Page images

life, an uncondemned life, even His own eternal life in Jesus Christ. This general forgiveness is given as a provision to every man; but still it is true that those who live in the flesh, live under the condemnation which lies on the flesh, and that those only who live in that new life, live in the forgiveness. Reader, this is the forgiveness of sin-" He hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." 1 John v. 11.

When Jesus is considered as a substitute, his sacrifice is degraded to the same class as that of bulls and goats. For the superior value of His blood-shedding over theirs as a sacrifice for our sins, does not consist in the mere superiority of his nature to theirs, but in the fact that it was not a substitution, but the true proper sacrifice for our sin, as being the shedding out of the blood of our will-of that will which had offended. The greatness of a sacrifice does not necessarily imply appropriateness. Most surely there is much known when the greatness of the love of God is known which gave Jesus; but the suitableness of this particular manifestation of love to our circumstances must also be known, before we can understand the counsel of God in it.

In the fifth chapter, the apostle gives an opening up of the counsel of God in the gift of Christ. In doing so, he first sets forth the greatness of the love of God to man, manifested by the greatness of that gift, as a ground of confidence and hope. He goes on to declare more fully the manner of the love, namely, that as it is by His death that we are reconciled to God, so it is by His life that we are saved. He then proceeds to the particular nature and form of the gift, as called for by man's circumstances, and to bring out this, he describes the condition of all men, in consequence of the fall and of their connection with Adam; he describes them as inheriting, by their descent from him, a sinful or perverted nature, and a subjection to death, as attached to that sinful nature. And then he infers, with a πολλῳ μαλλον, a "much more" resting on the acknowledged goodness and righteousness of God, that by the gift of Christ, He had fully met this evil condition of man, and met it with advantage-so that where sin had abounded through the fall, grace now superabounded."

In fact, this assertion of the co-extensiveness of the grace of God in Christ, with the effects of the fall of Adam, is by far the clear

est thing in the chapter. There are many difficulties in the chapter, but this one point is perfectly plain, so that if the authority of the Bible has decided distinctly one point of doctrine more than another, it is this, namely, that the free gift through Christ has come to all who have sustained damage by their connexion with the fall of Adam, that is, to all mankind, and that it has come to them bearing full compensation for that damage. In proof of this, I refer the reader specially to the 15th, 18th, and 20th verses of the chapter.

As the ground which the apostle here assumes is, that as the gift of Christ is the remedy which God has appointed for the damage sustained through the fall, therefore it is to be expected from the goodness and righteousness of God, that it should in all points meet and overcome the damage; the course of his argument naturally leads him to dwell on the extent and the quality of the damage, in order that his readers may be able to judge of the extent and the quality of the free gift. And when we reflect on the general expectations and thoughts cherished amongst the Jews on the subject of salvation through the Messiah, we shall perceive the

peculiar propriety of this line of argument. They thought that their nation alone was to have the benefit of that salvation-and they also thought, that it consisted in a deliverance not from sin itself, but from the consequences and the punishment of sin.

They thus misapprehended both the extent and the quality of salvation, and therefore, they needed, in an especial manner, to be set right on these two points.

Now, observe, how carefully he lays the foundation of his argument in the 12th, 13th, and 14th verses, pressing in them chiefly these two points; first, that the evil or damage of the fall, having commenced with Adam, the root of the race, has extended consequently over the whole race; and, secondly, that that evil or damage has come in the form of a sin or perversion received into, and corrupting our nature. This last particular is urged on our attention, chiefly by the care with which he separates the äμagtia, the sin or perversion of the nature, as a cause, from the death, which was only an effect flowing from it.

Thus he speaks, For "as through one man, the sin, the perversion, entered into the world, (the xomos, the system,) and death

through the perversion-and so death passed upon all men, because all were perverted, or were partakers of a perverted nature." (ver. 12th.) He does not say, "through one man sin and death entered into the world," as if they had come in a-breast, as it were, and not the one introduced by the other; but he carefully says, "and death through the sin, or perversion." The reason of death being on the race, was not that Adam's sin was charged on them, it was not an imputation of a perversion, without the actual existence of such a perversion; but it was, because of a true and actual perversion communicated to them by their partaking in the nature of their first parent and head, Adam.

The apostle clearly means to show the Jews that this perversion of the nature, with its consequences, constitutes the evil which the Messiah was sent to remedy; and he argues, that as the evil is not exclusively connected with their nation, nor derived from an offence against their law, but is connected with the whole race, being derived from an offence committed by the father of the race against a law imposed on him at his creation, that therefore, the remedy must also belong to the race, and cannot be confined to

« PreviousContinue »