Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

whose bonds have been loosed, and from whom the fetters of corruption have been struck off along with the fetters of condemnation. You may say, that it is preaching to the dead, to bid you move and bestir yourselves towards the path of holiness -but not if faith accompany the utterance, for in that case power and life will go along with it. Like the withered hand you will perform the gesture that is required of you at the hearing of our voice-if the Spirit of all grace lend His efficacy to the word that is spoken; and actuate you with that belief in the gospel record, which strengthens as well as saves, and which sanctifies as well as justifies.

171

LECTURE XXXV.

ROMANS, vi, 15-18.

"What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 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? 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. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."

You will perceive that in the 15th verse, the apostle reiterates the objection that was made at the outset of the chapter, where it is said-'What! shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?'-the same objection, but grounded on a distinct consideration, or on a consideration differently expressed at least in the 15th verse, where it is said, • What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?' It strikes me that the apostle, when treating this question as put at the first, has in his eye the grace that pardons; and, in his reply, he urges the inconsistency of creatures, who for sin had been adjudged to die, but through the death of another had been recalled to life again, ever recurring in the habit of their practice to that which brought upon them so sore a condemnation. By the time he arrives at that point in the progress of his argument where we now are, he had asked them to resist the power of

sin, and to give themselves up unto the service of God; and was encouraging them with the prospect of success in this new plan of life, on the assurance that this power of sin was not unconquerable, but that, instead of its prevailing over them, they should be enabled to prevail over itbecause, instead of being now under the law, they were now under grace. And we have no doubt that there was here a reference, not to grace as it pardons, but to grace as it purifies. There is another passage in his writings, where he tells us what that circumstance is which denotes a man to be not under the law. "But if ye be led by the Spirit ye are not under the law." To be taken under the leading of the Spirit is to be taken under grace-even that grace which paid the debt of our souls and is now upholding them in spiritual subsistence. What is the consequence of the Spirit's leading, or what is the fruit of it ?-why that we are led to the preference and the practice of all those virtues which enter into the composition of true moral excellence, of which the apostle gives us the enumeration by such specific terms as love and peace and joy and gentleness and goodness and long-suffering and faith and meekness and temperance, against which, says he, there is no law. The grace which delivered us from the reckoning of the law because of our past delinquencies, delivers us also from the future reckonings of the law, by introducing us to such a character and such a conduct as even the law has

nothing to allege against; and so the circumstance of being under grace, so far from leading us to sin, leads us just in the opposite direction-leads us to that domain of righteousness which is not under the law, and that because there the law finds no occasion on which it might put forth its authority to condemn ; and there its authority to issue orders is not called for, because it is in fact anticipated by the heaven-born affection which does not wait for its commands, by the heaven-born taste which delights in the doing of them.

V. 16. There may appear a sort of unmeaning and uncalled-for tautology in this verse-a something not very close or consequential, and which it is difficult to seize upon. The apostle had already asked them not to yield themselves unto the obedience of sin, but to yield themselves unto the obedience of God. If it were a real and effectual yielding of themselves to the obedience of God, an actual course of obedience to God would emerge from it. If it were but the semblance of thus yielding, or the putting forth of a warm but unsteadfast purpose which was not adhered to and not followed up-then would they still continue in the obedience of sin. Now, says the apostle, you are the servants of him whom you indeed obey-not the servants of him whom you only profess to obey. You may have engaged yourselves to one master-you may have gone through the form of yielding yourselves up unto him—

you may perhaps have deluded yourselves into the imagination, that you have made good your sur render unto his will and unto his authority; but still, if, in the fact and in the real history, you obey another—you prove by this that you are indeed the servants of that other. He who sins is the servant of sin; and the effect of that service is death, He who obeys is the servant of obedience; and the effect of that service is personal righteousness, or personal meetness for the realms of life everlasting. You may have made a dedication of yourselves unto one of these masters; but you are the servants of the other master, if him you actually serve. And perhaps the best way of seizing on the sense of the apostle in this verse, is just to substitute whomsoever for whom in the first clause of it, when the whole would run thus: Know ye not that to whomsoever ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye do actually obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness.' I have already told you of your release from condemnation by the death of Christ; and I have told you how monstrously out of all proper character it were, that, after re-admittance into the bosom of that accepted family. from which sin and sin alone had exiled you, you should again recur to the service of sin; and, under the impression of this sentiment, I have bidden you yield yourselves up unto the service of God. And, to encourage you the more, I have proclaimed in your hearing the helps and the facilities

« AnteriorContinuar »