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ROMANS, vi, 19-21.

"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. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousWhat fruit had ye then in those things whereof now ashamed; for the end of those things is death?”


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THE first clause of the nineteenth verse reminds us somewhat of another passage in the apostle's writ ings, when he says to his disciples, I speak unto you not as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. The transition from the rude and raw conceptions of nature, to the heights of spiritual wisdom and discernment, is not an immediate but a successive one; and so it follows, that the illustrations of Christian doctrine, must be varied according to the progress of him whom you are labouring to convince and to satisfy; and we have to speak more in the manner of men, more in the way that is suited to the comprehension of unenlightened and unrenewed humanity, to those who are still in the infancy of their education for heaven -whereas, in the language of Paul, to those who are perfect, to those who by reason of use have had their senses will exercised, we speak what he calls hidden wisdom, even the wisdom of God in a mystery. From the clause before us, we infer that the same

topic may be variously illustrated, and that according to the degree of maturity which our hearers have attained in Christian experience. And, agreeably to this, we find, that, whereas in the first instance, the apostle, in expounding the personal change from sin to holiness which takes place on every believer, borrows a similitude that may be understood by men at the very outset of their Christian discipleship-he passes on to another consideration, the force of which could only be felt and acquiesced in by those, who had in some degree been familiarised to the fruits and the feelings and the delights of new obedience.

This by the way may account for the various tastes that there are for various styles and manners of elucidation; and all it may be of substantially the same doctrine. It justifies fully the very peculiar appetite, that a hearer is often found to express for that which he feels to be most suited to him. Nay it goes to explain the change that may have taken place in his preference for the ministrations of another expounder, whose mode of putting or illustrating the truths of Christianity, is the best adapted to that state of progress whereunto he has now attained. And all that remains for him is to bear in mind, that there are other hearts and other understandings in the world beside his own-that, as there is a diversity of subjects, so there is and so there bught to be a diversity of applications; and, accordingly, a diversity of gifts is provided by that Spirit, who divideth to every


man severally as He will. This consideration should serve to abate a little of the intolerance, wherewith a hearer is apt to regard the ministrations of all, who do not lie within the boundary of his own very limited and exclusive favouritism. It should expand into a wider latitude that estimation of utility and worth, which he is too apt to confine to those select few among the preachers, who work most effectually upon the peculiar tablet of his own understanding. More particularly, when he sees how Paul accommodated his illus trations to the capacity and progress of his disciples-how, on the principle of being all things to all men, he made use of carnal or human comparisons, to those who were but just emerging into spiritual light from the mere light and discernment of nature-how this gifted apostle, that could have dealt out the profounder mysteries to the older and more accomplished converts, condescended to men of low attainment; and for their sakes came forth with explanations, the need or the pertinency of which might not have been felt by those who had reached a higher maturity of experience in the gospel-Then might he patiently wait what to him perhaps are the insipid or inapplicable reasonings of his minister, in the hope that others of the congregation require the very argument which falls powerlessly on his own heart, and are profiting by the very considerations which to him are superfluous or uncalled for.

And it is well to notice what the precise illus

tration is, which Paul seems, while he was using it, to have felt of so puerile and elementary a character, or so adapted to the mere infancy of the Christian understanding-that he says I speak as a man or as a mere child of nature, who had not been initiated into the mysteries of the gospel, and that because of the infirmity of your flesh. The thing he was attempting to make plain to them, was the transition of a believer from the service of sin to the service of righteousness. The service of sin might not be a very palpable conception to us, it being the service of a mere abstraction, so long as you restrict your attention to the general term. But when embodied, as it was to the imagination of a heathen convert, in the person of a heathen deity; and familiar, as he must have been, with those impure and frantic orgies which were held in honour of a god who both exemplified and patronised the worst vices of our nature-he would instantly connect with the service of sin, the service of a living master, who issued a voice of authority and exacted deeds of iniquity from his worshippers, as the most acceptable homage that could be rendered to him. In turning from that service to the service of righteousness, he could thus easily comprehend it, as a similar transition to that of passing from under the authority of one living commander to another-even from the god or gods to whom he aforetime rendered the offering of acceptable impurity or acceptable cruelty, to the true God of heaven and of earth whom he could only serve

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acceptably by walking in holiness and righteousness before Him. And these Romans-accustomed as they were to the transference of bond slaves from one master to another, to the way in which they were ransomed from their old servitude and placed under a new subjection to him who had purchased or redeemed them-would the more easily catch the similitude from the mouth of the apostle-when he told them of the power and effect of the ransom by Christ; and how, in virtue of it, they were rescued from the grasp of their old tyrant, who could no longer wield that vengeance against them for sin which he else had been permitted to exercise-and no longer, if they chose to betake themselves to the grace and privileges of the gospel, could have that ascendancy over them, by which their affections were entangled and they were kept under the oppressive influence of moral evil. From this they were all released and extricated, by the new master who had laid down his life for them as the price of their captivity; and whom, now that He had taken it up again, they were bound to serve in the way of all His commandments.

And this illustration of it, was not only well adapted to the understanding of those Pagans who bad turned them from dumb idols to serve the living and the true God. It may still, in many instances, be the most effectual that can be employed, for making clear to the convert of modern days, either at the moment of his turning or re

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