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and substantial, and ultimate hope of every living thing; as he is also the blessed channel, through which that love continually flows to us.
In verse 14th, the Apostle introduces a new subject, “ For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” This implies that sin must have dominion over us whilst we continue under the law, and that it is only by coming truly under the dispensation of grace that we are delivered from that dominion.
Now let it be remembered, that by continuing under the law, is meant, our continuing to regard God merely as a judge, who has certain claims upon us, which he enforces simply from a regard to his own rights,—and not from any regard to our welfare. With such a thought of God, we may consider him either as a severe judge, or as a lax judge ; and so, we may either tremble, or be easy under His government; but we shall certainly know nothing of that filial confidence, which rises out of the knowledge that God is a loving Father, who, in all his dealings with us, has the purpose of blessing us, by turning us away from our iniquities. It is this knowledge, most evidently, which can
alone make sorrow welcome, and so enable us to submit ourselves with affectionate confidence, to the sentence of sorrow and death, laid on us by Him, and so to shed out the blood of our own self-wills. And therefore, whilst a man continues under the law, and consequently without this knowledge, he can. not but stand in a defensive attitude, if I may so express myself, towards God; he does not accept his punishment, nor commit himself unconditionally to the will of God, nor shed out the life-blood of his own independent will ; but always bargains for something, because he thinks that God has some other interest or object in relation to him than to make him holy and happy. On the other hand, to be under grace is to receive into our hearts this blessed truth, that God has, and can have, no other object in us, and in all His dealings towards us, but simply and solely that of making us holy and happy for
He who knows this truly, can have no wish to elude any of God's commandments, or corrections, or judgments, because he feels that he would by this only elude his own blessedness—he can have no other wish than that all God's will should be accomplished in him, and on him.
Considering the subject in this light, we easily acknowledge the reasonableness of the Apostle's position, that it is not possible to escape from the dominion of sin, by means of the law, but that we must come under grace for that purpose. This is the point towards which he is advancing, but before entering fully upon it, he prepares his way, by guarding against such a perversion of his doctrine, as would make grace rather a refuge from the punishment of sin, than from sin itself.
His guard consists in an admonition, that, as it is sin itself which is the evil from which grace would deliver us, we are in fact resisting grace whilst we obey sin, and that we are then only obeying grace when we walk in righteousness; and that it is not the purpose of grace to disjoin the consequences of sin from the indulgence in it. He seems, moreover, designedly to vary the form of expression, in carrying on the argument, changing xágus, grace, into inuxon, obedience, and dizatorivn, righteousness, as he also does in chap. v. 17-19, that he may mark their inseparable connection. It appears to me that verse 20th is intended to contain a summary of the argument, in the form of an appeal to
their personal experience, and that it ought to be translated thus :-“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye became free by righteousness;" that is, by becoming righteous with Christ's righteousness, or by trusting the Father's love as Christ did, in the strength of that Spirit which he communicates to those who will receive it.
Manifestly throught his passage, the Apostle assumes that men are, by the restoration in Christ, not delivered from the danger of temptation, but only placed in favourable cir. cumstances for resisting temptation. They are placed between two masters, and they may choose either, but they must choose one
- not in name, or in creed only, but in heart. All this is directly opposed to the forensic interpretation also.
The last verse of the chapter is not only a conclusion of this monitory passage, but is also a transition-link, bringing us back to the subject which the Apostle had in his mind, when he wrote verse 14th; “ The wages of the sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We are all partakers in the sin, and therefore in its wages. How then are we to get out from under the weight of these wages ? How does
this claim of the law over us cease? Being in the grasp of death, how are we to get out from it? The answer is, “The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This answer does not refer merely or chiefly here to the fact that eternal life is put within the reach of the race, as the reward of the righteousness of Jesus its Head; but rather to the fact that it is by partaking in his willing death, that we, actually and personally, become partakers of eternal life. And so the antithesis here of death and eternal life, does not require that death should be interpreted eternal death ; for it is not an antithesis, in which the one side excludes the other, but on the contrary, we have to pass through the one, in order to get the other. I believe that not only in this passage, but very generally indeed, the expression “ in Jesus Christ,” means, (or rather includes within its meaning this idea,) through following the way by which Jesus led; that is, by a willing death.
There is no other way of getting eternal life, but through death, and thus death is, as it were, “the price put into the hand of the fool to buy wisdom,”(Prov. xvii. 16,) because, by accepting it in meekness and confiding