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“ I died. And the commandment, which was “ ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, de
and by it slew me. Wherefore, “the law is holy; and the cominandment holy, “just, and good. Was then that which is good “ made death to me! God forbid. But sin that “ it might appear sin, working death in me by “ that which is good, that sin by the command“ ment might become exceeding sinful. For we “know that the law is spiritual: but I am car“nal, sold under sin.” Again, Gal. ii. 19, “ For “I through the law am dead to the law, that I "might live unto God.”
It is said expressly, that to work this conviction unto death, through the abounding of sin, was the design of the giving of the law. Rom. v. 20, 21. “Moreover, the law entered that the of“ fence might abound: but where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound...... That as sin “ hath reigned unto death, even so might grace
reign through righteousness unto eternal life,
by Jesus Christ our Lord.” And these, indeed, were the effects produced under this ministration; sin abounded and reigned among the people unto death. First, it rose with deadly hatred against the administrators and supporters of the law; they thrust Moses away, and took up the tabernacle of Moloch; they killed the prophets, and wise men who were sent unto them; and, at last, they betrayed and murdered the Son of God. And, Secondly, it reacted with a killing stroke upon themselves; some of them were soon pricked in the heart; and the day cometh when all Judah and Jerusalem shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn, and be in biiterness for him, as one who tastes the bitterness of death.
The law, operating so powerfully against ilio
natural propensities of the mind, produced an opposition far more malignant than could possibly have existed from any other cause....... When our Lord was told, that he must depart out of Galilee, for Herod would kill him; he answered, that to be so cruelly exposed, he must first go a three days journey; " for it cannot be that a pro
phet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jew “ rusalem, which killest the prophets, and ston“ est them that are sent unto thee!”.......And the law, as it is now administered by the power of the Spirit of truth, produces the same effect. Every man who has been the subject of a deep work of the law, has experienced the solemn truth, that thereby sin abounds and reigns as with kingly authority; that his heart is excited to rise against the divine administration, with a most indescribable strength of opposition, blasting, to the very root, all his natural hope of reconciliation to God, and, together with the reluctant spirit, forcing from his breaking heart the agonizing groan of Wo is me, for I am undone! Unclean, unclean! Orrelched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Sin has an existence without the law; for until the lan sin was in the world, and death reigned from Adam to Moses. But though its nature be ever the same, yet, by the law, it becomes in two respects a different thing. First, in its aspect against heaven, and towards God, which is intended by the emphatical words of the Apostle; Sin, that it might appear sin ; and, that sin, by the commandment, might become exceeding sinful. Secondly, in its power upon its own seat, the mind..... Without the law sin can only take away the life of the body; it has no power to take away the life of the Spirit
. This appears to be intended by the Apostle, when he says, sin is not imputed when there is no law. In that state sin does not reigns
it has no commission to act in this department. But, by the law, sin has an authority, great as the institution itself, to seize upon the heart and conscience of the offender, and to bind down the spirit, like a wretched victim, under an infinitely insupportable load of guilt and condemnation. “ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of “ sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which "giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus “ Christ.”
As therefore, through the law, sin reigned unto death, the Apostle styles this institution, in distintion from the promise, or righteousness, thro' which grace reigns unto eternal life, the law of sin and death. And for the above reason, he so strongly connected this law with sin and death, that he saw the necessity, lest he should be misunderstood, of expressly objecting the idea of their being things of the same nature, Romans vii. 7. “ What shall we say then, Is the law sin? God “ forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the « law.” And verse 13. “ Was then that which is
good made death unto me? God forbid. But “sin, that it might appear sin, working death in “me by that which is good.” In the view of this connection, the Apostle said, Rom. vi. 17. “ God “ be thanked that ye were the servants of sin i. e. that ye were under the law; for though the law sets sin to work like a tyrant upon his throne, and the wages of sin is death; yet, fearful as it is, it is evidently a great mercy for a man to be the subject of this operation. And the same thing is also meant, verse 18. “ Being then made free “ from sin, ye became the servants of righteous
ness. Again, verse 22, 23. “But now being “ made free from sin, and become servants to " God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the “ end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is “ death, but the gift of God is eternal life, thro?
“ Jesus Christ our Lord.”......It is plain that the law and gospel, with their effects and fruits, are the things here meant, by sin and righteousness, death and life. Being delivered from under the law, we are freed from the effect; as in verse 14. « For sin shall not have dominion over you; for
ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
And because the bond of the law was taken by circumcision in the flesh, the natural body is included under the same view, and the law of sin and death is represented as having its seat in the flesh, or in the members of the body; and the whole together is styled the Old Man, and the Body of this Death. Hence the Apostle, relative to the dispute about circumcision and keeping the law, uses arguments like these, “ He that “ soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap cor“ruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall “ of the Spirit reap life everlasting : That ye put “ off, concerning the former conversation, the • old man with his deeds: and that ye put on “ the new man, which after God, is created in
righteousness and true holiness. For they that " are after the flesh do mind the things of the “flesh: but they that are after the Spirit, the
things of the Spirit,. For to be carnally mind“ed is death; but to be spiritually minded is “ life and peace.”
For which reason also, the Scriptures associate the idea of sin with the state of Christ in the flesh; for by taking a body of the seed of Abraham under the law, he who knew no sin, was made sin for us. “For in that he died, he died unto sin
once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. “ And unto them that look for him shall he ap
pear the second time, without sin, unto salva* tion. Wherefore henceforth know we no man “after the flesh: yea, though we have known “ Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know
< we him no more.” Again, for the same reason, it is represented, that when the body of Christ was nailed to the cross, and so the service work of the law was finished, that bond was nailed to the cross. “ Blotting out the hand writing of or“ dinances that was against us, which was con“trary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing “ it to his cross.” There is here an allusion to an ancient method of cancelling a bond, by striking it through with a nail ; and, with the cause, the effect ceases; with the strength of sin the enmity is slain.
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, con“ tained in ordinances, for to make in himself, of.
twain, one new man, so making peace; And “ that he might reconcile both unto God in one
body by the cross, having slain the enmity
thereby.”....And thus the old man is crucified, and the body of sin is destroyed. “ Knowing
this, that our old man is crucified with him, “ that the body of sin might be destroyed, that “ henceforth we should not serve sin.”
For this reason, moreover, they who have been the subjects of the work of the law, are represented as being dead ; and if Christ be in them, as being quickened together with him; as in Rom. viii. 10, 11. “ And if Christ be in
, body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is “ life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit “ of him, that raised up Jesus from the dead, “ dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from “ the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bo“ dies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”.....Again, Col. iii. 3. “ For ye are dead, and your life « is hid with Christ in God.” This work of conviction unto death by the law, is referred to in the passage, Col. fi.“ In whom also ye are cir“ cumcised with the circumcision made without “hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the