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own experience while under the law, or more indefinitely to personate any one under conviction for sin, and groaning for deliverance. This we judge from the context. The 5th and 6th verses contain the doctrine which the Apostle illustrates from ver. 7. of the 7th chapter, to ver. 4, of the 8th chapter, inclusive. Ver. 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. This proposition he takes up at the 7th verse, and illustrates it in a very striking manner, by personifying a man coming to the knowledge of himself, and viewing the justice and holiness of the law which writes his condemnation. After having vindicated the righteousness of the law, and shewing its effects in detecting and exhibiting sin in ver. 7 and 8, he says, I was alive without the law once, v. 9. while ignorant of its length and breadth, of its spiritual nature and requirements, I thought myself a living, obedient servant to God. This is precisely the case with all unhumbled, pharisaical professors of religion. Being ignorant of the spirituality and holiness of the law, and consequently ignorant of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, they go about to establish a righteousness of their own, and do not submit to the righteousness of God. But when the commandment came, in its authoritative influence upon my conscience, by which spiritual light was diffused into the dark powers of my soul, so that I saw my native vileness, sin revived, it made a struggle for life, and I died, I found myself destitute of spiritual
union with God, ver. 10. And the commandment which was intended for life, for living, active followers of God, as Adam was, previous to his trans* gression, and as all truly regenerated men are,
1 found to be unto death, to my polluted soul, it cutting asunder all my imaginary strings of spiritual life, and thus destroying all my towering hopes of happiness, ver. 11. How coincident is this to the experience of all those who have been awaked from their delusive dream of happiness while under the power of sin, and yet ignorant of their stupid state. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, taking advantage of my ignorance of the nature and design of the law, deceived me, by making me think I was alive to God, while dead in sin; and by that deceit the law slew me, taking advantage of my weakness, it threw me almost into despair. From this you will perceive that the law is holy, not deceitful, like the law of sin, and the commandment, holy, just, divid. ing to every one their right, and good, perfectly answering its design, v. 12. In verse 13, he shews that the law was not the cause of his deathsin was the cause; but the law operating upon his conscience, discovered his entire separation from God, that sin the cause of this separation, might become, or appear exceeding sinful. For now all we who are in this awakened state, know that the law is spiritual : but I am carnal, yet in the flesh, and sold under sin, a perfect slave to its domineering influence, v. 14; so that, although I consent unto the law that it is good, I do not fulfil its precepts. My enlightened judgment does not approve of what I do ; and therefore what I would, that do I not. I would be free from this state of spiritual vassalage, but such is my weakness in my present unrenewed state, that I cannot. I would fulfil the requirements of the holy law, but I am incompetent. But what I hate, that do 1.--I hate sin with a perfect hatred, yet I find the motions of sins work in my members, v. 15, 16. Is not this a most lively description of a true penitent, mourning on account of his blindness and hardness; and yet consenting unto that very law which binds him? What Christian can read this portion of scripture without calling to mind the days of his spiritual mourning, and his earnest desire for deliverance. Now then it is no more I that do it,--not that I do these things from the dictates of my enlightened judgment and reason ; but sin, which hath infused its poisoning influence through all my members, carries me whither I would not, v. 17, For I know, because God hath shown it me, by the agency of the Holy Spirit bringing the holy law home to my conscience, that in me (that is in my flesh, my fallen depraved heart,) dwelleth no good thing, naturally; all the good light of truth I have is from above; and all the good desires I now have for deliverance have been wrought in me by the eternal Spirit. In consequence of this depravity, although my judgment is so far convinced, that I have a disposition to will that which is good, yet how to perform it I find not, v. 18.
ced of the just requirements of the law, I would fulfil them, but I do not, nor can I, on account of my present imbecility; but this evil slavery in which I am held, causes me to murmur, a thing I hate, because it implies a complaint against God, v. 19. Now if I do that which I would not, it is no more 1in this particular I do not act according to the dictates of my enlightened judgment, bụt it is owing to the strong propelling power of sin, which dwells in my unrenewed heart, v. 20. There may be a time, when a soul is under the powerful awakenings of the Spirit of God, while sin reigns in the heart, and the strong tide of impurity rises in opposition to the flood of divine truth, that the penitent sinner is carried away, as it were, contrary to his wishes. Such may be his ignorance of the method of salvation by Jesus Christ, and his utter helplessness in consequence of the lapsed state of his soul, that, though he may feel a strong desire to be free from the domineering influence of sin, he cannot attain to it instantly, or as soon as he would. To this state of mind, it appears to me, the Apostle alludes in this passage. I find then a law of sin in my members, bearing me away, that when I would do good, this evil law is nigh, even in my nature, and therefore prevents me, v. 21.
So far from consenting with my enlightened mind, to the tyranical dominion of this enemy, sin, that I take delight in contemplating the purity and justice of the law of God, which is exceeding penetrating, extending even to the inward man-to the very secret desires of the heart; v. 22. But notwithstanding this de light I take in viewing the law of God, and in anticipating my deliverance from its just sentence, I yet see another law in my members, warring against this law of my mind, the spiritual law of which my judgment approves—and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin in my members, v. 23. O wretched man that I am, to be thus captivated. Who shall deliver me from this body of death, which God's law has discovered to me, v. 24. Is not this the language of every penitent? Does he not groan under the heavy burden of spiritual death, and * pine for deliverance." I thank God, notwithstanding the law justly condemns me, I hope for deliverance through our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to redeem me from the curse of the law, being made a curse for me, So then, with the mind, with my“ better judgment,” I serve the law of God, I consent unto its precepts, that they are good; but still, until my deliverance comes, with my flesh I serve the law of sin,* v. 25. So far the Apostle illustrated the doctrine contained in the fifth verse.
Although I have paraphrased the 25th verse, according to the sentiment conveyed in our translation, yet I very much doubt the accuracy of that translation. The reader is desired seriously to weigh the following translation and comment, which I borrow from Dr. Macknight. “ Do I myself then as a slave, serve with the mind the law of God, but with the flesh the latu of sin? Aço By AUTQ EYW, &c. Here aega (ara) is a particle of interrogation. This question is an inference from what the Apostle had said concerning his eing delivered from the body of death, through Jesus Christ. Being delivered, Do I myself