grace has its foundation in the absolute and immutable perfection of the law. It is in this that the necessity of a scheme of grace originates." The right estimate of the excellence of the law is necessary to a believer in many ways. One is suggested by this section, viz. it keeps a good man from despair when he can look at that perfect rule of right, and say I esteem it right, I consent to it, I serve it, I delight in it. No man in such a state of mind can ever be depressed beyond recovery. He who looks on the law as all right and sin as hateful need not seriously doubt his own regeneration.

5. On the other hand, as Hodge says, “it is an evidence of an unrenewed heart to express or feel opposition to the law of God as though it were too strict; or to be disposed to throw off the blame of our want of conformity to the divine will from ourselves upon the law as unreasonable." When the boy, that would learn to write, finds fault with the perfection of the copy set him, and not with himself for his want of skill, there is but little hope that he will soon hold the pen of a ready writer, or ever become a proficient in the art of penmanship. The illustration is easily applied.

6. Where the carnal nature has the mastery, and one is led captive by the devil at his will, and no hearty resistance is made to sin, there is no scriptural piety. So teach the scriptures. So, when rightly interpreted, teach these verses. The reason, why the wicked lament not their state is not that it is good, but because it is very bad. Owen of Oxford: “Many there are in the world who, whatever they may have been taught in the word, have [[362]] not a spiritual sense and experience of the power of indwelling sin, and that because they are wholly under the dominion of it. They find not that there is darkness and foil}' in their minds, because they are darkness itself, and darkness will discover nothing. They find not deadness and an indisposition in their hearts and wills to God, because they are dead wholly in trespasses and sins. They are at peace with their lusts, by being in bondage unto them." In human limbs and bodies insensibility attends mortification. One of the saddest signs in many is the entire absence of alarm respecting their spiritual affairs.

7. Let us watch carefully all our sentiments and opinions respecting the moral law. Low views of it are always injurious to piety. Let us always consent to it that it is good, and delight in it in our inmost souls, Rom. 7:16, 22, Durham: "There was never so much matter and marrow, with so much admirably holy cunning, compended, couched and conveyed in so few words by the most laconic, concise, sententious and singularly significant spokesman in the world as we find in the moral law." Colquhoun: “If a man have not just and spiritual apprehensions of the holy law, he cannot have spiritual and transforming discoveries of the glorious gospel." T. Watson: “Though the moral law is not a Christ to justify us, yet it is a rule to instruct us." John Newton: "Ignorance of the nature and design of the law is at the bottom of most religious mistakes." It is not possible for man to tell whether Pharisaic self-righteousness in the letter of the law or Sadducean laxity concerning its obligation most effectually defeats God's benevolent design in giving us his perfect law.

8. It is a great thing to have a good will, rightly set, in the things of God, Rom. 7:15, 16, 19-21. The state of the will decides the character. He, who wills what is evil, is evil. He, who wills what is good, is a renewed man. But a will is more than a wish. It is settled and controls the man, if not wholly, yet in the main. And a will to that, which is good, is the gift of grace.

9. Where inability results from a sinful nature or from sinful habits, it is itself sinful, and so is no excuse for a failure to do our whole duty. It is not by way of excuse, but in humiliation and self-abhorrence that Paul cries: “What I hate, that do I;" “how to perform that which is good I find not,” etc. Let us beware how we spare, excuse or justify sin or imperfection. To us it is more dangerous in our own hearts than in the hearts of others. We have destroyed and cannot save ourselves. But we have done all this by sin; and sin is not a misfortune; it is a crime. Any course of reasoning that makes us think lightly of indwelling sin is false and detestable.

[[363]] 10. It is a popular, yet a gross error that to have strong inclinations to evil, if they gain not the mastery over us, evinces higher virtue than to live virtuously without such inclinations. Such a doctrine makes the virtuous principle in a renewed man more amiable than in an angel who never sinned, more amiable in an imperfect Christian than in the spirits of just men made perfect. Surely the virtue of him, who is my companion on a long journey and never meditates anything but kindness is far better than that of him who frequently harbors thoughts of robbing and murdering me, though he carries not out his plans.

11. Yet if we overcome evil principles, and have a deadly aversion to sin, and are not brought into willing captivity to evil, let us not be discouraged. He, who lives and dies fighting against sin, shall not lose his soul, but shall yet wear a conqueror's crown.

12. We cannot be too much on our guard against the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, and all the brood of unholy affections. T. Adam: “We are so accustomed to overlook the depravation of nature in coveting, or evil lusting, and so confident that it will not be laid to our charge, if it is in some measure resisted, and does not generally break out into gross acts of transgression, that for this reason we do not understand the apostle when he is imputing it to himself for sin, lamenting his bondage under it, exulting in the grace that is by Jesus Christ, and holding it forth to all as the necessary means of deliverance from the guilt that is upon us; and therefore fly to some other method of interpretation, as supposing neither him nor ourselves to be culpable on this account before God, and obnoxious to the sentence of his law on this account." He, who would avoid the worst evils must make war on the evils of his heart. Owen of Oxford: “Would you not dishonor God and his gospel, would you not scandalize the saints and ways of God, would you not wound your consciences and endanger your souls, would you not grieve the good and Holy Spirit of God, the author of all your comforts, would you keep your garments undefiled, and escape the woful temptations and pollutions of the days wherein we live, would you be preserved from the number of the apostates in these latter days; awake to the consideration of this cursed enemy [indwelling sin], which is the spring of all these and innumerable other evils, as also of the ruin of all the souls that perish in the world." “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” 1 Pet. 2:11. Who ever lamented that he had watched and prayed too much?

13. Nor can we have too much jealousy over our own hearts, [[364]] nor too earnestly inquire into their state. “Grace is as sharp-sighted and searching, as it is humble and heart-humbling." It is but self-deception to think or hope that we shall be finally tested by any rules less rigorous than God has laid down in his word. Self-examination, not candidly conducted, can avail for no good thing.

14. In every stage and shape sin is horrible. It may be pardoned, and pardon is a great mercy, but forgiveness makes not sin the less detestable. We may confidently hope for final victory over it, but that abates nothing of its odiousness, Rom. 7:23, 24. How could it be otherwise? If there were no hell, sin would be abominable. It is to be abhorred not because it is to be punished; but it is to be punished, because it is to be abhorred. How can one, who finds his best purposes crossed, his best desires frustrated, his best prayers followed by lapses into sin, but look with detestation on the cause of his wretchedness? In some things there is great danger of excess; but no man need fear that he loves God or hates sin excessively.

15. The doctrines of the power of indwelling sin and of the spiritual warfare, though true and of great importance, may be, and have been perverted and abused. How many, whose minds perceived their own errors, and whose consciences remonstrated against their evil courses, have pleaded that it was not they that did the evil, but sin that dwelt in them, while all the time they loved these hateful courses with an undivided heart. Their wills were not at all averse to the evil they practised. If a man laments not from the heart any evil still adhering to him; if he allows the evil he does; if he hates not sin in every shape; if he excuses wrong because it is in himself; if he serves the law in his members with a cheerful heart; if he longs not to be delivered from all sin, there is no solid ground of comfort for him in the experience of Paul here recorded.

16. Nor is it ever idle to inquire whether we have clear, just and growing views of the beauty of holiness. If we have not, we stand in great need of a change of heart. He, who sees nothing lovely in holiness, does not love it or practise it. An easy test on this point is furnished us in our feelings towards the law of God. Do we delight in it, in the whole of it, in all its precepts? Rom. 7:22. It is the standard of holiness.

17. There is one blessed truth relating to indwelling sin in believers, stated by Owen in his treatise: "The more they find its power, the less they will feel its effects." This sounds almost like a contradiction, but the children of wisdom know what it means. To them it is a cheering truth. “Proportionally to their discovery [[365]] of it, will be their earnestness for grace; nor will it rise higher. All watchfulness and diligence in obedience will be answerable also thereunto."

18. The Christian is a wonder! He is a wonder unto many. He is a wonder to himself. He has glorious hopes, yet mortifying failures; he has intense longings after holiness, yet is strangely led away from the right path in many things. ‘The wrongs he does he knows not, he approves not, he excuses not, he palliates not.' The good 'he does, he does not of himself, but by the grace of God. Of course he boasts not of it as coming from his own sufficiency. With one breath he cries, O wretched man that I am; with the next, Thanks be unto God. How amazing is that grace, which shall take away his divided heart, and give him one heart, one mind, one will, as he has now one God, one Redeemer, one Comforter.

19. It is vain to hope that an unrenewed man will understand aright the bitterness of a soul grieved for its own sins with a godly sorrow. Paul was no chicken-hearted man. He bore stripes, bonds, imprisonments, stonings, shipwrecks, perils by land and by sea, by robbers and by his countrymen; he was hungry and thirsty and weary; but none of these things moved him. Yea, when the sword hung over him, and he knew it was about to close his earthly existence for ever, he said ‘I am ready;' but when corruption displayed its deformities within him, his cry was piteous: O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? And there is so much corruption remaining in the best men on earth that a sight of it would extort a cry no less bitter. Brown: “Corruption seems no contemptible enemy unto believers." Nor is it to be despised. It has slain many mighty men. It has wounded many others, and they have gone lame all their days.

20. Most admit it is foolish and dangerous to seek justification by the law; it is no less unwise or perilous to seek sanctification by the law. This Section proves this, if it proves anything. Brown: “As in and through Christ, we got the pardon of our sin; so it is in and through him, who died, that he might sanctify and cleanse his church, and present her glorious without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish, that believers are kept up in the battle against corruption, so that they are not quite overthrown thereby, and that grace is always growing, and corruption decaying." Christ is all our salvation. Let him be all our desire.

21. Let every man, who would save his soul, make up his mind to warfare. There is no possibility of evading it. Compare [[366]] Rom. 8:24; 2 Cor. 5:2-4. It has always been so. It is so now. It will be so to the end of time. Whoever would go to heaven must go against the tide of wordliness without and of indwelling sin within. Owen: “Never let us reckon that our work in contending against sin, in crucifying, mortifying and subduing it, is at an end. … Many conquerors have been ruined by their carelessness after a victory; and many have been spiritually wounded after great success against this enemy. … The heart hath a thousand wiles and deceits, and if we are in the least off from our watch, we may be sure to be surprised." It is always wise to cry, Search me, O God, and know me. Fight on, my soul, till death.

22. Sad as is the case of the believer, all will yet be well, he himself being judge. He is borne down but he is not borne away by trials; he is encumbered, but not drowned in worldly lusts, he is grieved, but not in despair respecting his state. He knows God shall yet lift up his head above all his enemies round about. The final victory is sure and shall be glorious.

23. How sweet the rest of heaven will be — rest not merely from toil, and pain, and bereavement but above all from sins and temptations. “How reviving are the hopes of relief in Christ against these evils." Glory be to God, the battle may last all day, but it shall not last for ever. It may be fierce and terrific, but the issue is not doubtful.

24. All solid advantages and real profit in the spiritual conflict, yea, in the divine life, are only by and through Jesus Christ. This is right. It is just that he should have all the glory of all the victories won by his elect. He is the Captain of their salvation. By him they conquer. To him they bow and give glory. He is worthy to receive power, and riches, and honor, and glory, and blessing, for ever and ever. Amen.

Romans 4:16-25. — Justification by Faith and by Grace the same. Abraham's Faith Strong. His example commended. Why Christ Died and Rose Again.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 13:25 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 16:24 ]

Chapter 4:16-25.

Justification by Faith and by Grace the same. Abraham's Faith Strong. His example commended. Why Christ Died and Rose Again.

16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were:

18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

20 HE staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21 And being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

16. THEREFORE, it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only, which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all. Therefore connects this verse not so much with the preceding verse, as with the whole of the preceding argument. The first part is very elliptical. Our translators leave it vague, supplying it. The Assembly's Annotations understand the way of obtaining life; Hammond, the promise [[183]] of reward; Scott, a title to the promised blessings; Dutch Annotations, the promise of this inheritance; Stuart, justification. Wiclif supplies rightfulness; Chrysostom, Coverdale, Evans, Doddridge, Clarke, Olshausen and others, promise; Calvin, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Locke, Ferme, Brown, Pool, Macknight, Slade, Conybeare and Howson, inheritance. Either promise, inheritance, righteousness or blessedness gives the general idea of the apostle. Perhaps inheritance is the best, Gal. 3:18. Some of the old versions give a rendering slightly varied; Peshito: Wherefore, it is by the faith which is by grace, that we are justified; Arabic: Therefore they are heirs through faith, that it might be according to his grace; Ethiopic: And moreover God has appointed justification by faith, that justification might be by his grace; Vulgate: Therefore it is of faith, that through grace the promise might be firm to all the seed. The objection to each of these is that the Greek hardly allows it. The apostle's object is to prove that the whole work of our salvation is of grace, not of our merit; by favor, not by debt. It is well for us sinners that it is so. If our heirship at all depended on our personal conformity to the law, it would certainly fail; for in many things we all offend. But if it depends on faith graciously given us by God, it clearly depends on God's unmerited and boundless kindness, given us in God's eternal purpose, promised in the covenant of peace, expressed to us in the cross of Christ, and applied to us in the work of the Spirit. Thus the promise is indeed sure, firm, steadfast, of force, (so the word is elsewhere rendered, Heb. 3:6, 14; 9:17) to all the seed, to all Abraham's spiritual children; not to that only which is of the law, or Jews by birth, ' but to that also, which is of the faith of Abraham, i. e. to those who sustain none but a spiritual relation to Abraham, and are his seed only because they have like precious faith with him. This is the most important for he is the father of us all, Jews and Gentiles, who believe as he believed. “If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise,” Gal. 3:29. Stuart: “If the promise were to be fulfilled only on condition of entire obedience to the law, then would it never have any fulfilment, inasmuch as no mere man ever did or will exhibit perfect obedience." Calvin: “The promise then only stands firm, when it recumbs on grace." Paul now confirms this doctrine by a quotation from Gen. 17:5:

17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations?) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. This promise to Abraham was made when he was an old man, and some time before the birth of Isaac. Yet God says I have already done it. So [[184]] unfailing is God's counsel that what he purposes is as good as accomplished, and is often so spoken of in the prophetic writings; therefore it may be well said that he calleth those things which be not [but which he has determined on] as though they were. Some have found difficulty with the word calleth, as though it contained some mysterious meaning. It may be taken in either of two senses, both obvious and both agreeing with the use of the word elsewhere. I. Calling things that are not, according to some is authoritatively commanding them into existence. Bp. Hall: “By his mighty word he is able to make those things to be which are not." Olshausen: “It is the creative call of the Almighty." 2. Calling often means giving names to persons or things, or speaking of them under certain designations. See many instances in all the gospels, as Matt. 1:21, 23, 25; also Acts 1:12, 19, 23; Jas. 2:23; 1 Pet. 3:6; 1 John 3:1; Rev. 1:9and often. Macknight: “He speaketh of things in the remotest futurity, which exist not, with as much certainty, as if they existed." This is the simpler, and perhaps the better meaning here. The pertinency of saying in this place that God quickeneth the dead is not merely that the power which effects resurrection, can accomplish any thing; but it has special reference to the age and infirmities of Abraham and Sarah when the promise of a great posterity was made. See Rom. 4:19. Cranmer, Genevan, Rheims and Doway agree with the authorized version in putting trie quotation in parenthesis. This is doubtless correct. If so, we must join some words in this with the preceding verse: Hew the father of us all before him whom he believed, even God, i. e. in the sight, view, or estimation of Jehovah Abraham was the spiritual father of great multitudes, who should believe, both Jews and Gentiles; even as he was according to the flesh the ancestor of all that lineally descended from him. Other explanations are offered, but they are forced, or aside from the drift of Paul's argument. This is pertinent and agrees with what follows. He makes a great deal of the faith of Abraham:

18. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. To believe in hope is confidently to believe; and to believe in hope against hope is confidently to believe when appearances would lead to a very different conclusion. Doddridge: "Against all human and probable hope, he believed with an assured and joyful hope;" Locke: “Without any hope, which the natural course of things could afford, he did in hope believe." Pie believed that according to God's promise he should become, or he believed the promise that he might thus become the father of many nations. Other constructions have been put on these words,  [[185]] but either of these is better, coinciding entirely with the scope of the argument. Some have contended that Abraham understood not the spiritual nature of the blessings promised to him by the Lord. But Christ says: “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad,” John 8:56. Compare Gal. 3:14, 16. If any say that the promise was so glorious that even Abraham with all his faith did not fully comprehend it; the same may be said of all the promises and of all believers. So shall thy seed be is a quotation from Gen. 15:5, where it is promised that his seed shall be in number like the stars. This is more illustriously fulfilled in the spiritual children than in the descendants according to the flesh.

19. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb. Every record of Abraham's faith shews that it was strong and unfaltering. Yet its strength arose entirely from his confidence in the truth and power of God, and not at all from anything he saw. Indeed as to any likelihood of his becoming a father or Sarah becoming a mother of the promised seed, nothing seemed more improbable, for both of them were old, and as to this matter, dead. Both Tyndale and Cranmer for dead in the case of Sarah have past chylde beringe. In Heb. 11:11 Paul says she was past age; and in Heb. 11:12 he says of Abraham that at the time named lie was as good as dead. That was so; for he was about a hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety years old, Gen. 17:17.

20. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. In the preceding verse he was said to have been not weak in faith; "in this he is said to have been strong in faith. And we are here told that faith is strong when it has no such admixture of unbelief as produces uncertainty. Staggering, nowhere else so rendered, but commonly doubting, wavering, disputing, judging. God had spoken and Abraham took him at his word, did not sit in judgment on his engagement, did not dispute nor waver respecting it. Thus he was found giving glory to God, i. e. so confiding in the faithfulness and power of God, that then and ever since Abraham's faith has honored God, and also caused others to trust and glorify him.

21. And being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Here Abraham's faith is spoken of in terms still stronger. It now amounts to a full persuasion. It lacks nothing. It puts the highest honor on God. It can do no more. Such faith can walk in darkness and have no light, and yet trust in the Lord to make good all he has engaged. Able here and often implies both power and willingness.

[[186]] 22. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Its strength evinced its perfect genuineness. It could not be doubted. He became righteous not by any works, but wholly by his faith, laying hold of the covenant of grace and thus receiving the righteousness therein set forth.

23. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him. He might have believed, been justified, had righteousness imputed to him, and gone to glory, and no man living after him have known anything about him. God did not make his a case of record to please Abraham's vanity, or to exalt his self-esteem. The great thing for the patriarch was that a perfect, glorious, righteousness was graciously imputed to him. It was written not for his sake alone;

24. But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Abraham was a pattern, a leader, an heir, a father of all such as believe; and all, who have faith, leading them to embrace the truths of the gospel now clearly revealed, shall have the same glorious righteousness, the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ imputed to them also. One of the great truths necessary to be believed, a fundamental truth of Christianity, was the resurrection of Christ. If this were doubted, preaching and faith were both vain. We must look to Jesus;

25. Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. He was delivered, given up, or given over, Rom. 1:24, 26, 28; betrayed, Matt. 17:22; 1 Cor. 11:23; delivered in a good sense, Acts 16:14; 1 Cor. 15:24. The same word is used to express the treacherous act of Judas, the malignant conduct of the chief priests in bringing him before Pilate, the cowardly act of Pilate in giving him over to crucifixion, the act of God in subjecting him to the curse for us and his own act in giving up the ghost, Matt. 20:18, 19; John 19:16; Rom. 8:32; John 21:20. In this place it chiefly refers to the act of his Father in laying on him the iniquity of us all, in bruising him, in putting him to grief, in making his soul an offering for sin, Isa. 53:6, 10. But this was not done without his voluntary act of giving himself up to suffering, Gal. 2:20; where the same word is used. For our offences; Peshito and Ethiopic, on account of our sins; Arabic and Vulgate, for our faults. The word is rendered faults, sins, trespasses, offences; but he was delivered up not for his own sins, for he had none; but for our sins, and for ours only. He was delivered to the curse, to death, to the grave. “He was wounded [margin tormented] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace [that procured our [[187]] peace] was upon him,” Isa. 53:5. The word rendered for is one of the prepositions, which as Hornbeck and others have shewed, is used to teach Christ's substitution. In no way could he suffer for our sins except that they were imputed to him. He “was made sin for us." “He hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour,” 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:2. And ivas raised again for our justification. On Christ's resurrection see above, the exposition of Rom. 1:4, and Doctrinal and Practical Remarks thereon. Here Christ's resurrection is said to be for our justification, for the purpose of effecting our justification, or on that account. He was our Surety. Had he Remained a prisoner in the grave it would have proven that the work of atonement was incomplete, that his sacrifice had not been accepted, and that we were still under condemnation, 1 Cor. 15:17. Nor could Christ without rising from the dead have entered into heaven there to present his most precious blood, and intercede for his people. In this epistle we have already frequently met with the adjective just or righteous, with the verb to justify or to be justified, and with the noun uniformly rendered righteousness. In this verse we first meet with the noun justification. The same word occurs in Rom. 5:19 and no where else in the New Testament, though in Rom. 5:16 we have a cognate noun rendered justification. These two words are sometimes used in the same sense both in the Septuagint and by Paul, though the latter is also rendered ordinance, judgment and righteousness.


1. All God's plans and works are perfect. None of them can be amended. When we diligently and successfully study them we are continually finding out new and important relations in them. The apostle closed the preceding chapter by saying that through faith we establish the law. Here he shews that by the same doctrine of gratuitous salvation by faith we establish the promises of God, Rom. 4:16. Were the promises of God suspended in the least on human merits, or human strength, all men would perish. Now every man's case is met and every man's necessities are provided for in the gospel scheme.

2. As the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in the Redeemer is vital, it is well that we have line upon line, and are taught the same thing over and over again, in all fitting forms of speech, that there may be left open no door for reasonable doubt, Rom. 4:16. This plan is “grounded upon God and his immutable [[188]] pleasure, and upon Christ's perfect and everlasting righteousness, and not upon men's variable will, arid inconstant obedience." As Jehovah found cause not in us but in himself to provide salvation for us, so he finds cause in himself alone for accomplishing all he has undertaken. Olshausen: “Every thing, which depends upon the decision, faithfulness and constancy of such an irresolute and wavering being as man, is, in St. Paul's view, extremely uncertain; but that which depends upon God, ‘with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning, ' is firmly established." It is a sad mistake in not a few that they make faith itself a work, and put it in the place both of perfect obedience to the law, and of Christ's righteousness, and thus look upon God's favor “as a premium, not a premium for doing, it is true, but a premium for believing." To make a new law out of the gospel is to destroy all the solid foundations of Christian joy and peace.

3. Things are great and good, or small and evil, as they are before God, Rom. 4:17. His estimate of all things and of all beings is alone infallible. It is a small matter to be judged of man's judgment. Man is a worm. Man is a fool. Man is a sinner. Man is horribly perverted in his affections, warped in his judgments, erratic in his conduct. But God knows the end from the beginning. That, which shall be a thousand ages hence, is as well known to God as that which occurred yesterday. Let us never forget that he, which judgeth us, is the Lord.

4. He, who can raise the dead, can do any thing, Rom. 4:17. Well may the challenge be given, Is any thing too hard for the Lord? Gen. 18:14. He, who is able of the stones to raise up children unto Abraham, can never be straitened in his resources, Matt. 3:9. When the prophet was asked if the dry bones in the valley of vision could live, he replied to the Lord, Thou knowest. Whether a thing is to be br not to be, to be vile or honorable, useful or hurtful, turns altogether on the relations of God to it.

5. God's being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are a sufficient offset to any appearances whatever, Rom. 4:18. "One almighty is more mighty than all the mighties in the universe." The Amen cannot but be faithful. He is the best and the wisest man, who with the most childlike simplicity believes every word God utters. Implicit faith in man is great folly. Implicit faith in God is the height of wisdom. Chalmers: "Such is the way in which the message of the gospel is constructed — such are the terms of that embassy with which its ministers are charged, that the promise of God as a shield, and of God as an exceeding great reward, is as good as laid down at the door of every individual who hears it. It is true the promise thus laid down will not be [[189]] fulfilled upon him, unless he take it up, or, in other words, unless he believe it. Now there is a difficulty in the way of nature believing any such thing. There is a struggle that it must make with its own fears and its own suspicions, ere it can admit the credibility of a holy God thus taking sinners into acceptance." The shorter that struggle is the better for us. Unbelief is folly, is perversity, is ruin. Faith believes best when it reasons least. It relies most, and has most comfort, and shews most wisdom, when it simply says, “Good is the word of the Lord;" “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven;" “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations."

6. The scripture cannot be broken. God said that Abraham's seed should be in number like the stars, and like the stars they became, Rom. 4:18. It could not be otherwise. Calvin: "The past tense of the verb, according to the common usage of Scripture, denotes the certainty of the divine counsel." If God speaks, it is done. If he commands, it stands fast. If it could be shewn that according to its true intent any word of God had failed, all confidence, and comfort in him would vanish. A justly suspected God could be no solace to a sinking soul. Faithfulness that is not unimpeachable is not divine.

7. Let us not therefore dwell so much on our circumstances as on our covenant relations, not so much on the means of support and deliverance as on God the promiser.

8. The wisest thing any mortal can do is without questioning or hesitancy to believe everything God has spoken, Rom. 4:20. Chrysostom: “From the case of Abraham we learn, that if God promises even countless impossibilities, and he that heareth doth not receive them, it is not the nature of the things that is to blame, but the unreasonableness of him who receiveth them not." Even Balaam's theology carried him so far as to say: “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken and shall he not make it good?" Num. 23:19. If any should think that the day; are past when a strong faith is necessary, he is wholly mistaken. Here is one, who has always led a life of ungodliness. At last his soul is awaked from its sleep of death. He sees that there is a God, who governs the world by a law that is holy, just and good; that against that law he himself has transgressed in times and ways innumerable. His iniquities take hold of him like armed men and are dragging him to the prison of despair. Go to him, and attempt to persuade him to exercise faith in the promises of God to those, who have sinned as he has done, and what a task you have on hand! Tell him of God's spotless rectitude, and he says [[190]] I know it; I have sinned against it; I am sadly contrary to it. Point him to the divine veracity, the great pillar of hope, and he rejoins, That is even so, but the same unfailing truth has said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Exhort him to fix his steadfast eye on the divine compassion expressed in the cross of Christ, and he says, God is merciful, but I have long slighted and abused his grace and been cold to his loving kindness. Tell him of the penitent thief, converted on the cross, and he reminds you that his case was extraordinary, and that inspiration alike tells us of his companion in crime dying in his sins. Hold up before him that great pattern of mercy, Paul; and he says, Yea, but his great sins were committed ignorantly in unbelief, but I have sinned against light, vows and convictions. To him it looks as if everything in God were against him; for the saving view of divine truth has not yet been revealed to him. All within him is dark. His history is black with offences. His prospects are dismal. He is sinking into sadness bordering on despair. To him it looks as if everything was against him. Everything in God is to his mind tremendous. He cannot persuade himself that Jehovah looks or ever can look on him but as an enemy, an outcast from the hopes of the righteous. He sees not how he, who is accustomed to do evil, shall ever learn to do well. He is fearfully holden with the cords of his sins. Of the renewal of his fallen nature he has no experience and no hope. So far is he gone in the downward road of rebellion and remorse, that it is clear as day that if he shall ever have peace in believing, it must be by a faith, which shall be the gift of God. No human persuasion can ever fetch him up from the depths, to which he has fallen. It must be given him from above to believe in the great sacrifice of Calvary, and there in the cross of Christ see all the divine attributes harmonizing in his salvation. Even then his faith may be weak, compared with that of others, compared with what it shall be, but it is yet. precious faith and a mighty principle that can change his entire relations to God and all things.

9. Such faith glorifies God, Rom. 4:20. It puts all honor on his word, his grace, his power, his wisdom, his faithfulness. Chrysostom: " The very privilege of glorifying God were itself a glory. This is the highest aim of unfallen angels and redeemed men. It is the highest destiny of any creature to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.

10. But let us not confound the astonishment of true faith with the perplexity of unbelief. The latter is a vice; the former a virtue. The pious Jews released from Babylon were “like them that dream." Peter released from prison “wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision."

[[191]] Calvin: “Abraham asked indeed, how it could come to pass, but that was the asking of one astonished; as the case was with the Virgin Mary, when she inquired of the angel how could that be which he had announced." Pious wonder will never cease. Calvin: “No greater honor can be given to God than by faith to seal his truth; as, on the other hand, no greater dishonor can be done to him, than to refuse his offered favor or to discredit his word." We may wonder; we must not disbelieve.

11. True faith obeys as well as trusts. We must walk in the steps of believers. We must act as if all God had spoken was true. It is in vain to say in words, We trust, and to say by deeds, We have no confidence. Concerning all the promises made him and commandments given him Abraham behaved as if he believed every word. Our weakness cannot check God's operations. Let not our lives prove that our faith is heartless.'

12. Genuine and strong faith begets undoubting persuasion of all that God promises, however new and difficult may be our circumstances, Rom. 4:21. Abraham could look back to no example, where God had done such wonders as were promised to him. He looked at himself and he was as good as dead. He looked at Sarah and she seemed far too old to be a mother, and besides had always been barren; and yet he was fully persuaded, that what God had promised, he would perform. God knows and governs all causes and all hindrances, arid so is never defeated, never nonplused.

13. Faith is at the greatest possible remove from fancy, from dreams, from vagaries. It lives and exults when it reads or hears the promise of Jehovah. It believes God, not the creature, Rom. 4:22. It is such faith that is imputed for righteousness, for such faith will accept the grace of the gospel. Calvin: “It becomes now more clear, how and in what manner faith brought righteousness to Abraham; and that was, because he, leaning on God's word, rejected not the promised favor." If we are now believers in Christ, we have assurance of the final triumph, an assurance confirmed to us more and more as we advance in knowledge of God's word, and in experience.

14. Abraham was in many things a model of piety, yet his works could not save him. But for his faith in the Redeemer he would have perished, Rom. 4:22. The same is true of us, Gal. 3:9.

15. No Scripture is of any private interpretation, but whatsoever things were written of old, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope, Rom. 4:23, 24. There is one and but one way of obtaining righteousness, of gaining the victory over the world, the flesh and the devil, and that is the way of faith in a Redeemer.

[[192]] 6. As Abraham came off victorious, so shall all his spiritual children. Hawker: “Beyond all doubt, notwithstanding all that is said of this venerable patriarch in commendation of his faith; the humblest and poorest believer is equally interested in all the blessings of CHRIST in right of redemption. And for this plain reason all is God's gift, not man's worth. The patriarch had no more faith than was given him. Hence all he had he owed to the LORD." The same is true of all the faithful.

17. We cannot too often revert to the great fact and doctrine of the atonement of Christ, Rom. 4:25. Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, Acts 2:23. But he was delivered for our offences. Then, if we accept him, we need not die for our own sins. And if his blood, not being yet shed, saved Abraham, surely his blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat above can save us. Abraham believed in a Saviour yet to come. We believe in a Saviour already come. Abraham and his spiritual seed have all had the same kind of faith and the same object of faith. Bp. Hall: “Christ was delivered to death for the full satisfaction for all our sins, in that he paid for us that debt which we were never able to have discharged." He who rejects this truth refuses salvation on God's terms, and God accepts sinners on no other terms. This is a fundamental doctrine. So is also the next truth stated:

18. The resurrection of Christ cannot be given up on any account, Rom. 4:24, 25. If Christ, who is our life, is still under the power of death, we are under the power of condemnation. But he has surely risen for our justification. He lives to intercede for us. Calvin: “When we possess the benefit of Christ's death and resurrection, there is nothing wanting to the completion of perfect righteousness." Stuart: “As justification, in its full sense, comprehends not only forgiveness, but the accepting and treating of any one as righteous, it implies of course the being advanced to a state of glory. The resurrection of Christ was connected with this." Doddridge: "By faith shall the righteousness of our Redeemer be reckoned as ours, to all the purposes of our justification and acceptance with God." Hodge: “As surely as Christ has risen, so surely shall believers be saved." We have an ever-living Saviour; and because he lives we shall live also.

19. The gospel consists not of a number of detached truths but of a system of doctrines, facts and principles, making one harmonious whole, gloriously exalting God, reconciling things apparently antagonistic, and giving faithful men the strongest assurance of eternal life.

Romans 4: 1-15. — Paul continues His Argument, gives the Examples of Abraham and the Testimony of David, and shews that Rites never Justified.

posted 26 Jun 2014, 13:23 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 26 Jun 2014, 16:57 ]

Chapter 4:1-15.

Paul continues His Argument, gives the Examples of Abraham and the Testimony of David, and shews that Rites never Justified.

1. WHAT shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

2. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

4. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

7. Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

8. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

9. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

10. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

11. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

12. And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

14. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

15. Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

[[154]] 1. WHAT shall we say then, that Abraham our father as pertaining , to the flesh, hath found? The connection with the preceding argument is marked by the particle rendered then; q. d. if we maintain such doctrine respecting the necessity of a gratuitous justification, without any human merits, what shall we say of the case of Abraham?' The general tone of the verse is not very different from that of Rom. 3:1, 3, 5. It is virtually, perhaps not formally, the language of an objector. As pertaining to the flesh is the most difficult, clause in the verse. Our version connects it with father. This is supported by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Vulgate, Erasmus, Limborch, Wiclif, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Rheims, Doway, Calvin, Doddridge, Locke and others. Not a few put it, as in some of the best MSS., after hath found. This reading is sustained by the original, Peshito, Arabic, Beza, Ferme, Piscator, Brown, .Evans, Hammond, Whitby, Macknight, Olshausen, Haldane, Conybeare and Howson, Hodge and others. If the collocation of words in the authorized version is correct, the phrase merely teaches that the Jews, of whom Paul was one, were of the lineage of Abraham. If the latter view is right (and probably it is) then the word flesh must have another meaning. Dutch Annotations: “Some take this word flesh for the state of an unregenerate man: but that cannot be here, because Abraham was regenerated long before, and had served God, before this testimony in Gen. 15:6 was given." Nor is the explanation of Diodati that flesh means “considered in himself, in his own natural state,” free from objection. Wetstein, Michaelis and Clarke think flesh here refers to the sign of circumcision in Abraham's flesh. Circumcision was probably included in the apostle's idea. But may we not give a more extended meaning to the term flesh? In more than one place in Scripture flesh seems to designate carnal ordinances — all those in which a Jew was apt to value himself, Gal. 6:12; Phil. 3:3-6. Compare Heb. 7:16; 9:10. But at least once Paul by flesh seems to understand works of the law, Gal. 3:2, 3. Hammond thinks that in our verse as pertaining to the flesh means the same as by works in Rom. 4:2. For the various significations of the term flesh see above on Rom. 3:20. If we are right thus far, then we may read the verse as Peshito: “What then shall we say concerning Abraham the patriarch, that by the flesh he obtained? “or with Hammond, “What shall we say then? shall we say that Abraham our father found according to the flesh? “Found, in Heb. 9:12 obtained; in Luke 9:12 got, i. e. secured, or obtained. We have the same verb in Luke 1:30; Heb. 4:16 find grace; in 2 Tim. 1:18 find mercy; in Acts 17:27 find God; in Matt. 10:59 find life. In the [[155]] verse something is to be supplied. Hath Abraham found life, or acceptance, or justification by the flesh, or by works? Beza fairly states the course of argument: “In whatever way Abraham, the father of believers was justified, in the same must all his children (that is, all believers) be justified; but Abraham was not justified, and made the father of the faithful, by any of his own works, either preceding or following his faith in Christ." The verse is in the form of interrogatory or perhaps challenge. If a question is asked, the answer is supposed to be in the negative. If a challenge is given, silence is the proper sequent.

2. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory: but not before God. This verse also is elliptical. The sense is that if Abraham were justified by works, he had cause for boasting; but it can be shown that, however distinguished among believers, he had no such cause of boasting before God. Calvin: “He calls that glorying when we pretend to have any thing of our own to which a reward is supposed to be due at God's tribunal." Macknight gives the sense of the verse in his paraphrase: “For if Abraham were justified meritoriously by works of any kind, he might boast that his justification is no favor, but a debt due to him: But such a ground of boasting he hath not before God." And this the apostle at once proceeds to prove.

3. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. The sacred writer here relied on is Moses himself, whom all the Jews professed to receive as an infallible witness. This testimony is found in Gen. 15:6, and is given without any change (except in the connecting particle) from the Septuagint version, which differs slightly in form, though not in import, from the Hebrew, and not more than the English version here differs from that in Gen. 15:6. Scripture, see above on Rom. 1:2. Believed, see above on Rom. 1:8, 12, 17. Righteousness, see above Doctrinal and Practical Remark No. 4 on Rom. 3:21, 22, 25, 26. Here we meet with the verb was counted, in the sense of reckoned or imputed. It occurs in ten other places in this chapter in the same sense, see Rom. 4:4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24. It cannot be denied that the whole argument of this chapter turns very much on a right understanding of this term. On the meaning of it see the author's “Studies in the Book of Psalms,” on Ps. 32:2, p. 398. The Greek word rendered impute sometimes means to number, count, esteem, think, reason, conclude and then to reckon, impute, set to the account or lay to the charge of one.. The corresponding Hebrew word has a yet wider range of rendering, according to its connections, but in two conjugations is fitly rendered impute, in the sense of reckon, count, account.

[[156]] The word occurs often. There is seldom cause of reasonable doubt as to the fit rendering in any given case. We get our word impute from the Latin. Its classical use assigns to it these significations, to impute, ascribe, charge, lay blame, account, reckon. Its theological use as fully authorizes us to employ it in the sense of imputing merit as blame. The English word impute has the same significations, to reckon, ascribe, attribute, set to the account of one, to reckon to one what does not belong to him. So that in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English you will seldom find a word better understood. A few things are very noticeable here. 1. Although we certainly know that there were pious men before Abraham, as Abel, Enoch and Noah, yet the man whose justification is first distinctly and formally stated in scripture is Abraham. 2. His justification is not simply announced as a fact, but the means and ground of it are given. 3. In Rom. 4:23, 24 of this same chapter we are told that this is a model case, a real pattern for the instruction of men in all coming ages: “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe “etc. Abraham was the father of all believers, Rom. 3:11, 16. 4. This justification is expressly said to be by counting him as righteous, or by imputing righteousness to him. 5. In this same epistle Paul twice informs us that the fatal mistake of the Jews was their rejection of the very righteousness here said to have been imputed to their great ancestor, Rom. 9:31; 10:3, 4. 6. As a historic fact it is true that for three hundred years past the great enemies of the doctrine of imputed righteousness have been Romanists, who hold to the merit of penance, and to justification by grace infused, and Socinians and other enemies of the divinity and vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ. There is no risk in asserting that for three centuries there has not been a' respectable body of Protestant Christians, who have hesitated to receive and adopt the doctrine of human salvation by the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers. See the Creeds and Confessions.

What then is imputation? 1. There is an imputation by mistake. Thus Judah thought Tamar to be a harlot, and Eli thought Plannah was drunk. In each of these cases we have the same word rendered impute in many places. 2. Then we have imputation from malice, or passion or contempt. Thus those that dwelt in Job's house and his maids counted him for a stranger, Job 19:15. That is they regarded and treated him as if he were a stranger. The word is the same we render impute. But God never thus imputes either sin or righteousness. He makes no mistakes; he is never moved by passion or caprice. When he imputes, he [[157]] does no wrong. 3. There is a just imputation of that which fairly belongs to one. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of a balance ... All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity,” Isa. 40:15, 17. That is, God reckons or imputes to them the insignificance that really belongs to them. So Shimei said to David: “Let not my Lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely,” &c. 2 Sam. 19:19. He admits such imputation would be just. He deserved ill treatment. He had acted perversely. Such imputation is but counting to a man that which is already his own, and so is a simple judgment according to truth and a corresponding course of conduct. Jacob said: “My righteousness shall answer for me,” Gen. 30:33. 4. Then on account of one's relations sometimes that, which is not properly his own, may be imputed to him. Thus a man is held and treated as a debtor when his foolish or wicked partner wastes the property of the firm, or makes ruinous adventures in trade, even when he violates the terms of co-partnership. Or one is held and treated as a wise man and a great merchant when all his success is due to the foresight of another, who had control. Thus the Israelites bore the sins of their fathers, Num. 14:33. Thus the first sin of the first Adam is imputed to his posterity because in the covenant he stood for them and they sinned in him and fell with him. 5. One may become the willing surety of another, and so be fairly held responsible for his debts, his fines, or his misconduct. Thus Paul writes to Philemon that if Onesimus. “hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account,” Rom. 4:18; literally impute it tome. From this time forth Paul was by his own willing act and promise bound to make good all damages previously done to Philemon by Onesimus. Thus also Christ became the surety of his people, and God “laid on him the iniquity of us all." So that Isaiah is very bold and says: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." And because he was our surety and substitute, “it pleased the Lord to bruise him,” to “put him to grief,” and to "make his soul an offering for sin,” Isa. 53:4, 6, 10. Nor is Paul less bold. He says that God “hath made him to be sin for us,” 2 Cor. 5:21. And yet he is careful to tell us that even then Christ was personally innocent. He "knew no sin." 6. Then there is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people. They are made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor. 5:21. In the eye of God's law they share his righteousness, are [[158]] jointheirs with him, are in him the children of God by faith. 7. Imputation does not of itself change the character, but only the relations of men. Christ was as holy and personally as pleasing to God, after our sins were laid upon him, as he had ever been or ever shall be; but by that imputation he became the great sin-bearer, and so was obnoxious to the sword of justice, the wrath of God. And when one receives Christ by faith, he does it as a believing sinner, as one in himself ungodly, Rom. 4:5. Jesus Christ did in no sense commit the sins that were laid upon him; nor do believers in any sense work out the righteousness which justifies them, for it is the righteousness of God; yea, it is “the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. 1:1. He imputes it to them, regards and treats them as kindly and lovingly and gloriously as if they had wrought out their own righteousness. Yet neither have they on that account any just cause of increased self-esteem, any just sense of personal worthiness, any ground for boasting; as Christ their surety had no remorse, no sense of personal ill-desert before God, when the iniquity of us all was laid upon him. He knew that his whole course was pleasing to his Father, for he said, “I know that thou hearest me always, '' and twice did a voice from heaven proclaim, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The imputation of our sins to Christ was no mistake, no erroneous judgment, but a gracious act of God in accordance with the voluntary undertaking of Christ; nor is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people, whereby they are justified, a false estimate, an erroneous judgment passed on them, but a gracious reckoning of the Redeemer's merits to their account. 8. It is impossible that any righteousness imperfect in God's esteem should justify any creature in his sight. If it could, it would be an acknowledgment either that the precept of the law was too strict or that the penalty was too rigorous, and so God had consented to some abatement or relaxation of his requirements. And this would be denying and contradicting himself. This consideration alone shows that God cannot accept the act of faith itself as a meritorious ground of justification, for in every case that faith is imperfect. Besides it is the gift of God. Nor is it so great a grace as love, 1 Cor. 13:13, and therefore it cannot by reason of its own nature be entitled to such pre-eminence as to justify. Abraham himself was justified by. faith in the merits of the Redeemer. Jesus says: "Abraham saw my day and was glad,” John 8:56. 9. The only way, in which faith can justify a sinner before God, is by laying hold of the righteousness of Christ, receiving it, and appropriating it according to the free and gracious offer of God to reckon it to all, who heartily accept it. Thus every [[159]] demand of the law is met in the righteousness of Christ. This is the sense in which the Christian world has long held this doctrine, so precious to the people of God, and to none less than the glorious martyrs. 10. By this imputation the righteousness of Christ is so reckoned to the believer that it becomes his, not by infusion nor by any transfer of moral character, which is absurd and impossible, but his to all the ends of a complete justification. Owen: “This imputation is an act of God, of his mere love and grace, whereby on the consideration of the mediation of Christ, he makes an effectual grant and donation of a true, real, perfect righteousness, even that of Christ himself unto all that do believe, and accounting it as theirs, on his own gracious act, both absolves them from sin, and granteth them right and title unto eternal life." Well does he add: “To say that the righteousness of Christ, that is, his obedience and sufferings are imputed unto us only as unto their effects, is to say that we have the benefit of them, and no more; but imputation itself is denied. So say the Socinians, but they know well enough, and ingenuously grant that they overthrow all real imputation thereby." Again: “To say the righteousness of Christ is not imputed unto'us, only its effects are so, is really to overthrow all imputation,” It is like saying that all the warmth and ornament of a robe shall be ours, but the robe itself we must not wear. 11. This righteousness is indeed imputed to us by a most gracious act on the part of God. It is wholly a gift, but it is a gift which God will not revoke, Rom. 11:29, or, as Owen says, it is “an effectual grant and donation." All, that men justly put a high value upon, is enjoyed by the gift of God. Life, reason, understanding, parents, children, friends, health, food, raiment belong to us by his donation. We have no better right to any of them than this, that God freely bestowed them on us. These are gifts in the order of nature, granted to men out of God's sovereign bounty, as governor of the world, and bestowed alike on saints and sinners; but the gift of righteousness imputed to us is an act of special grace, the fruit of redeeming love. We can have and we need no better title to any thing than that it is freely given us of God through Jesus Christ. 12. By this imputed righteousness we have poivcr, authority, right to become the sons of God; by it we have right, title, authority to the tree of life, John 1:12; Rev. 22:14. 13. We may now see why the Scriptures everywhere speak of God's people as the just, the righteous, and not merely as those that are treated as if they were righteous. Yea more, they allow saints to speak of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not merely of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even the Old Testament gives to the Redeemer this title — “The Lord our righteousness." How then dare [[160]] any one say that Christ's righteousness is in no proper Sense ours? The opposite of proper is figurative. Have believers naught but a figurative or typical interest in Christ? Let us beware of a doctrine so contrary to Scripture, so destructive of solid grounds of comfort in the hearts of the pious, and so contrary to the faith of God's elect.

We can now fully understand our apostle when he says that Abraham's faith was counted to him for righteousness, or unto righteousness, as we have it in Rom. 10:id; or in order to righteousness, as Doddridge renders it. Abraham was not justified by the flesh, by works, by anything that could allow him to boast before God. And yet he was fully justified. His guilt was removed. Pardoned sin is no ground of condemnation; else pardon is no more pardon. The only legal obstruction to the salvation of sinners is found in the penalty of God's law, but Christ has borne that, as the scriptures expressly state, Gal. 3:13; and so, on accepting Christ, that obstruction no longer remains. All guilt is removed by the accepted sacrifice of Calvary. Jesus exhausted the penalty on the cross. The believer is also accepted, regarded and treated as righteous. His righteousness, received by faith and imputed by God, is perfect, is all the law demands; it is the spotless righteousness of our substitute. Thus Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, Rom. 10:4.

If, as some contend, faith itself is taken as the ground of acceptance, then what is the meaning of all those passages that say we are saved by Christ's blood, by his propitiation, by his sacrifice, by his intercession? And that we are not justified by works of any kind, legal or evangelical, moral or ceremonial, has been abundantly declared. See above on Rom. 3:20. Nor is it true that we are ever said to be saved on account of our faith, but by it or through it as the instrument. If we are justified by faith itself as a righteousness, it is absurd to speak of the righteousness of God, or righteousness by faith. It is monstrous, therefore, to find men exalting faith to the rank of a meritorious righteousness, a work to be rewarded with eternal life. In the succeeding context Paul argues to the contrary.

4. Now to him that workcth is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. By him that worketh some understand him whose works are perfect before God. Such a one no doubt would be accepted as in himself righteous. He would not be saved by grace. But there is no such mere man. Others think that by him that worketh is meant him, who doeth any work. This is more in the line of Paul's argument. He has shown that debt and grace [[161]] are distinct and different, yea that they are irreconcilable, as schemes of good standing before God. He, who does anything and relies on it for righteousness, renounces all hope of gratuitous justification. All he asks is to have his dues paid him. Abraham found or obtained righteousness not by his sweet submissive virtues, nor by his superior confidence in God, nor by anything that he could claim as ground of self-exaltation. He did not hold that God was in his “debt!'

5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, Ids faith is counted for righteousness. To him that worketh not, i. e. worketh not in the hope of being thereby justified, but simply believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, one who admits that all his own righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and that he has nothing in himself, whereof to glory before God, and yet looks to Christ alone, his faith is counted unto righteousness. That, which he presents before God as a ground of acceptance, that on which he relies for justification, is so perfect that it meets all the demands of God's infinite law. God looks upon him as in himself lost, ruined, ungodly, as he certainly is; yet on this ungodly man accepting the Saviour he is justified. To all the ends and purposes of justification no sinner does anything meritorious. The believer looks away from himself. In the matter of justification his best doings are in fact and in his own esteem, utterly worthless. Even if his obedience now and henceforth were sinless, it is all due to God, and can in no way make amends for past deficiencies, Luke 17:10. To pardon and accept a sinner as righteous is a favor wholly undeserved — is purely a gratuity. The word rendered ungodly is found nine times in the New Testament, is everywhere rendered as here, and beyond a doubt designates a wicked man. Such is every sinful child of Adam until he believes. Then and not till then does he cease to be ungodly; then and not till then is he invested with the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness, and his heart changed, and he turned unto God. Not only has he no merits, but he has in himself great demerits. Christ is all our salvation. All this is illustrated in the case of Abraham. The same truth is taught in other scriptures; .

6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. David was a great warrior, a good king, the sweet singer of Israel, the man after God's heart, chosen by Jehovah to be Saul's successor, because God saw in him something well fitting him to be the ruler of Israel, 1 Sam. 16:6 — 13. He was a prophet, and a type and lineal ancestor of Christ. Next to Abraham and Moses he was probably the most prominent in the habitual thoughts of the Jews. What [[162]] is David's testimony respecting justification and the ground of it? It is all in the same direction — a gratuitous justification by imputed righteousness, righteousness without works.

David's sad fall is commemorated by two penitential psalms, the 32d and the 51st. Paul's reference here is to the 32d. On turning to it, we do not find in any part of the psalm the word righteousness. Perhaps it is well we do not. Paul was inspired not only to write new scriptures but to interpret Old Testament books. Peter's interpretations of scripture on the day of Pentecost have by the church of God ever been regarded as of infallible authority. And so Paul's exposition of the true meaning of the prophet David is infallible. Accepting this as correct, these things certainly follow:1. The doctrine of salvation by grace alone, or, which is the same thing, the doctrine of gratuitous justification by imputed righteousness was understood and devoutly celebrated by the great poet and prophet David. 2. He taught that justification was without works. So says Paul. He means not only works of one kind, but of every kind, legal, evangelical, moral, ceremonial, done before justification or after justification. Calvin thus begins his commentary on this verse: “We hence see the sheer sophistry of those who limit the works of the law to ceremonies; for he now simply calls those works, without anything added, which he had before called the works of the law. Since no one can deny that a simple and unrestricted mode of speaking, such as we find here, ought to be understood of every work without an}' difference, the same view must be held throughout the argument. There is indeed nothing less reasonable than to remove from ceremonies only the power of justifying, since Paul excludes all works indefinitely." 3. Justification does not consist wholly and solely in the pardon of sin, or in the non-imputation of sin. Paul infallibly informs us that when David wrote that ode he taught more than the great doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. 4. Paul declares that David taught the doctrine of imputed righteousness. He uses the very phrase. Yea more, he says this has always in the church of God been to pious souls a precious doctrine. “David describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness." And that we may certainly know that Paul is not citing some other part of scripture he proceeds to quote the [[1st and 2d verses of the 32d Psalm.>>Ps. 32:1-2]] Imputeth, the same verb found in Rom. 4:3, 4, 5, 9, 10 and rendered counted or reckoned; and in Rom. 4:8, 11, 22, 23, 24, and rendered impute. The righteousness thus imputed is the righteousness so long celebrated in the church on earth and the church in heaven. It is the righteousness of God. Peter calls it '.'the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Humble [[163]] men, good men have long made mention of that and of that only. If the reader would put the right value on this verse he must remember that although in parts of Ps. 32 David speaks of his personal experience, yet in the verses here cited by Paul, he speaks of all believers. Nor did he utter these truths of himself, but God was speaking by the mouth of his servant David, Acts 4:26. Let all flesh listen, cease cavilling and be wise.

7. Saying, Blessed axe they whose iniquities are forgiven, and 'whose sins are covered. There is no significancy in having here the plural instead of the singular as in the original, or they instead of he. The apostle closely follows the Septuagint. Blessed, the Hebrew is a plural noun, “O the blessednesses." The Septuagint, which Paul here quotes, is literally “Happy." It is the same word rendered blessed in Matt. 5:3 — 11. 'Iniquities, the word has not before occurred in this epistle. It is found fifteen times in the Greek Testament, is commonly rendered iniquity, once unrighteousness, 2 Cor. 6:14, once transgression, 1 John 3:4. It literally means want of conformity to law. The Hebrew word in the place here cited is always rendered trespass or transgression. It occurs frequently, and, when applied to political affairs, signifies revolt, or rebellion. Forgiven, the word used in the Lord's Prayer, and often so rendered; also put away. It means to send away, dismiss from one's thoughts, or attention. Men sometimes say they will forgive, but not forget; but Jehovah says, your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more. The Hebrew word rendered forgiven in Ps. 32:1 means lifted up, as when a cloud is raised, or borne away, as when the scape-goat bore away the sins of the people into a land uninhabited. Sins, a word of frequent occurrence, rendered with absolute uniformity in the New Testament; the same word used by the Septuagint in Ps. 32:1. Covered, there is no better rendering; as Pharaoh and his hosts were covered in the Red sea, Ex. 15:10; buried out of sight, cast into a deep sea, Mic. 7:19. The compound verb here rendered covered is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but the simple word occurs several times, and is applied to hiding or covering sins, Jas. 5:20; 1 Pet. 4:8. Neither the Psalmist nor the apostle stops here; it is added:

8. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Sin, in the Greek the same word in the singular as is in Rom. 4:7 in the plural rendered sins, but in the Hebrew we have a different word, commonly rendered iniquity; sometimes fault or mischief, in a few cases punishment, or punishment of iniquity. The Hebrew expresses perverseness. Impute, see above on Rom. 4:3. The scope and bearing of Rom. 4:7, 8 is the same. Three forms of expression [[164]] are used to teach the doctrine of the pardon of sin, which is an essential part of justification, though not the whole of it. But where God grants forgiveness, he never withholds acceptance, but surely imputes righteousness, as Paul teaches in Rom. 4:6. Hodge: “To impute sin is to lay sin to the charge of any one, and to treat him accordingly, as is universally admitted; so to impute righteousness is to set righteousness to one's account, and to treat him accordingly." Owen of Thrussington: “It is a striking proof of what the apostle had in view here, that he stops short and does not quote the whole of Ps. 32:2. He leaves out, 'and in whose spirit there is no guile:' and why? Evidently because his subject is justification, and not sanctification. He has thus most clearly marked the difference between the two." Paul quotes, all that is pertinent to his argument and to the matter in hand. Not that sanctification is unimportant, nor that it is ever separated from justification, though both Testaments distinguish between them; but the apostle is now absorbed with one point only — justification.

9. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. Paul had not dropped the case of Abraham, but had confirmed it by the testimony of David to the same truths. He asks whether such blessings as David speaks of were enjoyed by none but the circumcision. Did justification by imputed righteousness depend on circumcision? Did not God always, and in gospel times does he not abundantly grant salvation and good hope to believers of every nation? See Acts 10:34, 35. Does righteousness come to men through carnal ordinances? We say, probably meaning we Jews commonly admit; though Stuart regards them as uttered by an objector. We must admit (for Moses our great prophet records it of our great ancestor) that faith was reckoned to Abraham for [unto] righteousness.

10. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. In Gen. 15:6, we are told that Abraham was justified by faith. But the command of circumcision was not given for several (some say fifteen and all agree that it was as much as thirteen or fourteen) years afterwards; and neither Abraham, nor any of his family were circumcised till the patriarch was ninety-nine years old, Gen. 17:24. Clearly then to Abraham God imputed righteousness, and so justified him, when he was uncircumcised, and his justification therefore could not be by an ordinance not as yet given, and of course not obeyed. So far from circumcision being the ground of Abraham's justification, it was not in [[165]] any sense even a condition of his acceptance with God. If he was justified before he was circumcised, he could not be justified by being circumcised. But such a view of circumcision was very contrary to the views of many Jews. Some of their learned men said, and many believed that no circumcised descendant of Abraham could perish. Paul's doctrine was therefore likely to awaken the most violent opposition, and Jews might say, that he virtually denied that circumcision was a divine institution, or held that it was of no avail, or had no meaning. He therefore proceeds to tell what circumcision was and what were its uses:

II. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believed though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also. The sign of circumcision means the sign circumcision and no more. Such forms of speech are not uncommon in the Scriptures. In English we speak of the ordinance of baptism, meaning the ordinance baptism, and f>f the sacrament of the supper, meaning that sacrament, which we call the Lord's supper. The meaning is not that something signified circumcision, but that circumcision signified something. Of what was it a sign? It signified that the heart must undergo a great change, that the natural corruption of men's natures must be removed by the blood and spirit of Christ, his redemption being . applied to them. Moses himself so explained it, when he said: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked,” Deut. 10:16. Again: “The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live,” Deut. 30:6. A later prophet says: “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart,” &c. Jer. 4:4. In this epistle Paul says: “He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God." Rom. 2:28, 29. Elsewhere he says, “We are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Phil. 3:3.. "In whom [Christ] also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands in putting off" the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." Col. 2:11. Circumcision was a sign of the cleansing of our natures by divine grace. In Gen. 17:11 God calls it a “token of the covenant." But this rite was more than a sign or token. It was also a pledge, a seal or confirmation of the righteousness of faith; not the means [[166]] of begetting faith, much less the efficient cause of it; nor a seal of faith itself; no: but a seal or assurance of the righteousness, which had been imputed to him long before his circumcision, even when he believed God — the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. Circumcision was to be kept up in the church till Christ should come. In Abraham's seed, which was Christ, all the families of the earth were to be blessed. The promise was of a great salvation by a Redeemer, who should spring out of Abraham's loins, and who should bring in everlasting righteousness. Abraham believed the promise long before his circumcision, and so became the father, the leader, the pattern, the first teacher, the first recorded instance of any man being justified by or through faith. As Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle; as Jubal was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ; and as Tubal-cain was an instructor of every artificer in brass' and iron, Gen. 4:20-22; so Abraham was the model, the instructor, the pattern of all them that believe though they be not circumcised; that righteousness [the righteousness, of God our Saviour Jesus Christ] might be imputed to them also. It is very true that Abel, Enoch and Noah', and all the pious, who lived before Abraham were justified and saved by faith, but we learn this from reasonings and revelations found in the New Testament, especially in the epistles to the Romans, Galatians and Hebrews, , but not from any record in the Old Testament that they believed God, and that their faith was counted for or unto righteousness. It is then true that if men have like precious faith with Abraham, they shall have like glorious righteousness with him also, whether they be circumcised or not. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith, which worked by love, Gal. 5:6. Calvin: “Mark how the circumcision of Abraham confirms our faith with regard to gratuitous righteousness; for it was the sealing of the righteousness of faith, that righteousness might be imputed to us also." So that circumcision was not only confirmatory of imputed righteousness to ancient believers, but through them to us also, even us, who are sinners of the Gentiles. Abraham's faith made him the father of Gentile believers,

12. And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. That is, Abraham was a model, the first recorded instance of faith, a spiritual father, not only to believing Gentiles, but also to Jews, who rely not on circumcision itself, but have a faith like that of Abraham, believing all God speaks to them] and in particular [[167]] rejoicing in a Redeemer, whose righteousness is imputed to believers without regard to nationality. One emphatic word in this verse is only. All are not Israel, who are of Israel. Haldane: “While all Abraham's children were circumcised, he was not equally the father of them all. It was only to such of them as had his faith that he was a father in what is spiritually represented by circumcision." Christ denied that the unbelieving Jews were the children of Abraham, or the children of God, but asserted that they were of their father the devil, John 8:39-44.

13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. The argument grows stronger and stronger. It now assumes the form it takes in Gal. 3:16-18. He had before proven that justification was not by circumcision, for Abraham was justified before he was circumcised. He now proves that Abraham's acceptance with God and his high distinction as the father of the faithful could not have been by the law, for the law was not given for hundreds of years after he became pre-eminently the friend of God. I say the law, for although the article is wanting in the Greek, yet it is supplied by every English version now at hand, Wiclif, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Rheims and Doway; also by Peshito and Conybeare and Howson, though Stuart omits it. That it is properly supplied is manifest from the fact that to a Jew the very mention of law suggested the great law given by Moses, and Paul is here arguing with a Jew. That was to him the law, so as nothing else was. But if any prefer to read simply law, there is no objection to his doing so, for that includes the law of Moses and all law of every kind, and the argument still relates to justification by gratuity and not by human merit. But what are we to understand by Abraham's being heir of the world? With diffidence the author ventures to suggest a train of thought that he finds in no commentary that he has consulted. First, what is meant by the world? In the Greek Testament are four words sometimes rendered world. One of these (aion) signifies duration, past, present or future, but often with a limit. In the plural it often means eternity. Our Lord uses it when he speaks of "this world,” of "that world,” of "the end of the world,” and of “the world to come." In Rom. 12:3 we have this word: “Be not conformed to this world." In Acts 17:31 we have another word [oikoumene) rendered world: “He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world." It is so rendered everywhere else except in Luke 21:26 where we read earth. In Luke 2:1 it is put for the Roman empire, because that embraced most of the world then known. That is the word in [[168]] Matt. 24:14: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations." Commonly this word means the habitable earth, once at least the inhabitants of the earth. It occurs in Rom. 10:18: “Their words unto the ends of the world." Then in Rev. 13:3 we have a third word (ge) rendered world, but its ordinary signification is ground, land or earth, once country: “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth,” Matt. 5:5. In the Greek Testament is still another word (kosmos) rendered world. It is found in Acts 17:24: “God that made the world." Often it means the earth, and then its inhabitants. It is often used in connection with the last judgment. “God shall judge the world,” Rom. 3:6. This is the word used in our verse. Abraham was heir of the world (kosmos). It is found in such passages as these: “Ye are the light of the world;" “The field is the world;" “Go ye into all the world;" “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world;" "God so loved the world;" “I am the light of the world;" “He will reprove the world of sin;" "The saints sliall judge the world;" "Came into the world to save sinners;" "The world passeth away;" "The Saviour of the world,” etc. It would therefore seem improbable that by the world in this verse can be meant anything so narrow as any one country, such as Palestine. It must embrace something as extensive as the habitable part of our globe. What then is it to be the heir of the world? In Gal. 3:18 we read: “If the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." Here the same idea of heirship is preserved. Representing the blessings of the gospel in this way is very common: “If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ,” Rom. 8:17; "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs,” Eph. 3:6; “Heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” Tit. 3:7; “Heirs of salvation,” Heb. 1:14; “Heirs of the righteousness by faith,” Heb. 11:7; "Heirs together of the grace of life,” 1 Pet. 3 17. In like manner we have the phrases: ''Inherit everlasting life;" "Inherit the kingdom of God;" “Inherit a blessing,” etc. Sometimes the language is very strong: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son,” Rev. 21:7. Heavenly benefits are often spoken of as an inheritance: "An inheritance among all them that are sanctified;" “We have obtained an inheritance;" “The earnest of our inheritance;" “The inheritance of the saints;" “An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” 1 Pet. 1:4. Several of these places — in particular 1 Pet. 1:4; Rev. 21:7 — distinctly teach that all believers have as great and glorious benefits, and by inheritance [[169]] too, as are said to have been conferred on Abraham when he is called “the heir Of the world." And that we may not suppose that by his being heir of the world any peculiar spiritual good was conferred on him, Paul says to Christians generally: “If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise,” Gal. 3:29. This is in the very connection in which he discusses the heirship of Abraham. The phrase the heir of the world therefore does not necessarily mean anything greater than the phrase “the blessing of Abraham,” Gal. 3:14, that is the blessing which Abraham received, viz., full and irrevocable justification by imputed righteousness; nothing greater than the phrase the father of all them that believe, the pattern, exemplar, illustrious leader, forerunner, the first recorded instance of a man being justified by faith, and intended to teach men everywhere, Jew and Gentile, that they must be saved as Abraham was. The same blessedness, that Abraham secured comes on believers in all the 'world. The blessing, intended by the phrase the heir of the world, whatever it may be, was obtained precisely as justification was, not through law but through the righteousness of faith. And to sinners no greater blessing comes than a gratuitous justification. Is Abraham the heir of the world? believers are the light of the world. So the faith of the Romans was spoken of throughout the whole world, "Rom. 1:8; and if that church had been the first known instance of a people believing unto righteousness, it would have had the pre-eminence here given to Abraham; it would have been the mother of all that believe and the heir of the world. Beyond complete justification and the honor of shewing to all men by his example how we are to be saved, what did Abraham possess beyond what is in many places promised to all believers? Thus Jesus: "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, and persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life,” Mark 10:29, 30. So Paul: "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's,” 1 Cor. 3:21-23. The words of Rev. 21:7 have been already cited. These passages engage to all believers infinite blessings, blessings as great as they can enjoy; therefore as great as were probably intended to be intimated by the phrase the heir of the world, even if we take it in the sense of Abraham inheriting the world. The views differing from this are commonly embraced under one of [[170]] these heads: 1. That to be the heir of the world is to inherit Canaan. But Canaan is not the world, and is never called the world, but the land, or the earth. The Greek uses different words. Besides the blessing, which Abraham received, was to be shared by the Gentiles, Gal. 3:14. Moreover when Abraham actually lived in Canaan, it was hardly as proprietor, for when Sarah died he had to buy a place of burial. Like the other patriarchs he confessed he was a stranger and a pilgrim. “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country." “He looked [was looking] for a city which hath foundations." 2. Another explanation is that he became the heir of the heavenly Canaan, of which the earthly was but a type. But all believers shall possess that good land and enter that heavenly country. Nor is heaven ever called the world, although in Luke 20:35 we have the terms that world applied to the blissful period of duration following this life, but the word there rendered world is age, elsewhere rendered world to come. 3. Some think as God promised a numerous posterity to Abraham, Gen. 15:6; 17:5; and as these have been widely scattered in the world that in this sense the patriarch may be said to be heir of the world. But the Jews do not constitute the hundredth part of the human family, generally own very little land, and never possessed much political power in the world. Nor is our apostle conducting any argument on such a subject as national power, but an argument on justification by faith.

4. Some regard the phrase heir of the world as indicating great happiness, and point to the promises in Ps. 37 and in Matt. 5:5 in proof. No doubt Abraham was happy, greatly blessed, but so is every child of God, and our verse closely points to some pre-eminent distinction. Besides, the word rendered earth or land in those places both in Hebrew and Greek has a very different signification from that rendered world in our verse.

5. Some think that by heir of the world we are to understand that Abraham in some way became inheritor of the world through his seed Jesus Christ, in whom all nations were to be blessed, Gen. 12:3. Yet the first promise of Messiah was made to our first parents in Eden and not to Abraham. And as to his being the lineal ancestor of Christ, so were Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, Solomon, and others. Still it is undeniable that Messiah is Lord of all and that he shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth, and that in him shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And although the promise of a seed did certainly have a special reference to Christ, as Paul asserts, Gal. 3:16, yet that promise was no more precious and no more sure than that made to David hundreds of years after, 2 Sam. 7:16. So that this can hardly be the mind of the Spirit in this place. Our verse admits that the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not only to Abraham, but to his seed, and that through the righteousness of faith. His seed therefore here cannot mean Christ, for he did not enter heaven through the righteousness of faith, but by his own merits. Therefore it must mean his spiritual seed, believers. 6. The phrase heir of the world, therefore, probably, means an heir of God known to all the world of believers, a very prominent child of God, just as Paul says that the apostles were made “a spectacle unto the world, kosmos, and to angels, and to men,” i. e. were very prominent before the world [perhaps of believers]. Just so Abraham's prominence is indicated by his being “the heir of the world “and “the father of all that believe,” and by the phrase “the blessing of Abraham coming on the Gentiles." This gives a good sense and agrees with the preceding and succeeding context. In the next verse all the saved are called heirs. This view also coincides with the whole scope of the argument which Paul is conducting — an argument respecting gratuitous justification by the merits of the Redeemer.

14. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Respecting the persons here spoken of opinions are divided. Mr. Locke thinks that b)r them which are of the law we are to understand “them only who had the law of Moses given them." Clarke agrees with him and says the phrase points to “the Jews only." But a large class give an interpretation more coincident with the line of the apostle's argument. Doddridge says the terms used designate “those who depend upon the law;" Tholuck: “those who trust to their works; “" they which are of the lazy is the exact parallel of as many as are of the works of the law, Gal. 3:10; “Hodge: “legalists, those who seek justification by the works of the law." This is doubtless the right view. Calvin: “He takes his argument from what is impossible and absurd." Haldane: "The case is supposed, though not admitted, which would be contrary to the whole train of the apostle's argument." If it were possible for men to become heirs of salvation by the law, the whole gospel would be subverted, and its provisions rendered nugatory. Calvin: “If the condition had been interposed — that God would favor those only with adoption who deserved it, or who fulfilled the law, no one could have dared to feel confident that it belonged to him." ‘Diodati: “If it were so that by works man might obtain that inheritance, all faith, covenant of grace, and promises would be void, which is wicked and most absurd to think." Whitby: “If they which are of the law be heirs faith is made void to them which are not of the [[172]] law [because then they cannot by it be made heirs] and it is also made void to them that are of the law [because they were heirs before] and may still be so without it; Rom. 4:15." Hawker: “It is of no use for God to promise, if the accomplishment depends upon man's performance of the law. And as man cannot come up to the law, so man can never attain the promise if it depends on his obedience. It is of no use to hold forth any blessings, if those blessings depend upon man's taking them when they are out of his reach." The apostle proceeds to give the reason:

15. Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. The law wherever known among men works wrath or brings a curse, not because the law is not holy, just and good, nor because it was not ordained to life, and suited to the very case of all that are free from all sin, but because men are wicked, break the law and transgress its holy precepts, and so incur its righteous penalty. If men were not subjects of moral government, if neither by the light of nature, nor by the light of revelation they had any knowledge of the law of their being and the right rule of living, then they would have had no sin. Tholuck: “The idea of law, and the idea of penal justice are correlative, because it is impossible to conceive of man, except as a transgressor." Chalmers: "There have been infractions of the law by all, and all therefore are the children of wrath." Scott: “The clearer, the more copious and the more express the law is, the more numerous, evident, and aggravated must man's transgressions appear.'


1. The doctrine of justification by faith is true, for God's word teaches it; it is important, for God's word urges it; it is vastly weighty, for God's word greatly insists upon it. It is the great theme of two of Paul's epistles, this, and that to the Galatians. Elsewhere it is brought up again and again. If God says a thing once, we know it is true. If he says it often, we should think of it habitually, Rom. 4:1-14. Brown: “Justification, and the right way thereof, being a matter of great necessity to be known, and a truth which Satan hath early and late bent his strength against, a great necessity lieth upon all to be thoroughly clear in this matter; and ministers should labor to explain it fully unto people, and use all means to make plain the way, and to confirm them in the truth thereof."

2. All claim of personal merit or desert of good before God on the part of us sinners is monstrous — monstrous error, monstrous [[173]] arrogance, monstrous folly, monstrous wickedness, Rom. 4:2. Olshausen: “Works give merit, merit justifies a person in making demands or in boasting; no grace therefore can consist with works, but only a relation of debt." Hodge: “The renunciation of a legal self-righteous spirit is the first requisition of the gospel." If God's word teaches any thing, it certainly teaches that any and every form of self-glorification in the sight of heaven is vain, is vile, is wicked, is dangerous.

3. There has never been but one method of a sinner's acceptance before God. God's word speaks of but one. It condemns all others, Rom. 4:1-13. Saving faith rests on Christ, not on self; on the Son of God, not on the son of man; on atoning blood, not on tears of penitence. No two things are more opposite than faith or grace on the one hand, and works or debt on the other. All scripture shuts up men to a wholly gratuitous salvation. This suits our case exactly.

4. But this is a very humbling method. It abases man. It cuts up pride by the roots. It leaves no room for boasting. It forbids glorying, Rom. 4:2. Hence the offensiveness of this doctrine. Pool: “Abraham was a man that had faith and works both, yet he was justified by faith, and not by works." He humbled himself to receive the gratuity, and so must we, if we would inherit eternal life. If we expect to pursue any course which shall in strict justice to us bring God under any obligation to save us, we shall perish in our folly. Even Abraham had nothing whereof to glory before God.

5. It is one thing to be judged of men. It is another, and a very different thing to be judged of the Lord, Rom. 4:2. Compared with many other men how bright was the character of Abraham! Compared with the perfect law of God, he needed absolutely pardoning grace and justifying righteousness, just like every other sinful man. If there was any sense in which he might glory before men, there was no sense in which he could boast before God. And if he, “a patriarch whose virtues had canonized him in the hearts of all his descendants; and who, from the heights of a very remote antiquity, still stands forth to the people of this distant age, as the most venerably attired in the worth and piety and all the primitive and sterling virtues of the older dispensation,” had nothing whereof to glory before God, how dare any of us trust our souls to any but a plan of unmingled grace?

6. The simple fact is, merits we have none. Demerits cluster on us all. We are born in sin. Our best deeds are full of imperfection. “In many things we all offend." “There is not a just man upon earth that liveth and sinneth not." “All our [[174]] righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Eternal confusion must cover us if there is not some gracious method of making us righteous before God. We must be found naked, if we are not “found in Christ, not having our own righteousness."

7. We may always, with safety and profit, refer our sentiments and reasonings, our belief and practice to the unerring rule of scripture, Rom. 4:3. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isa. 8:20. Haldane: “Paul's proof is drawn from the historical records of the Old Testament, and thus he sets his seal to its complete verbal inspiration, quoting what is there recorded as the decision of God." Brown: “Old Testament scriptures are yet in force to us under the gospel, and may safely be made use of to confirm and illustrate truths." Scripture binds the conscience of all good men, yea, it often speaks with awful authority even to bad men. Let no man — in particular let no minister — handle the word of God deceitfully, nor imagine that any merely human logic can control the heart of man as holy scripture can. It is "the sword of the Spirit."

8. Although faith has in it nothing to merit God's favor and is itself never by him regarded as righteousness, or in any wise commensurate to the requirements of the law, yet it is necessary to salvation — so necessary that without it there is no man saved. Even Abraham had not been justified, if he had not believed, Rom. 4:3, 5. Chalmers: “They who have the faith of Abraham are his children, though they have not the circumcision. They who have the circumcision are not his children, if they have not the faith. The sign without the thing signified will avail them nothing." Chrysostom: “To him that worketh a reward is given; to him that believeth righteousness. Now righteousness is much greater than a reward." Great and numerous have been the just commendations of faith; but our apostle commends it here, because it lays hold on Christ's righteousness. This is what man can do in no other way than by believing. Yet let us eschew the dangerous error that faith is itself a justifying righteousness. O no! if we are ever righteous before God, it must be by receiving the righteousness of God, which is by or through faith. On the other hand “without faith it is impossible to please God; “for unbelief is a refusal to set our seal to the covenant of grace. Nor can believers too often renew their hold of Christ and his righteousness. The great cure of uncertainity respecting our interest in Christ is found in frequently renewed acts of faith in him.

9. Let men, especially those, who bear the Christian name, cease to oppose and oppugn the blessed doctrine of the imputation [[175]] of Christ's righteousness, seeing it is so clearly taught in many scriptures, Rom. 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11. The violence and ingenuity manifested against the doctrine of imputation have often been amazing, sometimes blasphemous, and sometimes scornful, sometimes claiming great love for the truth, sometimes promising to remove difficulties, but always involving us in uncertainty. The latest form of opposition claims to be very mild and gentle. But there is no yielding of the disputed point. A living writer says, “It is not uncommon to say, that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, or that it becomes ours." He then adds that “this language to many minds does not convey a very definite conception,” and that “on other minds it conveys erroneous impressions, and seems to be irreconcilable with the common notions of men about moral character." These terms are mild compared with those used by Socinus on the same subject, but they are not a whit less insidious or dangerous. Here is an absolute refusal to employ terms used by David and Paul, by the greatest reformers, by the most glorious martyrs, and by the church of God for long ages; and all under the plea that they are not definite, that they may mislead, and that they do not tally with men's notions. One may search the Christian world through and through, and he will find no terms touching the mystery of salvation better understood for centuries past by the learned and by the common people, or better defined in massive treatises or in concise formulas of doctrine than imputed righteousness. Yet we read some modern treatises, avowedly on justification, and never meet these terms except to find some slighting remark, some cavil respecting them. When men shall succeed in excluding imputation from the terms of theology, it will not be long till they will be found disusing or even opposing the word righteousness. The two must stand or fall together. And what will the preaching of the gospel be, when no righteousness remains to be offered to the penitent? No mortal has ever suggested any possible way, in which the believing sinner may avail himself of the righteousness of Christ, if the Lord shall not freely impute it to him. The great objection, flippantly urged, is that imputation involves a transfer of moral character. But who has ever taught that absurdity? What respectable man has ever held such an opinion? Surely the Christian world never taught it. Christ in his own character was truly, wholly, personally innocent; but when our sins were laid on him he was in the eye of the law, and as our substitute, by imputation guilty, under the curse; yet our moral character was not transferred to him. It would be blasphemy to say that his holy soul was defiled. And yet God so laid on him the iniquities of us all, that he was made sin for us.

[[176]] So we are truly, wholly, personally vile, and when Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, it does not make us personally pure or worthy, but it gives us a title good in the eyes of the law to all the blessings of the covenant of grace. Hodge truly says: “It never was the doctrine of the Reformation, or of the Lutheran or Calvinistic divines, that the imputation of righteousness affected the moral character of those concerned. It is true, whom God justifies he also sanctifies, but justification is not sanctification, and the imputation of righteousness is not the infusion of righteousness." Nor has the church of God ever taught otherwise. Justin Martyr: “God gave his Son a ransom for us; the holy for transgressors; the innocent for the evil; the just for the unjust; the incorruptible for the corrupt; the immortal for mortals. For what else could hide or cover our sins but his righteousness? In whom else could we wicked and ungodly ones be justified, but in the Son of God alone? O precious permutation. O unsearchable operation. O beneficence surpassing all expectation! that the sin of many should be hid in one just person, and the righteousness of one should justify many transgressors."

There is a class of writers, not very numerous, nor respectable, but confident and pushing, who to avoid the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of God our Saviour, declare that our faith itself is accepted by God as righteousness; that faith itself is reckoned as righteousness. If our faith were perfect, this would be accepting one perfect act instead of the perfect obedience due all our lives. But every man's faith, especially as he first lays hold of the gospel, is imperfect, and the best men are the most conscious of such imperfection, Mark 9:24. One of the best prayers ever offered by the disciples was, Lord, increase our faith. If God should accept any one act of faith, or all acts of faith as the meritorious ground of our acceptance, it would be admitting that his law had been too strict, that an imperfect obedience was all he now required, and that Jesus Christ had lived and died in vain; at least, that he satisfied not the demands of the law or justice, that he brought in no righteousness, and that believing sinners were saved in derogation of perfect righteousness. The same class of writers often urge that God merely treats the sinner as just, and that this is the mercy of God in Christ. But if any one is not righteous, how can God treat him, as if he were righteous? The Bible never speaks of men as quasi just, but it often speaks of the just, the righteous. If God acquits as just those who in every sense in the eye of justice are guilty and have no righteousness, what hinders him from saving unbelievers as well as believers? Such a view utterly confounds the distinction made by the [[177]] apostle between faith and works, the righteousness of God and the deeds of the law. Guyse: “The act of faith itself is as much a work, as any other commanded duty, and were that to be reckoned to us for righteousness, the reward in justifying us would be a debt, due to us, on account of our having performed that work." Pool: "Remission of sins presupposeth imputation of righteousness; and he, that hath his sins remitted, hath Christ's righteousness first imputed, that so they may be remitted and forgiven to sinners." It is therefore but a miserable mockery of the sad state of men to represent justification in any case, as Macknight has done: “In judging Abraham, God will place on the one side of the account his duties, and on the other his performances. And on the side of his performances he will place his faith, mid by mere favor will value it as equal to a complete performance of his duties, and reward him as if he were a righteous man." Can it be wondered at that when such sentiments are presented to men, every pious and intelligent Christian is shocked, and every penitent sinner asks, Am I after all left without hope except that God will save me by my own merits, or at least without any righteousness commensurate to his law? It is impossible ever to quiet an enlightened and tender conscience in man, until you can show him such a righteousness, meeting all the demands of God's law, and let him see how he may make it his own to all the ends of a complete justification, Rom. 4:3, 5, 6, 7, 8. The great importance of this matter to Christian comfort is well stated by Chrysostom: “Paul is now intent upon shewing that this salvation, so far from being matter of shame, was even the cause of a bright glory, and a greater than that through works. For since the being saved, yet with shame, had somewhat of dejection in it, he next takes away this suspicion too. And indeed he has hinted at the same already, by calling it not barely salvation but righteousness. Therein (he says) is the righteousness of God revealed. For he that is saved as a righteous man has a confidence accompanying his salvation. And he calls it not righteousness only, but also the setting forth of the righteousness of God. But God is set forth in things which are glorious, and shining, and great." No right minded man wishes to go to heaven in derogation of the divine honor or the glory of the divine government. Nor is it possible for us in any wise to please God, until we ourselves are graciously accepted, for as Calvin says: “The righteousness of works is the effect of the righteousness of God, and the blessedness arising from works is the effect of the blessedness which proceeds from the remission of sins." Nor can we otherwise have any good hope, for the Dutch Annotations truly says: “The ground of our salvation [[178]]consists in remission of sins and imputation of the righteousness of Christ." And Hawker well says: “That which was and is counted for righteousness, is not our faith in that righteousness, but the righteousness itself imputed to the persons of the faithful, from their union and oneness in Christ." We cannot give up the distinction between faith and works, grace and debt, Christ's righteousness and human merits. It must be made and maintained at all costs and at all hazards, Rom. 4:4, 5. Nor need we fear that we shall 'dishonor God by exalting his grace. In no way can we so shew forth his glory as by believing in his Son and accepting his righteousness. Chrysostom: “He indeed honors God, who fulfils the commandments, but he doth so in a much higher degree who thus followeth wisdom by his faith. The former obeys him, but the latter has that estimate of him, which is fitting, and glorifies him, and is full of wonder at him more than can be evinced by works." Brown: “This imputation of Christ is no chimera, or groundless imagination, however it seemeth absurd to carnal reason, but a real thing, founded upon the obedience of Christ, which is no fiction."

10. The truth puts man in a low place and gives him a low estimate of himself. By the gospel scheme boasting is excluded. God justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4:5. Olshausen: “All men in respect of God are in a state of ungodliness, and unable by their own powers to raise themselves into any other condition. … Every one, who desires to come to Christ, must altogether, and in every thing, ' recognize himself as a sinner." Blessed be God! his mercies are for the needy; his salvation for the lost. We are sick and “ungodliness is the radical and pervading ingredient of the disease of our nature, and it is here said of God that he justifies the ungodly. The discharge is as ample as the debt." Hodge: “As God justifies the ungodly, it cannot be on the ground of their own merit." No mere man deserves at God's hand any benefit whatever.

11. How perfect is the remission of sins, and how rich is the variety of terms and phrases employed to assure believers of the completeness of their deliverance from the condemning power of the law, Rom. 4:7, 8. Forgiveness or remission, covering or hiding, not imputing, or not setting to one's account are the terms used. What more could we ask? Evans: "Justification does not make the sin not to have been, or not to have been sin;" and yet odious, abominable, offensive as is every form of iniquity the Lord casts it behind his back; he averts his face and refuses to look at it. Blessed be his name for his mercy. Blessed is the man, who shares it.

[[179]] 12. The grace of God in the pardon of sin is the more illustrious when we consider the nature of it, Rom. 4:7, 8. It is iniquity, it is transgression, it is evil, it is an offence, it is a horrible thing, an unnatural crime, it is contempt of God, it is robbery, it is rebellion, it is perversity, it is lawlessness, it is enmity against God. It is odious, vile, loathsome, ruinous. It digs every grave. It makes the torments of hell what they are.

13. The justification of the believer is entire, wanting nothing, complete, full, finished, perfect, Rom. 4:6-8. Every man needs all that is promised, but no man needs more. Chrysostom: “Punishment is removed, and righteousness through faith succeeds; there is then no obstacle to our becoming heirs of the promise." Who does not call Abraham blessed? yet all ‘they that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.'

14. Nor does the Scripture leave us in any doubt as to the character of those, who receive so great a blessing. They are believers and none else, Rom. 4:9. By nationality they may be Jews, or Gentiles; in manners they may be rude or refined; in education they may be learned or uncultivated; in man's esteem they may be base of honorable; but if they accept from the heart the mercy offered in Christ, they shall be saved. Michaelis: “To him who does works, the reward is not said to be reckoned, an expression which makes it appear as if it were given from grace, but he obtains it because it is his due."

15. Let not the pious reader fear that our apostle in dwelling so long on justification will overlook sanctification. There is no conflict between these things. The truth respecting forgiveness and acceptance is not unfriendly to purity. Ere we close our study of this epistle we shall see that Paul is as stanch a friend of holiness as ever wrote a book of scripture.

16. Let every man beware lest he become enamored of rites and ceremonies, of forms and ordinances rather than in love with Christ, Rom. 4:10. It is quite as easy to put gospel ordinances in the place the Saviour should occupy, as it was to put the Jewish ritual in the place of justifying righteousness.

17. Let us seek to understand and hold fast the .true doctrine of the sacraments of God's house, Rom. 4:11. "A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and ‘applied to believers." A sacrament is a sign, a sign of some truth. It sets forth something which it concerns us to. know and receive. And it is a seal, confirming some engagement on the part of God. If there were no covenant of grace, there could be no fitness in any sacrament. In its very nature, a sacrament has no inherent [[180]] virtue, no. invariable efficacy. Nor does its usefulness depend on the sanctity of him, who administers it. Unbelief is a rejection of its usefulness and makes it a curse rather than a blessing. Conybeare & Howson: “Abraham received circumcision as an outward sign of inward things, a seal to attest the righteousness which belonged to his faith while he was yet uncircumcised." The sacraments are not righteousness, nor the cause of righteousness, nor a substitute for faith, nor even a seal of faith, but a seal of righteousness received by faith. To those, who reject Christ himself, they are powerless for good. Not that our unbelief changes their nature, any more than it changes the nature of God's word; but to us it deprives them of all good effect. Nor is there the least authority for the opinion that the sacraments of this dispensation; more than those of the former, have any justifying power. Men are justified by faith, not by ordinances. Yet sacraments are ordained by God, are full of meaning, and to the humble and penitent great comforts, making sure, by our senses, what we receive by faith. Chalmers: “The term sign may be generally defined a mark of indication, as when we speak of the signs of the times, or of the signs of the weather. A sign becomes a seal, when it is the mark of any deed or any declaration, having actually come forth from him who professes to be the author of it. It authenticates it to be his — so that should it be a promise, it binds him to performance." We therefore fitly speak of sacraments as sealing ordinances. To contemn them is to despise the ordinance of God. Yet Abraham was justified long before he was circumcised. The penitent thief was never baptized, and never partook of the Lord's Supper, yet he was saved. Simon Magus was duly baptized, yet continued in the bond of iniquity and in the gall of bitterness. Some of the Corinthians in partaking of the Lord's Supper ate judgment to themselves. Sacraments rightly used are great blessings; but sacraments put in the place of the grace and Spirit of God are the means of confirming men in fatal delusions. To assert that baptism is regeneration is as great error in our day, as it was of old to teach that circumcision was complete righteousness before God.

18. It is a great honor to be a pattern and an encouragement to even a few souls in teaching them by example the way of salvation. How great then was the honor conferred on Abraham that he should be the father of the faithful, the heir of the world, Rom. 4:11-13.

19. So rich are the promises of God, that one of the chief difficulties we have is in comprehending their glorious fulness, Rom. 4:13.

[[181]] 20. We can never yield the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. To do so makes the promises of God of none effect, Rom. 4:14. To do so puts us into tormenting uncertainty concerning salvation. Proof of this is found in the churches of Galatia, Gal. 4:15; and in the Romish church, which utterly denies the doctrine of assurance of faith and of hope.

21. There must be something very malignant in the nature of sin to cause the law to work wrath, and to cause God to execute wrath, Rom. 4:15. The law was ordained to life, but, when sin entered, it was found to be unto death. Chalmers: “Admit the arbitrations of the law, and wrath will be wrought out of them. Condemnation? will be the sure result of this process. It must and will pronounce the guilt of transgression upon all, and, to get quit of this, there must be some way or other of so disposing of the law, as that it shall not be brought to bear in judgment on the sinner. It has been so disposed of." Jesus Christ was made a curse for us. Jesus Christ obeyed in our room and stead. He brought in everlasting righteousness. Calvin: “The law can indeed show to the good and the perfect the way of life: but as it prescribes to the sinful and corrupt what they ought to do, and supplies them with no power for doing, it exhibits them as guilty before God."

22. Let no man who fails to lay hold of the righteousness of Christ, indulge the hope of escaping the curse of the law, the punishment of his sins, the wrath of God, Rom. 4:15. Every wise man cries: “Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified,” Ps. 143:2. All men know better than they do. All have come short of the glory of God.

23. Unspeakable are the blessings of salvation. Those who embrace it are the faithful, heirs, heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. The only people, who are truly blessed, or to whom existence is on the whole desirable, are the justified. They have everlasting riches, treasure inexhaustible. No blessing can be imagined that is not vouchsafed to the true child of God. All things are his. Pardon, peace, acceptance, authority to become a son of God, purification, victory final and complete, eternal life in a glorified state — all are secured to him, who believes in Jesus and takes him as his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

1-10 of 39