Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


ROMANS V, 6-11.

teous man

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteo will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

FROM the preceding verses we gather, that a believer at the very outset of his faith, may legitimately hope for the fulfilment of all God's promises. Some of these take effect upon him in time, and form the pledges and the earnests of those further accomplishments, which are to take place in eternity-thus affording a basis on which to rest the hope of experience. It is true that they are the greater things which are to follow. The glory that is hereafter, will greatly exceed all the glimpses and all the tokens of it with which we are favoured here; and it may be thought that because we obtain small things now, it does not follow that we are to look for greater things afterwards. A man may both be able and willing, to advance the small sum which he promises to bestow on me to-morrow; but it does not certainly ensue from this, that he will be either able or willing, to grant me the large sum promised on this day twelvemonth. Did the great things come first, we would have less hesitation in expecting the small things that were afterwards to be forth-coming. But when the order is the reverse of this, when the earlier instalments are but minute and insignificant fractions of the entire and final engagement-it may be allowed us perhaps to suspend our confidence, ere we can be sure from the puny samples on hand, of that rich and magnificent sum of blessedness, to which the gospel of Jesus Christ has pointed our expectations.

In the succeeding verses, we have an argument that is eminently fitted to overbear this diffidence; and which both explains to us why we have received our present fulfilments, and why we may rejoice in the assured hope of all our future ones. On our first acceptance of Christ by faith, all that we obtain is peace with God, who ceases to be our enemy; and lifts away from us that hand of threatened vengeance, which has already been laid upon Him who for us hath borne the whole burden of it. It is a great thing, no doubt, thus to be delivered from wrath and hostility. But you can conceive the work of reconciliation to go no farther than this. It might have been nothing more than the reconciliation of the judge

with the prisoner, when he acquits and dismisses him. It may be the simple letting off of a criminal from punishment, or the mere ceasing to be an adversary, without passing onwards to the new character of a benefactor and a patron. But when God in ceasing to be an enemy becomes a friend-when, instead of being dealt with as the objects of His displeas ure, we are dealt with as the objects of His love-when we get not only forbearance, but positive favour from His hands -This is something higher than the peace which accrues to us on the outset of our Christianity. There is an advance made in the scale of privilege; and, if to be at peace with God through Jesu Christ our Lord is in itself a great privilege, to receive the Holy Ghost from Him as the evidence of His love is a still greater one. And, looking onward from this to futurity, it is not till we are refined into the consummate holiness, and raised into the pure and perfect happiness of Heaven, that we shall reach the acme of that enjoyment, which God hath prepared for the faithful disciples of His Son.

Now according to this process, the smaller things you will observe come first, and the greater things follow. There is a gradation and an ascent of privilege, as you move forward in history-but then, to get what is less does not so warrant the expectation of getting what is more, as to get what is much, warrants the expectation of getting what is less. Surely the man who has given me the trifle which he promised, will not withhold from me the treasures that he has also promised, is not so sound a conclusion-as surely the man who promised me a magnificent donation, and hath now actually made it good, will not break his word and promise, when they are merely staked on some paltry fulfilment, that is still in reserve for me. If the lesser comes in the order of time before the greater, then the non-performance of the lesser would blast all our expectations of the greater, and make us ashamed of the confidence with which we cherished them. But, on the other hand, the performance of the lesser does not so warrant our expectations of the greater, as if the order of the two ful

comes due, this would make us ashamed of all the expectations we had cherished of the larger. And accordingly, the apos. tle, from having received the Holy Ghost here as a kind of earnest or first fruits, is not ashamed of his hope for the glory of God which is to be revealed hereafter. But though this might save him from be

It is

it is not enough to warrant the argument
of, how much more, that he comes for-
ward with in the following verses.
not a very conclusive way of reasoning
to say-I have got a smaller thing accord-
ing to promise, how much more then may
I expect a greater thing? It would have
applied better had the greater thing come
first, and then you might have said, How
much more, as he has given me the greater
boon that he stood engaged to render, may
I not hope for his punctuality with regard
to the smaller? But, just as in the case
of human illustration that we have al-
ready quoted, the first act of kindness,
though smaller in the matter of it, may
have been done in such circumstances of
difficulty and provocation, as to be a far
more unquestionable evidence of regard
than any future act of goodness possibly
can be, however great in the matter of it

ilments had been reversed. We might the smaller not be fulfilled, when it be well be ashamed of our hope in the latter of the two, if disappointed in the earlier of the two. But if the earlier be at the same time the less of the two, we cannot from this comparison alone say with the apostle, as the less has turned out agreeably to our first hopes, how much more will the greater so turn out likewise? Now it can be conceived, that, thoughing ashamed of his high hopes in futurity one present be smaller for us to receive than another-yet it may have been given in such circumstances of difficulty or provocation, as to argue a higher degree of generosity or good-will; and be altogether, a greater and more substantial token of the giver's regard, than the larger present will be, which is promised to be conferred on us afterwards. The fellowcaptive in some hostile prison, whom I had perhaps insulted and reviled, and who in justice might have dealt with me as an adversary-should he, to save me from the agonies of thirst, make over his scanty allowance of water, and so entail these agonies upon himself, telling me at the same time, that in spite of all the insolence he had gotten from my hands, he could not help feeling an unquenchable love for my person, and a no less unquenchable desire after my interests, and that if ever a happier time should restore us to liberty, and to our native land, he would contribute of his influence and his wealth to the rising interests of my family-who does not see that even a single cup of cold water, given in such circumstances, and with such assurances as these, may well warrant the highest hopes that can be entertained of his kindness? And should I, touched and overpowered by so striking a demonstration of it, and ashamed of all my former perverseness, henceforth bind myself in gratitude and duty to this benefactor-may I not well argue, that surely the man who ministered to me, though in the smaller, and did so at such an expense of suffering to himself, and also in the face of all the injury I had done unto him, will now acquit himself to the full of the larger bounties which he held out in expectation, should I now return with him his devoted friend to the country of his fathers; and he, replaced in the ample sufficiency that belongs to him, should have it in his power, by an easy and a willing sacrifice, to translate me into all the comfort and all the independence which he engaged to render me.

because done in circumstances of ease and good agreement. And these preparatory remarks will enable us to enter into the spirit and to estimate aright the strength and conclusiveness of the argument which follows.

V. 6. We were not able to extricate ourselves from the prison-house of God's righteous condemnation. We had not strength for that perfect obedience, which a relentless and insurmountable law has laid upon all its subjects; and even though we had, such obedience could only satisfy for itself, and at its own season. It could not cancel the guilt of another season. But the truth is, that we could neither do away the guilt of our past, nor the pollution of our present history. We were in bondage to the power of corruption, as well as to the fears of condemnation-living as totally without God, as without hope-abandoned to the counsel of our own hearts, and taking no counsel and no reproof from Him whose right hand was upholding us continually. It was in these circumstances of provocation, that Christ undertook for us. stretched out His mediatorial hand, for There is a parallel to this in the gospel. the purpose of extending the boon of forForgiveness is a smaller boon than posi-giveness-a smaller boon than favour tive favour; and all the tokens of this favour which are bestowed upon us in time, are smaller than that rich and full and ever-during expression of it which awaits us in eternity. Should the promise of


certainly; but remember it was a boon to the ungodly. It was a movement of kindness, forcing its way through an obstacle that might well have stifled and repressed It was an expression of love so ar

[ocr errors]

ere He brought down to the earth the strength that was opposed to Him. It should be recollected, that the death of Christ was not in semblance merely, but in real and substantial amount, an atonement for the sins of the world-that He tasted death not as an individual, but tasted it for every man-that on Him was laid the accumulated weight of all that wrath, which an eternity would not have expended on the millions for which He died—that there was the actual transference of God's avenging hand from the heads of the countless guilty He has redeemed, to the head of this one innocent sufferer-and that from the moment He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, to the moment of his crying, It is finished, and when He gave up the Ghost, there was discharged upon the head of this great Sacrifice all the vials of a wrath which the misery everlasting, and that of a multitude which no man could number, could not have exhausted; there were condensed upon His soul all the agonies which but for Him the vast family of the redeemed would have borne.

dent, that even impiety, in full and open | fury, and to stain His raiment, and to and determined career, could not extin- wield the arm of His supernatural might, guish it. It was at the time of the world's greatest wickedness, that He descended from on high, not to condemn but to save it. It is true that the first effect of this benevolent undertaking, was simply an acquittal to those who had been guilty; and this was but the prelude of greater things to follow. But this first thing was wrought out in the face of greatest provocation, and at the expense of most painful endurance. It was rendered unto men at the time when men were rioting at large, both against the law of conscience and the law of revelation. It was when every man had turned to his own way, that God laid upon His Son the iniquities of us all. Our time of greatest regardlessness was His time of greatest regard. And estimating the intensity of affection, not by the magnitude of its positive dispensations, but by the magnitude of resistance it must overcome, and of the sufferings it must undergo-it was at the outset of our redemption; it was at that due time when Christ died for the ungodly; it was in the act of making atonement for the sins of the people, out of which act the first though the smallest benefit that emerged was the forgiveness of the people-it was then nevertheless, that the love of God in Christ, bearing all the condemnation of our unthankful species, and pouring out His soul unto the death for them-it was then that this love sent forth its most wondrous and most convincing manifestation.

V. 7. The point insisted on by the apostle here, is that Christ died for us when we were yet enemies in our heart toward Him. But it should also be kept in mind, that His was no ordinary death; that they were not the pangs of a common dissolution which extorted such agonies of fear, and such cries of bitter suffering, and drew out on the person of our Redeemer both in the garden and upon the cross such mysterious symptoms of distress too exquisite for human imagination, of an endurance far deeper than we have any conception of. It is evident from the whole history of the hour and the power of darkness, that, though He had the whole strength of the Divinity to uphold Him, there was a struggle to be made, and a hostility to be baffled, and an awful enterprise of toil and of strenuousness to be gone through, under the severity of which our Saviour had well nigh given waythat ere the victory was His, He had to travel in His strength, and to put forth all the greatness of it; and, warring with principalities and powers, had, in the words of Isaiah, to tread in the wine-press Lone, and trample on his enemies with

But it is not here on the kind of death which our Saviour endured that the apostle founds his argument of God's love to us-It is on the kind of people whom He died for-even sinners. This peculiarizes and exalts the benevolence of Christ above all human benevolence. There is a devotedness of affection here, of which there is no example in the history of our species. For a righteous man, that is a man free from blame or criminality, for a simply innocent man there is scarcely any that would die; for a good man, one who rises above the level of mere innocence, one who is signalized by achievements of positive benevolence or heroic patriotism, some might die-like some disciples of Paul, who for his life would lay down their own necks-or like the members of some gallant band, who would rally in defence of the worth and friendship that they revered-or like the martyrs of Christianity who died for the honours of its founder, but not till He had evinced the highest sublime of goodness by dying for the worst and most worthless of mankind. It is on this that the apostle lays the stress of his argument; and from this he infers, that, even at the outset of our redemption and when we had got nothing more than forgiveness, there was such a demonstration of God's affection for sinners, as warranted the fullest expectation of all the higher blessings that we are to receive from His hand

For observe, that though favour may be higher in the scale of privilege than for

giveness, and glory through eternity higher | there see, that Christ at that time died for than grace in time-yet it was at the point the sinful, to bring about their agreement when forgiveness was secured for the with God; and that, at the present time, guilty-it was then that the love of God in Christ made its most decisive exhibitionIt was then that it triumphed over difficulties which no longer exist-It was then that it leaped over a barrier which is now levelled into an open way of access between earth and heaven-It was then that human sinfulness rose in a smoke of abomination before the throne of God, unaccompanied as yet with that incense of a sweet-pose of reaching forgiveness to the con smelling savour which the sacrifice of Christ has since infused into it-It was then that the awful death of the atonement, a death never now to be repeated, had still to be endured. All these stood in the way of reconciliation; and though this be the first and the smallest boon that is conferred upon the sinner, yet conferred as it was in the midst of obstacles which no longer exist, and of sins that are now blotted out in the blood of the Lamb, so that God remembers them no more-this smallest boon, viewed as a demonstration of love and a pledge of future kindness, more than overpasses all the subsequent boons that can be rendered in circumstances where there is nothing to struggle with, and no barrier in the way of their accomplishment. So that the apostle is warranted in all his larger expectations after this. Much more then, being justified by His blood, we shall be translated into all the blessings of a positive salvation.

Christ has not to die any more, and that in Him the guilt of sinfulness has been done away. If when enemies we were reconciled, by His death-how much more, now that we are reconciled, shall all the blessings that He died to purchase be lavished upon us abundantly.' If, when so many difficulties stood betwixt us, He forced His way through them, for the pur demned-how much more, now that all is open and level and free in the road of communication between earth and heaven, will He, out of the treasury of His fulness, shed upon us all the needful grace here, and translate us into all the promised glory hereafter. True, if the grace did not come, this might well blast and annihilate these fond anticipations. We cannot get to heaven without such a stepping-stone; and when we have reached this length, we can see more clearly and hope more confidently for the promised inheritance than before. But still the main light which rests upon this glorious futurity, radiates upon it, from the great and primary work of Christ's undertaking as He did, and Christ's doing as He did, for the guilty. And the reason why we have obtained the grace, and still the chief reason why we may look for the glory, is that seeing He did so much to reconcile and to justifyhow much more, now that the heat and difficulty and strenuousness of the contest are all over, how much more may we not anticipate all the blessings of a positive salvation from His hand.

The love of a benefactor is not to be estimated by the magnitude of His gift, but by the exposure and the suffering that he incurred in rendering it. The gifts of God may go on progressively increasing Finally, let it be observed of the 9th through all eternity; but it was the first verse, that Paul speaks of himself and gift of reconciliation which had to force others in the character of believers, and its way through the host of impediments, as being already justified by the blood of that stood between a holy Lawgiver and Jesus. The force of the consideration lies a sinful world. After these were removed, in this-that seeing He shed His blood to the following gifts came spontaneously justify us, at the time that we were unreand without interruption, out of the exu-pentant and unreconciled, and thus to save berant wealth and liberality of the Godhead. So that, from the very first, we have the argument in all its entireness, If God spared not His own Son to reconcile a world that had nothing but guilt and depravity to offer to His contemplationhow much more, now that atonement is made, will He bless and enrich all those who have fled to it for refuge, and whom He now beholds in the face of His anointed.

This then is an argument altogether addressed to the hope of faith, and may be seized upon and felt in the whole force of it, ere there is time for the hope of experience. The moment that one looks with a believing eye to the work of redemption, he may gather from it all the materials which make up this argument. He may

us from the wrath that abideth on all who believe not-how much more, now that this is done, and that, instead of dying any more, He has only to give, in large and easy liberality, out of His fulness-how much more, by the supplies of His grace and strength, will He save us from the wrath of those who shall finally fall away. The tribulations in which he gloried might not have wrought a more strenuous perseverance in the Christian course; but, like certain hearers in the parable of the sower, he might have been offended when persecution came, and actually fallen away. Instead of patience working such an experience, as made him hopefu! that he was indeed a Christian, the defect and overthrow of his constancy, might have

given him the melancholy and convincing experience, that he had indeed no lot or part in the matter. Instead of a thriving process, it might have been a ruinous one; but grace, it appears from the result, was given to uphold him in a course of spiritual prosperity, under all his outward tribulations; and he now hoped more than ever that God had manifested the special love that He bore, by the Holy Ghost that was given to him. And how could it be otherwise, he goes on to argue, than that the Holy Ghost should be given? Would not He who did so much to justify, and at such an expense of suffering to Himself, would not He also sanctify when there was no suffering incurred by the process? Will not He who saved us by His blood then, much more save us by His Spirit now? Will not He who at that time delivered us, by dying, from the wrath due to the impenitent and ungodly-at this time, when we are cleaving to Him in dependence and desire, deliver us by His grace, from the sorer punishment of those who draw back to the perdition of the soul? There may be fatherly chastisements. There may be the infliction of a severe and salutary discipline. Should a professor sin the sin that is unto death, it will then be impossibie to renew him again unto repentance. But if, instead of a hollow-hearted and hypocritical dissembler, there was really a sound principle of adherence and honest faith with him who

has been overtaken in a fault-then that man will be saved, yet so perhaps as by fire. He will not escape the hand of chastisement in time, though he will escape the hand of vengeance in eternity. He will be cast down yet not destroyed. God will forgive the iniquity of his sin, but at the same time take vengeance upon him for his inventions. He will make him taste the bitterness of transgression; and give him the experimental demonstration of His own abhorrence to it; and render it manifest as day, that there is an utter and irreversible opposition, between the indulgence of a sinner, and the hope of a believer; and, rather than that he should miss the lesson, He will force it upon him with the authoritative severity of a master, who has determined that He will not let him alone till he learn it; and if one corrective ministration will not serve the purpose, He will come forward with another and another-still ringing this prophetic knell into the ear of him who is under discipline, that "for all this mine anger is not turned away, but my hand is stretched out still." It is not from such wrath that a disciple is saved-But let it work_him into the process of tribulation, and patience, and experience, and hope; and from the wrath of eternity he will be saved-saved as if by fire-and verifying this word in his own person, that it is through manifold tribulation we shall enter into the kingdom of God.


"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

ST. PAUL, who, by the way, is by far the most argumentative of all the apostles -and who, from being the most successful of them all, proves that argument is both a legitimate and a powerful weapon in the work of making Christians, sometimes undertakes to reason upon one set of premises, and then to demonstrate, how much more valid and irresistible is the conclusion which he tries to establish, when he is in actual possession of another and more favourable set of premises. In this way a great additional strength is made to accrue to his argument-and the 'how much more' with which he finishes, causes it to come with greater power and assurance upon his readers-and it is this which gives him the advantage of what is well known, both in law and in logic,

If a

under the phrase of argumentum a fortiore, or, an argument which affirms a thing to be true in adverse and unpromising circumstances, and therefore far more worthy of being held true in likelier circumstances. It is quite a familiar mode of reasoning in common discourse. neighbour be bound to sympathise with the distresses of an unfortunate family, how much more, when 'that neighbour is a relative If I obtained an offer of friendship from a man in difficulues, how much more may I count upon it should he now be translated into a state of sufficiency and ease. If in the very heat of our quarrel, and under the discouragement of all my provoking insolence towards him, my enemy forbear the vengeance which he had the power to inflict, how much

« AnteriorContinuar »