Page images

4. 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, v. 6. The deliverance spoken of in this

then as a slave serve with, &c. Translated in this manner, interrogatively, the passage contains a strong denial, that the person spoken of, after being delivered from the body of this death, any longer serves, as formerly, with the mind only, the law of God, and with the flesh the law of sin in his mombers. Whereas translated as in our English bible ; So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin, it represents the delivered person as still continuing in that very slavery to sin, from which he says he was delivered by God, through Christ, and utterly overturns the inference drawn, chap. viii. 1. from what is said in this passage: There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. 2. For the law of the spirit, &c. But if those to whom there is no condemnation, walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, it surely cannot be said of such in any sense that with the flesh they serve the law of sin ; so that the common translation of ver. 25. is utterly wrong, and even dan. gerous.” In support of this translation, Macknight cites to Matth. xviii. 1. saying, (Tus aga) Who now is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? and also Mark iy. 4. Tos algo slos, What manner of man is this? In both of these places it is marrifest that ago (ara) is used interrogatively. The primitive meaning of the word aga, is a curse. * So that if its appropriate meaning be insisted on, we might suppose the Apostle to say, It is a curse to be in this wretched state, in which I myself must serve the law of the Spirit with my mind, and with the flesh the law of sin! But certainly the Apostle did not design to insinuate that he himself, and all other Christians were upder the curse, so long as they lived. Dr. Macknight's interpretation therefore, appears to be just and reasonable.

* See Rom. iij. i4.


verse, the Apostle explains more at large in the eighth chapter, particularly from the first to the fourth verse inclusive. There is therefore now ro condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, v. 1.The man under the law is said to be in the flesh; and in ch. vii. 5. it is said, when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, &c. In the latter part of that chapter, the Apostle thanked God for deliverance through Christ. So here he says there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ ;- such do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Behold the contrast! How great! Before, groaning under condemnation: Now, exulting in deliverance. Before, obeying the motions of sin: Now, governed by the law of the Spirit. It is not possible to describe two directly opposite characters in a more pointed manner.-May not every experimental Christian recognize his own experience in these words ? Does he not with joy and gratitude recollect the happy moment when he was made free from sin, by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus ? For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death, v. 2. Here is the freedom, from the motions of sins, which were by the law, mentioned in ch. vii. 5. The law caused the motions of sin to rankle in the heart, and thereby shew its violent opposition to the holy law of God, but it could not deliver from sin. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his

[ocr errors]


own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, ver. 3. In these words the Apostle shews the superiority of the gospel dispensation over the law. Such is the weakness of human nature in its depraved state, that men cannot fulfil the requirements of the righteous law. To supply this defect, and to remedy this evil, God sent his Son, that sin might be destroyed; and that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.Now let any attentive mind, not biased by prejudice, nor swayed by a blind attachment to a particular creed, compare what is here said in the eighth chapter, with what is said in the seventh, and he will be convinced that the Apostle is describing totally different characters. You have no support, therefore, from the seventh of Romans, for trine of " sinful imperfection."

5. Having shewn, as I humbly trust, that Paul is misunderstood, when he is made to say of himself, while under the influence of pardoning and sanctify: ing grace, I am carnal, sold under sin, &c. I come to examine some of your other misinterpreted texts. You next quote a detached sentence from Phil. iii. 12. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; and suppose from this he had not "attained to sinless perfection," p. 83. True, if by “sinless perfection” you mean his having completed his sufferings, or being as perfect as are the saints in heaven. To all this perfection we do not expect any one to attain in this life. That this

you doc.

was the perfection to which he said he had not yet af, tained is evident from the context. This will appear from an impartial examination of the whole passage. . That I may know him, and the power of his resurrrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, v. 10. If by any means I may ATTAIN unto the resurrection of the dead, v. 11. Not as though I had aleeady ATTAINED (unto the resurrection of the dead, which is the complete perfection of the saints in heaven,) either were already perfect, in the fellowship of his sufferings, or perfectly conformed unto his death, because I have many things to suffer, even unto crucifixion, before I am perfect in sufferings, and before I can have the crown of martyrdom, after which I aspire. It appears the Apostle felt an holy ambition of soul to imitate his divine Master, who was made perfect through sufferings; and thus to be fully conformed to his death, that he might have a share in the first resurrection. O for this apostolic spirit! But to this he had not yet attained; and therefore neither had he arrived to that consummate perfection to which the martyrs shall arrive at their resurrection. Therefore he saith, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, (not resting in past experi.ence or attainments) and reaching forth unto the things which are before, (the sufferings in the cause of Christ, which I perceive await me, and which I am eager to endure) I press toward the mark, for the prize (the high dignity of martyrdom) of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. In the next verse, he strongly asserts the perfection of his present at. tainments, as a christian surrounded with infirmities, and exposed to temptations ; but still pressing forward: not indeed the perfection of glorified saints, 'with which you unjustly accuse us : Let us as many as be PERFECT, be thus minded. Here the Apostle speaks of the same perfection as he did Rom. vi. 22, “ But now being made free from sin, and be. come servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

6. P. 33. “ It is stated, Gal. v. 17. as an experience common to all christians, that in them the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. The Apostle is writing to christians of different grades, those who brought forth thirty, and sixty, and an hundred fold; and yet he speaks of them all as sinfully defective." So you assert, but without a shadow of proof. Let any man candidly cxamine the epistle to the Galatians, and he will be convinced that the Apostle addresses them as a fallen people; who had indeed begun in the spirit, but now sought to be made perfect by the flesh, Chap. iii. 3. The flesh, according to your definition, signifies, “ The sinful, corrupt nature which we bring into the world with us. According to this, it would seem, that the Galatians, leaving the pure doctrines of the gospel, had fallen into your system, and expected to be made perfect by harbouring " indwelling sin ;" for you labour hard in your fourth sermon to shew the great utility

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »