Page images
PDF
EPUB

following chapter, as will immediately appear.

The Apostle has now finished that part of his discourse in which it was his object to explain the nature of true righteousness, in its first principles, in its progress, and in its consummation, and he has done it in a way fitted to bring home to the consciences of his readers, the conviction that the righteousness which he has described, is really righteousness, the right condition of man's heart and mind before God, and not a mere conventional thing, consisting in forms or ceremonies, or opinions, or points of doctrine; -and that, as it is accessible to all, so it is also necessary for all, as being that state of heart in which alone salvation consists, and on which alone the favour and blessing of God can rest.

He has shown that it is a turning from all confidence in the flesh, as a life or as a direction, and a returning to God, and a trusting in Him, as the true rest, and life, and direction of our souls. He has shown that it is the condition of a heart, which rejecting all other confidences than God, and all other grounds of confidence in Him, than

His own essential love and righteousness, commits itself unreservedly to His hands, that His purpose in its creation and redemp. tion may be fully accomplished,—and which makes this surrender of itself to Him, in the full knowledge both of its own sinfulness and liability to punishment, and of His determination to punish sin, and to slay the flesh which hath been tainted with sin. Such a confidence, it is evident, can only have place in a heart, which, believing that it is the loving desire and purpose of God to make it blessed by making it holy, enters fully into that purpose, and gives itself into His hands for that end, in the expectation of sorrow and death,--as a man afflicted with a cancer might put himself into the hands of a surgeon, of whose skill he is assured, and who has said to him, I will answer for

your cure, even now, if you will give yourself up unreservedly to my treatment.

But God's cure is always and exclusively through the death of the flesh, lovingly and confidently consented to, on the part of the patient. And to inspire us with this loving confidence, He hath set forth Jesus Christ, as our Head and the Captain of our salvation, passing through this very process before us,

and so entering into glory,—and giving himself to us as the pledge,—that the Father's desire for every man, and purpose for every man, is that very desire and purpose which has been exemplified and accomplished in himself, and that the same Spirit, in the strength of which he passed through it, is given to us in him, that we also may pass through it to the same glorious issue.

To consent to this purpose of God, is to partake of Christ's death, and to cast in our lot with him ;—it is to live in the Spirit, and not in the flesh, and this is that righteousness which God acknowledges in man.

But this was not the righteousness which the Jews as a nation even conceived of. Their confidence before God rested on outward privileges, and their hope looked forward to a fleshly glory; and in rejecting Christ they had not rejected a new system of doctrine, but they had rejected the Spirit, and chosen the flesh ; they had rejected the purpose of God, and had chosen the devices of their own hearts. They could not plead in their defence that they had only made a mistake, and that, in their righteous zeal for God, they had taken vengeance on one who seemed to them to dishonour God. Their

sin did not consist in mistaking a man, but in rejecting those flesh-crucifying truths to which he bore testimony.

It is with this view of their state, that Paul now turns to them, and resumes that direct and personal expostulation which he had been addressing to them in chaps. ii. and iii., the object of which is, to prove to them what they were most unwilling to admit, namely, that the rejection and condemnation under which they now lay, were in perfect accordance with all the promises of God to their fathers—and at the same time to assure them, that each individual Jew was still invited to partake in the righteousness, and so to partake of the kindgom of God.

Chap. ix. 1-9. “I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness along with the Holy Spirit, that I have great and unceasing sorrow in my heart :" (namely, on account of the Jewish people, who, by their carnality and rejection of Christ, have not only shut themselves out from that electing love, which flows through him only, but have brought down a fearful judgment on themselves :) " for I could wish that after the example of Christ, or following the steps

of Christ, * I might be made a curse, or might suffer for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the form of worship, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." But though I thus grieve for my countrymen, my feeling is “not as though the word of God's promise to them had failed, for they are not all Israel who are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but, In Isaac, shall thy seed be called : that

* I have varied considerably from the common version in verse 3d. It seems to me impossible to suppose

that Paul could really have wished to be separated from Christ for any object whatever, and therefore, I have adopted that use of the preposition éto, from, which we find made in 2 Tim. i. 3, where it signifies, after the example of, or following the steps of :-“I thank God, whom I serve, following the steps of my forefathers."

And in the same way, we probably ought to explain the book out of which Moses desired his name to be blotted, when he made the intercession recorded in Exod. xxxii. 32, as the book containing the names of those who were to enter into the promised landa

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »