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and of the dreadful end, if the danger be real. Tia
Now, I ask, was this Saint Paul's way of considerir:
not leading to salvation ; otherwise, why did he seek so earnestly to be delivered from it ?
And how to be delivered ? that becomes the next question. In order to arrive at Saint Paul's meaning in this matter, we must attend with some degree of care not only to the text, but to the words which follow it. The 24th verse contains the question, “ Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" and then the 25th verse goes on, “ I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Now there is good reason to believe that this 25th verse does not appear in our copies as it ought to be read. It is most probable, that the passage stood thus: the 24th verse asks, “ Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Then the 25th verse answers, «
The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Instead of the words, “ I thank God," put the words “ The grace of God," and you will find the sense cleared up by the change very much. I say, it is highly probable that this change exhibits what Saint Paul really wrote. In English there is no resemblance either in sound or writing between the two sentences, “ I thank God,” and “ The grace of God;” but in the language in which the epistle was written there is a very great resemblance. And, as I have said, there is reason to believe, that in the transcribing, one has been confounded with the other. Perhaps the substantial meaning may be the same whichever way you read the passage: but what is implied only in one way, is clearly expressed in the other way.
The question, then, which Saint Paul so earnestly and devoutly asks is, “ Who shall deliver me from this body of death ?” from the state of soul which I feel, and which can only lead to final pe n? And the an
swer to the question is, “ The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Can a more weighty question be asked ? Can an answer be given which better deserves to be thoroughly considered ?
The question is, Who shall deliver us? The answer : “The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The “grace of God” means the favour of God. At present, therefore, the answer stands in general terms. We are only informed, that we are rescued from this state of moral difficulty, of deep religious distress, by the favour of God, through Jesus Christ. It remains to be gathered, from what follows, in what particularly this
grace or favour consists. Saint Paul, having asked the question, and given the answer in general terms, proceeds to enlarge upon the answer in these words: “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” There is now no condemnation : but of whom, and to whom, is this spoken? It is to them who first are in Christ Jesus; who secondly walk not after the flesh; who thirdly walk after the Spirit.
And whence arises this alteration and improvement in our condition and our hopes ; this exemption, or rather deliverance, from the ordinary state of man ? Saint Paul refers us to the cause. “ The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Which words can hardly bear any
other signification than this, viz. “ that the aid and operation of God's Spirit, given through Jesus Christ, hath subdued the power which sin had obtained, and once exercised over me." With this interpretation the whole sequel of Saint Paul's reasoning agrees. Every sentence almost that follows illustrates the invrotation, and proves it to be the true one. With
what, but with the operation and the co-operation of the the Spirit of God, as of a real, efficient, powerful, active Being, can such expressions as the following be made to suit ? “If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in
“ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” “ If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you.” “By his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
“Ye have received the Spirit of adoption.” “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit.” All which expressions are found in the eighth chapter, namely, the chapter following the text, and all, indeed, within the compass of a few verses. These passages either assert or assume the fact, namely, the existence and agency of such a Spirit ; its agency, I mean, in and upon the human soul. It is by the aid, therefore, of this Spirit, that the deliverance so earnestly sought for is effected ; a deliverance represented as absolutely necessary to be effected in some way or other. And it is also represented as one of the grand benefits of the Christian dispensation. “ What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Which passage I expound thus : a mere law, that is, a rule merely telling us what we ought to do, without enabling us, or affording us any help or aid in doing it, is not calculated for such a nature as ours: “it is weak through the flesh :" it is ineffectual by reason of our natural infirmities. Then what the law, or a mere rule of rectitude (for that is what any law, as such, is), could not do, was done under the Christian dispensation. And how done? The righteousness of the that is, the righteousness
which the law dictated, and which it aimed, as far as it could, to procure and produce, is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ; is actually produced and procured in us, who live under the inAuence and direction of the Holy Spirit. By this Holy Spirit we have that assistance which the law could not impart ; and without which, as a mere rule, though ever so good and right a rule, it was weak and insufficient, forasmuch as it had not force or strength sufficient to produce obedience in those who acknowledged its authority.
To communicate this so much wanted assistance was one end and effect of Christ's coming. So it is intimated by Saint Paul, “what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did :” that is, God “sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful Alesh and for sin," namely, sending him by reason or on account of sin, “ condemned sin in the flesh ;' vouchsafed, that is, spiritual aid and ability, by which aid and ability sin and the power of sin might be effectually opposed, encountered, and repelled.