« AnteriorContinuar »
upon a level, and had all one and the same gracious condition of Christ's redemption, without any further regard to the ceremonial law, which was utterly unable to atone for habitual breaches of the moral law of God. In the fourth, that justification, and the favour of God, is not by works, that is, by the ceremonies of the Jewish law, but by religious faith, that is, by faith shewn forth in obeying God's commandments, as seen in the case of Abraham. In the fifth, that as this faith justified 'Abraham, so the same faith in Jesus CHRIST, manifested in keeping his commandments, will justify every true christian; that this gracious covenant is offered to Gentiles as well as Jews; and that the merits of CHRIST to save are as universal as the sin of Adam was to condemn. In the sixth, that the great wickedness both of Jews and Gentiles, serves to shew forth and magnify the free mercies of CHRIST's redemption; but that this is no encouragement to sin, the very design of the christian religion being to mortify all wicked principles in us, and to bring us all to holiness and purity. In the seventh chapter, St. Paul goes on to prove, that the law of Moses was entirely unable to cure the habits, or atone for the guilt, of sin ; and that the merits of Christ and his religion are alone able to obtain par
don for and to save mankind. In the eighth chapter he states this great doctrine more at large ; and shews in what manner the christian religion is able to effect the salvation of the world, and actually does save the Gentile as well as the Jewish believer. In the ninth, he discourses of the rejection of the Jews for their infidelity, and the taking of the believing Gentiles in their room ; and proves that it is consistent with God's justice and goodness, and agreeable to the scriptures of the Old Testament. In the tenth chapter, he expresses his earnest desire that the Jews would yet believe the gospel, and be saved ; shews how false that zeal is, which lays a stress upon outward performances; how much more gracious and easy the conditions of the gospel covenant are, than the severe terms of justification under the law; and that, according to ancient prophecy, this covenant was to be offered to the Gentile as well as the Jew. In the eleventh chapter, he shews that the rejection of the Jewish nation is not universal, or final; that there is still room left for their pardon and acceptance ; that the Gentile christians, therefore, are not to insult over the rejected Jews, who were the ancient church of God, who may yet become their bre thren in CHRIST, and who will, on their conversion, give additional glory to the gentile church.
Having thus corrected the great error which most of the Jews who had been converted to the Christian faith laboured under, " that the works of the ceremonial law were “ necessary to salvation ;” the Apostle proceeds to lay down those great rules of christian conduct, which believers of all nations and ages are bound to observe, as the necessary fruits of their faith; and the best proofs that they are, in deed and in truth, the disciples of CHRIST. These exhorta. tions fill up most of the remainder of the epistle, and they begin with that affectionate one which is contained in the text. "I “ beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the
mercies of God, that ye present your of bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable “ unto God, which is your reasonable ser« vice." Nothing, surely, can shew the absolute necessity of “ good works," or moral conduct, in the christian character, more clearly than these words.
The Apostle does not call upon the believers for an act of faith, for faith dwells only in the mind; but beseeches them that they would make an offering of their bodies to God; that they would give up their vices, their bad habits, their impurities, their wicked deeds, all
those outward indulgencies and practices, whether open or secret, which are contrary to the laws of the christian religion ; and "put on the new man, which after God is “ created in righteousness and true holiness." “I beseech you,” says he,“ by the mercies “ of God;" as you have experienced such unspeakable mercy; are called from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan to the living God; as you are now capable of pardon and happiness, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and upon the terms of faith in him, and obedience to the gospel; let me implore you to present your « bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable urto God."
In the latter words St. Paul alludes to those sacrifices, which, by God's commandment, were offered up to him under The Mosaical law, and as they were to be without spot or blemish, so must the christian be careful (under the law of Christ) to offer up his body also to God a pure and spotless sacrifice, unstained by those personal sins which defile the image of GOD in man, and make that body which should be the temple of the Holy Ghost, the dwelling of uncleanness and impurity.. That sins of this nature are utterly abominable in the sight of God, is sufficiently evident from the many solemn commandments, and threats of punishment denounced against them, which we meet with in the scriptures. “The works of the flesh are 6 manifest; adulteries, fornication, unclean“ ness, lasciviousness, drunkenness, revel“ lings, and such like, of the which I tell
you before, (says St. Paul,) as I have “ told you in times past, that they which “ do such things shall not inherit the “ kingdom of God." " Fornication and 66 all uncleanness, let it not be once samed “ among you, as becometh saints."
« Mortify, therefore, your members upon the “ earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordi“ nate affection, evil concupiscence, and “covetousness, which is idolatry; for which “ things sake, the wratb of God cometh
upon the children of disobedience." The holy scriptures are equally strong against drunkenness, another of those sins which defile the body, and prevent it from being offered “a sacrifice holy and
acceptable unto God." « Take heed to
yourselves," says our blessed LORD with the kindest earnestness, “ take heed to your" selves, lest at any time your hearts be “overcharged with surfeiting and drunken“ness, and so the day of the LORD come upon you unawares."
" Let us walk