Notes and Reflections on the Epistle to the Romans

by Arthur Pridham.

"Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them." Psalm 119:129.

Romans 1
Romans 2
Romans 3
Romans 4
Romans 5
Romans 6
Romans 7
Romans 8
Romans 9
Romans 10
Romans 11
Romans 12
Romans 13
Romans 14
Romans 15
Romans 16


The following pages are not presented to the reader as the result of new discoveries in Divine truth. On the other hand, the book will be found, in many respects, unlike a regular Commentary.

The aim of the writer has been not so much a minute exegesis of the text of the Epistle to the Romans, as a general exposition of the Divine doctrine which it contains. Many passages have been passed over with but little notice; while others, more apparently serving as leading expressions of doctrine, have received a much fuller examination.

As these notes are written with an object quite distinct from verbal criticism, it is but seldom, and never without reluctance, that quotations from the original text, or from foreign translations, have been introduced. Occasionally it has appeared desirable to do so, when our usually accurate version has either been at fault, or has failed to exhibit precisely the just force of a passage or an expression. Such quotations, however, are confined to the notes at the foot of the page. The text is quite free from anything, it is believed, which could for a moment arrest the progress of the simplest reader, whose desire is toward the truth of God.

For such alone it has been written. The reader who seeks for theological novelties in this work will search in vain, unless, indeed, truth be itself a new thing to his mind; while it is hoped that no reader who takes up the book for help, for comfort, for relief to an afflicted conscience, or for the refreshment of his memory in truths long valued, will find himself altogether disappointed.

The patient kindness of more than one Christian friend has been exercised in the revision of the work in its first rough form. Very imperfect as it yet remains, it owes not a little of what value it may be found to possess to the corrections and the suggestive counsel of the friends to whom allusion is here made. Their names are written in the Book of Life, and need not special mention in this place.*

{* I may add, that the publication of my own name has been very reluctantly conceded to the representations of the Publishers. My desire was and is, that the book now in the reader's hands should be read without reference to its author, whose only place is that of a helper of the joy of others, according to the measure of the ability which God giveth. As, however, the responsibility of a doctrinal work should attach exclusively to its author, I have not thought it right to persist in my original purpose of withholding my name.}

Should a reluctant reader take this book into his hand, and, finding at a first glance that the contents seem strange and little grateful to his taste, feel disposed at once to cast it from him, still let him pause. Let him reflect, that the writer meant his good when he thus wrote. And if the matter seem but foolishness, still, it is worth a wise man's while to satisfy himself; by actual search, of the true colour and dimension of the folly which he condemns. It may be, that the method of that madness which makes a man a fool for Christ (would that the writer were more justly worthy of that reproach!) may turn out, on inquiry, to have something in it which, to a man whose sanity stands only on the voucher of the world, may seem a sounder and more hopeful wisdom than his own.

That the Father of lights may vouchsafe His gracious blessing on the book and its reader, is the prayer of its unworthy author.


The Epistle to the Romans may be distributed, with respect to its contents, into three great divisions. The first of these is comprised in the first eight chapters, and is essentially doctrinal in its character, although containing much also of a practical kind.

Indeed, the habit of regarding doctrine as something essentially distinct from what is practical is one which, though not unusual amongst Christians, is of injurious tendency. For doctrine is ever the basis and the warrant of practice. It is by studying the revelation of the Spirit of God that faith acquires its needed strength and clearness for obedience to that will of God which it is the object of pure doctrine to disclose, and the joy and blessing of the child of God to do (John 13:17; 15:10; 1 John 5:3-4).

Accordingly, in the following pages, I have endeavoured so to treat the doctrinal portions of this Epistle, as to present immediately to the heart and conscience of the reader the practical bearing of the truth which the doctrines convey.

The second branch of the Epistle begins at the ninth chapter, and closes with the eleventh. This division may be termed dispensational. Its subject is the mystery of the Divine wisdom in the dealings of God with the nation of Israel. It thus stands in close relation to the preceding part, while it will be found to have a peculiar character of its own. It is a very deep and solemn view of the character and sovereignty of God which is presented in these chapters. The fixed and abiding principles of the Divine government, and the conditions of human blessing, are stated here at large. The moral scope of this division goes far beyond Israel as its proper subject. It includes as essential features the election of the true Church on the one hand, and on the other, the character and destiny of the visible professing body, considered in its relation to the dispensational government of God.

The last division commences at the twelfth chapter, and concludes the Epistle. It is more directly practical than either of the preceding parts. But, while abounding in exhortation, and addressing itself, on the doctrinal grounds previously laid, to the heart and conscience of the believer, it contains a large addition of doctrinal matter on subjects not treated in the earlier chapters of the work.

I have noticed these leading divisions of the Epistle as being such as would obviously strike the mind of every careful student of the word. But I need hardly say that the Epistle, to be studied profitably, should be studied as a whole. And ample indeed will be the reward which the prayerful meditation of this marvellous writing will bring, under the blessing of God, to one who, in simple dependence on Him who inspired its author, shall give himself to the close and thoughtful study of its contents.

The times in which our lot is cast are remarkable. To most Christians there are some features at least in the living picture of the present hour which suggest solemn thoughts and uneasy forebodings. It is well to have, in such a case, a mind firmly stayed upon God. Not every Christian's mind, however, is thus stayed. Were it so, these sheets would never have been written. But there is another consideration which greatly influences my mind in deciding on the publication of these Notes. It is the dilution of sound doctrine which is daily taking place, and the practical looseness with which the word of God is held, even by Christians, through the largely-prevalent influence of the neological element in the growing mind of the day. It is a time when man is sifting everything within his reach, and, with the characteristic pride of that scientific conceit which really knows nothing (1 Tim. 6:4), is often found displacing Divine truth without scruple, to make room for his own most false and self-deluding theories.

Nor is his the only sieve at work. God is, I surely believe, dealing with the souls that are to find a place in His garner in the day of the Lord which is at hand. It has been under the hopeful impression that no exposition of solid and pure doctrine, how feebly done soever, could be wholly out of season at such a time, that I have put together the following pages, which are now commended to the reader, in the hope of his profit, in the Lord's name.

Romans 1.

Verses 1-7 contain the introductory greeting of the apostle. He was at that time personally unknown to the Church at Rome. His sole claim to their regard and their attention was his being a vessel and a minister of that grace of God, in the fellowship of which he knew and rejoiced over them as "called of Jesus Christ." Accordingly, he announces himself, first, generally, as a servant of Christ; and, secondly, as a called apostle; as one, therefore, especially "separated unto the Gospel of God." This last expression deserves our best attention, as it contains in a word what is characteristically the subject of this most precious Epistle.

The Gospel is the message of God.* It is the revelation, by the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven, of Christ as the wisdom and the power of God (1 Cor. 1:24). As it is to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11) that the slain Lamb is now confessed in the Church as Lord, so is it that in the Gospel, as the ministration of righteousness, there is unfolded to the human soul, when quickened by the power of the Spirit, the unspeakable display of what God really is.

{*The expressions, "Gospel of God," and "Gospel of Christ," occur in nearly equal frequency in Scripture. It is not, I think, only that we should ever be reminded of the equality of the Father and the Son, that the Spirit of God thus varies the expression. It is the Gospel of God, as having its source in His eternal counsel, and as ministered by the Holy Ghost. It is the Gospel of Christ, inasmuch as He is its precious burden. It is His, too, as preached in His name, by His servants, at His command.}

The unsearchable riches of Christ, which form the subject-matter of the Spirit's testimony, are nothing less than the revelation of the Divine fulness as mediately opened to the eye of faith in the person of the Son (1 Tim. 2:5). In Christ Jesus all the fulness of the Godhead dwells; it dwells in the Son "bodily" (somatikos, Col. 2:9). The Holy Ghost, as the Divine messenger and witness of the finished grace of Jesus, is sent of the Father in His name (John 14:26). Though it be an equal truth that He is sent of Jesus, yet it is as proceeding from the Father. Hence, in Acts 2:33, the descent of the Spirit as the Divine power of testimony,* is referred by Peter to the Father as the fulfiller of promise.

{*Acts 26:23, where the place assigned to the Resurrection, as the necessary means and condition of the shining of the true light, is strikingly shown. Compare 1 John 2:8.}

It is most needful to remember that it is in the person of the Holy Ghost, as known in the Church, that the special manifestation of God is now made to faith, even as He was declared in the Son while here in the days of His flesh. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world," etc. (2 Cor. 5). The same God is now invisibly present by the Spirit, who, in demonstrating the person of the crucified and glorified Christ to be the perfect truth of God, displays and magnifies the glory of God who raised Him from the dead. Thus the words of Jesus, "Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify Thee" (John 17), begin to receive their fulfilment when the Spirit of Christ brings to the lips of believing sinners the utterance of that saving confession of the Lord which is to the glory of God the Father (Rom 10; Phil. 2:11)

The apostolate, then, of Paul, was for the setting forth of God, — for the demonstration and the publishing of Divine love and mercy, as now brought nigh to a ruined world in Jesus, and through His finished work.

But (verse 2) this had been the subject of earlier promise. The prophets had spoken of these things. All prophecy had been the utterance of the Spirit of Christ (Gal. 3:8; 1 Peter 1:11); and all the promises found their object in His most blessed Person. Hence, the "glad message of God" (eukggelion Theou) is none other than the annunciation of His having come in whom all the promises of God are yea and amen. Not, indeed, as it was, when once the angels of God celebrated in strains of triumphant anticipation the incarnation of the Only-begotten, as the birth of Him who was both Israel's hope and the desire of the nations (Luke 2:8-14). Human sin had (though in unconscious furtherance of the Divine counsel) shamed the glory of the Lord's Christ. But now from heaven shone forth the light of a risen and exalted Prince of life to Jew and Gentile alike (Col. 3:11).

He is, indeed, the same Messiah of whom the prophets spoke; but the manner in which He is now revealed in the Gospel is not according to the general burden of Jewish prophecy. The prophets did, indeed, give utterance to the testimony of the Spirit of Christ, not only concerning the sufferings of Christ, but likewise of the glories which should follow. But there was a vein of richness in the deep mine of the Divine counsel which it was not given to the Jewish prophets to open. Their subject is Christ, first humbled and then glorified, in its bearing on the nation, and the Gentiles mediately through them. It needed the descent of the Holy Ghost from heaven to minister, from the words of the prophets (chap 16:26), the truth which formed and which now keeps and feeds the church of God, wherein neither Jew nor Gentile finds a place.

It is not, then, in ocular manifestation to all flesh as the King of glory — the apparent source of earthly blessing — the true David — Israel's King while God's Son — wielding the sceptre of earthly rule before His ancients gloriously — that Christ now appears. These things, indeed, shall surely be in due time. But now it is as despised and abhorred of the nation and its rulers, rejected and slain, cast forth as an abominable branch by the authorities (arkontes, 1 Cor. 2:6-8) of this world, but received up into glory in completion of the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16); it is thus that He stands now revealed to faith as the Branch of the Lord, beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth, excellent and comely for the remnant of electing mercy* (Isa. 4), the called vessels of redemption, who now, through the Spirit, do, as the true circumcision, rejoice in God (Phil. 3:3).

{*I do not refer to this passage as if it received its proper fulfilment in the calling of the Church. Far from it — it is most clearly Jewish in its character. But its application in principle to the people of God now, is, I think, plain. While we are watchfully to guard against a false division of the word, it is one of our most precious privileges, as having the Spirit, the unction from the Holy One, to draw the marrow and fatness of Christ for the nourishment of our souls from every part of God's word.}

Verse 3. This Gospel is "concerning His Son." God speaks in the audience of poor ruined man about His own Son as the fulfiller of His own thoughts of peace — about His own mercy as made sure in Jesus, — assured to Him for us. He was verily the son of David according to the flesh, but (verse 4) "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." The resurrection was the effectual justification of the title of Jesus as the Son of God. The act of omnipotent power which raised the dead Son of man, vindicated at the same moment the glory of His Divine person as the Eternal Son of God. By the grace of God He died He was crucified in weakness, He suffered in the flesh. "He lives" (2 Cor. 13:4) says the same apostle, "by the power of God."*

{*The distinction in this passage between the intrinsic and divine personal vitality of Christ, and the application of the same quickening principle to the church in grace, is clear and striking.}

But this is not all. He was, indeed, quickened and raised as having yielded up His Spirit to the Father. But He also arose. He could say in the days of His flesh, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again." He made Himself capable of death when He took flesh. He died, by the grace of God, in willing, gracious love to lost sinners. He died to fulfil the Scriptures. For the same purpose He revived. Death could not hold Him — it was not possible, as Peter says (Acts 2:24). The spirit of holiness is not subject to the bondage of death. As verily man, the Christ could die — could be slain and was slain, in the obedient yielding of Himself to death. But He who suffered thus in the flesh was none other than the Living God — the Quickening Spirit. "He must rise," as well as die, according to the Scriptures (John 20:9). Hence the question of the angel addressed to them, who, in ignorance of this, were thinking of finding still, on the third day, a dead Master: "Why seek ye the Living (ton zonta) among the dead?"

The divine Sonship of the crucified Jesus is thus affirmed by the event of His resurrection. The apostle's present subject does not lead him here beyond this particular view of the resurrection as a doctrine. Jesus, thus "justified in the Spirit," is declared to be the Lord of all. As such He is owned in the Church. "To us there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things" (1 Cor. 8:6). As we are ourselves "by Him," so all worship of the Father is by Him — all service, all faith (1 Peter 1:21), all hope to God-ward is by Him. All gifts and measures of grace and blessing reach us by Him, even as here he proceeds (verse 5), "by whom we have received grace and apostleship."

Then follows a statement of the scope and objects of His work. It was among all the Gentiles (pasi tois ethnesi) that He was to act. The end was the obedience of faith to God. But it was all for the name (huper tou onomatos autou) of Jesus. God calls on man to obey Himself by receiving Jesus as the Lord. The name of Jesus is the revelation of God. But verse 6 presents Jesus as Himself acting thus in calling and quickening at His will (compare John 5:21; 15:16; and 10 passim). They were "the called of Jesus Christ." The apostle well knew the meaning of this, as himself a Christ-chosen and a Christ-called vessel of Divine mercy (Acts 9; 1 Tim. 1:16).

Verse 7 concludes the greeting. They were "be loved of God," and "called saints," or holy ones (Klerois hagiois — berufenen Heiligen. — DE WETTE). Such is the eternal condition of the believer as accepted in the Beloved, seeing that he is sanctified, as well as washed and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God (Eph. 1:6; 1 Cor. 6:11; and 1: 30).

It is to be noted that the greetings in the Epistles are ever from the Father and the Son, exclusive of the Holy Ghost. In the Revelation alone the Spirit is included (Rev. 1:4); and then, not as the "one Spirit" (Eph. 4), the Divine power of the church's unity and fellowship in love, but as the seven-fold display of Omnipotent might — the seven spirits of God as the eternal and almighty Governor of His creation. But in the Epistles the Spirit is never presented as a heavenly object of our present worship (compare 1 Cor. 8:6). He is always (even when not expressed by name) assumed to be in and with the redeemed people of God, both individually, and as collectively forming the one body of Christ. Thus, in writing to Timothy or Titus, the same exclusive form of greeting is observed, since the Holy Ghost dwelt in them severally, even as He did in the Church at Rome, or elsewhere.*

{*Let it be observed once for all, to avoid misapprehension, that, inasmuch as in the unity of the Divine Nature the Holy Ghost is truly God, to worship Him can never be wrong in principle. But as, in the gracious operation of the Divine counsels, the Spirit now acts in an especial character as the revealer and glorifier of Jesus — of the Father in the Son — He is rather to be known and rested on as the power and enabler of Divine worship and communion in the soul, than regarded objectively by our faith. Hence, no doubt, the peculiar structure of 1 Cor. 8:6, while in chap. 12 of the same Epistle we have so full and detailed a view of His sovereignty, which is exercised in governing, as well as animating the body of Christ.}

Verses 8-15. The prosperous state of the Church at Rome was not only a cause of joyful thanksgiving to the apostle on their behalf. It had awakened in him a longing desire to visit them. He had heard of their faith. His desire now was to be himself a witness of that faith, a partaker and a helper of their joy. This was a right desire — truly a yearning of Christ in him towards them — and in due time God would bring it to pass. Meanwhile, in the wisdom of His love, He finds a vent for the blessed zeal which filled the heart of His servant, in the present Epistle. Doubtless, Paul would rather have at once visited them. Had he been allowed his earnest desire then, he would have deemed himself to be effectually furthering the Gospel. And so, indeed, he would. But the God of all grace had a more extensive work for him to do, and one of incalculably wider extent in blessing.

He had wished to be with them, to give and to receive a present refreshment and comfort. Moreover, he desired to impart some special gift (charisma for their fuller establishment in the faith. But the thought of Divine love and wisdom, which found its faint reflection in the heart of the apostle, was wider and more wise toward His church (not at Rome only) than could be fully compassed by His servant then. The thwarted desires of Paul gave occasion to the Spirit of God to indite and publish, by his hand, this invaluable Epistle — to present to the Church a gift, not of present, passing effect, but which should build up, and feed, and instruct, the saints to the end of the time of the church's patience in the wilderness of this world. Moreover, in expressing thus in this exordium the longings of Christ's love in his heart towards them, he was unconsciously preparing an after-blessing to himself. As having thus prepossessed the affections of their hearts, he found a welcome as from God, when, years after, on drawing nigh to that city as a prisoner in bonds, his tried and wearied spirit found in the cordial greetings of those who came forth from the city of the oppressor to meet him, as not ashamed of his chain, an expression of that comfort with which God knows how to comfort them that are cast down (Acts 28:14-15).

Verse 16 brings within reach the proper subject of the Epistle — the Gospel. He was not ashamed of it — it was rather his glory (Gal. 6:14). He was God's servant; and that which he ministered was the power of God, as a Saviour, to every one who believed. If he came to Rome he would come as the bearer of a truth which, though it was the only word of life and knowledge, was the only truth unknown in that great metropolis of human pride and power. He need not, then, be ashamed, who went about with the consciousness that where he went he was dispersing through the city of death the pure and plenteous rivers of the water of life. While ready to become the servant of all, yet, when he contemplates the end and glory of his mission, he finds himself upon a vantage-ground of divine truth and power of which he need not be ashamed.

The Gospel is the word of God's grace to sinners. As such it is unlimited in its range and objects. It is to man as under sin. But, though Israel had stumbled at God's elect stone, and, by rejecting Jesus as come in the flesh, had forfeited, as far as lay in them, the national blessings of the new covenant; still, to them, as the natural heirs of the promises, Christ was ever to be first preached. Not any longer, indeed, as Israel's Messiah merely, but as God's appointed heir of all things (Heb. 1:2). As God's righteousness — God's salvation, whether to those near or those afar off. The Jew was now to be addressed as a lost man, a sinner ruined under the law's condemnation. It is to such that Christ is preached as the end of the law for righteousness. Their souls were forfeit, and Christ was the ransom.

It is not, therefore, now, the pre-eminence of the Jew as the dispenser of blessing to the Gentile — himself being first established in the full possession of the promises made to the fathers. This will be exhibited in due time, as the apostle teaches further on. But now the Jew, if blessed at all, must find his blessing in the Gospel of the grace of God, which speaks to man as man — speaks, therefore, to all, though the long-suffering of Divine mercy sends the message first to the Jew. By this is at once displayed both the faithfulness of the God of Jacob, and the marvellous manner and extent of the grace thus ministered — a grace that had its beginning exactly at the place where the chiefest sin had been displayed. "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations," but, "beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47 eis panta ta ethne).

Verse 17. "For therein," etc. The Gospel is the revelation of God's righteousness as a Saviour-God. Christ died to justify God as the God of saving mercy. This was the work which the Father gave Him to do. He lived here to glorify God in obedience — thus for ever condemning man as a sinner, by His own display of perfect human righteousness as the Obedient of Jehovah. He obeyed unto death, that the satisfied will of the blessed God might become the direct means of salvation to sinners. The effect of the death of Christ is to bring in everlasting righteousness. The believing sinner thus becomes a righteous man. In this two-fold sense the Gospel is the revelation of the righteousness of God. It vindicates the holiness of the God of grace; while it places upon the sinner who believes the perfect title of the Just One Himself.

But nature is born blind, and cannot see what is thus revealed. The righteousness of God is revealed, not to sight, but to faith. Moreover, it is from, or by, faith,* i.e., it is communicated in the way of testimony and promise, and finds its resting-place in the hearts of those alone in whom the word preached is mixed with faith (Heb. 4:2). It is the Divine quickening power of the Holy Ghost that effects this. It is the act of God, who works, not by enlightening the natural faculties, but by Himself shining in the heart to give the light of the knowledge of His own glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Faith is God's gift, as much as the living righteousness on which that faith lays hold. "Unto you it is given on the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also" etc. (Phil. 1:29; compare Acts. 16:14). The word thus received is spirit and is life; God being thus known — known as a Saviour, and that through and in the Lord Jesus Christ. But this knowledge is eternal life (John 17:3); and so it is written, "The just shall live by faith."**

{* Ek pisteos eis pistin — "Aus dem Glauben für den Glauben," — DE WETTE. "Faith-wise and unto, (or, for) faith," may perhaps nearly express the meaning.

** Ho de dikaios ek pisteos zesetai. This quotation is thrice repeated in the New Testament, each time, apparently, with a different force, according to the context: —

In Gal. 3:11 it is cited as a peremptory witness against the thought of justification by law. In Heb. 10:38 its application is plainly not to the original reception of life (as quoted above in the text), but to the continuance of that life, its growth and energies as dependent upon the daily exercise of the once-justifying faith — the living by the faith of the Son of God on the part of one who died daily (Gal. 2:20). Compare John 6:57, 1 Peter 1:5, etc.}

At verse 18, the apostle commences his general argument for the demonstration of the riches of Divine wisdom and glory in the Gospel, by reviewing the past history and the actual condition of man as God's creature. This is done, first, generally, according to the natural responsibilities of the creature; and secondly, specially, as viewing him under the express and distinctive relation of the legal covenant.

Verses 18, etc. "For the wrath of God is revealed," etc. The Gospel draws aside the veil which had wrapped the nations of the world in natural ignorance and doubt; and discovers in the light of the risen Christ, what the true position of the world is as judged of God.

Divine wrath is revealed from heaven against human sin. This was, in itself, no new revelation as to its principle. The wrath of God had acted in vengeance more than once of old; but now the eternal principle of Divine righteousness is anew stated, in conjunction with the testimony to the grace which delivers from it. Moreover, in the administration of the Divine government of the world, it was in rare examples only that this principle had been apparently illustrated. God had winked in time past (Acts 17) as the same apostle says, while darkness remained as yet unbroken by the shining of the light of life. But now He suffers no more the nations to walk in their own ways, but commands all men everywhere to repent. The Gospel is thus both the startling and emphatic warning of danger, and the faithful assurance of deliverance and safety to those who accept the warning.

It deals with man as he ever has been (as fallen) in God's sight, but as now shown to himself in the mirror of his own conscience, through the word of Divine truth.* His condition is now declared to be one of natural and entire alienation from God. He is regarded as ungodly and profane — as simply wicked, and that by the necessity of his birth. He is sinful by nature, and, therefore, naturally "a child of wrath" (Eph. 2:3), seeing that God can only recompense sin by judgment. As a creature, he has utterly fallen from his true place; coming short of the glory of the Creator, who is glorified only by the obedient dependence of the creature on Himself. Failing in this, man's life is but a perpetual dishonour to the Creator, and a continual provocation of Divine holiness in wrath. These things had been but partially revealed heretofore. The process of human probation had been incomplete until the advent and the rejection of the Son of God in the flesh. But now the darkness was past, and the true light had shone forth, discovering reprobation to be the fixed and eternal estimate on God's part of what fallen man really is.

{*It may be necessary to warn some readers against the common notion, that in the present chapter the apostle is drawing a picture of Roman manners merely. It is man as a species whose apostacy he is describing, not the results of that apostacy in a particular instance.}

But this case of human reprobation is stated now in detail. Verses 18-23. The wrath of God is directed against all human ungodliness and unrighteousness, and that on the ground of their holding the truth in unrighteousness.* The high thoughts of men, bent on their own pleasure, set themselves against the truth of God. Ignorance is not the primary cause of human opposition to God. It is the instinctive force of evil desire, which leads man to gratify the nearer and more importunate lusts of the flesh and of the mind, independently of God. But to act independently of God is practically to deny Him. Atheism is involved, in principle, in the very first departure of the creature from the position of simple dependence upon God. It is the assertion of an independent will, and thus the exercise, as it were, of an independent life. But man is God's creature — his life is God's breath. Hence, to live without God — in defiance, or even in forgetfulness of God — is virtually Atheism. It is the heart-Atheism of the fool, who says in his heart, "There is no God" (Ps. 14; 53).

But this is utterly without excuse. God has not left Himself without witness, that man should say, "Who and what is He?" Creation is for ever the universal witness of His power and Godhead. The evidence of God (to gnoston tou Theou) as Himself filling all things in creative and sustaining power, was present to every eye and to every heart, which was not fenced by the madness of willing ignorance against these manifestations of the Divine glory. Accordingly (verse 21), it is the knowledge which man had of God that really constituted the essence of his guilt. "When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God," etc. The apostacy of man from God, is an action of the will. The sense of dependence, of grateful homage and allegiance to God-ward, was what man could no longer brook, when once awakened by Satan to a consciousness of his own powers. This was the case originally, when in Eden, ere yet the fatal transgression had been done, the poison of the serpent's tongue had already corrupted the pure mind of God's creature by the suggestion of self-secured, self-dependent happiness. "Ye shall be as gods!" Such is ever the dream of the natural heart, forgetting, the while, that the powers, and the very will, which are thus set in God's place, exist and continue only by the sufferance of God.

{* ton ten aletheian en adikiai katechonton. Welche die Wahrheit durch Ungerechtigkeit aufhalten. — DE WETTE. Hindrance or obstruction, is generally allowed to be the primary force of the verb here used}

The corrupt desires of the will of man, acting upon his imagination, and re-acted on by a darkened conscience, produced the varied forms of idolatrous worship. The same heart which is by nature fundamentally averse from holiness, is constitutionally prone to religious observance. There is an innate and indwelling consciousness of personal insufficiency, which renders man incapable of simple independence of some power mightier than himself. A god, in some shape, is a natural necessity of man. His natural desire, in his first apostacy from truth, is a god after his own heart. The image of himself is the outward expression of this. But the tendency of a mind once alienated from God is ever downwards. Birds, and quadrupeds, and creeping things display, when represented in idolatrous imagery, the progressive stages of that deterioration and debasement of the poor godless mind of nature, which finds no lifting power in itself capable of staying its descent into the low depths of utter infatuation and shame.

But when once the human will has begun to act deliberately apart from God, the reign of ignorance has already commenced. God alone is Light and is Truth. His will being disregarded, the imaginations (dialogismois) of the human heart become substituted for the wisdom of God. But these imaginations not only act as a veil and barrier to exclude the light and blessing of Divine truth; they become themselves the guide and directory of human action — conscience, meanwhile, being all too weak, of itself, to force its way through the mists of human thought into the presence of Truth — of God. Hence the Gentiles are said to have the understanding darkened (Eph. 4:18), and their ignorance is affirmed to be the cause of their moral alienation from the life of God — the hardness (porosis,) of their hearts being the low ground on which all this ruin lies.

But is man, thus sunk, aware of his condition? Nay, it is while professing themselves to be wise that the profoundness of their folly most appears.* The human mind being in darkness through its voluntary departure from God, who alone is Light, man's course lies naturally in the endless circle of folly and of sin. He is ever seeking, but never finding — aware of his poverty, yet ever dreaming of recovery and prosperity as coming from himself. Running in the laborious career of his vanity through all the perplexed and defiled paths of madness and folly, he exhibits in himself every phase and variety of hopeless sin and cureless misery.

{* Phaskontes einai sophoi emoranthesan. The peculiar force of the word phaskontes is rather to be felt than explained.}

Verses 24, 25, display the retributive judgment, even now, of God the Holy One on His debased image. "Wherefore also God gave them up," etc. Filthiness and dishonour being the unchecked and ripened fruit of the lusts of nature, which man had chosen as his guide, in preference to the will of God. They had changed His truth into a lie, putting the creature into the place of the Creator. The utter debasement of the creature, and that through the development of its own will, follows, as the sentence of Divine wisdom upon the self-dishonoured workmanship of His hands.

Verses 26, 27. The things spoken of here are clearly regarded as the "recompense," even now, of the error of the creature, in departing from the Creator. The world is thus regarded as under a judicial bondage of sin and dishonour. Men eat the fruit of their own ways — sometimes pleasant to the depraved taste of corrupted nature, but with prospect of Divine and eternal judgment at the end. The very lusts which govern and torment the slaves of sin are, as it were, the earnest and token of that wrath of God, which, now revealed from heaven, will yet deal with the ungodliness and unrighteousness of unrepentant sinners after death (Heb. 9:27).

It is most needful to observe, that the extreme cases of unnatural sin are put here as God's general verdict on the condition of the human family, as collectively apostate. The existence of such enormities does not simply condemn the perpetrators of the specific crimes. The things themselves are but surface-spots, by which is indicated the condition, morally, of the mass to which they are found attached. The lusts of the human heart are here in question — not as isolated phenomena of wickedness, but as the judicial alternative of dishonour and uncleanness in which man, as apostate, is now placed, and wherein he is regarded from heaven as an object of wrath, because of his departure from the only presence where purity and honour may be found. Every attempt, therefore, on man's part, to beautify or purify himself, save by a return, in the faith of the Gospel, to God as a Saviour, is but a fighting against God — a practical refusal to own His truth and righteousness in thus awarding him this dishonoured place. But this is only to arm himself as an adversary against Him who is an avenger of His name according to the unknown power of His wrath (Ps. 90:11).

Let me add another word on this point. Divine mercy may act, and doubtless will act, through the death of Christ, in a measure far beyond and above all our thoughts; but, with respect to the condition of the nations of the world, it is that of hopeless apostacy from God — shut up under sin — incapable, therefore, of themselves, of ever becoming free.

Verses 28-32. "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge," etc. Human will has thrown off the yoke of God, but to recover the lost position is impossible to man. They are the slaves of a reprobate mind. But the mind of man cannot be light and dark at the same time. It is an active principle, which works out its ends according to the direction and bias under which it moves. But that bias is fixed for evil, and that by the judgment of God. He has given them up to work an evil work. They are filled with evil. Not partially depraved, but filled with all iniquity. Most solemn, most fearful truth! But they also know that it is even so. Conscience affords light enough to keep perpetually before the mind the dark and uneasy dread of an unsatisfied responsibility towards God. Moreover, the eye is ever in presence of the material witness of the Divine glory. The prevalence and extent of moral corruption are known and reckoned on by man, (all human legislation proceeds on the recognition of this) but acquiesced in, and furthered unceasingly, by the course and progress of human society (verse 32).

The moral light which relieves the dark picture of human depravity presented in this chapter, to the eye of an actual observer of life as it now is, only serves to augment the weight of man's responsibility, and to bring nearer the threatenings of Divine wrath. Fragments of Divine truth, borrowed from the word of God, and used, either as a decorative polish, or as a corroborative aid, in forming and beautifying the structure of human society, do not alter the intrinsic nature and character of that to which they are applied. Such a use of Scripture, forms, on the contrary, the most conclusive evidence of the world's guilt, not simply as naturally apostate, but as practically denying the Lord that bought it. For the truth of redemption and grace, thus perverted from its proper use, becomes the means of perpetuating and commending the very things which that truth, where obeyed, has already destroyed.

I do not dwell upon the specifications of human iniquity with which this solemn chapter closes. They form the leading features of apostate human character, in which the Spirit of God vainly seeks to find any good thing (chap. 7:18), while making inventory of that which fills the hearts of men. The victory of the depraved will of man over the light of conscience, to the perpetual dishonour and provocation of the Divine glory, is strikingly put in the concluding verse.

Romans 2.

Verse 1. "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man," etc. Man, having been himself arraigned as a sinner, is incompetent to judge his fellow. In so doing he would be passing sentence upon himself. The sins expressed by name at the end of the last chapter are but the varied phenomena under which in itself, as indwelling in man, discovers itself to the outward eye. A valid judgment on human sin can only be pronounced by one who is himself free from its taint.* Thus man is peremptorily excluded from the seat of judgment. But the heart is deceitful, as well as evil; and hence men do constantly bring themselves under the double condemnation of sin and of hypocrisy, by judging their neighbour while themselves continuing in sin.

{*The judgment of sin in the Church of God is wholly another matter. There it is not man in his natural state (Psuchikos) judging his fellow, and thus taking God's place in the midst of his own natural uncleanness. It is God Himself accomplishing, through the obedience of man as spiritual (pneumatikos) as a new creature, His own will, as the Holy One, who will not, and cannot tolerate evil in His house.}

But (verse 2) there is a judgment which is according to righteousness — and God is the judge. We are sure that His judgment is according to truth against evil-doers. This is an eternal principle of the Divine government. God is holy; and as such He is against sin. His face is, therefore, against the workers of iniquity. But this last definition comprises man as a species, Jew and Gentile being alike included in the review of man, morally considered, as standing in relation to the everlasting principles of God's holiness.

Verses 3-5. The assumption of the place of judgment presumes an assent, on the part of the individual judging, to the truth of God as the righteous God. But is it really thus? Nay, the judge is also himself, in his way, the evil-doer. His own responsibilities to God must first be met, before he can be in a condition to act as judge in another's case.

This censorious spirit, then, is doubly offensive to God. First, it thrusts a poor sinful creature, himself under the sentence of death, into the place of that God who is ready to call for his account, and to award him his portion according to his deeds. It is, secondly, a flat and rank denial of God's truth, which concludes all under sin. It is thus a preparation, against himself, of the very sentence which hereafter will be pronounced out of his own mouth (Matt. 12:37). And so the word, as to this, is: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matt. 7:1-2). "He shall have judgment without mercy, who showed no mercy," etc. (James 2:13). Meanwhile, man thinks that he shall escape the judgment of God. It is the lurking presence of this thought in the bottom of his heart that supports and sustains him in his evil way. But, alas for self-deceiving man! it is a vain thought; and by thus trusting to his own heart, he becomes a fool at the end.

Nor is it folly only that is thus shown. The utter baseness, as well as ignorance, of corrupted nature here makes itself conspicuously manifest. God is despised on account of His goodness! The riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, instead of leading the natural man to repentance, only turn to the increase of human sin. Because the sentence of recorded judgment seems to linger in its execution, the unrepentant heart of man becomes more and more emboldened in the ways of sin (Ecc. 8:11). Long impunity in the ways and works of natural choice begets a feeling of security (2 Peter 3:3-4), which in its effect prepares the world for its last fatal slumber, which the advent of the Judge alone will break (1 Thess. 5:2-3). Men live a life of self-pleasing at the expense of Divine long-suffering and kindness (chrestotes), indifferent, meanwhile, to the testimonies which warn, and to the occasional acts of judgment which give yet more emphatic earnest of the day of reckoning which is to come.

But this is to treasure up wrath against themselves. God is not mocked, although He draw out long His patient sufferance of human evil. He must one day remind men that power belongs to Him, and not to them. He will convince incredulous sinners by the epiphany in glory of the Lord of judgment, that a life of carnal security is a life of rebellion against God; that to speak and to act as from themselves is to cast off dependence upon Him who formed them for Himself; that the utterance of the natural counsels of the heart, according to the assumed privilege of man's proper liberty, is the contumacious gainsaying of the word of Divine truth; and that their pleadings for themselves have been hard speeches (Jude 11, 15) against the God in whom they live, and move, and have their being. There is a day fixed for the righteous judgment of God. He will be just; and then woe to the man whose responsibilities have been left undischarged, through his obdurate contempt of the word of grace during the long-protracted continuance of the day of mercy and of salvation.

Verses 6-10. God will render to every man according to his deeds. To those who have sought Him, He will then show Himself to be a rewarder, even as already He is thus known by faith in the souls that wait on Him (Heb. 11:6, 26). To those who have refused God, He will then show Himself to be God, and that vengeance belongs unto Him. The character of such is thus described in verse 8: "To them that are contentious,* and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness." They are contentious! Man's natural life is a contest with God — the carnal mind is enmity against Him (chap. via 7). The desires of the natural mind are in perpetual opposition to the will of God. The test of this enmity is the word of truth. Man naturally refuses obedience to that word, because it is the declared expression of a will to which the whole course of fallen nature stands opposed.

{*ex epitheike, "of contention," as contrasted with those who are ek pisteos, or "of faith," as a characteristic distinction.}

And now let us remark, further, that a man must be either a servant of truth, or an adversary of truth. A neutral condition is an impossible thing. To disobey the truth is to obey unrighteousness. "He that is not for me is against me" is the word of the Incarnate Truth Himself. Unbelief, though nominally a negative thing, is really a positive, and active sin. If I do not believe God's truth, it is because I do believe Satan's lie, which deceives the heart of the world; persuading men, whose present lives are without God, that they will fare well at the last, albeit the wrath of God is revealed in Scripture as awaiting all who do not repent and believe the Gospel.

Unbelief is the preference of self to God. Man's natural impressions are accepted and obeyed in preference to the voice of God. Unbelief is, therefore, a deliberate decision of the will. It is the taking up a position, apart from God, in which the soul seeks its rest in the creature — in the world (Luke 12:15-21). The positive testimonies of the word of God are discredited and disregarded, in proportion to the vigour and abundance of the unbroken strength and the actual enjoyment of natural life. Smitten and exhausted nature, worn down by disease, or wearied by long-tried experience of earthly vanity, is sometimes tamed into seeming subjection to the word of God. But reluctant acquiescence in Divine truth, only so far as its recognition is commended by one's own sensations and experience, is a very different thing from faith. The word may act as a mirror on a man's conscience when brought to bear immediately upon his practical life; but it is a mirror which, when withdrawn, leaves blank the space which should be filled with God. The heart has no willing capacity for truth while man remains in his natural state: his affections ever tend to other ends than God. But this heart-preference of the creature is itself enmity against the Creator. Hence, he that will be the friend of the world, is the enemy of God. And God will rid Him of His adversaries in due time. He endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, but they are fitted for destruction at the end.

The judgment of God having for its object man as a creature under responsibility to Him, Jew and Gentile find their common level here. There is no respect of persons with God. But there is a difference, and that a wide one, between the Jew and the Gentile, when regarded relatively to each other. The Gentile is a sinner, rebelling, through the depraved will of his nature, against God as manifested in His works, and witnessed to in the sinner's conscience. The Jew is a rebel against the same God as the Lawgiver. He is a sinner against light especially revealed — a breaker of covenant. By the law which he has received, he must be judged in that day.

But is the case so hopeless for the Jew? The promise of the Law is life to the doer of the Law — to the doer of good. But does the Law confer upon its subject any power of obedience to its precepts? By no means. The Law defines the will of God, and leaves the man whom it addresses to prove his claim on the Divine favour in the way of obedience. But in this he fails — inevitably fails — through the very necessity of his condition as naturally sinful. The Law thus becomes a minister of death, and a witness of sin. External conformity does not reach the case: God's question is with the heart. The secrets of man remain as ever. The imaginations — yea, all the imaginations of the thoughts of man's heart continue to bear their unaltered character of evil (Gen. 6:5) beneath the outward covering of legal profession. And it is those "secrets" which God will judge, by Jesus Christ, in the appointed day.

Verses 11-29. God will judge sin — in Jew or in Gentile. But sinners will themselves become witnesses to their own condemnation. The professed subjection of the Jew to the Law will prove the fact of his disobedience in the day when his heart's secret is disclosed. Moreover, the conduct of the Gentile, who has avoided any moral evil of which the Jew may have been guilty, will constitute a separate verdict of judgment against the outward Jew. "The work of the Law" is said (verse 15) to be written on the Gentile heart. Men, that is, know well, apart from the hearing of Moses, whether they are acting righteously or unrighteously.

This is a general principle of truth connected with the doctrine of conscience. There is that in every man which indicates the broad distinctions of right and wrong with clearness to his mind, and which makes him know the quality of the actions he performs. But the language of the apostle in this passage is susceptible of a more especial and confined interpretation. While it is generally true that conscience is to every man a faithful witness of moral right and wrong, the force of the comparison is more apparently to show that, whereas the Law, conferring nothing upon its subject but the obligation and responsibility of obedience, left the Jew without hope on failure of that obedience, Gentiles* individually might become subject to the fear of God, and so produce the fruits of obedience, such as the letter of the Law enjoins, to the shame and deeper condemnation of the carnal Jew. A Gentile was, as a man, capable individually of Divine favour. The grace and power of God, though it regarded the nation of Israel as its especial object, could, and doubtless did work upon Gentile hearts in individual cases. Neither Job nor his friends were of Israel, and yet the letter of the Law could have added little to their knowledge of the truth of God. The case of the sons of Rechab (Jer. 35, where the moral obligation of a parental command receiving its obedient recognition at the hands of those who knew not the Law of Moses, is avouched in special evidence of Judah's sin) may also have been in the mind of the apostle while writing these words.

{*It is to be remarked that in the original, the word rendered "the Gentiles" in verse 14, is without the article. Ethne seems to be used here nearly in the sense of ethnikoi, meaning simply men of other nations than Israel.}

The Judge of all the world will do right. He will confound the Jew's vain boasting by the practice of the heathen. He will judge the heathen by the standard of His own eternal truth. He will judge sin. But, further, the Jew's plea is already traversed, and his claim disallowed, by the testimony of Jewish Scripture itself — "For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written" (Ezek. 36:20-23). So that already the Gentiles are God's witnesses, to the confusion of the Jew as under Law. To set up, therefore, a claim on the ground of legal obedience, is not only vain in itself, but is also a lie against God, whose word it is that contains the record of their sin.

Nevertheless, circumcision profits if the Law be kept. But the law being wholly broken, circumcision becomes the mark of reprobation, instead of favour and privilege. It becomes uncircumcision. The ,Jew, that is, finds himself reduced again to the level of natural distance from God, only with the additional condemnation of having been tried specially, and found reprobate (cp. Jer. 6:30).

I do not dwell particularly on the several verses which contain the details of the general argument of the apostle in this most instructive chapter. With respect to the reference made (verses 26, 27) to the uncircumcision keeping the righteousness of the Law, it appears to me capable of being understood; either in the same sense as that which has been attributed to the similar language of the fifteenth verse, or it may possibly refer to Gentile converts to Christ, a part of whose characteristic description is to be fulfillers of the Law according to the doctrine laid down in the sequel of this Epistle. I do not feel assured as to which of these is the exact meaning in this place; but the moral drift and purport of the passage is most clear.

The last two verses are of deep and searching moral application to the conscience of every one who takes in hand to draw nigh professedly to God. The calling of the Jew was to holiness, for the Lord's name's sake. The exhortation, "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44), was written for those to whom Moses rehearsed it while as yet the separated people of Jehovah abode in the wilderness, receiving at the lips of the lawgiver the ordinances and the statutes which were to be their glory and their praise among the nations of the earth.

But outward observance, even when faithfully performed, could only secure the sanctification of the flesh. It had no power in itself to reach and to purify the heart. But God's standard of conformity was His own holiness. Hence the national title and calling, though it indicated the purpose of future blessing (which in due time God would effect, when, under a better covenant than that of works, He should have sanctified the people once for all through the blood of redemption), proved only, while the Law remained, a memorial of shame and of rebuke. Meantime, among the thousands of the fleshly nation there were ever found and owned of God, the numbered remnant who was Israelites indeed. To such (while the Law was the delight of their inner man, and was their meditation day and night, that they might keep the right way of the commandment) the word of promise was the sustaining aliment of their souls. They put their trust in God; they hoped in Him. And because their expectations were alone from Him; therefore were they practically separate from all that which they knew to be unsanctioned by His name and contrary to His will.

But this made them strangers in the midst of their brethren. The Nazarite, whose purity was the sanctification of obedience, would meet reproaches rather than praise from those who, while they kept iniquity between their breasts, yet wore externally the form and pattern of conformity to the Law. Such were the prophets who spake in the word of the Lord to the rebellious and backsliding heart of the nation. He that departed from evil made himself a prey to those whose feet were swift to shed blood (Isa. 59, passim). Still, the sure witness of God remained. He knew them, and He hearkened to the words which they spake rightly of Him, while their brethren who cast them out were vainly saying, "Let the Lord be glorified" (Isa. 66:5). They were His. To be revealed as His in the day when His jewels should be made up (Mal. 3:16-17); and, being found complete, should shine in the fair colours of Divine salvation. Their praise was not of men, but of God.

I only remark, further, before passing on to the next chapter, that the principle just illustrated is exactly that which is of present exemplification in the faith of God's elect. The Jew inwardly is a man of God. Killed by the letter, which works death, he is revived by the power of God, who quickens the dead, reviving, by the word of faithful promise, the heart of the man who is of a contrite spirit (Isa. 67:15). Morally, the godly man stands ever upon the same ground, though the difference of actual calling and blessing may be immense. It is God who is the aim, and the fear, and the hope, and the reward, in every case where faith, with much or little light, animates man's heart, and sets in motion the affections of the inner man. Hence the exhortation to holiness which has been above quoted in its application to the Jew under Law, is anew addressed by the Spirit (1 Peter 1:16) to those who had been begotten to the title of children, and the sure hope of an eternal inheritance, according to the abundant mercy of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; and who, therefore, stood already in the pure and perfect sanctification of the name of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11).

A Christian is not a Jew either outwardly or inwardly. His knowledge of God transcends exceedingly the measure of that which was enjoyed by the godly of old, who knew not nor possessed the Spirit of adoption. But he is a man of God, as was the Jew. Like him, too, he bears the name of God in testimony, for shame or for glory according to the holiness of his way. Hence, while carefully keeping in view the proper bearing and the just dimension of the apostle's argument, the Christian reader of this chapter may find large matter for his own thoughtful meditation in pondering the word thus practically addressed to the conscience. May that praise which is of God and not of man be the coveted aim of my own heart, and of such as may have thus far accompanied me in these Notes.

Romans 3.

The futility of the claim of the Jew, as resting in the Law, having been shown, the question arises, Has, then, the Jew no pre-eminence, or is circumcision a pledge of no value? The first branch of this question is discussed in the present chapter; the second, in that which follows. And, first, in verses 1-8, there is a distinct assertion of the Jew's pre-eminence, and that not in one point, but "every way" (kata panta tropon). As the natural seed of Abraham, the Jew is the natural heir of blessing. Naturally, then, and nationally, he stands widely apart from the nations of the world, out of which God had called and separated Abraham before He confirmed to him the covenant of promise. Viewed as under Law, and therefore judged on his own merits, the Jew is personally ruined, and nationally dishonoured and disowned. But Law is not promise.

Abraham, however, received the promises of God (Gal. 3); and God is true, and cannot deny Himself. The excellency, then, of the Jew consists, first and chiefly, in that to him have been entrusted the oracles of God.

But, then (verse 3), had not the nation in effect forfeited this distinction because of their unbelief? The promise was of faith, but the nation was found and declared to be a generation in whom there was no faith (Deut. 32:20; Matt. 17:17). This had, indeed, been characteristically the national sin, from Moses downwards to the rejection of the Just One. Yet had not all thus sinned.* There had ever been a remnant who hoped in God, and whose faith was fed upon the word of promise. This remnant had been, as it were, the life of the nation. But there was a firmer basis, and more valid title, of the nation's hope than this. The grace which fed and sustained this faithful remnant was the unremoved, though dimly seen, foundation of Israel's pre-eminence. It was the fidelity of the God of promise that constituted the true security of the national blessing. Human unbelief cannot vacate Divine promises, because such promises are unconditionally made, and become vested in due order in their destined objects, according to the good pleasure of the Giver, in His own sure time. God, in His faithfulness, is thus the security of Israel's blessing nationally, as will be manifested in due time. The word of God, after having been tried by their sin to the uttermost, will yet verify itself in their conversion of heart to the Lord, when the Spirit shall be poured upon them from on high (Isa. 32). Then will the pre-eminence of the Jew be seen to be the result of the sovereign grace of God, fulfilling in faithfulness the covenant with Abraham, and the sure mercies of David.

{* ei epistesan tines. It is most interesting to observe how, both here, and in Heb. 3:16, the Spirit of God, ever keeping the integrity of the nation as the vessel of Divine promise in view, speaks of "some" failing, although when describing the failure historically, there might be but Caleb and Joshua in a whole generation who failed not. All are not Israel who are of Israel. But Israel remains unbroken, through all changes, in the stedfast counsel of the faithful God of promise.}

Meanwhile, the wrath of God is revealed against sin. But the Jew sins through the evil heart of unbelief. And thus, forsaking the promises of God, or rather, departing in heart from the God of his life, whose mercy is his salvation, and trusting to the sacrifices of vanity, he runs to meet the God of judgment. God will be justified in His sayings. The word of the Law will justify Him in the case of the man who puts his trust in the Law, when such an one finds in the day of judgment that the letter killeth. The word of His promise will have its blessed vindication, and God be justified therein, in the day when the towers of human confidence are laid low, and the mystery of Divine love and saving power in Christ is made known in the manifestation of the sons of God.

But if (verse 5) human sin only serves to bring out into clearer light God's righteousness,* is it righteous in God to punish those who have thus been instrumentally the means of His glory? In other words, must judgment proceed, untempered by mercy, on those whose very sin displays the righteousness of God? Such is the substance of the natural mind's demurrer to the course of Divine holiness and truth. The apostle speaks "as a man,"** and in the structure both of the question and reply shows both the readiness of man to criticize rather than to obey the word of truth; and also the mode in which the Spirit of God, by an appeal to acknowledged principles of eternal validity, silences the objections of men, while the question as to its terms is left unanswered. God does not enter into discussion with man as to the rationale of His way. Accordingly, to the point of the question whether judgment must proceed, the answer is at once and affirmatively made. Assuredly it must. God, as Judge of the world, must and will judge it in righteousness. But righteous judgment cannot but award wrath to sin; God can deal with sin only in the way of condemnation, otherwise He abets and allows evil, and thus denies Himself in His holiness. Circumcision, therefore, as a legal distinction, instead of conferring upon the Jew a blessing, brings him irrecoverably under a curse so long as the Law continues to be the ground of his hope.

{* "Our unrighteousness" ( he adikia hemon), I understand to refer especially to the sin of the Jew. The apostle seems here to identify himself with the nation for the purposes of his argument.

{** Kata anthropon lego. The presumed objector is, of course, a Jew.}

Verses 7, 8, conclude this part of the argument, by showing that either good must be the result of evil, or that God must judge sin absolutely. The fallacy stated in verse 7 is just this: the lie of man, instead of obscuring God's truth, is found to illustrate it. God is, then, glorified by means of my lie. But is God a debtor to my wickedness for His glory? God forbid. Then the objection ceases to act in bar of Divine judgment on the evil-doer, whom God will judge according to his deeds.

Verses 9-20. The apostle has shown that there is an excellency which attaches to the Jew as measured with the Gentile. There is a national distinction of Divine favour secured in the unchangeable God. He returns now to the question of personal standing before God. Here the Jew's pre-eminence is found to avail him nothing. Before God, both Jew and Gentile are judged as sinners. The standing witness of this, as it respects the Jew,* is the Law. Such is the general term used in verse 19 to express the Jewish Scriptures generally; although, in point of fact, the quotations are made exclusively from the Psalms and the Prophets. The passages which are here presented are brought together by the Spirit of God, in order to confirm the previous argument in proof of the condition of man as simply and radically corrupt. "There is none righteous, no not one." But by the previous testimony of the Spirit, this brings him under the immediate judgment of wrath, as revealed from heaven against all human unrighteousness.

{*Indirectly, the Gentile also. For the Law is the test of human condition and conduct, though ministered directly only to a particular branch of the human family. A Gentile's conscience brought within the hearing of the Law, is immediately placed under the responsibilities of the Law. He knows thug the will of God. Hence the general application by the apostle, in 1 Tim. 1, of the Law as made for a sinner, and thus to be rightly used where urged in order to awaken souls to a sense of their need of a Saviour.}

The whole passage is a solemn picture of what the human condition really is, as seen of God. Negatively and positively bad. There is the absence of all good — the presence of all evil. Man is pronounced utterly unprofitable. He is profitless to God who made him, for he only lives to His dishonour. He can profit neither his neighbour nor himself; for all the works of his hands are evil, and the purposes of his heart are very vanity. Wisdom and understanding are found to be as far from the natural heart as godliness, because the fear of God, which is the beginning of all wisdom, dwells not there.

The results are then stated, and are found to be destruction and misery. Inward and outward misery and death here, coupled with an unsatisfied responsibility toward the one Lawgiver who has power to cast both soul and body into hell. The Law, then, is a cruel messenger — necessarily so from the nature of fleshly man. But this includes all flesh; and so every mouth is stopped, and the whole world becomes guilty before God.

Verse 20 sums up the matter. "Therefore by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in His sight," etc. The deeds of the Law may justify flesh before flesh — man in the eyes of his fellow-sinner, who can see no lower than the surface. But the solemn word is, "That which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). Dead works must ever be such in the sight of the living God who tries the hearts. But where the Law does not justify, it condemns. By the Law, then, sin is discovered, and sin is condemned. But the condemnation involves man as man, and thus shuts up the whole world as under sin. Hope, then, is extinguished, as it respects the creature and his strength. Divine holiness when discovering itself in the Law, proves and declares the total ruin of man. He is thus left to the mere pleasure of God. Any blessing which may reach him must henceforth, therefore, be purely of grace.

Verses 21-31. Human pretensions having been thus solemnly weighed and disallowed, the ground is already prepared for the manifestation of the glory of the Divine character as discovering itself in relation to man as thus judged. "But now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested." The Law revealed the righteousness of God as a Judge. The Gospel displays His righteousness as a Saviour. It is in the forgiveness of sins that God's character as the righteous God is now discovered. But this is "apart from the Law" (choris nomou) because the Law is not of grace. Both the Law, however, and the prophets, attest this righteousness, inasmuch as Christ has, in His person and His work, fulfilled all truth. He is the Truth. But grace as well as truth came by Jesus Christ. Jesus stands before God as the fulfiller of all righteousness. He stands revealed to man as the displayed mercy-seat of God* — the propitiation set forth by God — set forth thus for the justification of Himself; as the God of all grace, in the free forgiveness of sins.

{* Hilasterion, the term here used, and in our version rendered "propitiation," is, in Heb. 9:5, translated "mercy-seat." Christ is surely both these. On the cross He is the propitiation in fact. As alive from the dead and received into glory, He is revealed by the Holy Ghost as the eternal rest of Divine holiness, whence the true Light of God shines forth in perfect grace and glory. God preaches peace by Jesus Christ.}

The power of discerning this righteousness is faith as given of God. It is revealed as a testimony, without difference of person, to Jew and Gentile as being alike short of the glory of God — as having all sinned (verses 22, 23). But not only are believing sinners forgiven — they are also justified (verse 24). Divine righteousness is reckoned to them in Christ, as the ground and title of glory and eternal blessing from God. Faith thus invests a believer with righteousness, after first divesting him of all sin. He is found in Christ, having God's righteousness (Phil. 3), and consequently made meet for God's joy — able to endure and to enjoy the perfect, holy Light which God is (1 John 1).

But the all-important point to be regarded here is the complete setting aside of creature-title. Man, as severally responsible, is dismissed and forgotten. Faith disowns man, and confesses God — God in Christ. Christ has taken the place of human responsibility, and has accomplished all righteousness. Moreover, the blood-shedding of Jesus is the release (apolutrosis) of the believer from every claim. The completeness of his bankruptcy and of his forfeiture has become the reason of his total absolution. For the forfeiture has been owned, and the utmost measure of all possible claim has been met, in the cross of the dying Son of God. Justice thus becomes the handmaid of mercy. "Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus."

To know God now, therefore, is to know a Saviour — a Justifier. He reveals His righteousness now in no other way. He is the God of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Himself the propitiation set forth by God — the mercy-seat brought forth from the secret of the Divine presence — the vail being now rent, and grace and truth in their ever-blessed and harmonious union, displayed in the person of the Lamb once slain.

But (verse 25) this setting up of the cross is also a declaration (endeixis) of the Divine righteousness, on account of the passing by of former transgressions; of those, that is, which had place previously to the ascension of the Lord Jesus. God has ever delighted in mercy, and to faith He has always been known as a Saviour. But the "good things" (Heb. 10:1) which cheered in hope the hearts of them who of old trusted God as the God of promise, were seen from afar, not actually possessed. The Holy Ghost, as the witness of accomplished redemption, was not known in the hearts of God's saints until Jesus had risen from His finished work (John 7:39). Yet were their sins forgiven. The cross thus clears the Holy One from inconsistency in forgiving sins, by condemning sin in the flesh — by condemning the guiltless, guilty One (for such, by imputation, was the Lamb when made in very deed a curse for us) once for all. "He has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53). "He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin," etc. (2 Cor. 5:21).

The cross is, further (verse 26), the present, actual manifestation of the same righteousness. "To declare at this time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus." It is the standing witness of God's truth and righteousness. A witness, to the believer, of atonement and justification — the precious blood of Christ being the atonement for his soul — a witness of judgment to come to the unbeliever, seeing that the shedding of that blood is the capital charge of the Holy Ghost against an unrepentant world (John 16:8). God's eternal character is that of a judge of evil. He is the God of judgment. If, therefore, Christ is despised, God alters not at all. He adds no circumstance to the eternal condition of His own will. But in due time He will show Himself as the Judge, and will then mock at the fear of sinners, who would none of His mercy in the day of mercy. If He be not confessed in Christ as a Saviour, He must be known in the same Christ as a Judge.

Boasting (verse 27) is thus excluded, because there is no work done. The ground of boasting is thus taken away, except as a man may boast himself in God, rejoicing in His work, and glorifying Him for His mercy. But justification, being thus of God, respects, as its object, man as under sin. The Jew, then (verse 29), is equally with the Gentile a debtor to grace.* His circumcision goes for nothing as entitling him to Divine favour. But (verse 31) does this positive assertion of faith, as the alone means of human justification, make void the Law, or render it of none effect? Nay, the Law, all-righteous and holy as it is, is itself the eternal witness to God as the God of grace. It has effected its mission as the discoverer of sin: it has received its accomplishment as the vindicator of holiness. It now remains, in Christ Jesus, as the eternal witness of the holiness of that blessed will (Heb. 10), which, being the will of Love, has found its end in the free salvation of poor lost sinners; to the praise of the glory of that grace which has abounded thus, through righteousness, over human sin. Thus, it is added, "we establish the Law."**

{*God will justify the circumcision (ek pisteos) and the uncircumcision (dia tes pisteos). Flesh, whether circumcised or not, is incapable of justification in itself. If a Jew, then, is justified, it must be in the way of faith. For the same reason, it is "through the same faith" that the Gentile also can be freely justified. This appears to be the force of the article in the second clause of the sentence.

**In the thirteenth chapter we have a practical exemplification of the way in which grace establishes the Law as the expression of the Divine will, which the new-born child of Love can alone run forth to meet.}

Romans 4.

Verses 1-8. The doctrine of justification by faith having been stated generally in the last chapter, the special case of Abraham is now taken up. This is done for a twofold purpose. First, in order to exemplify the doctrine itself in the strongest and clearest manner; and, secondly, to place in their true light the nature and extent of that Abrahamic privilege and blessing which the Jew rightly regarded as the root of his national pre-eminence. The Jewish mind, thinking of Abraham through the ever-present consciousness of personal responsibility as under Law, and accustomed to regard circumcision as the introduction to a life of legal obedience, soon lost its power to distinguish between the primary source of Abraham's blessing and title, and the actual ground of national responsibility upon which he felt himself to be personally standing.

To meet this case, the apostle now takes up the question of Abraham's blessing. "What shall we say, then, that Abraham our father has found, as pertaining to the flesh?"* Abraham had been blessed of God. This blessing came upon him before the revelation of Jesus Christ. How, then, did he obtain it? Seeing that the seed of Abraham after the flesh were circumcised and kept the Law, had it not ever been God's way to justify and to bless His people on the ground of personal righteousness? Abraham clearly had found something — He had found favour and blessing.

{* Not "our father as pertaining to the flesh," as the English version might be understood. I do not think that such is the meaning which either the original words themselves most naturally bear, or which the context appears to demand. De Wette renders: "Was können wir nun sagen dass unser Vater Abraham erlanget habe dem, Fleische nach, [durch Beschneidung and Gesetzes werke]?"}

Was, then, this blessing to be referred to himself or to God? The testimony of Scripture is immediately appealed to for the decision of this question. "Abraham believed God" (Gen. 15:6). The testimony of the Scripture glorifies God, while pronouncing the blessing of Abraham as the vessel of promise. The beginning and the perfection of Abraham's justification was, that he believed God. God spoke to Abraham. He spoke to him of Himself, as the Giver of blessing — as the God of grace, meeting the ungodly in pure and absolute promise — a promise conditional as to its effect only on the faith of him to whom the word was spoken. But Abraham believed God, and so his faith was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham's reception of the promise is the eternal change of his condition from sin to righteousness. God's righteousness was Abraham's righteousness. The word of promise which He spake contained in it the Christ of God's salvation, to be manifested in due time.* Receiving the word of grace, he received God, whose word it was. He knew God. He understood Him, according to the revelation of His own most blessed grace. Thus he rested, in the confidence of faith, upon the Almighty as the portion of his inheritance, he found thus the perfect place of creature blessing — dependence upon God as the Maker of his blessing, and the Minister of his joy.

{*The quotation of the apostle is from Gen. 15, because it is in that chapter that the specialty of the seed (compare Gal. 3) as the objective promise of God, is declared. The astonishing depth and richness of that chapter in displaying Christ as Himself at once the Promiser and the Promise, the Blesser and the Blessed, I cannot dwell on here.}

Abraham, then, in one sense, has whereof to glory: not before God, but before the world. In the presence of God he is dust and ashes — fleshly glory turning only to confessed corruption in that light; but to the world he is the witness of God as a justified heir of grace unto glory. He makes his boast of God before men; and God can glory in him as the righteous man of His own creation, the justified vessel of His praise. He is not ashamed to be called His God. Verses 4, 5, are especially directed against the deeply-rooted and altogether natural association in the mind, of reward with work — with debt. But Abraham did no work. "To him that works not" God reckons a reward. And what a reward! "I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward." To the believer God reveals Himself as the reward of His own work. He works the poor sinner's salvation, and places the crown of that work, in Christ Jesus, upon the head of the saved! "The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them." Such is grace. Such is God — the blessed God. Blessed in the blessings wherewith He fills to overflowing the poor vessels of His mercy — the freely chosen objects of His perfect love.

But to proceed — Verses 6-8 cite another witness for the yet further establishment and illustration of this subject. The value of the testimony now to be adduced in its bearing upon the apostle's general argument is, that while Abraham exemplifies the doctrine of Divine justification by faith before the Law, the witness of David, who was personally under Law, is found to concur in the assertion of this cardinal principle of the Divine dealing with man. "David describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works." The man, be he who he may. The qualification for the blessedness here described is not hereditary or other privilege, but the capacity of a sinner to receive Divine mercy.

The quotation here made from Psalm 32 is very remarkable, as showing how completely identical in the mind of the Spirit of God are the two ideas of "forgiveness" and "justification." Assuredly they are distinct things in themselves; and as such they are capable of being separately treated and reasoned upon. The negative blessedness of exemption and deliverance from deserved wrath, is surely a different thing from the positive acquisition and possession of a perfect title in righteousness to Divine favour. But here, where the subject-matter of the apostle's argument is justification as the work of God in Christ, the statement of a part involves the whole; seeing that the effect of gracious redemption is not only to spare the guilty, but to justify the ungodly. "He died the just for the unjust, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18) says another apostle. The result, then, of this appeal to the oracles of God is, that God is found to be exalted in the gracious blessing of the man of faith. Meanwhile, the blessedness of the believer is perfect and entire, positive and negative. God imputes righteousness. He will not impute sin. Forgiveness takes the place of sin, and everlasting righteousness has covered the believer's iniquity — hiding it alike from the eyes of the Divine glory, and from the conscience of the justified vessel of His grace.

Verses 9-22. Human blessedness has thus been shown to be the effect solely of Divine grace. But the subject of circumcision, as a distinctive sign of Abraham and his natural seed, remains to be examined. This point is now discussed in the following verses.

It had been shown that Abraham was justified by faith. But he was also circumcised. Was, then, circumcision in any way necessary, as a precedent condition, to Abraham's blessing? The answer is expressed (verse 10) in the negative. It was while yet uncircumcised that Abraham's faith was counted to him for righteousness. The truth of God revealed the promise of blessing to Abraham while as yet ungodly. Grace wrought on him, through faith, what grace had provided for him according to the good pleasure of Divine mercy and love. Circumcision is a work of Abraham. But justification is God's work for Abraham.

Circumcision was, however, of God. It was the outward token of God's separating choice, which had selected Abraham and his family to be the earthly people of God. Nor was this its only purpose and effect. It was, to Abraham, the seal of the righteousness which he already had while yet uncircumcised. Circumcision had thus a twofold force and meaning. First, it was to the natural seed and household of Abraham a distinctive token of separation from the rest of the families of the earth. It had, secondly, an additional meaning to the believer — the real seed — the children of the promise (infra, chap. 9). To such it was the note and mark of separation to God. It was, to them, the remembrancer of everlasting righteousness as of Him. Thus it served to form and characterize the present experience of the believer. Amidst all the abundance of temporal blessings which the faithfulness of God might confer in due time upon the earthly seed, there was ever a residue of blessing yet to come. The heirship of the world was the measure of Abraham's expectation as being blessed, in special promise, of Him who was possessor of heaven and of earth. But the ultimate rest of faith to him, as to all the fathers who obtained a good report by faith, was God as the builder of their city, the God that raises the dead.

Abraham, as the faithful receiver of the promise, is thus the father of the family of faith (verses 11, 12). Circumcised or uncircumcised, all believers are, in that sense, children of Abraham.* He is the father of circumcision still,** but it is to the circumcised believer, the circumcised child of promise, born, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit — the true heir of promise (Gal. 4:28-31). Verse 13 again introduces the Law, as that which naturally was associated in the mind of the Jew with circumcision, though, indeed, it was not of Moses, but of the fathers. The Law (verse 14) could never furnish a title to the inheritance. God gave it to Abraham by promise. The introduction, subsequently, of the Law, could not affect the previous gift of God. It might, indeed, intercept its effect, and present a permanent barrier to the realization of the promise — a barrier surmountable only by the faith of God's elect. This it did, until Christ took it out of the way, fulfilling, and thus exhausting it; securing thus to the believer the title of life which was annexed to the perfect obedience of the servant. But this, while it frees the conscience eternally from the Law, and brings it into the enjoyment of life because of righteousness, does not change the former ground of blessing, namely, the promise of God. Jesus suffered in obedience unto death, in order to take away the obstacle to human blessing according to the promise of God (Gal. 3; 4). Christ was Himself the seed to whom the promises were made. But He was born under the Law. The Law, therefore, must be fulfilled; and so it was by Him. Thus Jesus receives the promises.

{*How the church acquires that title, is shown more especially in Gal. 3:28-29, where union with Christ, Himself the seed, the heir, and object of all promise (2 Cor. 1:19-20) because He is the Son of God, is stated as the ground of our having inclusively the special title and inheritance of Abraham's seed.

**Phil. 3:3 opens to us a spiritual application of this expression also.}

The 15th verse enlarges still further the present point. "The law works wrath." The annexation of any condition to the pure promise of God, would have at once altered its character, and would have converted it in its principle into Law. But, upon the ground already stated in the foregoing chapter, the vesting in man of a blessing suspended upon a condition to be performed by him, is a perpetual impossibility. But if so, then the alternative of forfeited blessing is judgment. For the breach of condition is not only the forfeiture of the blessing attached, but it leaves the man under the full liability of that judgment which naturally is the portion of all the world as under sin. But this is not the whole of the case.

Legal condition, in the sense of Scripture, always implies a positive alternative in the event of failure. A man is either pleasing God, or he is provoking His anger. Blessing and cursing are set before the soul, when obedience is made a precedent Condition of blessing. On the other hand, the annexation of a condition to the continued enjoyment of a blessing already conferred, as in the case of Adam in Paradise, renders the blessing already as good as lost, since it is vested in hands too feeble to hold it fast on such a tenure. Now all Divine condition is the expression of the will of God. To fail in this is to transgress His will. Judgment thus, of necessity, becomes the alternative, expressed or implied, in every such case. But the promise of God has no condition of fulfilment other than the ability and faithfulness of Him of whose grace the promise is the expression. To this the receiver of the promise looks, as is presently stated, when, in the verse which follows, the résumé of the argument is given.

The believer, then, is now not under Law, because he is under grace. Abraham, for the same reason, was never under Law. Those who are of the Law are bondmen, not heirs. But Abraham was an heir by promise — Christ is heir in fact. As such He is now revealed to faith as ascended into heaven. We see Him crowned with glory and honour; and, seeing Him thus, delight to recognize in His present position of blessing and glory the pattern and the security of our own blessing as joint-heirs with Him.

The apostle now infers the general conclusion as follows: "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed," etc. (verse 16). The promise has become a vested possession in the person of Christ. He is Lord of all. The condition of the Christian's assured participation in it is the faith which binds him to Christ. But Christ is Abraham's seed. Abraham is thus the father of all believers before God (verse 17), who quickens the dead. He first believed the promise of God in its specialty concerning the gift by grace. He saw the day of Christ, and was glad (John 8:56). His faith had for its object God as the promiser of Christ. The Christian now believes in God as the sender of Jesus Christ (John 17:3), as the God who has glorified the crucified Jesus as His Son through the resurrection from the dead (1 Peter 1:21).

Abraham was an elect vessel of mercy, and knew God in hope through faith; perceiving the promise from afar, and embracing it (Heb. 9), while as yet unperformed, in the full persuasion of faith. The believer now is an elect vessel of the same mercy, who knows God as the accomplisher, in Christ, of the promises then made. Standing thus in Christ, as upon the sure foundation of God, with eternal acceptance, he rejoices in hope of the glory of God. God's character and power as the God of glory, the Almighty God, secured to Abraham the promises which he did not himself receive (except in type as in Isaac). The power of the same God in its effects, as having raised Christ from the dead, and given Him glory, is the present assurance, through the Holy Ghost, to the believer now of peace made — of blessing conferred — of the unspeakable gift received — of the fulfilment in Christ for us of all the counsels of Divine love and wisdom. Thus Christ in us becomes the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Or, as it is again written: "We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal. 5:5). But the hope of righteousness is glory. The promise, then, is sure to all the seed.*

{*The apostle is here speaking generally of faith as the sole condition of human blessing, and specially of the Abrahamic promise of the seed, as containing in itself the entirety of the Divine purpose of blessing, whether earthly or heavenly. The distinct subject of the heavenly calling, as the portion of the Church while confessing a rejected Christ, is not here in point. The question is confined to the one subject of justification. But as it is by faith alone that a sinner can stand justified before God, the Church occupies here a common ground with all who are of faith, though their calling be not primarily heavenly, but earthly. The "many nations" which will rejoice hereafter with Israel when again owned as the people of God, occupy a place in the vast display of the results of redemption materially different from that of the one body formed of elect believers, drawn out of every nation into the unity of the Church. This subject will re-appear slightly in the course of these Notes, but only incidentally, as it is not in the Epistle to the Romans, but rather, in those to the Ephesians and Colossians, that the full statement of the doctrine of the Church is found.}

Verse 18. "Who against hope believed in hope," etc. Hope is a natural quality. Faith is contrary to nature. But there is another hope which is born of faith; which has its rise, not in the instinctive swellings of natural desire, but in the deep wellsprings of Divine truth.

Abraham as a man had natural hope. As a believer in God he owned a hope which survived the extinction of all natural expectation. Probabilities, as estimated by the human judgment, are the sustaining warranty of natural hope. But all these were clean gone when Abraham in his hundredth year stood, in his natural hopelessness of offspring, and listened in the calm and sober certainty of hopeful reality to the words: "So shall thy seed be." It was the word of God. And God cannot lie. But He could perform His word, seeing that He is the Almighty. Abraham's dead body and Sarah's barren womb, as they are made no mention of in the word of promise, so are they not considered in the heart of faith. Abraham believed God, and thus he hoped. The promise spoke of life, and he looked for its fulfilment to the living God. He grew out of natural weakness to the strength of triumphant confidence, by the faith whereby he gave glory to God. And therefore (verse 22) it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Verses 23-25. But the righteousness thus imputed to Abraham is described in Scripture for our sakes, and not for his alone. Righteousness was imputed to Abraham because he believed in his day in God, according to the special revelation then made. The same righteousness (verse 24) shall be imputed to us,* says the apostle, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. The object of justifying faith to us now is God as the raiser of Christ from the dead. For (verse 25) He had been, first, delivered because of our offences; and, secondly, raised because of our justification. The cause of His being delivered up was "our offences."** But His death having taken place, the offences for which He died have ceased before God. The effect has exhausted and destroyed the cause. Sin's reign ends in death. Christ died — died unto sin. His resurrection, therefore, proves to the believer his justification. As Son of God, Christ survived the life which He laid down. To lay it down, and to take it again, were alike in His power (John 10:17-18). As being truly man, he received from the Father the gift of resurrection-life. "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it Him, even length of days for ever and ever" (Ps. 21:4). The resurrection was the answer of God, in saving power, to the prayers of Jesus, in the days of His flesh (Heb. 5:7-9). Jesus suffered for our sins. He lives, by the power of God, because of His own perfect and eternal righteousness. He is the Just One. But even as our sin was the reason of His death, so His revival is the effect of our justification. So long as we were judged as sinners in God's sight, so long must Jesus, who received our sentence, lie still in the grave. But this was impossible. According to the Scriptures He died, and according to the Scriptures on the third day He arose. He lay down in the dust of death, by the grace of God, as bearing our sin. He arose to be the everlasting Light of life and joy to them that believe, because, as alive from the dead, He is the witness that Divine righteousness has for us taken for ever the place of human sin before God.

{* "to whom it shall presently be imputed," as I would here render. The reference is clearly to the day of judgment (cp. 1 John 2:28; and 4:17). God already asserts in His word the righteousness of Abraham. He will presently vindicate the title of those who now by faith are enabled to count human righteousness as dross and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord (Phil. 3:7-11). Meanwhile, what will then be openly declared, is already possessed and fed on in the heart of faith. Already the Holy Spirit of promise is the indwelling witness of Divine acceptance — the earnest, to the expectant heir of promise, of the inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession (Eph. 1:14).

** The offences of believers. It seems hardly necessary to remind the reader of this, it being so entirely evident in itself. But in these days, when one of the many wiles of the destroyer is to turn the precious word of grace to the flattery of natural wickedness, confounding saving faith with mere historical acceptance and assent, no caution is superfluous that warns against so ruinous a delusion.}

Romans 5.

There have been already stated and discussed,
1. The case of man, whether Jew or Gentile, as under sin.
2. The impossibility of self-deliverance through the Law; and,
3.The saving grace of God, justifying the ungodly freely through faith, by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

With the present chapter begins the statement of the effects (Isa. 32:17) of this righteousness by faith. Let us endeavour to note them in the order in which they are here stated.

Verse 1. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God," etc. The first of these effects to the believer is peace with God. Peace with Him with whom the world remains at enmity (James 4:4; John 15:19; 17:9, 14, 15). Faith brings the believer, in spirit, to where Jesus is, and discovers Him in glory above the heavens. He is seen to be glorified with the Father — set down on the right hand of the majesty on high, having been raised up thither by the power of God as the God of peace (Heb. 13:20). The Father, as the God of judgment, hid His face from Jesus as He stood, in the low abasement of His wondrous grace, under the confessed burden of our sin. He was regarded as a sinner, and so the visitation of the God of judgment was death and not life to the appointed Lamb of God. The same Jesus, having died thus unto sin, becomes the subject of Divine power when raised from the dead by the God of peace. The precious blood of the Cross, having clean atoned for the sins which were charged upon Jesus as standing in the poor sinner's place, turns the hand of Divine power, in holiness, towards the slain Lamb, for the eternal reparation in life of the breach which death had made as the effect of sin.

But it was for us that Jesus died. For us, therefore, He also lives. His joy, as now crowned with glory and honour, is our peace. He is Himself our peace (Eph. 2:14), our peace with God: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God" (John 20:17). God now preaches peace by Jesus Christ. "The way of peace," unknown to man, whether naturally, or as under Law, is thus opened of God. "I am the way," etc. The assured possession thus of peace with God is the eternal condition of the Church, as the necessary result of justification by faith.*

{*Christians individually are often short of this peace. But that does not hinder the truth here stated. If a believer has not peace practically, it is either because he has never been brought to see fully what justification by faith really means, or it is because some veil has been allowed (through carelessness or otherwise) to come between his heart and the Lord.

To be standing, in the simplicity of faith, as a justified sinner before God and not to have peace, is impossible.}

But, secondly (verse 2), "We have access by faith* into this grace wherein we stand." In this statement there is, first, the dispensational aspect of the believer's present position, as having, through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, passed within the former barriers of sin and Law, and entered upon the new ground of grace. There is, secondly, the practical assertion of spiritual liberty as attaching to a believer as a child of God. This liberty is to be asserted by the exercise continually of that faith by which he draws nigh with a free heart, purged from an evil conscience, through the abiding virtue of the Name under which he is now known of God (1 Cor. 6:11).

{*Tischendorf omits the words te pistei, but on grounds which might be questioned. Expressed or not, they are of necessity implied, as it is by Him that we have the access.}

Of this practical access the Holy Ghost is the power and the incentive. He leads to God, to the Father through the Son (Eph. 2:18), leading the children into their present portion as saved by hope; and so it is added: "And rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The believer thus justified finds his springs to be in God. His expectations are from Him. But the measure and the quality of those expectations are alike ascertained by the testimony of the Spirit as the Spirit of truth. Christ is by Him revealed as the forerunner of His saints. He is the pattern to which they are in due time to be conformed, according to the almighty power which already has been displayed in raising Him from the dead. As thus raised, He stands revealed as the first-born of many brethren. But His inheritance is glory — the glory of God. That glory is, therefore, the object of the desires of the Spirit of Christ in the believer. But spiritual desires are incompatible with a carnal and lax condition of soul. It is only, therefore, according to the degree of our watchfulness and singleness of heart that the enjoyment of this or of the preceding truth, or indeed of any spiritual truth, will be known. Marvellous, indeed, is the thought that the glory of God should be the object of hope to one who knows himself to be but filthiness and corruption. But it is Jesus whom God delights thus to honour. Our poor souls find their unspeakable portion of grace and glory in Him — as being His (1 Cor. 3:21, 23).

Nor is this all. "We glory (verse 3) in tribulations also." The prospect of the saint is glory. His actual condition is tribulation. "Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). "In the world ye shall have tribulation," etc. (John 16:33). In some shape tribulation must be felt and known by the believer whilst in, and because he is in, the world. But no present sorrow can reach so deep as to touch with defilement or with bitterness the springs of God's love in Christ. Heaviness may be a portion of Christian experience here, but the power of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter is shown in raising the inner man above the stress of present trial by the revelation of the love of Christ. He is the Spirit of truth; and therefore He feeds the soul, not on evanescent fancies, but on the sincere milk of the word. But that word is the revelation of God in His ways. Thus the heart of faith, nourished by the truth of God, knows the way of God, and thus can pass through the dark experiences of actual tribulation, by the sustaining power of a knowledge which makes every special circumstance of trial turn to the furtherance of the soul's blessing, in the remembrance of the end to which all these things are conducing. "Knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope."

Patience is an effect, not a cause; though producing, in its turn, its own results. It is wrought out through suffering. Tribulation of some kind must be passed through, for the soul to know its dependence on God as the God of patience and of hope. The believer knows this; and often feels, in the absence of trial, a spiritual lassitude, which real tribulation seldom fails to remove, by throwing the soul more immediately and more consciously upon God. It is written of the Holy One Himself, whose meat and whose drink it was to do the will of the Father, that "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8). The believer, indeed, often needs some special affliction as a means of teaching him the lesson of patience. What Jesus learned in the way of perfect devotedness to the Father's will, we have too often to learn in the way of chastisement, because of the waywardness of our path. But the effect of the lesson of patience, however learnt, is experience, or proof (dokime). The patient waiting of the tried spirit upon God, brings into the soul a richer experience of what God really is, as the fountain of living waters — the eternal refreshment of the wearied soul. Especially there is made a practical discovery of the sufficiency of the grace of Christ (2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:3), through the process of soul-trial and exercise of spirit produced by the endurance of tribulation. There is, moreover, a ripening of the mind in the wisdom of the Lord's ways (Prov. 8:34; Ps. 119 passim). Where tribulation is borne with God, all turns to blessing. The Lord's strength is proved as the soul's stay, and His joy becomes our strength.

Hence hope ensues. The power of hope is the Holy Ghost. But His blessed energy is ever hindered by the flesh. It is only, therefore, as a believer is kept by prayerful watching in a state of simple dependence upon God, that hope is really understood. If we are pleasing ourselves, Christ, as the river of God's pleasure, will not be enjoyed. The Spirit, being grieved, will not reveal to the soul that which, if revealed, would not be appreciated. Hope, then, is the result of the saint's experience of what God is. The sifting process, which bruises down, in the wisdom of the Father of spirits, the strength and elasticity of the natural heart and temper, leaves the tried soul as a burden upon the arm of the Lord's patience — upon God's sustaining love.

The practical trials of life are but an extended lesson of dependence upon the God of hope. The experience of God as the deliverer must vary according to the specialty of the Christian's circumstances, as they are moulded for him by the only wise God. But it is the privilege of every saint to know that the Lord God is his sun and his shield. "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress," is the retrospective celebration of a believer's grateful experience of God. "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me," is the justified expression of that believing boldness which belongs to those who may cast the burden of all care upon God, who tells them that "He cares for them." "He has delivered, He does deliver, He will deliver," is the pregnant summary of this kind of Christian experience (2 Cor. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:18).

Moreover, the experience, by the tried believer, of Christ's faithfulness and sufficiency, quickens the flow of hope in the soul; and hope, thus quickened, reacts again for the renewing of patience; as it is said (chap. 8:25), "If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." So that these three — Patience, Experience, and Hope, each producing or sustaining the other, are, as it were, concurrent in their operation, and jointly confirm the confidence and rejoicing of the child of God. And so it is added (verse 5), "Hope makes not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

Confidence, rooted in and sustained by the known love of God, is the portion of every child of God, who has and uses the access which the death and resurrection of Christ have opened to him by the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is given to the believer. Being thus given, He speaks of the giver, of the person and the place from whence He comes — of God — of Christ — the Father and the Son — of heaven — of love — for God is Love. He is the unfolder of Christ as the truth of God's eternal love. He is the revealer of the Divine nature, as it is made manifest in the light which Christ is, and found to be — Love.

Accordingly, the following verses (6-11 inclusive), are devoted to the demonstration of Divine love and its effects, as declared in the cross of the Son of God.

And first (verses 6-8), we have the proof of God's love in the death of Christ* (verse 8), while the quality of that love is determined by the condition and character of those who are its objects. "Christ died for the ungodly." Such are descriptively the subjects of gospel grace when viewed in comparison with the intrinsic nature and holiness of God. The hopeless condition of man as under sin (without strength as well as ungodly), has brought out into view the full character of God as Love. Sovereign power produced Creation. Perfect love has accomplished Redemption.

{*Note herein the evidence, equally distinct and affecting, though incidental, of the blessed Lord's divinity. Christ's death is the expression of God's love towards us. God was in Christ. The fulness of the Godhead was there, bodily contained (Col. 2:9). In truth, I feel it requires almost an effort to pause, in order to add a note of this kind, while meditating on a subject, the very essence of which is the truth here noticed. Surely no God-fed soul can need this. But, alas! in the sober madness of man's natural mind, this Epistle may be read, yea, and professedly enjoyed, while yet this truth is disowned!}

But it was "in due time" (kata kairon), that Christ died. Trial had first to be made, and was made, by the patience of God, of the old man; of man as he is in himself. The result of this trial has been to prove him to be essentially ungodly (asebes). Perfect love could not be demonstrated by dealing with anything not in its nature completely alien, and in its condition quite lost. There was nothing to excite this love. There was everything to dissuade it. Yet it came forth, fresh and pure from its eternal fountain, which is God. Where this love is known in the heart by faith, it supplants all other feelings, and settles itself, by its Divine and intrinsic weight, upon the ground and bottom of the soul. Its effect is to humble, and it alone thoroughly humbles the heart; because it is, as it were, the pressure of God Himself upon the soul. Not of something from God simply — His word, His holiness, or the like — but of God Himself — God in Christ arriving in the soul, and taking up His abode in the poor saved and cleansed and justified "ungodly one" (asebes), the God of peace, now known as the possessor and the ruler in that heart wherein the fearful strife of a ruined and unclean conscience had before deprived the sinner of all knowledge of the way of peace. Christ died for the ungodly. This is the answer of the Spirit to the anxious inquiry of the soul as to the thought of God towards sinners. Can God love sin? No. Can He love the sinner? "Christ died for the ungodly." "The just for the unjust, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). This is the proof on which the Holy Ghost relies, in demonstrating that God is Love — in affirming, as the Spirit of truth, the glory of Jesus as the Son of God.

Verse 9. "Much more, then, being now justified," etc. The death of Christ forms the ground of the à fortiori reasoning with which the Holy Ghost, in this and the two following verses, labours to build up the soul of the believer in grace. Wrath is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men (chap. 1). But the blood of Jesus has already justified the believer. He is justified, first, in the way of atonement, blood being the discharge of sin's claim — its expiation — the purgation thus of the sinner's conscience — judgment having thereby been satisfied, and sin destroyed. He is justified, secondly, by way of gift. The risen Jesus is the righteousness of the believer before God. As alive from the dead, He is the asserter of positive and unimpeachable righteousness. God, in raising Him from the dead, has declared His righteousness by demonstrating His proper Sonship, according to the Spirit of holiness. But, Christ's death having put away sin, there remains to the saint the intrinsic righteousness of His blessed Person as the second Adam, the beginning, the first-born from the dead.

Further. — It is God's righteousness which is in point here. Man's has been weighed, and found to be sin. God's righteousness has been tried in Christ, and has come forth from the trial into the appointed glory of the Son of man. Jesus lives as the glorified expression of Divine righteousness. He is intrinsically the righteousness of God, while, as man, he receives as an appointed portion the heirship of all things. Being eternally one with the Father, as the "only begotten," He is, moreover, for ever one with the redeemed as the "first begotten from the dead." He is as such their life. The saint, as a man, comes to his end in the cross. As it is elsewhere written, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:3-4). The life of the believer thus being Christ, the certainty of his salvation from wrath is of necessity established. His exemption from wrath is found in his identity with Him who is to administer the judgments of God. "For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22).

But there is another point. Although the person of Christ, considered objectively by faith, is the real security of the Church, yet the Holy Ghost brings upon the heart of the believer the full blessing which arises from the consciousness of his being individually capable of the love of God. We are reconciled to God. The cross has effected this. We learn from the blessed Gospel the marvellous truth and meaning of Divine mercy. In that discovery we find that what needed change was not God, but ourselves — our will. Naturally enemies, we have become reconciled to God — to Him whose nature is love. The discernment of the cross disposes the heart's affections towards God. The discovery of the unspeakable riches of Divine mercy subdues the hardness and impenitency of the heart. This effect is wrought, not by changing the will of the flesh--that knows no change. It is the especial gift of faith on God's part, whereby the poor blinded slave of sin and Satan is enabled to behold the light of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Being, then, thus reconciled to God, by the death of His Son, much more shall we be saved in the life of Him (en tei zoei autou) in whom we live before God.

"And not only so (verse 11), but we also joy in God," etc. The believer's fellowship is not only with Jesus as the Son, but with God as the Father. The point, however, here treated, is the bringing of the creature, by virtue of completed reconciliation (katalagge), into conscious and delighted re-union with God. The power of this is the mediatorial position of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we joy in God; through Him by whom we have now received the reconciliation.* God is already become the joyful boast of the believer, because He is thus known. The thought of the man of the world is, "There is no God" (Ps. 14 and 53), that thought being the creature of his own depraved will. The believer says, "The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock: and exalted be the God of the Rock of my salvation" (2 Sam. 22:47). He knows the God of peace as his God, and his joy is full.

{*That the marginal reading at verse 11, is the correct one, I suppose no one acquainted with the original would question. It may, I think, be safely affirmed that katalagge never means "atonement" in the usual acceptation of that word.}

Verses 12-21. The general questions of sin and of justification having been discussed and settled, the apostle here presents the subject in a new light, by reviewing it, not in its detailed results, but with reference to its source and principle. The remaining verses, therefore, of this chapter, while they sum up the preceding argument, open also, in addition, the special doctrine of imputation, as displayed in the contrasted Headships of Adam and of Christ — of the first Adam and the second.

The case of the sinner is here stated (verse 12), not on the moral evidence of personal evil, but on the decisive testimony of death. Death is God's pervading and irrefragable witness of the presence, in and throughout the world, of that which produced it, even sin. "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin." But the means of this entrance of sin are immediately stated. It was "by one man." Adam died by the direct sentence of God pronounced upon his transgression. Mankind die because born of one who was himself mortal as thus judged. But death is not derived to the posterity of Adam, merely as an effect of his mortal condition, but as a consequence of his sinful nature. Sin, having taken hold on Adam, vitiated utterly the nature in which it lodged. And so it is sail that death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.* Death is never separable from sin. The participation, therefore, of a sinful nature, produces death as its necessary effect.** Sin, having found entrance and lodgment in the nature of Adam, did not vacate the world at the death of the first transgressor. It remained in the nature which reproduced itself in Adam's seed. It was in the world (verse 13), antecedently to the Law.

{* Dieweil alle gesàndigt haben. — DE WETTE.

**The act of God may, of course, intercept (as in the case of Enoch), what has thus become the course of fallen nature.}

But it might be alleged that sin is not imputed where there is no Law.* Such an objection would be to confound sin with transgression. The apostle has already stated (chap. 4:15), that "where no Law is, there is no transgression." This is clear. Transgression (parabasis), is the breaking through or passing over an assigned limit, a declared rule. The rule, therefore, must exist, or there can be no transgression. Sin, on the other hand, is the principle of an alien will, which may produce, and ever does produce transgression as its result, when brought into contact with Divine command. But it is clearly distinguishable as a cause from its result.

{* I assume here that the latter clause of verse 13 is intended to state an objection.}

Accordingly, the decisive fact of universal mortality is immediately cited (verse 14), in proof of the universal presence and prevalence of sin. "Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." The parties here contemplated are, as I think, first, the Gentiles generally, as never having been under Law,* while Adam was expressly under Law:** and, secondly, infant children, who constantly are found to die, though by their age incapable personally of actual offence.

{*They sinned without Law (ante chap. 2:12).

** "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die" (Gen. 3:3). Compare 2:17.}

Death is thus accounted for independently of positive transgression. Personal unrighteousness, as expressed by acts of iniquity, has already been treated (chap. 1), as forming a separate and special ground of Divine judgment. The truth here stated is, that because sprung from the first Adam, the head and fount of all flesh, all are reckoned sinners from the very necessity of their birth. For the procreation of children, according to the will of the flesh, is but the multiplication of that which had been already condemned of God as sinful, and as such, had been expelled from the Eden of His presence: as it is written, "He drove out the man" (Gen. 3:24).

But Adam is a figure of Him that was to come.* The headship of the one is to be compared with the headship of the other. Verse 15 contrasts the offence (to paraptoma) and its results, with the free gift and its effects (to charisma). Man's offence is met by God's free gift of grace. As to the effect of the first, it was by the offence of one that the many died. But if so, then much more did the grace of God, and the gift by grace, abound unto the many.

{*A figure in a double sense. First, as the natural head of the human species, and secondly, as the possessor of Eve and the lord of creation. The latter subject does not properly enter the field of view in the present chapter.}

Two things are here to be considered. First, the grace of God — its aspect and effects: and, secondly, the medium of its display. First, it is pure and unqualified; and, as to its aspect and its measure, it utterly excelled the original cause which had called it into operation, seeing that it dealt with its subjects as not only mortal through the effect of the one transgression, but as severally sinners on their own account. But, secondly, it was by one man, Jesus Christ. Human sin having ruined the species, human obedience must be found to balance and set it aside, or blessing cannot proceed. But where was the man? Divine grace might be ready to flow from its eternal fountain, but a channel must be provided. The work of grace, then, must begin, and did begin, in the amazing process of self-humiliation on the part of Him who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil. 2:5-8).* He was found in fashion as a man. That was the first gigantic step which grace took for the effectuating of the Divine counsels of love. But this step from heaven to earth, from the apparent majesty of His eternal Sonship to the despised similitude of sinful flesh, was but preliminary to the work of perfect obedience, which, as man, He rendered unto God, until He reached its final consummation on the cross. The death of Jesus, followed by His resurrection, has opened the hands of Divine grace to dispense the gift of righteousness to all who will receive. It is to every creature under heaven that the Gospel of the grace of God is now preached. Such is its universal aspect.**

{*"Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor," etc. (1 Cor. 8:9).

** eis tous pollous eperisseuse.}

Verses 16, 17, continue the argument, while gradually narrowing its scope to the specialty of the actual reception of grace. The gift (dorema), as a thing actually imputed, is here viewed and contrasted with the judgment unto condemnation which, in the case of the believer, is thus met and set aside.*

{* It is needful to observe the connection of verse 17 with that which precedes by the conjunction "For," in order that the immediate branch of the apostle's argument may be clearly understood.}

The gift of God finds the receiver of it not merely under the actual effects of one imputed sin, but in the midst of his own ungodliness and personal defilement. Grace in Jesus, therefore, does not only cure the radical evil of original sin, it also meets and abounds over the "many offences" which are found in man as the actual object of Divine mercy. It is not of offences simply, but of many offences, that forgiveness is declared. Let the reader ponder the force of that word when used by the Holy Ghost to indicate the measure and dimension of positive human transgression. "Having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col. 2:13), is the language of the same Spirit when elsewhere recounting to the ear of faith the manner of the grace of God in Christ. All are forgiven: but how multitudinous is the number of that sum! Let the weak-hearted Christian who may read these Notes remember, that in considering the question of atonement, the Spirit of God deals with the subject of sin in its fullest, widest sense. To suppose that some sins are forgiven, while others yet remain, is to drink damage into the soul through a thought that utterly dishonours alike the God of all grace, who spared not His own Son, and that blessed One who "Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree. The reach and efficacy of Divine atonement is commensurate, and more than commensurate, with the extent of human sin.

Moreover, it is not the acquittal simply of sin previously charged, and with it a restitution of forfeited privilege. It is Divine justification. Grace never restores that which sin has spoiled and ruined, to its pristine state.* It is not a restorative remedy in any sense. It is an independent act of God. It supersedes the former constitution of things which He had suffered in His wisdom to be vitiated and destroyed, and supplants the very remembrance of it by a new and altogether transcendent revelation of Himself. Thus that which was originally perfect, but allowed to fall, remains but as a feeble type of that more excellent reality which is already disclosed to the view of faith in the glorified Person of the risen Christ, and hereafter to be shown to every creature as the perfected glory of the only wise God. Sin in Adam is the root of death — death reigns by one. Righteousness in Christ is the root of eternal life. He is the eternal life. But to the believer what He is becomes imputed as the gift of God. And thus the justified sinner shares the throne of the Prince of life. "They that receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." It is not merely the restitution of untainted human existence. It is the more abundant gift of eternal life from God. The believing sinner becomes thus changed from being the subject of death because of sin, into the royal possessor of life because of the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.

{*I speak of the ultimate results of grace. In the millennium there will be a restitution of all things of which the prophets have spoken (Acts 3:21). But the millennium is not the ultimate goal of Divine promise.}

Verses 18, 19, close this present subject in the way of recapitulation. There are re-stated, first, the universality of the aspect of the free gift; and, secondly, the actual constitution in effectual righteousness of the many through the obedience of One, as it is contrasted with the actual constitution of the many as sinners through the disobedience of one.

With respect to the first of these points, it has already been discussed. The unlimited scope of the Gospel message, as preached under heaven to man, is too clear to insist on further. But, wide as the aspect of Divine grace is, it is only the receivers of its abundance who are brought within the circle of its blessing. The publication of the love of God to the world, as witnessed by the gift of His Son, is one thing — the acceptance of the grace thus preached is another and a totally different thing. The reception of grace is not an act of the natural will of man, wrought to a persuasion of good by the preaching of the word of grace. On the other hand, it is not an effect produced upon the creature, absolutely, and without his willing consent. But it is the special operation of God, who, by the Holy Ghost, quickens into life the poor dead sinner by means of the Word, and thus gives him the desire for, and imparts to him a power to receive the gift of God (John 4). God is the builder of the saint's rest. It is the abundance of Divine mercy which has not merely sent Christ into the world, and in Him provided eternal redemption, but which also begets unto Himself the children of His love. As it is elsewhere said: "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth (James 1:18; cp. 1 Peter 1:23-25). The word of truth, even though it be a proclamation of grace, is but a dead, a killing letter, unless it become the effective instrument of His power who works all things after the counsel of His own will.

The expression "many," or "the many" (hoi polloi), found again in verse 19, deserves attention. First, it is a relative term, and therefore to be referred to that other term to which it stands related. For example. The one man sins — the many die, because of the imputation to them of this sin Again, the one man obeys — the many are justified unto life, through the imputation to them of this obedience. Moreover, the expression is to be controlled by what has been said (verse 17) as to the receivers of the abundance of grace being the objects of blessing. The apostle's argument evidently is, that justification of life stands as absolutely as the derived effect of another's work, as did and does the condemnation which is referred to the one transgression. But as, in the latter case, the process of derivation is in the way of natural descent, and thus the entire race of mankind have been constituted sinners; so, on the other hand, the seed of the second Adam consists of those, only, who have been brought under the effectual operation of that grace of God, which acts contrary to nature, and by faith alone.*

{*Natural headship is the relation of the first Adam to all flesh. Federal headship is the relation of the second Adam to such as are brought, by grace, within the covenant of life and peace.}

Verses 20, 21. The Law now finds its true place. It came in by the way (wapticiiX9er). Grace was God's counsel, but Law prepared the way. Its effect was to bring out the abundance of sin. It served to display man in the varied abundance of his godless wretchedness, that God might, in Christ, display Himself according to the surpassing fulness of His own entire love. Grace superlatively exceeds in measure the sin which called it forth. It is the work of God, setting aside the work of Satan — delivering man as Satan's captive, by the complete annihilation of that which had constituted and confirmed the destroyer's power over his victim. Sin has reigned unto, or rather, in death (en toi thanatoi). But to the believer, as alive in the risen Christ, this reign has come to its end (Heb. 14, 15). The reign of grace remains. Grace shall reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Already the Holy Ghost is the earnest of this reign, who reveals to us Jesus, crowned with glory and with honour. We see Him. We are already, if believers, translated into the kingdom of the Son of God's love. But what is thus realized by faith, remains to be displayed openly in due time. We shall reign in life by Him.

Here, then, is rest — eternal rest — new and perdurable blessedness and joy. The old man forgotten before God, in the presence of Him who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead (Col. 1:18), the head of the new creation. The Lord of all, as being appointed Heir of all things, but specially, OUR Lord. The confessed Lord of those who find in that confession, by the grace of God, the eternal assurance of acceptance in Him.

Romans 6.

The preceding chapter has determined the character of God as a Saviour; has demonstrated the victory of grace over sin; and, in revealing Christ as the anti-type and eternal contrast to the first Adam, has disclosed to the believer the security, in righteousness, of the unfading blessing of the God of peace.

The question put at the opening of the present chapter prepares the way for the subjective application of the doctrine of grace to the believer as a vessel of holiness. The general aim of the chapter is to present Christ not only as the saint's security with God of present hope and of future enjoyment in glory, but also, and more especially, as the present, actual power of personal holiness. It is eminently a practical chapter. But its practical force upon the conscience is produced, as we shall presently see, by the clearness and precision with which the great doctrines of truth, as they are expounded in the Person and the work of Christ, are brought to bear upon the faith of the believer. This will ever be found to characterize the teaching of the Holy Ghost. His end is holiness; His means is truth. The new man, which is the believer's clothing, is created in righteousness and true holiness; or, as the margin more justly renders, the holiness of truth (Eph. 4:24) And so we shall find in the present chapter, that what the Christian is, judicially and in the truth of God, by virtue of the actual suffering of Christ in the flesh in his stead, is made the ground and pattern to which he is morally to be conformed in the practical ordering of his way in the present world.

Accordingly (verse 2), the question: "Shall we continue in sin," etc. brings forth, first, the peremptory disclaimer, "God forbid!" and thereupon follows immediately the demonstrative reasoning of the Spirit of God in proof of the foolishness of the question, as well as of its pravity. We are dead to sin. How, then, shall we live therein? Such is the thesis of which this deep and full and all-important chapter is the amplification and development. But this truth, flowing as it does so necessarily from the doctrine of the cross, ought to have been known. Nay, the very outward act by which the new-born believer testified his passage in Christ from death into life, was a type and memorial of this most solemn and most blessed truth (verses 3, 4). Thus the deeper and fuller statement of the doctrine of substitution is introduced by the half reproachful question: "Know ye not?" And then (verses 3-14) follows the general argument of Christian liberty, and its effects as they flow from the twofold doctrine — of, first, the substitution in death of Christ for the believer; and, secondly, the union of the believer with Christ as alive from the dead.

The grand moral truth of this chapter is, that the believer is, by virtue of redemption, not only freed from sin, but that he is brought, as a prepared vessel of holiness, to God. The substitution of Jesus for the believing sinner on the cross has blotted out from before God, not only the guilt of the soul, but also the very remembrance of His person as a man naturally alive — a fleshly man. Death and burial, which the Just One underwent according to the Scriptures, are the realities of God wherein the eye of faith beholds its emancipation from the yoke of sin. "He that is dead (or, has died), is freed (or, justified) from sin" (verse 7). The image of this reality is the act of baptism. "We were baptized into His death." "We were buried with Him" he continues "by this baptism into death." And then follows the practical result: "That like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

In newness of life. This is not a figure of speech. It is a Divine reality. Faith, receiving its instruction, not from internal suggestions, but from the true sayings of God, finds the term and cessation of natural life, in the cross of the Son of God. Henceforth, therefore, the believer, averting his eye from self as from a dead and forgotten thing, looks forth to seek for, and to find his present life, as well as his future hope, in Jesus. He has been already planted, by an outward expression in baptism, in the likeness of Christ's death. He will be, in due time, revealed in the likeness of His resurrection. Meanwhile, he knows (verse 6), not only the assured reality of the crucifixion in Christ of the old man, but also the present end and purpose of this, "that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." That is, he is solemnly conscious of the judicial setting aside of the body of sin in the way of death, in order that God's claims upon his obedience might supplant, in the power of the risen life in Jesus, the former bondage of sin. The saint, thus crucified with Christ, is known of God in Christ, as alive from the dead. Christ, Himself the resurrection and the life, lives as the survivor of sin and death. He has put away the first (Heb. 9:26), He has abolished the second, in the death of the cross (2 Tim. 1:10). He lives unto God, as alive from that death. Faith knows Him thus; no longer knowing Him after the flesh, but as the beginning, the first-born from the dead. To continue, then, in sin, is to deny the truth.* Hence, in proportion to the direct simplicity of our faith in seeing Jesus, will ever be our available power against sin, our practical victory over the world, even as we are already in Him more than conquerors (1 Cor. 15:57; 1 John 5:4).

{*The believer is born of God. In the present chapter, the objective truth of the Christian's union with the risen Christ is mainly dwelt on, and is kept steadily before the eye of faith, with a view to its practical results in the believer's way. In the epistle of John (1 John 3:9), we have the distinct enunciation of the new birth and its results, as an ascertained reality, to which the Spirit of truth bears this witness, in declaring the nature and extent of the work of God. He begets, by the word of His truth, children who resemble Himself. This is a necessary truth, and one which, from its nature, is subject to no change. The unalterable qualities of a nature, which is divine in its source, and imparted by immediate communication from the Father (1 John 4:13), remain independent of all circumstances which may bear externally upon the believer for good or for evil. The new nature of a child of God is essentially holy. As man, in his natural state, runs instinctively into sin in his desire to please himself, so the spiritual man obeys an instinct of holiness which is inseparable from his nature as born of God. And so it is said, "He cannot sin, because He is born of God." Here, then, is an answer at once to the question with which the present chapter opens. Conversion to God is not a change of opinion merely; it is a renewal of nature. But because the flesh lusts still against the spirit, and active conflict is the result, we need a weapon of stronger temper than doctrine, whose appeal may seem in part addressed to the subjective consciousness of the believer. While, therefore, the Spirit of God affirms, as just now stated, the proper characteristics of the new man, His means of practically exemplifying in the child of God this participation in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), is by presenting and keeping ever before his mind, the person of Christ, as alone the ground and pattern of his hope It is in Him that he is, in very deed, a born child of God.}

The power of Satan, as the adversary of Christians, consists mainly in his command over the feelings and sympathies of our natural minds and hearts. He plies, and that most skilfully, the various motives which act upon a heart whose permanent condition is alienation from God — the evil heart of unbelief. Reasonings, thoughts, conjectures, probabilities; experimental suggestions of conscience, as well as actual sensation, are abundantly used by him in order to keep the soul within the small and dark circle of its own experiences, instead of rejoicing in the perfect light and liberty of Christ. He knows that nothing so enfeebles practical Christian obedience in its full acceptation, as a defective perception of Divine truth. Hence His desire to limit by all means the growth of God's saints in the knowledge of God — to make self in some way the secret centre of the believer's thoughts. The practical security against this danger is the Word, when fed upon by faith. Faith thus exercised produces knowledge, and that knowledge is indeed power. The believer understands his ground. He has to do with God, who can neither lie nor be deceived. Thus faith overawes natural feeling with the shadow of God. But that cloud ever breaks in light and blessing upon the soul of the exercised believer — "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." The individual realization of Christ as the fulness of the truth of God is the ever-abounding result of the direct and unhesitating obedience of faith.

To resume the actual thread of the chapter. We have, in verse 7, the conclusive answer to any plea which a carnal or careless believer might set up on the ground of weakness. Satan endeavours to persuade the soul that it is not entirely free, and supports his insinuation by an appeal to inward experiences. But God has made the cross of His Son to be the standard of Christian liberty. The Spirit is the witness of this, who reveals the Lord Jesus as the risen man to our faith. The impotency of the saint is in himself. That is indeed a weakness unto death. But in knowing the Christ who died unto sin once (verse 10), as now alive unto God for ever, faith finds and puts on the strength of God.

Verses 8-10 are strikingly emphatic in the clearness with which they show how completely the objective view of what Christ has been and is — both as to His past sufferings, and His eternal condition as the now re-asserted heir of liberty in resurrection — is substituted by the Spirit of God for the natural ideas and surmisings of the mind. "We believe that we shall live with Him, knowing that He dies no more," etc. The entire ground of confidence is thus transferred from self to Christ.

Accordingly, we have the application of this principle in the verses immediately following. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin," etc. It is not a mere sentient impression of the mind while undisturbed by any active temptation. Nor is it that happy but temporary, frame of spirit, which, like a special visitation of gracious refreshment from the Divine presence, may now and then come within the sphere of a believer's actual experiences. Nor yet is it the self-flattering consciousness of a spirit habitually exercised in external works of godliness. It is from none of these things that the believer is to infer his practical mastery over sin. He is to reckon, in the soberness of faith, that as Christ is, so is he. Feeling may inwardly contradict the revelation of God, and natural feeling ever does so, because it is natural, and does not flow from truth — from God. Conflict of this kind must be the result of our being yet experimentally in the flesh. "The flesh lusts against the spirit" in every sense. But the divine power of God has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The spirit lusts against the flesh, and is the stronger of the two. Hence there is assumed for the believer (verses 12, 13), a power and capacity to contradict and overrule the natural will of the flesh. He who is addressed is distinguished from that in which he dwells, and which he is thus exhorted to use to the glory of God. "Not I, but Christ," is the principle here insisted on.

This severance of a man from himself is not mysticism. It is the blessed, soul-delivering, heart-assuring truth of God. Yet how solemn is it in its blessedness! The practical responsibilities of the saint are ever commensurate with his glorious privileges. If he is able to joy in God through Jesus Christ, in the unspeakable assurance of perfected reconciliation, he has to remember, and is here reminded, that the life which he has thus begun to taste is "unto God." He is, as a man here, to yield himself unto God by faith, as alive from the dead, and his members as instruments of righteousness unto God. The Spirit of God, knowing what is in man, has seen fit to address the children of God not only in the way of comfort, but also of exhortation, and if need be, of rebuke. Nothing is more certain than that Christians will get into a lax and lean condition of soul (and that as the very consequence of their doctrinal establishment in grace), if there be not a daily living unto God. The will of God takes the place, in the believer's conscience, of the lusts of men. Where this will is practically disregarded, the believer's ability to rule sin, and to wield his own members as instruments (hopla), of righteousness, must be diminished in a corresponding ratio.

But more than this. If sin is not overcome, it overcomes. Measures and degrees are not here the question, but the practical certainty of the successful rebellion of flesh against spirit, where the soul is not kept abidingly in the presence of God. There is nothing of which our wretched nature is capable (short of the deliberate renunciation of Christ), which may not be exemplified in the experience of a believer who is not watchfully abiding in Christ. The will of God is our sanctification, body, soul, and spirit. We are called to be holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Further, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). And, lastly, the very seal of Divine election bears on its reverse, "Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 19). The commandments, then, of God are clear and express, and we are sanctified unto obedience.

But what if, after all this, the professed subjection of the heart to Christ give place to the natural bias of the soul to sin? Does the sin of a believer frustrate his hope as a Christian? The answer of comfort to this question may be collected at large from Scripture;* but the apostle here states doctrinally (verse 14) the firm and sustaining ground of still unbroken confidence to the tried spirit. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under Law, but under grace." The soul that has owned in faith the Lordship of Christ, is no more under the dominion of sin. The strength of sin is the Law, because the Law looks for righteousness in the creature. But the Law has already become to the believer the consenting witness of his justification in the way of grace. He is under grace. The temporary prevalence of sin in conflict cannot vitiate the title of acceptance, which is founded, not on works, but on grace — on righteousness as found, not in the sinner but in the Saviour. It is indeed a heavy and a saddening thought that a believer should fail in conflict, or fall into sin. Nothing can excuse it. Grace can meet with restoring mercy the confessor of sin; but no plea of any kind can be set up in justification of failure. Blessed thought is it, indeed, that the throne of grace is the place of refuge to the discomfited sinner. The everlasting compassions of the Father of mercies can flow with unfailing fulness into our souls, through Him who is in His own blessed Person our Advocate in righteousness with God (1 John 2:1).

{*Compare 1 John 1:8-9; 2:1. Heb. 3:15-16; 7:25, etc.}

The presence of God is the abode of the believer. The moment he forgets that presence he becomes careless. Sin is the atmosphere of the world. It is only in the presence of God that holiness is either understood or enjoyed. But the renewed mind desires holiness because it desires God. These desires are all the stronger by reason of the keener perception which the lively Christian has of the contrariety of everything here, whether in the world, or in his own flesh, to God. The proper hatefulness of sin is never rightly estimated except in communion with the grace which has delivered from it. Alas! that the blessed Spirit who seals in Christ unto the day of redemption the ransomed souls of His saints, should so often be grieved by the amazing discovery in them of preference for that (in some shape or other) which caused the Lamb of God to die! Still, grace abounds, and truth, though tried to the uttermost, will prevail. Satan's power to distress the tried soul consists in his counsels of doubt and mistrust as to the continuance of the love of God, when the conscience may be deeply groaning under a sense of its abuse. At such a time, a recurrence to this blessed word will, if there be simplicity of faith in the soul, suffice to turn the enemy's power to weakness, and to restore the comfort of God to the soul. May His people know the Shepherd's voice!

Verses 15-23. The positive assertion of the inviolability of the believer's title as under grace and not under Law, provokes the repetition of the original question: "Shall we sin?" And this leads to the further development of the doctrine of obedience as the rule and measure of Christian liberty. We are not under Law. Are we then at our own disposal? Are we free from responsibility to God, because exempted from the curse of the Law? Have we no master, because we have ceased to be the bondmen of sin and death? The answer is again, "God forbid!" The believer is called unto liberty (Gal. 5:13). But the power of that liberty is the presence of the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 2:17). He is brought, by redemption, to God; where the flesh never comes. Hence the unceasing conflict of Christian experience. But now the question as to the free-born children of God is whether they will walk so as to please God. The object sought is now no longer self-justification by the deeds of the Law, but the obedience of love to God. A believer who has felt the horror of bondage to sin and of distance from God, finds in the cross the end of his misery and the beginning of his hope. He is safe in Christ for ever. But he is not yet in heaven. There remains to him the present interval of fleshly experience. How is he to employ that interval? What is to be the rule, and what the objects of his walk? The apostle shows here that practically he must be serving either God or sin, either righteousness or iniquity.

An independent condition can in no wise be the place of the creature. He is a servant of good or of evil. But his natural condition was that of bondage to sin. Grace, then, has delivered him from that. He has gone forth from the house of bondage; but it is to meet and to serve the God of his salvation. Redemption has made him His.

Nature is ever ready to turn the grace of God to lasciviousness. Hence the apostle's language in this passage becomes not only a word of needful and healthful warning and counsel to the real child of God, in whom the motions of sin are involuntary, felt, and deplored. It is also a prophetic testimony against that which, while bearing the outward form of faith should hide an unchanged heart of wickedness under the external profession of the name of Christ. But as to those whom he addressed, he is able to thank God that they had not only heard, but had obeyed the doctrine. The words are remarkable: "Ye have obeyed from the heart, that form of doctrine whereunto ye were delivered"* (margin). The same God who had delivered the Gentiles over to a reprobate mind, now, in the power of elective mercy, delivers whom He will into glad and welcome subjection to that form of doctrine which calls for, and which, in the case of those who are called of God, receives the obedience of faith. Thus the mind of the believer becomes formed and fashioned by the truth which it obeys. Christian character is the proper result of the perception and enjoyment of the doctrine of the grace of God. Grace, which saves him, becomes the guide of his way and the instructor of his heart, when called, as being saved, to walk in the zeal of that salvation to the glory of the gracious Lord who has redeemed him for Himself (Titus 2:12-14).

The practical force of the remaining verses is sufficiently clear. It may be well, however, to note the relation in which practical righteousness stands to holiness in verse 19. Holiness, (hagiasmos) or sanctification, is regarded as the end, and righteousness as the means. Holiness, again (verse 22), is called the fruit or result of their service to God.

Sanctification in this sense,* is a progressive work: it is a growth and result dependent, as to its measure, upon the degree of watchful and implicit devotedness with which the soul follows the Lord as He leads in the paths of righteousness. Holiness is practically attainable only by the absolute subjection of the members to righteousness. As a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, so the ripe fruit of sanctification cannot result from a partial obedience to the will of God. As we are separate in truth from the world, by virtue of our union with the risen and glorified Jesus, so are we called to be separate in fact, as those who are called, not by their own names any longer, but by His. His word, then, is "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). Truly a rich and fruitful promise. Thus the measure of positive communion, and with it of realized joy, will ever be commensurate with the degree of watchful diligence which is manifested in the way of obedience.

{*It may not be superfluous to remind the reader, that in another and yet more important sense, sanctification is not a thing of progressive growth, but a permanent, unalterable truth — a finished and abiding result to the Christian of that which Christ Himself is. Sanctification, in this higher sense, is the effect of the one sacrifice by which Christ has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. He is Himself of God made sanctification unto them that are called (1 Cor. 1:30).}

The shades of difference in the actual condition of believers are many and various. Hence, while the Spirit of God ever seeks to act on and call into exercise the finer sensibilities of the renewed affections, and thus to make the enjoyed love and grace of Jesus the meat to strengthen for the journey of the day; yet He so divides His word, as to meet the conscience with a strong appeal, where, for lack of use, the spiritual senses have been dulled, and the affections have become faint.

But now they were ashamed of the former fruitless works. Let us observe how wide the language is in this chapter. There is no specification. The contrast lies between nature and grace — God's glory and man's will. Anything (though, perhaps, in the abstract not evil) which did not make for holiness, which was not compatible with the liberty of an obedient servant of God, was fruitless. A recollection, in self-judgment, of wasted hours, mis-spent in frivolous pursuits, will call up a blush of shame to the face of a spiritual man, though the things themselves in which he had been engaged might be quite harmless in the eyes of men. May we, as they, find by happy experience that the ways of peace and of holiness are those of the Lord. Ways that drop fatness, while the end is everlasting life!

Romans 7.

In the course of his last argument the apostle has affirmed, as a fundamental position, that believers are not under Law, but under grace. For those whom he addressed generally, as Gentile converts to the faith, such a statement was enough, founded as it is upon the antecedent examination of the Law and its objects, contained in the earlier chapters. But there were among the saints at Rome those who knew the Law — who had borne its yoke as Jews, and whose deliverance from it, though complete in Christ, was yet imperfectly understood in their souls. Again we have here to adore the prescient wisdom and provident mercy of the Father of lights, who has made the actual condition of a few Jewish converts the occasion, not only of supplying the deficiency which then existed in their faith and knowledge, but also of exhaustively handling the subject of the Law, so as to place it permanently, and for our sakes, in its true light, and to confine it within its proper limits.* The apostle, as taught of God, well knew that nothing would more effectually hinder the establishment of souls in the faith than erroneous or indistinct views of the Law. So long as the Law in its letter stood in any sense before the conscience as the monitor of personal responsibility, there was a danger of confounding in the soul the principles of Law and of grace.

{*I am but too painfully aware that in much of the practical teaching in the Church at large, the true scope and bearing of this most important chapter have been missed, and the doctrine of the latter half made practically to overthrow the full statement of emancipation with which the chapter opens. Among the many considerations which have induced me to think of publishing these Notes, perhaps none has influenced me more than the desire, if the Lord so permit, of endeavouring to place before the minds of Christians, the true doctrine of this and the following chapter. I say this, not as if the doctrine in question had not been, many a time, far more fully and effectually stated, nor as if there were not thousands whose souls are rejoicing in its light; but because I believe that there yet remains much practical indistinctness on these subjects in the minds of believers at large. May He, who alone has the key of knowledge, unlock His treasures for the enrichment and blessing of His saints.}

The object of the present chapter is, first, to re-assert and prove the believer's complete emancipation from the Law; and, secondly, to define and illustrate, in the way of personal example, as well the true nature and just effects of the Law as the searching probe and discoverer of human motive and conduct before God, as also the limits within which alone it can thus act.

With respect to the former of these points, the first six verses of the chapter present the case of the Jewish believer, both as to his privileges and his responsibilities, under the special image of the marriage tie. But there is a two-fold application of this figure. First, the natural condition of the Jew, as in covenant subjection to the Law; and, secondly, his condition as having passed, by faith, into a new and altogether distinct position, as the married wife of another. Further, the expiry of the former state of subjection by the fulfilment of the terms of contract, precedes the establishment of the new relation.*

{*I will notice, presently, the wider application of this principle. At present, I confine myself strictly to the special and proper case of the actual Jewish convert.}

Verse 1 states the position, that "the Law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth." This position is illustrated and enforced in the next two verses. As to the illustration, it is necessary only to remark, that the dissolution of the marriage bond is here contemplated under one only of its possible aspects, namely, the death of the husband.* The result, however, of such dissolution, is the perfect freedom of the survivor from all remembrance of the former state of obligation and subjection. The dominion of the Law over its subject being thus established, it is clear that, so long as it lasts, no other state than that of legal bondage can be the portion of one under Law. The Law can only lawfully be set aside. But this may happen in two ways. First, by the actual fulfilment of the commandment, and the acquisition of life as the reward: and, secondly, in the way of judgment; the Law exhausting itself and its claims by the infliction of its last penalties upon its subject. In both these senses the dominion of the Law has ceased in the case of the believer. In the present chapter, however, it is the latter instance which is chiefly in point.

{*The reason of this remark will appear presently.}

Accordingly, in the following verse he proceeds to apply this doctrine practically. "Ye also are become dead to the Law by the body of Christ." Now we have here, first, the condition of emancipation declared in verse 1, found attaching to the believer — he no longer lives. "Ye are become dead." Secondly, there is the manner of this emancipation. It is "by the body of Christ." The Law's dominion has ceased with the life of its subject. Christ has died. As it is said in the foregoing chapter: He died unto sin once for all (chap. 6:10). He died under the Law's curse. He was made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). The Law, then, has done its utmost. As God's instrument of wrath against sin, it has been used, and used effectually in making an end of transgression by the death of Him, who, though Himself without spot, took the place of the transgressor — of Him, who, by the grace of God, was numbered with the transgressors, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The substitutional death of Christ thus becomes to the believer the term and limit of his subjection to the Law. The cross of Jesus is his emancipation from the ancient yoke of bondage.

We have seen, then, how the imputed death of the believer in the cross places him beyond the limit of the Law's dominion. But the same event which terminates the epoch of legal dominion by the death of the subject, is also the removal, by fulfilment, of the Law itself. The shedding of the precious blood of Christ, was the blotting out the handwriting of ordinances which was against us (Col. 2:14). The Law which stood, as the holy expression of God's will, in perpetual contrariety to man as a sinner — that Law which thus opposed itself as a barrier not to be removed by human strength, in the way of human liberty and blessing, — is now nailed to the cross of God's Son. He has abolished in His flesh the Law of commandments contained in ordinances (Eph. 2:15). The first husband, then, is dead; and the wife, now loosed from that tie, may marry whom she will.

We now begin to see the special application of the illustration stated in verse 3, in its reference to the case of the believing Jew. The apostle, accordingly, proceeds so to apply it (verse 4); "That ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Here, then, is a new tie, another bond. As the entrance into the former contract was by the self-confident energy of the natural will (Ex. 19:8), which hastened into the covenant of works only to find the terror of the Lord as its portion, because the impotency of the sinful creature was thus brought into contact with the searching presence of Divine holiness; so, on the other hand, the soul set free in the cross of Jesus from that reign of dread, moves swiftly, because drawn by cords of love, into the new and everlasting covenant of grace and peace. The believer thus, instead of being the Law's victim, becomes the possession, in love, of Him who has acquired the Law's right over his person by having taken it out of the way, and Himself become, on God's behalf, the new and eternal covenant of mercy and of life. Being freed from the Law, he is bound to Christ — to God in Christ. Married to Him in righteousness and in judgment, and in loving-kindness and in mercies. He now knows the Lord. As under Law he knew Him in a portion of His way. He knew the Law, and by the Law he knew (in measure) Himself. But this knowledge gendered no joy. It wrought fear; a fear that cast out hope, and made love an impossible thing, because the clouded majesty of the God of judgment evermore presented itself to the conscience as the certain avenger, in righteousness, of the unfulfilled requirements of the Law. Love is the child of liberty. But the Law gendered to bondage (Gal. 4:24). It was a yoke which Divine holiness placed upon the neck of a nature altogether alien from God.

We shall return to this subject presently. Meanwhile let us contemplate a little further the condition, the privileges, and the responsibilities of the believer, as the wedded wife of the Lord. And now, having arrived at this point, I no longer treat the subject as especially bearing on the Jew. Having gotten beyond death into the resurrection, all such distinction ceases. The Jew has died. The new man in Christ alone survives.*

{*I now add a word of explanation which some readers may find necessary. In treating the doctrine of this chapter thus far, as properly and exclusively respecting the Jewish believer, I by no means lose sight of the far wider range and bearing of the subject when considered in its practical relation to the conscience as having been under Law. In dispensational strictness, the Law is not addressed to us Gentiles. Christ is preached to us on another ground than that of legal forfeiture. The earlier chapters of this Epistle show this. But in point of fact, it generally happens that the conscience is brought specifically under legal bondage. Where this is the case, what is addressed to the actual Jewish believer applies as fully and immediately to the exercised conscience of the Gentile. See further, as to the general application of Law to the human conscience, the note at page 38.}

The believer is married to Christ as alive from the dead. Christ, while known after the flesh, was no husband to the saint, in fact, though in the eternal purpose of God He ever was. Christ, while known after the flesh, was characteristically a Jewish Christ. True, indeed, it is that He was far more. He was in His most holy and most blessed Person the unity of all truth. God was in Christ. But what He was in Himself as the Son, and what God who sent Him was in the fulness of His divine character as Love, could not be fully known while Jesus remained on nature's side of death. He tarried there awhile, until the hour being come for the which He came into the world, He made His passage into the joy that was set before Him through the death of the cross (Heb. 12:2). But while alive in the flesh, He had spoken of the effects of His death. The Holy Ghost was to be given when Jesus should have been glorified (John 7:38-39). The effect of the presence of the Comforter was to be the knowledge, in the heart of faith, of the Son of God — of the Father in the Son. But this knowledge was to be held and enjoyed in love. It is the subjective consciousness of being beloved of God in Christ, that renders the believer capable of divine communion. There is no fear in love. Liberty from all dread or suspicion as to what the thoughts or intents of God may be as possibly against us, must be attained before this fearless love can be enjoyed. It is this liberty that we have in Christ. In Him we have seen, and in him we know the love which God has towards us (1 John 4:16 — 19). In Him we find that God is love. Herein, then, is love made perfect with God's believing children. That perfect love, where known in simple faith, has cast out fear: for fear has torment. But the blessed Lord who died to win us for Himself in love has no will that we who know Him should be tortured still. Nay, the purchase price of our heart's affection is the precious blood of our redemption from all that whence fear and torment can alone arise. To know Him in the precious faith of His Gospel is to know Him as a husband in love, as the satisfying rest of all the desires of our souls.

But this realization of union with the risen Christ is further regarded in its present and practical results. We are married to Him that we may bring forth fruit unto God. This forms the subject of verses 5 and 6. The former marriage had its appointed duration, and bore its fruits. Those fruits abounded while the husband lived. The Law entered that the offence might abound. The fruits of nature were brought into ripe reality by the contact of the Law. Fruit unto death Such is man when under Law — fruitful in sin unto death. The rooted tree in its own soil can bring forth only fruit unto death.

The second marriage has likewise its duration and its fruits. As to the first, it is as long as He lives who is the Eternal Life. The wedded soul is bound, for eternity, in the bundle of divine life with the Lord. The fruits of this marriage are the fruits of the Spirit, not those of the flesh. The root being changed, the fruit is likewise changed, and fruit now redounds to the glory of Him who works in us that which is well pleasing in His sight.* Christ is become the measure of the believer's responsibilities, as well as the possessor of his affections, and the security of his hope. Obedience is the law of marriage to the wife. We are servants of one who commands our service, not with the threatenings of vengeance, but by the constraint of His own unspeakable love (2 Cor. 5:19-17). The notion, therefore, of attempted legal obedience on the part of Christians, of taking the Law as the rule of conduct, etc., is a thought altogether faulty in principle. "The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (1 Tim. 1:5). The desires of the renewed mind for the attainment of this end can only be realized in Christ. The teaching of the Law would be the practical disruption of the new marriage bond. The Law, being only addressed to man on the presumption of his sinful condition, has no application to those whose condition is that of righteousness as being justified of God. Hence the apostle, in that same passage, speaks of those who desired to be teachers of the Law to Christians, as understanding neither what they said, nor whereof they affirmed. It was a perverse substitution of the oldness of the letter for the newness of the Spirit.

{*Would that it were so in fact! I speak here, however, not of the practical condition of the Church as it actually is, but of the just effects of the grace and truth which are in Christ, when, in the energy of the Spirit, they are duly realized by faith in the soul.}

The believer has to endeavour to walk so as to please God. Now the extent of this rule is measure-able only by the perfect obedience of Christ. To follow Him, then, is the saint's responsibility. To be yoked with Him is the soul's ability to find the paths of obedience to be those which drop fatness and pleasure to them that walk therein (Matt. 11:29-30). The commandments of love are not grievous. But, until the believer is able, through grace, to see the true nature of his present standing, as "rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17), as loved and blessed in Christ, as well as forgiven for Christ's sake — where this, I say, is not seen and enjoyed by faith, there will ever be the vain endeavour to satisfy conscience in a legal way. But solid peace can never result from this, because perfect peace is the effect of righteousness alone, and it is Christ, as known by faith, who is alone the end of the Law for righteousness to the believing soul.

The conscience of a believer cannot be in a free state and a legal state at the same time. But the knowledge of the truth as it is revealed in Jesus — of Christ as Himself the perfect truth — this knowledge makes free (John 8:32). Free in very deed: seeing that the blessed light of Divine truth now revealed by the Spirit to faith dissolves and dissipates, as a shadow or a cloud is dispelled by the clear sunbeam, all that had previously constituted the dread or the misgiving of the soul. The old responsibilities are dissolved with the old man wherein they lay. Henceforth, as new creatures, as born children of God in Christ, we are to be imitators of God — to walk worthy of Him — to be perfect, as He is perfect. Thus, in the place of the former debt of unsatisfied legal responsibility, the debt which redemption has discharged, there is substituted the new and never to be satisfied claim of that love which passes knowledge. Gladly, indeed, may we own this claim, whilst yet we have ever to mourn our scanty and worthless endeavour to meet it in the devotedness of our way. Blessed love, that at once stimulates the heart and conscience to abound in the work of the Lord, and withal meets in the unupbraiding fulness of grace the constant failure of our souls to walk worthy of the vocation with which we are called.

Let us turn now to the separate consideration of the remainder of this chapter. It has already been shown that by the Law is the knowledge of sin (chap. 3:20); that the Law works wrath (chap. 4:15); that the abundance of sin was by the Law (chap. 5:20); and lastly, in verse 5 of the present chapter, that the motions of sins which wrought in the members to bring forth, in the natural man, fruit unto death, were likewise by the Law. Since, then, sin and its effects are thus referred to the Law, the question suggested and answered in the seventh verse seems to furnish the natural mind with its last weapon of conflict against the truth of God, so far as the Law is concerned. Is the Law sin? Such a question might be sincerely asked by an inquiring mind but half delivered yet from the mists of its own ignorance. It might, on the other hand, be insinuated by the unbelieving heart of natural wickedness, still seeking means of self-justification by charging God foolishly. To meet the just demand of an inquiring conscience, and at the same time to deprive the perverse will of man of its last plea of excuse, by turning such plea into a decisive evidence of guilt, is the twofold object of the apostle in what follows.

The Law is not sin but holiness. Being such, it is the detector of sin. And now, before proceeding with the apostle's argument, I would remark, that the process of illustration here employed, pre-supposes the presence of renewed life in the subject, who is here contemplated as experimentally proving what the Law really is. The apostle, as is usual with him when stating emphatically any point of directly personal application, speaks here in the first person. Whether, however, the experience which he here details, be an exact reflection of what had at one time passed in his own soul, or whether he has chosen this form of statement simply as being more distinct and vivid, is quite immaterial. The point of real moment is to remember that, while he is thus reviewing, for our profit and instruction, the fearful realities of sinful experience as they are necessarily found in the case of a soul made capable of self-judgment by the Law; yet he is addressing himself to those whom he has already conducted into the cloudless peace and blessedness of the risen life in Christ.

Resuming now the thread of the chapter, we find (verses 7-1l), the general statement of the power and effect of the Law as the discoverer and stimulant of sin, and the minister, because of sin, of death to the soul. The Law is the revelation of the Divine will as the measure and rule of human obedience. It not only prescribes and forbids actions according to their qualities of good or evil. It applies itself to the motive springs of action in the heart. But in so doing it necessarily, as being the expression of God's will, denies and displaces the will of man as independent of God. It claims for God the undisputed right of governing His creature as He will. The condition of the man previously to the arrival of the Law was that of self-guidance. He lived, and thought, and acted, according to the light of his own judgment, and the suggestions of his own desire. "I was alive without the Law once."

But the Law came, bringing with it all the weight and sanction of Divine command. The smooth current of the hitherto unchecked human will became thus suddenly arrested in its course by the peremptory opposition of the will of God. The effect of this was, not to change the native disposition of the human will, but, by shedding in the light of Divine truth upon the conscience, to disclose to the soul, thus awakened to the fear of God, the real character of that will as contrasted with the holy will of God. Old things now receive new names. That which had before been the free and uncontrolled choice of the natural will, harmless, moreover, in the mind's natural judgment, because not yet referred to God as the standard of its quality, becomes now a lust forbidden by the Law of God. "For I had not known lust, except the Law had said, 'Thou shalt not covet.'" There is no, mention made in the apostle's argument of acts of transgression. The question of sin is argued, not in the open court of man's judgment, but in the secret chambers of the heart. The fact that the Law contains in its expression anything repugnant to the will of man, is clear proof of the variance of the human will from that of God. Man thinks and feels, and wills, and acts, not to God-ward as his object and his end, but self-ward. He is the centre of his own thoughts. He acts naturally as if he were independent of Him who created him. This is sin. Sin is the name given by the Spirit of God to the course of the human will, when its measure and direction are gauged by the Law of Divine commandment. The single commandment in the garden of Eden acted thus, when the lie of the tempter had aroused the independent action of the human will. Adam's will, coming into contact with the expressed injunction of God, revealed sin in the form of transgression. It is the secret conscience (and not external acts), that is in question in the present argument. "I had not known sin but by the Law," is the general expression of the judgment of the inner man as to the effect of the Law upon the conscience as the discoverer of sin. Desires which had slumbered undisturbed by temptation, and which lay forgotten or unknown upon the low ground of the heart, suddenly awoke and moved when the voice of God, as of a stranger, was heard saying in the Law, "Thou shalt not covet." The very utterance of the will of God is the suggestion of sin to the heart of fallen man

But the fire thus kindled in the soul rages more fiercely as it grows. "Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." "For," it is added, "without the Law sin was dead." As the pressure of a heavy weight upon some elastic substance calls into active effect the native force of resistance before untried, so the restraint of the Divine commandment serves but to develop and call into exercise the resisting forces of the natural will. But the revival of sin, thus effected by the application of the Law to the conscience, is the fatal conviction to the awakened mind of its hopeless condition as under judgment. The conscious revival of sin is the utter extinction of hope. The commandment which was ordained unto life is found (verse 10), to be unto death.

This result, however, must be referred to its true cause. If the Law works death, it does so, not as being in itself a destroyer, but as instrumentally furthering the completion of sin. It is sin alone that produces death. "Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death" (James 1:15). Accordingly, we have a striking expression of the same solemn reality in the eleventh verse; "For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." Sin first deceives, and then destroys. But the Law is here its instrument of deception. The meaning of this must be familiar experimentally to every Christian who has, in any measure, known the deceitful workings of his naturally self-righteous heart. "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8), was the unhesitating reply of the natural heart when first the covenant of works was offered for its acceptance. The same people whose way had been but a continuous repetition of failure and unbelief, from the time that God had brought them out of Egypt, now find it in their heart to close thus eagerly with a proposal which made their inheritance of blessing to depend no longer on grace, but works — not on God as their Saviour for His name's sake, but on themselves as the self-justified fulfillers of the Law. Sin thus deceived them. The specious self-flattery of momentary zeal riveted upon the neck of the nation a yoke which no merely human strength could bear, and which nothing but the Samson might of the Captain of Salvation could break. As it was with the nation, so it is with the individual heart of one brought thus into the evil net of destruction by the lying seduction of a self-righteous heart.

The principle of duty is so inherent in every conscience, that the idea of legal obedience is of all things the most natural. But the purposes and resolves of an awakened conscience, so long as they are taken in ignorance of redemption, are but the evidences of a mind deceived by the dream of its own sufficiency, and unconsciously hardening itself in sin. Again let me repeat that it is the renewed mind alone which can experience the consciousness of what the apostle is here describing. The carnal unawakened heart can boast itself in the Law; and, far from doubting its own safety, can despise others from the ideal vantage ground of its own self-imputed righteousness. It is only where the Law is known, as nature never knows it, that this boasting is turned to mourning and complaint.

Verse 12 pronounces the deliberate estimate of the renewed conscience as to the quality of the Law and the commandment. It is holy, and just, and good. But, from this confession arises the further question (verse 13): "Was then that which is good, made death unto me?" Nay; it was not the goodness of the commandment, but the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that wrought this death. The absolute evil of sin, its exceeding sinfulness, is made apparent through the effect produced upon the sinner by the ministration of holiness and righteousness and goodness. These things are in the Law, but their very presence serves but to bring out into opposing contrast what is in me, to discover the sin which dwells within me. But if so, holiness, which can never tolerate sin, finding sin in me as the answer on my part to the righteousness which is in God, pronounces on me the necessary judgment of sin. Thus sin works death in me by that which is good.

Verse 14 declares the solution of the whole difficulty, by stating the eternal contrariety of the law as spiritual, to nature as carnal. "I am carnal, sold under sin."

We come now to another, and a most important as well as interesting feature in this case.

In presenting in the verses which follow a picture of the actual conflict of a pure mind * against indwelling sin and corruption, we find the sufferer distinguishing himself from that which he hates, though it be the tabernacle of his very life. The body of sin and death is one thing — the renewed soul groaning under the weight of that body and calling aloud for deliverance is another, and a very different thing. The great discovery that in the flesh dwells no good thing, is never made by the carnal mind. Flesh never reveals to itself the secret of its own disgrace and ruin. Nor does it heed the revelation which God makes of these things. Light and truth are of that good (agathon) which is not found indwelling in the flesh. Hence, it is not until the soul has been quickened by the Holy Ghost, and is thus alive to God, that this holy judgment of the nature of sin and of the work of the Law can take place. But the renewed mind not only knows the holiness of the Divine character, and recognizes the Law as the expression of the will of God: there is also in the new creature an instinctive desire after holiness, and a corresponding hatred of sin. As the heart of nature turns willingly aside from God to seek its pleasure in the ways of sin, so the desires of the new man ever turn toward God, and away from th€ objects of men's natural lusts.

{*That is, a renewed mind, which none but a quickened soul can have.}

But while enabled thus to detach himself, as alive to God, from the sin which dwells in him, and while fully conscious of desires of good, of a will quite opposite to the lusts of nature, yet the soul of the godly man, so long as he remains in ignorance of the liberty of redemption, is in bondage still. He finds himself utterly powerless of escape from that which he loathes. "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me" (verse 20). This he may truly say. He may, moreover, "consent to the Law that it is good" (verse 16). Nay, he may "delight in the Law of God after the inward man" (verse 22). All this may be, and will be, in the case of a soul alive to God and practised in the ways of holiness. But the very presence of these convictions and desires only renders him more acutely sensible of the pressure of that other thing — that opposing and ever-dominant principle of sin in his members. He sees (verse 23) another law in his members, not only warring against the law of his mind, but bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members. He is a poor slave still. The glimpses of liberty which open on him in his meditations on the Law, do but enhance the bitterness of that hopeless bondage in which he lies. This is the perfection of human misery — the being endued with desires of holiness and life, but experimentally proving the mastery in the members of sin (whose only fruit is death) as a dominant, compelling principle, a Law with strength to enforce its rule. The very Law of God in which the inward man delights, becomes thus the weapon of utter destruction against the self-judged, yet self-acquitted sinner — sinning not willingly, yet sinning unto death! "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (verse 24). Such is, at once, the heart-broken confession of human extremity when brought, by means of the spiritual Law of God, into the full appreciation of the weakness and wretchedness of the flesh; and, at the same time, the utterance of the cry of distress which fails not to reach the ears of Him whose end is not Law, but grace. Everything is now given up. The conflict is at an end; and the cry of the captive is gone up to the heaven which seems to be closed against him by the sentence of the Law. Sin's victory is complete. The lawful captive may mourn, but his captivity is lawful still.

Thus, then, we have brought to its close the Spirit's comment upon the work of the Law, as that which brings out into their full completeness the nature and the effects of sin. It is found to work death and not life. The vain attempt to keep the Law ends but in augmented wretchedness and disappointed hope. The end, then, of man, thus tried by the Law, is that he lies bound in the fetters of in and death. But it is here that God in Christ can meet him and can set him free. Accordingly, in the verse which closes the chapter, we have the solemn thanksgiving of the delivered soul. His cry of despair is turned into the note of praise at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

In concluding this subject, I will remark on the closing words of verse 25, that, while the deliverance of the Gospel sets the conscience perfectly free into the liberty of Christ, it alters nothing with respect either to the intrinsic holiness of the renewed mind on the one hand, or to the characteristic evil of the flesh on the other. Moreover, the believer, though no longer under Law, because no longer under sin, does not cease to serve the Law of God in another sense. The characteristics of the Law of God are holiness, and righteousness, and goodness; and these things the spiritual man pursues, running as a child of liberty along the pure way of holiness and peace in which the blessed Spirit of Christ alone can lead. Meanwhile. the flesh remains, as ever, the servant of sin.

Romans 8.

The last chapter has closed up the case of man as under Law, in helplessness and death; and has shown that power of deliverance belongs only to God. "I thank God." The entire question of legal responsibility has now been finally settled. What man is, as carnal, has been thoroughly sifted and passed in review. His entire world of experiences, his capabilities, his prospects, his hopes and his fears, have been brought by the Spirit into the light of Divine holiness, and have there been found to be intrinsically worthless and vain. The solemn verdict of the Son of God, when, in the days of His humiliation as the rejected Truth of God, He pronounced the flesh to be utterly unprofitable (John 6:63), has been thus amplified and confirmed by the extended proof which the Holy Ghost has now set in order for the final and complete refutation and confusion of every earthly plea.

Man has been cited as a witness in his own case, and has condemned himself He is a wretched man by his own confession. Man, then, having delivered himself of this confession of wretchedness, God can now speak in reply. The precious chapter we are now about to open, contains the declaratory testimony of the Holy Ghost with respect to the condition of the believer now viewed no longer in his own person, but in Christ Jesus. It is the contrasted statement of the privileges, the capacities, the security, and the prospects of the Christian as having the Spirit, that is here presented as the divinely-wrought counterpart of the preceding description of man as "carnal, sold under sin." The proof and witness of human wretchedness is the Law. The title and the measure of Christian blessedness is Christ. As alive in Christ the believer is estimated, not according to the variable standard of his own emotions, but according to the eternal fixedness of Divine truth now realized and established in the person of Christ before God.

The chapter accordingly opens (verse 1) with the blessed and decisive declaration that there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.* Wrath is revealed against human sin, but in Christ Jesus the believer is no longer viewed and regarded of God as a man in the flesh. Simple boldness of faith is often needed here in order to, overrule and silence the risings of natural unbelief; and the constitutional proneness of every mind to, doubt the possibility of absolute and unconditional, grace. But the blessed Spirit of God, in declaring absolutely the believer's freedom from condemnation, does not conceal the ground of this liberty. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (verse 2) which has thus made free from the law of sin and death.

{*The remainder of this verse as it stands in the English Version, is now generally rejected by the best and most recent critical editors of the original. Griesbach, Scholz and Tischendorf concur in rejecting it. It probably was repeated from the fourth verse by some transcriber who might have found the words placed, as a marginal gloss, against the present passage. As the passage stands in our Bibles, the reference to the walk, preceding as it does the statement in verse 2 of the liberty on which that walk is founded, is apt to suggest an obstructive doubt to a weak believer as to whether his walk be really thus, and so to keep him back from the proper enjoyment of his position as unconditionally free in Christ.}

Divine power has, by the death of Christ, broken for us the chain of hopeless responsibility to the unfulfilled demand of God, by consummating an obedience which reached the full compass of God's will. But, death being passed, life alone remains. Christ, being risen from the dead, dies no more. He lives to God. But death is the seal and first effect of condemnation. Condemnation, then, has no place on those who are already alive in Christ unto God. Further, it is a law (nomos). It is a, permanent, eternal Principle of life, taking the place for us in Christ of that which in us had had its contrary effects of sin and death. The believer now lives according to the power and the title of Him who is the quickening Spirit — of Him who quickens whom He will — quickening them from death in themselves to life in Him. He has a. principle of life which begins in God and endures with God, who has given us "of His Spirit" (1 John 4:13). I, then, am free, and the law of my liberty is the life of Christ. Let the reader remark again here the essential difference between the subjective experience of his own feelings, and the simple reception, by pure unquestioning faith, of these most astonishing and most blessed sayings of God. Conscience, when freshly apprized of the indwelling sin of nature which knows no change, is ready to deny this liberty. But faith, bringing in upon that conscience the pure light of Christ, sets up again the throne of God in grace above the poor imaginations of the heart and the contradictions of the devil, and turns the feebleness of the believing soul to strength, by putting it in mind that, though itself be free, its liberty is Christ.

Verses 3, 4, follow in explanation of the general statements before made. The former chapter has discovered man in the impotency of his endeavours to fulfil the righteousness of the Law. The Law proposed life as the result of righteousness in man. But the Law could not justify man, because its very effect was to discover sin as dwelling in and ruling him. "The impossibility of the law" (to adunaton tou nomou) was human justification. The Law could work for this end only through the flesh: the flesh being then what it is, instead of justification of life, there resulted condemnation unto death. God now takes the place of the Law. The work of human justification could be done by Him alone. But in going about to justify the ungodly, God could not disregard the witness of the Law, nor qualify its claims, which did but represent to man the demands of His own holiness. The righteousness which the Law contained in itself must be fulfilled, not only for us, but also in us. The first of these things has been accomplished in the life and death of Jesus in our stead: the second has its realization in the resurrection. God's purpose was justification unto life. With this view He dealt with sin. The cross of the Son of God is the revelation of. God as the destroyer of sin. He visited it, for its destruction, in the flesh of His Son, in which it was by imputation found. Having sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, God condemned sin in the flesh. By the grace of God Christ tasted the reality of death for us. He suffered in the flesh. The Son of God came "for sin" (peri amartias). God sent Him thus; and in giving the incarnate Holy One to death for sin, God condemned sin in the flesh.

But this was done in order (verse 4) "that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." God sees the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in the church as having the Spirit, as alive in Him who, after having suffered in the flesh, was quickened in the Spirit. The "spiritual Law" (chap. 7:14), instead of being opposed to the saint, when viewed in Christ, is become the very aliment of his life: not as unfulfilled, but as having been fulfilled. For not only is the total sum of legal righteousness inclusively laid to the believer's account who stands possessed of the Divine righteousness in Christ, but, because his walk is in the Spirit, he is experimentally fulfilling that which the Law claimed. He is rendering obedience unto God. Christ having become the end of the Law for righteousness to the believer, the Law has now for him no separate existence. It is absorbed into Christ. It can, therefore, never be rightly brought to bear upon a Christian's conscience, because he is not under Law. The Giver of the Law has Himself become, in love, the Law and Standard of the believer's walk. Christ is the ground, and Christ is the measure of proper Christian responsibility. Christ takes the Law's place wholly. And so the believer is said to be under law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). His responsibilities are those of grace; of holiness, as known in love. "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Liberty, therefore, is the spring and power of a Christian's obedience; seeing that he has not to toil in chains for his life, but rather his obedience is "the work of faith and labour of love," itself the active energy of a life already possessed and enjoyed in God.

The believer, then, as thus alive, is characteristically spiritual. His habits, therefore, and his ways, his walk (in a word), is reckoned on as being consistent with his nature; his new nature, as being no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit (verse 5). It is to be carefully remarked, that what is stated in the sequel (verses 5-8), where spiritual conduct is insisted on, as distinguishing practically the spiritual man from him who is carnal, is stated by way of corollary to that which has already been laid down as the demonstrative testimony of the Spirit to the standing of the Christian as in Christ. It is not exhortation that is here being ministered; that is introduced further on; but it is the unfolding to the view of the believer more and more widely and perfectly what he is as spiritual, in comparison and contrast with what he was as natural.

The spiritual man is, as such, a totally distinct person from the natural man. This truth has been viewed under one of its aspects in the preceding chapter, where, while under Law, the result of conflict was ever to the discomfiture of that which was spiritual, because the law of liberty was not known in the conscience. The converse of what is there exhibited is presented in this chapter. Power is found now to be on the side of the spiritual man. Because he is in Christ, he is no longer under Law. He has become the subject, not of that which was against him, but of Him who has broken the hard fetters of his bondage. He is free in Christ. The sinew of his strength is the grace that is in Him (2 Tim. 2:1). He has not only the desires of holiness, and life, and peace, but he has also in Christ the assured possession of what is thus desired. Hence, to be spiritually-minded, or, rather, "the mind of the Spirit,"* is life and peace; not only in eventual result but in actual enjoyment. The bitterness of death being passed already in the cross of Jesus, the knowledge of the perfect truth in Him, gives power in actual conflict to the soul.**

{*To phronema tou pneumatos. "Das Trachten des Geistes." — DE WETTE.

** Such is the true and proper result. In point of fact it is often otherwise. Christians, through deficiency of faith, or from having failed to add knowledge to their faith, are too often found by the enemy in a state but ill prepared to meet Him The whole armour of God is needed in order to stand fast. Divine truth, as learned of God, is the only girdle of strength wherewith the soul can stand in collected readiness to contend with Satan, who ever seeks to dispute in the heart of the believer the title of life and peace which he has in Christ. Again, actual sin may arise. The Christian may find bitterness of heart within because of some allowed evil, having to judge himself for things which, instead of being of the Spirit, are wholly of the flesh. Still, the very capacity of self-judgment which he has, and thus exercises, is, in itself, an effect of his being not carnal but spiritual. The precious word of grace has a ready balm at hand for the bruised and wounded spirit; but where, as in the text, conduct is described as an effect of life, it is exhibited as the perfect and not the imperfect expression of that from whence it springs.}

The mind of the flesh is death. The works of nature are uniformly dead works. They savour of death and not of life, because they are the product of that which is in its nature enmity against God. Moral philosophy may separate, in its analysis of human motive and conduct, things amiable from things hateful, things lovely from things repulsive, and things noble from things base. The Holy Spirit of God, viewing the varied phases of `human character in the clear light of His own holiness, and testing at their common source the intrinsic quality of human thought and action, pronounces a judgment in which all those things which men distinguish are indiscriminately united, and the common fountain of all is declared to be "enmity against God." The proof and evidence upon which this solemn judgment is pronounced immediately follows: "For it is not subject to the law of God." This has already been shown at length, and need not now be further insisted on. But if human obedience is withheld from the Law of God, it is because of the condition of that will which directs and governs the ways of men. But the very existence of a will independent of that of God is the necessity of insubjection to that which is the expression of His will; and therefore it is added, "neither indeed can be." The inevitable conclusion is then stated: "So then they that are in the flesh (hoi en sarki ontes) cannot please God."

And now comes (verse 9), the decisive limitation of the term just used: "they that are in the flesh." Its exact definition is to be found in what is here said respecting those who stand in the opposite category, as being not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Now, as to this, the word is: "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Presently it is added: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." The grand distinctive truth which separates a Christian as a vessel of Divine mercy from the world which knows not God, is the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. I would remark on this, first of all, that this presence of the Spirit as indwelling is not to be confounded by any means with the operation of the same blessed Spirit in originally quickening dead souls, and bringing them, by faith, to the cross of Christ. What is here in point is the state and standing of the believer as having been so quickened. The indwelling, therefore, of the Holy Ghost is the result of the Christian's being already alive in Christ. This subject will further unfold itself presently. Meanwhile let it be borne in mind, that the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God is something quite distinct from the influences and operations of that Spirit as thus indwelling.*

{*The bad results which have arisen from the constant use of the unscriptural expression, "influences of the Holy Spirit," it is easier to feel and to lament than to estimate. The Spirit of God does assuredly influence and govern (where not grieved) that wherein He dwells as the Lord in His own house; but what is commonly implied in the expression here objected to, is an acting from without upon the man, instead of the gracious operation, in wider development, of the energies of the Spirit of Christ as already dwelling in him.}

We have, then, here the distinct statement that those in whom the Spirit of God does not dwell — those who have not the Spirit of Christ — are in the flesh; and if so, they are in a state of enmity against God; are incapable of pleasing God.

The expression, "Spirit of Christ," must not be misunderstood. The same Spirit who is, when declared under a single and absolute title, the Spirit of God, is the Spirit of the Son, even as He is also the Spirit of the Father. Moreover, "the Lord is that Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:17). The Spirit of Christ, therefore, is a far other thing than what is often spoken of as "a Christian spirit," where the amiable conduct of some professing Christian is meant to be commended. The Spirit of Christ is a living power which produces its own effects. That Spirit is a Person, not a thing. He dwells for Christ within the hearts of those who are sanctified by faith in Him. He is the Divine tenant of the temple which the blood of Christ has purged. Residing thus within the children of God, He indicates the secret of His dwelling-place by the energy whereby He acts upon the soul. His operation produces both outwardly and inwardly its own characteristic results in those in whom He dwells.

The Spirit of Christ, wherever present, confesses the name of Christ according to the revelation of the Gospel. The Spirit of Christ manifests His presence by the distinct and total denial on the part of the believer of all hope, or joy, or confidence; of all worthiness, or righteousness, or goodness, as by any possibility to be found elsewhere than in Christ. The Spirit of Christ glorifies Christ by filling the heart in which He dwells with joy and peace in believing. The Spirit of Christ, again, in confessing through the lips of faith the name of Jesus as the only Lord, confesses Him to be in very deed the Son of God. Lastly, the Spirit of Christ is, in the believer, not only the seal and earnest of his personal acceptance in the Beloved, and the source and fountain of all fruitful obedience in his way, but He is also the Spirit of judgment in holiness, whereby not only are the contrarieties of flesh to Spirit, of self to God, inwardly detected and judged, but also the world, which neither sees nor knows the Holy One, is understood and shunned as that which in heart denies both the Father and the Son.

The difference, then, between being in the flesh and being in the Spirit is nothing less than the difference between death and life; between the condition of one who stands, as a child of wrath, exposed to the recorded judgment of God, and that of a pardoned and accepted and justified man, the seal of whose acceptance and the witness of whose purity, as sanctified in Christ, is the indwelling presence of God Himself. And so it is elsewhere written: "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15).

Verses 10, 11, recite some of the consequences of this indwelling of the Spirit. And, first, let us notice in verse 10, the identification of Christ with the Spirit of Christ. In the unity of the Divine nature they are one. The Lord is that Spirit. "If Christ be in you," etc. We have already seen that the ground and title of the believer's blessedness is his being in Christ (John 14:20; 17:23). We have here the counterpart of that truth. A Christian is not simply a man who has Christian ideas and notions, as men speak, but one in whom Christ is; who lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him (Gal. 2:20). The results of this are now stated. First, "the body is dead because of sin," and, secondly, "the Spirit is life because of righteousness." The body is dead. The Christian, though an heir of immortality, is mortal still while in the unchanged body of his natural flesh. Though Christ, the Lord of life, be in him, he differs as yet from other men only in the possession of a knowledge and a hope which make death but a stingless sleep until the awakening trump of God be heard. The body is dead. To be treated then as such. To be neglected in its lusts and denied in its desires. To be used and not served: to be governed, not obeyed. To be brought into subjection, and yielded, as we have seen (chap. 6) to God. Meanwhile, the Spirit is life; living in us because of righteousness imputed to us: Christ in us, the hope of glory. But though the body be dead because of sin, yet "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 bodies by (or, because of) His Spirit that dwells in you."*

{*The precise reading here is not easily determined. Dia to enoikon autou pneuma is probably to be preferred, but the authority for it is by no means conclusive. DE WETTE renders "durch den in euch wohnenden Geist," evidently preferring the old reading. After all, the difference seems unimportant.}

The Spirit of the Father, who has glorified the exceeding greatness of His power in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, now dwells in them that believe. Solemn, wondrous, and most blessed truth, The mighty energy which is to reveal the Divine glory by the turning of corruption into incorruption, of dishonour and decay into glory and enduring strength, is already hidden (though it slumber till the time be come) in these poor degraded and most vile bodies; which are thus to be made, in due time, vessels of eternal honour to the praise of His glory, who, as the Father of glory, has already raised up Jesus from the dead. Resurrection thus becomes the familiar thought, the near and constant desire of the saint. Already he is sealed for that. The power which is to raise or change (Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:51) his mortal body is in him now. The glory, in the hope of which he is called to rejoice, thus becomes yet nearer to his view. The hand which is to open to him visibly the gates of glory, to lead him in, and present him faultless before the majesty of the heavens with exceeding joy, is upon him even now.

Verses 12, 13. Resurrection having been declared to be the destiny of the believer, his near and proper expectation as a spiritual man; the flesh, as a thing already dead, has no longer any claim upon him. The two verses now under examination are worthy of all attention, serving as they do as a practical test of Christian conscience, while confirming to the full the precious doctrine of spiritual liberty already laid down. Liberty is, indeed, the very emphasis of the passage. "We are debtors not to the flesh, to live after the flesh." As freed in Christ from the law of sin and death, the believer is no longer a debtor to the flesh even in this present life. He lives to God in the liberty of redemption. This assertion of liberty is to the Spirit life and joy, while to that which is Christian only in name and not in power, it is the searching edge of the word of holiness discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. Practical holiness is here insisted on as the necessary effect of living faith. It is a question not of degree but of principle. A Christian may abound much in practical holiness, or he may be in a very feeble and defective state in this respect. But he cannot, if alive to God at all, be at the same time alive in the flesh. Life in the flesh is death to God.

The practical force of the language used in verse 13 is very great. Living after the flesh is here equivalent to walking in the flesh, which already has been spoken of in verse 4 of the same chapter. Death and life are here set in prospect before the soul as the results, respectively, of the path now chosen. Now, as to the believer, he is characteristically one who is not in the flesh. This he is, not as the result of attainment, but by the grace of God. The appeal which the apostle here makes is to the Christian conscience. Where there is life, there will be an answer to that appeal. Where there is no life, the word remains still as a recorded warning of the sinner in his ways. The mortification of the deeds of the body is the result of the Spirit's energy, the energy of that Spirit which is already life to the Christian because of imputed righteousness in Christ, and which produces in him the fruits of life, when unhindered in the gracious operation of His love. Mortification thus of the deeds of the body is looked for only from those who are already possessed of the Spirit; from justified, sanctified believers in Jesus.

There is, therefore, nothing in this verse that need chill in the least the confidence of the poor weak-spirited, self-judging Christian. Nay, those who are most addicted to self-judgment are they to whom the warning here expressed has the least application.* The mortification of the deeds of the body, of which the apostle here speaks, must not be confounded with what men naturally mean by such an expression — with asceticism.

{*One word more on this point. It is quite possible for a real believer to be living in a certain measure as a man, to be walking carnally in many ways; to be sowing, in his vanity, to the flesh instead of to the Spirit. Now the end of all this is death. Corruption is the harvest of the flesh in all its ways. There is a day coming when the fire will try every one's work, and what is not of God will go up as dust and smoke before the fire of Divine holiness. Yet is the life of the believer safe still; for his life is Christ. In that life are bound up hopes of glory, honour, and immortality. These hopes shall never fail, for they are pledged in Christ by the Spirit to the Christian. Nevertheless, the difference between a faithful and devoted servant and one less careful of his Master's Name, is a real difference, and will be so found in that day (Compare 1 Cor. 3:13-16).}

The power of fleshly mortification in a believer is the enjoyed consciousness, through faith, of the abundance of life in Christ. It is the known and appreciated grace of God, as that which has brought salvation to the soul, which alone teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:11-12).

The world, then, has no longer any claim on the saint. He is not a debtor to it in any shape. He is Christ's. He is God's, as redeemed in Christ unto Himself — as bought with a price. He is therefore exempt from all that which the world lays down, either as the condition of its favour or as the price of its goods.* He is independent of the world — independent of man, because upheld of God. The leading-strings of the world have been broken, and their place supplied by the cords of Divine love and power in Christ. The believer is led by the Spirit of God. He is not dragged as a captive, he is led as a son.

{*He is to walk by faith, not by sight. He is to labour willingly and patiently, that he may provide things honest in the sight of all men. But in the practical transactions of life he is the Lord's servant still. What he does, he is to do to Him and not to men. A Christian is never rightly out of the place of testimony. He is called to glorify God in his ways. He is in all things to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called. He is a pilgrim and a stranger, not by the force of circumstances, but in the power of Divine truth. His calling is to walk in a dead world as himself alive, in the present power of the resurrection of Christ (Phil. 3; Col. 3).}

The positive privileges and blessings of the Christian, as delivered from the world and brought in spirit to the Father's house, are next stated. But first, the characteristic name and operation of the Spirit which dwells in the believer, are declared and explained (verse 15). This is an important point. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption (of sonship pneuma huiothesias), whereby we cry, Abba, Father." We have already seen in chapter 7 what were the effects of the full realization in a renewed mind of the Law as spiritual. The Holy Ghost acting as the Spirit of truth upon an awakened conscience through the Law, can produce no other effect than bondage and fear. The standing of a believer while under Law was that of a servant, not of a son. The Holy Ghost, therefore, as the Spirit of adoption could never rest upon such. Moreover, although the Spirit filled and used holy men of old, making them thus the fitting witnesses and messengers of Divine truth; yet was this a wholly different thing from what is now the portion of a saint. They were moved (pheromenoi) by the Holy Ghost, who fell on them at His will, and bore them often far beyond the feeble scope of their spiritual understanding. He could and did reveal to them in part the mystery of the ways of God, making them cognizant in a measure of the dispensational sequences in the order of the Divine mercy (1 Peter 1:11-12). But as to themselves, their standing actually was that of servants, not sons; though faith might and did anticipate in hope the good things of promise, which were laid up with God for them that feared Him.

The spirit of bondage unto fear, then, had had its sphere of operation, and had wrought its work.* And now, as made free by the Son, they had received another Spirit. Reception into the house, with the abiding title of sonship, is now the effect of grace received. The Spirit of the Son of God is sent into the heart of the believer, not to make him a son, but because he is already such (Gal 4:6). As thus sent forth He is received by us; unawares it may be at first, until His blessed presence is disclosed by the utterance which He alone can truly bring forth from the heart. The cry, Abba, Father, is our own; but it is by the Spirit of the Son that it is produced. We cry Abba, because we know Him thus; but the power of that knowledge is the indwelling presence of the Son. "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." There is a concurrent testimony of the Spirit of the Son, and of the quickened spirit of the new-born child of God, whose heart that Spirit fills, Both speak, and speak to God. The Spirit cries Abba, because it is the Spirit of the Son — our hearts repeat that cry because we know, by the same Spirit, that the living Christ is our life to God.

{*I do not mean by this that experience of this kind is not, as I have before noticed, often felt by Christians: but if it be felt, it is not a feeling according to the full truth of the Gospel. Again, the same spirit of bondage will operate according to the truth of their actual position hereafter upon the godly among the nation of Israel, when waiting, as prisoners of hope, for the deliverer to appear. Our present question is with the believer as standing in the full light of accomplished redemption.}

Believers are, then, in very truth the living children of God. They have a Father whose name stands eternally betwixt them and all fear. But children are their parents' heirs. The name of blessing with which the God of glory has clothed Himself for our sakes, is not an empty sound. We are heirs — (verse 17), heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Now, "the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35). He has appointed Him, as alive from the dead, heir of all things. He was heir by virtue of eternal Sonship in ever-during fellowship of Divine glory. As the Creator of all things, He stood possessed, from the moment of their creation, of the perfect right of universal propriety; for all things were created by Him and for Him. He is now revealed in the resurrection as the vested possessor of the inheritance of God, after having made Himself capable of such investment by becoming flesh, and tasting death for everything * by the grace of God. And this inheritance He shares with us! As He has said elsewhere: "The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them" (John 17:22). All that the created capacity of the children of God can receive from Himself, is the portion of their inheritance as heirs of God. All that the blessed Lord can share with and impart to the objects of His measureless love, is the portion of the brethren as joint-heirs with Christ. As eternally Divine, — in the distinctness of His Sonship as the only begotten, as well as in the unity of the Godhead with the Father and the Spirit, — He will be for ever the object of His creatures' worship, and they will see a glory (John 17:24), and delight in its brightness, which yet they will not share, because it is essentially Divine. But there is a glory which they are called to share. And who shall tell the amount of that weight of glory, or sum the measure of that perfect blessedness, which the Father has counted Jesus worthy to receive, and which Jesus in love has made us worthy to enjoy?

{* huper pantos. Heb. 2:9. A comparison of this passage with Col. 1:20, seems to justify the rendering of these words given above; but I do not insist upon it as unquestionable.}

A goodly view of this glory and this blessedness in some of their most striking features is opened in the verses which follow. But before advancing further, let us for a moment recapitulate the actual effects of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of adoption, so far as they have yet been stated. There is, then, first, the assured possession of the Father's love; there is the equal assurance of fellowship with the Son; there is the certainty of divine inheritance as heirs of God; and there is the conscious blessedness in divine intelligence of present entrance into the known love of Christ (though yet it pass all knowledge), as that alone wherein and whereby the inheritance is either comprehended or desired. Thus the Comforter of Divine promise fulfils in the saints the Lord's strange words: "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come," etc. (John 16:7). Strange words doubtless to those who heard them, but now understood and rejoiced in, though not less wondrous still, by those in whom the blessed Spirit has become the full river of God, as the revealer of the unclouded light of life and joy in the glory of the ascended Christ.

Think, then, poor sorrowing Christian who may read these pages, think no longer of the indwelling sin of nature which torments you, but of the indwelling Spirit of Christ who thus seeks to cheer and re-assure your heart by putting into your mouth the children's bread. You are not what you think yourself to be. You think yourself a sinner. Such, indeed, you were, and such (as in yourself) you are still. But, as a sinner, you are dead. The living Spirit of the Son of God is given now to reveal to you what you are as alive in Jesus; as estimated of God according to the priceless value of that which has been expended on your redemption; as a branch of acceptance, of enduring fragrance and richness, upborne for ever upon the living stem of Christ. You cannot learn these things from men, least of all from yourself. But God reveals them in His precious word. Let, then, the misgivings of your heart no longer withstand the pure testimony of Christ's unsearchable love. To listen to these misgivings is to listen to man rather than to God. It is unbelief, and therefore sin; and darkness and leanness can alone result from that. Cease, then, to hearken to the complainings or the doubts of a heart which naturally knows not God, and listen to the voice of Him who can feed the feeble and broken spirit of Christ's sheep with the hidden manna of Divine refreshment, Himself being, as the revealer of Jesus, the perpetual spring of inward delight to the soul (John 4:14).

To proceed now with our chapter. The latter part of verse 17 makes mention of fellowship with the sufferings of Christ as the precedent condition of our being glorified together. Suffering of the sort here mentioned is the portion, more or less, of every believer in Jesus. As a man, he has his share of the natural ills that sinful flesh is heir to; but in addition to that, he is the subject of a class of sufferings which can attach to none but those in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells. Remaining in a world from which he has been already separated in heart, he cannot but find suffering by reason of the contrariety of everything here to that for which he is apprehended in Christ. He groans, moreover, as being in the body of sin and death, though rejoicing with a joy which is unspeakable and full of glory in the certainty of speedy release. But more especially, it is as a servant and witness of the truth of God that he is called to suffer. Jesus suffered thus, and thus have they in their measure to suffer who are called to walk in His steps.

Christian sufferings may be great. Not unfrequently they are so. Surely none could speak more experimentally of such things than the blessed servant of Christ whose epistle is now in our hands (1 Cor. 4:9-13; 2 Cor. 11:21-33). Yet how does he here estimate them when weighed in the sober balances of Divine truth against the glory which is to be revealed! The comparison is of present sufferings against eternal glory. Thus weighed, the momentary trial of faith and patience is found to be as nothing, to be unworthy of all comparison with that which is to be revealed is us. This he reckons (verse 18). There is no sort of doubt in his mind: it is a deliberate measurement of truth with truth, of real suffering with most real and most certain and eternal glory. The believer, when thus sustained by the hope of glory, is able to endure the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God (2 Tim. 1:8).

The blessed position and the characteristic hope of the Christian as an heir of Divine glory having been thus stated, the apostle now proceeds to discover more distinctly and definitely to our view a portion of the prospect which is opened to the faith of the Church as having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:9-16). And first, it is not personal deliverance merely for which the believer is waiting. He does wait indeed with desire to be clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life (2 Cor. 5:4); but, as having the Spirit of the Son, there is in Him a capacity even now of entering by anticipation into that joy which, being the proper joy of the Blessed One Himself, for the sake of which He endured the cross, is communicable, and is in measure imparted to those in whose hearts His Spirit has its abode.

The Spirit of God, in unfolding to the saints the hope of their calling, addresses Himself to that which in the believer as born of God is capable of thinking and of desiring according to the sympathies of Christ. Accordingly, we have opened in the following verses of this chapter a wide view of creation in its actual condition as subject to vanity. This is done in order that a juster estimate may be formed in the hearts of God's children of the manner and the measure of the glory for which they wait, by the description of its effect upon the now groaning creation which awaits the hour of their completed adoption as the expected moment of its own deliverance. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same, in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now" (verses 19-22).

We have here the emancipation of the groaning creation made dependent upon the manifestation of the sons of God. The Church, that is, not only partakes, as part of the creation, in the deliverance which is the effect of redemption, but it is itself, as the vessel of Divine glory in Christ, the very light which shall dissolve at its revelation the thick darkness of vanity which as yet holds the creature in the bonds of travail and of pain. The position of the creature is described to be that of actual oppression and subjection to vanity, but in immediate and earnest expectation (apokaradokia) of deliverance. But this deliverance can only be at the revelation of the sons of God. It is not said of the Son of God, but of the sons of God. Doubtless, it is with His glory that they will shine; but the point kept before our view here, is the place which the children (already sealed for the inheritance by the Spirit of adoption) are manifestly to hold in that day.

Creation* has been subjected to vanity. The cause of this subjection is to be found not in that which is thus suffering, but in him upon whom the creation was made dependent as its appointed head. Adam's sin ruined the creature. But this is not a hopeless ruin. Glory and blessing were the intent of Divine counsel in framing the worlds by the Word of God. If the first man's sin has wrapped the creature in the shroud of vanity and death, the power of redemption, in the person of the second man shall, in due time, turn the shadows of death into the morning-light of a cloudless day of blessing and of joy (2 Sam. 23:3-4). The title of dominion which fell from the death-stricken hand of the first Adam because of sin, is now held fast in the firm and worthy grasp of Him, who, while known for ever as the Son of Man, is King of righteousness and King of peace; to be manifested and to reign as such over this now-groaning creation, when the times of refreshing shall have come, and He who alone is the mourning creature's hope, shall come forth from the presence of the Father of lights, to gladden and revive that which as yet groans on while waiting for that day. Solemn and terrific things are, indeed, connected with these promises of joy. Judgment will, as a mighty stream, sweep clean away the refuge of lies, and cleanse the stage on which the fair scene of creature blessedness shall be displayed. These things will be found more fully treated in the sequel of this epistle. Our present subject is the joy, and not the terror of the Lord.

{*It is, I think, plain that ktisis has here no wider meaning than terrestrial creation. That the effects of redemption are felt, and will be manifestly displayed, not only in the earthly creature but also in the heavenly, is clear from Col. 1:20. In the unity of creation as the work of God, the presence of sin in one part defiles the whole. All things, therefore, whether earthly or heavenly, which will stand in the dominion of the Son when God will be glorified in the consummated glory of His Christ, will stand in blessing through the blood of reconciliation. I do not think, however, that in the Present passage our view is extended beyond the earthly sphere of creation.}

Jesus, then, will thus come forth. But will He come alone? Nay. "He will come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day" (2 Thess. 1:10). The light of that day of brightness shall shine forth upon the delivered creature from the manifested glory of the children of God. The First-born will be there; and the brethren of whom He is not ashamed will be there also. The world shall then know the truth and reality of that saying, now unheeded in its darkened mind, that they whom the Father's will has given to Jesus, are loved of God in co-equal favour with His blessed Son (John 17:22-23). He will display in glory, unto His own praise as the Father of glory, the many sons whom already He has brought to glory in Him in whom the full numbers of salvation are completed, according to the perfect counsels of His will. Meanwhile, creation groans. Nor is this groaning heard with indifference in the ears of the blessed God. He knows the thoughts that He thinks as to this, and by His blessed Spirit He reveals them to His saints. The Holy Ghost, as the teacher of God's children, teaches them according to God. Searching all things, even the deep things of God, He draws aside the thick veil of natural appearances, and discloses all things to the believer as they are seen of God.

The spiritual man thus judges all things, while he is himself judged of none (1 Cor. 2:75). Thus it is in the present case. Creation groans. The natural man enters experimentally and with reluctance into this truth, in so far as he is himself involuntarily the subject of time and change. Observation and sensation alike concur to press upon him, as a practical conviction, a truth which, while he is ever thus learning, yet he never really knows. He feels it, indeed; and, making a merit of necessity, he acquiesces perforce in a state of bondage and corruption which is altogether beyond his own control or cure. The believer, on the other hand, knows these things (verse 22) as being himself in the light which makes everything manifest. Moreover, he sympathizes with the groaning of creation, as being himself a part of it. He is not emancipated, by virtue of redemption, from the travail and the pain which are the portion of fallen man. Things which befall other men, befall the Christian as well; though in his happy case, the bitterness of natural grief is made to turn to the furtherance of his spiritual blessing; to fill yet fuller the cup of Divine joy, with which the Father of spirits knows how to comfort and revive them that are under the gracious discipline of His love.

The Christian, then, has his part in the groaning of the creature. But there is another groaning which belongs to the hearts of God's children, which is peculiar to themselves, and in which creation has no share. Of this groaning the apostle now proceeds to speak. "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body" (verse 23). The groaning here spoken of is one of the direct effects of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of adoption. We have already seen how that gracious presence produces in the child of God the delighted assurance of the Father's love, and the blessed anticipation of glory as the children's inheritance. Closely connected with these results, we have described, in this and the next two verses, the further operation of the same Spirit, as the power of active yearning and desire in the soul, and the producer of a sorrow which has its rise in the contrariety of all actual things to that which lives and thinks, and loves and desires within the poor tabernacle of clay, wherein as yet, while hoping for release, it is constrained to dwell.

The daily presence of the mortal body with its infirmities and its corruption serves to keep up the perpetual sense of being burdened. The body is, indeed, redeemed; for the price of its redemption is the precious blood of Christ. The power of redemption has not yet, however, been applied to it. The earnest of its being applied in due time is the indwelling Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead. We wait, then, for this; for the completion in apparent, actual fact, of that adoption in which the believer already rejoices as alive in Christ.

We are saved; but it is by hope. As yet we see not that for which we hope. If it were visible, then hope should have no place. We hope, then, for that we see not. But though we see it not, yet knowledge is the ground of our hope. The certified assurance of the God who cannot lie is the pure fountain of a Christian's hope. But hope thus born creates desire; and growing desire brings a sickness to the heart whose quickened consciousness of prospective liberty brings the more forcibly and sensibly upon the spirit the actual pressure of still-protracted bondage. A free spirit, in a bound and vile body, must groan. Thus the operation of the Spirit, in stimulating the desires of the believer's heart for the promised glory, makes room for the proper knowledge and enjoyment of God as the God of patience: "If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

Nor is this all. The believer, by having the Spirit of the Son, is capable of entering, in his measure, into practical communion with the thoughts of Christ, not only concerning the future results of redemption, but also as to that which now occupies the sympathies of His heart. The power of contrasting the actual condition of the Church here below with the divine realities of its calling and its hopes, is in itself a fruitful source of groaning to the exercised spirit of a Christian as having the mind of Christ. Personal circumstances, though they rightly, as well as of necessity, occupy much of the soul's thoughts, and furnish special grounds of communion with God in prayer, are surely not the limit of that Spirit's sympathies who dwells within the saints. The things of Christ (Phil. 2:21) are ever the subject of the Spirit's interest. Moreover, the experience of a Christian, who often finds himself shut up and silent in the midst of those towards whom all the natural affections of his heart would fain flow, yet to whom the very possession of his hope in Christ has rendered him a stranger — such experience is again a further occasion of groaning. But, blessed be God, these groanings are not without relief. The groaning of a Christian, which results from his having the Spirit, is a groaning toward God. It is an emotion of the new nature, and is produced by the consciousness of a pressure which nothing can perfectly remove but the presence of Christ in power. It is upon this condition of soul that the blessed God can act as the God of comfort, of patience, and of hope. Meanwhile, the actual door of relief is found in prayer.

Prayer is, however, in itself most commonly the witness of our infirmities. The burdened heart may find itself too full for speech, too much perplexed, perhaps too wearied, for the ordering of its thoughts. But there is an utterance of supplication that makes no sound. There is a mute expression of undefined desire which is cognizable only by Him who searches the hearts. It is the Spirit, as the helper of our infirmities, that makes these desires known to the Father of mercies. Groaning in sympathy with the tried and longing heart, He makes His intercession for the saints according to the will of God (verse 27). Thus the mind of the Spirit in us is known of God. "We know not," indeed, "what we should pray for as we ought;" but this very ignorance, the very imperfection and smallness of our intelligence of divine things, is made to turn to the nourishment of our faith. The special subject of a believer's prayer may not be brought distinctly before the soul's consciousness in its full extent; yet he is not the less confident. We can ask and think at the best within but narrow limits, compared with the ability of God to purpose and to act. But God is the aim of the prayer of faith; and if the flight of the poor straitened thought after its object be weak, yet that very weakness leaves the wider interval for the special operation of the Spirit, as the Spirit of love and sympathy, in His intercession for the saints.*

{*It is most needful to distinguish between the intercession of the Spirit which is here spoken of, and the heavenly intercession of Christ at the right hand of God. This latter subject is mentioned in verse 34.}

Hence quietness and contentment take the place of fretfulness and impatience. For though we know not what to pray for as we ought, yet we do know "that all things work together for good to them that love God." And the believer loves God. The very occasion of all his groanings is the presence of the Spirit crying, Abba, Father. The soul, then, whilst in heaviness because of temptation, of weakness, and of unsatisfied desire, is yet kept in joy. The power of God to work good is the practical solace of the heart that knows God as its eternal portion in Christ. Thus godliness with contentment becomes great gain (1 Tim. 6:6). The Blessed One Himself, amid the sore amazement of His matchless sorrow, could utter His request as to the God of His life: "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me;" yet He straightway adds, "Not my will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). So is it with the soul that, as led of the Spirit, is walking in His steps. The will of God is to such the measure of obedience and the rule of patience. Faith reposes in God, committing all to Him; knowing that He is not overcome of evil, but that His end is glory and rest. Joy thus fills the sufferer's prospect. Happiness is known in the soul under the quiet assurance that all that is suffered is but a process whereby Almighty power is working out in grace the counsels of the will of love.

We come now to the more direct and emphatic assertion of the glory of God as the alone founder and completer of His own work in redemption. The descriptive title of the saints is that they are "called" of God. But this calling is "according to His purpose" (verse 28). The origin, then, of the believer is the purpose of God. Again, the entire results of this calling are according to the power of God. The praise of His glory is the end which is to be reached by the establishment of the Church before Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. The several branches of the Divine glory, as displayed in the production and the perfecting of the vessel of His own pleasure, are now stated.

We have, first, foreknowledge (verse 29) mentioned as that which precedes and is to be distinguished from predestination.* The Church as a whole, and the individual saints which are its members, were eternally present in Christ before the mind of God. His purpose was to multiply the vessels of His glory. He intended the impartation of His own blessed nature and happiness (so far as either can be communicated to the creature) to those whose everlasting habitation should be His own rest. He foreknew, in love eternal, the several objects of His purpose. The same will, which, in producing the material and natural creation, wrought not at hazard, but according to the knowledge of what was willed, works likewise now in redemption. God knew beforehand what worlds he intended to create. Even so has He foreknown the fashion and the stature of each several child of His love for whom His rest is prepared in Christ. But those whom He thus foreknew in the absoluteness of sovereign purpose, He also predestinated to their appointed blessing. Conformity to the image of His own Son is the destination of the foreknown objects of Divine purpose. It is not glory simply, but the exact similitude of Christ, which is the destiny, and as it were the definition of each individual saint. The pattern of this similitude was ever present with the Father in the eternal light of the Divine counsel, but the displayed realization of it by the principalities and powers in heavenly places was not until the ascension of Jesus as the first-born from the dead.

{*Foreknowledge expresses the original operation of the Divine mind, considered with reference to the pure and unapproachable majesty of the blessed and only Potentate. Predestination respects rather the condition of that which is thus foreknown, objectively regarded as a vessel of His will.}

The eternal Son of God first takes in grace the form of man, in order that believers as men may be conformed to Him who is the Son of God. The grace of the Divine mercy which in its manifestation has produced the Church, was received and holden for us of Christ before the worlds. It was "given us in Him." It was promised before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2). The receiver of the promise was Christ, and the promise contained in its terms the perfect sum of Christ's own life and blessing. The life of the believer, then, is Christ. The hope of the believer is likewise Christ. The destination of the believer is to be the reflected image of Christ. The Church, then, is Christ's, according to the eternal promise and gift of the Father. It is Christ's, moreover, from the day of His resurrection,* as His acknowledged possession; kept now by the Father for Him, even as it is preserved in Him and by Him for the Father's presence and glory, when the hour of that joy shall have arrived. He will be known in that day (even as He now is by the faith of His saints) to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, as well as to the entire creation of His power, as the first-born of many brethren. Yet never will the first-born be confounded with His brethren. The grace which has made Him capable of human fellowship will only enhance to the delighted yet adoring hearts of His brethren, the ineffable glory of His person as the eternal Son of God — the only-begotten of the Father.

{*More strictly I should say His ascension, as it was from the right hand of the Father, that the Spirit, as sent of the glorified Jesus, came forth to witness in the saints, and through them to the world, the perfect truth as it is in Him.}

Thus predestinated of God, the Christian is also called of God (verse 30), — called with an effectual calling, — spoken to by a voice which quickens the dead. The believer is called in a double sense. As a quickened sinner he is called from darkness to light, from death into life. Again, regarding him as the foreknown vessel of God's pleasure, he is called forth from the secret of the Divine purpose into the manifested light of His glory as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. The called believer answers to the call. Listening to the word of God he obeys that call. For a contrary reason, the natural man, though addressed in the Gospel of God's grace, does not respond to the call. But our business now is with the proper workmanship of God. The calling of the Gospel is to believe in Jesus. The quickened soul hears and obeys. But the effect of faith is justification, as we have seen. Now justification is an act, not of him who is justified, but of him who justifies. The called believer, then, is justified of God: "whom He called He justified." And does the record of the work of God cease with this completed preparation of the vessel of His grace? Nay, inasmuch as the subject in hand is the display of the Divine glory which pertains to God as the fulfiller of His own purpose, the end must be stated as well as the beginning, and so it is added: "whom He justified, them He also glorified."

Such is the work of God. He has called His foreknown vessel of mercy, first, by creation, from nothing into natural life; next, in redemption, from the ruin of nature into the newness of eternal life. He has justified one for whom none on earth or in heaven, and least of all the sinner himself, could truly plead a favourable word; beautifying with salvation those whom He had sought for and found in the filth of their native iniquity and ruin. He has placed such in Christ, opening their eyes to look upon Him as the Lord their righteousness. Last of all, He has glorified them. As we are justified in Christ, so are we glorified in Him. Presently we shall be glorified with Him, wearing those crowns which shall surely rest, in living brightness of eternal joy, on each several head of the brethren of the Lord. But already the same blessed God who of old made promise of life in Christ to His children yet unborn, now sees His purpose effected and complete in the presence of the One in whom that promise was made, now crowned, after the suffering of death, with glory and honour at His own right hand.

Thus God has attained in Christ the end of His purpose. Glory was His purpose who is the God of glory. To bring many sons unto glory is His own most blessed work. He brings the children into glory, even as the children are begotten of Himself. And already in Christ Jesus they sit, complete in number and in blessing, in heavenly places before Him (Eph. 1:5, and 2:6). God can thus rest in Jesus as in the accomplishment of His work. The power of God is now the sweet and triumphant theme of the Christian's praise. True worship dates from hence; for Christian worship is the grateful celebration of the Divine glory, in the intelligent perception of the perfect truth. The Father seeks such worship, and finds it in the lips of those whom He has thus taught to know Him in the confession of His Son. We bless God, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. We cease from man, and find our rest and our joy in God.

" What shall we then say to these things?" Shall we question them, or shall we affirm them? Shall we deny them, or shall we joyfully confess their truth? And if so, what room is there for human utterance in the presence of this glory, save in ceaseless and full-hearted praise of the God of all grace? Can any part of the believer's full title of blessing be now impeached or called in question? But God is for us. It is God who has wrought for us. He has wrought for us great things, and therefore we are glad. But "if God be for us, who is against us?" The world, the flesh and the devil are against us. Principalities and powers are against us. The rulers of the darkness of this world, the power of spiritual wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12), are against us. There is nothing that is capable of exciting or influencing the natural man, which is not hostile to the spiritual man. The food of one is the bane of the other. All these things, then, can be and are against us. But God is above these things, and He is for us. This is the immovable rest of faith. This is the faithful clue placed by the Spirit in the hands of the believing pilgrim, whereby he may safely thread his way through the labyrinth of all present experiences. He is girt for his journey by the hand of God. The strength of his way is truth, and that truth is Christ.

Verse 32 contains the unfailing talisman of perpetual re-assurance to the drooping spirit of the tried believer. In truth, it is an evil and a sad thing that the thought of deficiency should ever arise in the heart of one who sets out on his course as a saved sinner under the consciousness of being, in Christ, the object of God's unutterable love. Yet so it is. And because we, in our own weakness, are ever more ready to think of what we have not than of what we have, the Spirit of God, in order to still all restless self-communings in our hearts, and to quiet the cravings of ignorance with the satisfying knowledge of truth, leads forth our souls here again to view the palpable evidences, not only of the reality of our interest in the love of God, but also of the completeness, in point of measure, of the blessing with which we are blessed. "He that spared not His own Son … how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Can there be a question in the heart of faith as to this? The gift which God gave to the ruined creature, ruined by sin, was Christ. Are then lesser gifts to be withheld? Having delivered His own Son to redeem sinners, is the Father going to deal out grudgingly the present supply of His children's need? Having reconciled His enemies by the death of His Son, is He likely to shut up His bowels of compassion from His friends? Or rather, is there any true blessing to be enjoyed which is not comprised in that which has already been bestowed?

Now, with respect to things spiritual and things eternal, no question does arise in the heart of a well-taught Christian. It is in the actual path of faith and patience here that such exercises of heart arise as are met in this precious verse. How many a soul has had its desires or its affections severely tried in the disappointment of some cherished hope, or the withdrawal of some familiar and heart-prized blessing. Yet God is not less rich, and it is according to the riches of His glory that He prepares with an abundance far exceeding all we can ask or think, for the unfading joy of the children of His love. The lesson (and it is found in practice a hard one to nature) which we have to learn here, is the lesson of dependence upon God. A heart thoroughly disciplined of God possesses the secret of unfailing contentment and joy, because it knows that, be the desirableness of the object which frustrated natural desire has vainly sought to reach
how great soever in appearance, it is in reality nothing, if withheld of God. As it is a characteristic of Omnipotent Divinity to call that which is not as though it were, so is it a prerogative of faith to deny all semblance through the knowledge of what is real; to call that nothing which is something, to say, "It is well," amidst nature's sorest anguish, by means of its ability to claim the Father of Lights, from whom descends every good and perfect gift, as its own everlasting habitation and reward. God withholds nothing but evil from them that love Him, or, rather, whom He loves. To trust God now in the varying circumstances of natural life, and to trust Him, not as men often speak, under the name of Providence, but in the clear-minded and strong-hearted confidence of filial knowledge — such trust, while it honours, and because it honours God, becomes to the believer an unfailing source of present peace. The natural Israel fell in the wilderness because they erred in heart, not knowing the ways of God who had redeemed them from Egypt. It was not that they doubted the reality of Canaan as a prospect, but that they could not trust God as the conductor of their way. They could not wait on God. Nature never can. And so they thought it a worthy thought to think of Him, who for their sakes had cut Rahab and smitten the dragon, that He would starve them in the wilderness instead of bringing them into the rest!

A Christian has to watch incessantly this evil heart of unbelief. The most thorough acquaintance with the most precious truth; the largest appreciation in the spiritual judgment of the blessedness of the soul's standing in Christ, will not avail to keep the believer from murmuring and fretting in the time of trial, unless he is habitually sunning his heart's affections in the light of God's first, His unspeakable gift. Hence the paramount importance of evermore recurring to the Cross in order to have our thoughts of God, as it were, adjusted continually. It is there alone that we truly learn ourselves; and there, too, it is that what God is as our God is most searchingly known and felt. If the actual appreciation of grace be strong in the heart of a believer, his soul is humbled, while blessed. His estimate of present circumstances becomes corrected and settled, because he can then view them in the presence of God; and, viewing them thus, he can rate them at their true value in comparison with that which he finds, and has even now begun to taste, as his eternal portion in God. "I have a goodly heritage" becomes thus the expression of faith while thinking of the possessed gift of God. And so it is elsewhere written: "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:21-23). The giving God is thus the light and solace of the children of His love.

But God gives not foolishly, though the blessed Gospel of His grace may be esteemed foolishness by the world. He does not pamper wickedness by His favour, for He is of purer eyes than to regard iniquity. But do not Christians fail and sin? First, we have the positive statement: "In many things we offend all" (James 3:2). Again it is said: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). A Christian, then, may sin. Though called to walk worthy of God, he may so far fall short as to be practically carnal, and walking as a man (1 Cor. 3:3). Is he, then, chargeable with blame before God? (verse 33.) He may be charged, for there is one whose name is the accuser of the brethren, who, until finally cast forth from the heaven which he as yet pollutes with his presence (Rev. 12:9-11), will not cease to bring his accusations against the saints of God. But how do his accusations sound in the ears of God? They whom he charges are God's elect; appointed not unto wrath, but unto salvation. The advocacy of the Righteous One (1 John 2:2) is already present to turn to falsehood every charge of blame which Satan may make concerning the elect of God. The Hater of sin is the Justifier of the believer in Christ Jesus. An evil and a bitter thing, indeed, it is when children of God turn in any wise to folly. The Lord is not mocked. He will judge us if we judge not ourselves; but if He do so, it is that we may not be condemned with the world.* Although, then, the believer may be charged, yet there is none to condemn. For God, who should do it as the only Judge, is already the Justifier of the accused. Condemnation is not for them for whom Christ died (verse 34), for whom He rose, and for whom, as now alive unto God, he makes unceasingly pure intercession unto Him.

{*1 Cor. 11:31-32. This passage is only one of many in which the distinction between the chastisement of God in mercy to them who are really His, and the wrath which is coming upon the children of disobedience, is clearly stated (Heb. 12:5-7; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20, etc.).}

We have seen how the intercession of the Spirit is described in the former part of this chapter. We have here the intercession of Christ, not as living in us, but as living for us before God. Christ, thus regarded, is the immediate object of our practical daily faith as worshippers of God. Nothing but the discernment of this truth suffices to keep the soul in its just position before God. The Epistle to the Hebrews* treats in full the subject to which I here can only refer. The practical value of this doctrine to the soul will be in proportion to the measure in which godly self-judgment is habitually exercised. Especially is it precious as the divinely sustaining power which meets the striving of Satan against the soul's peace while in the weary passages of its pilgrim way (Heb. 7:25; Ex. 17:11-16).

{*On this inestimable Epistle I have by me some Notes which may, if God permit, hereafter follow the present publication.}

The active sympathy of Jesus, as now seen at the right hand of God, is that in which the soldier of faith finds the secret of sustaining strength in conflict. Christ's occupation in the midst of Divine glory is the condition of His struggling brethren here. Condemnation, then, is no longer for the believer. Instead of condemnation, he looks for glory. Nay, because his calling is to be glorified with Jesus, he will in that day be himself a judge: "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" And presently again: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" (1 Cor. 6:2-3.) Thus is it written in the record of God's word concerning them whose calling is now to suffer, and who groan amidst the world's delight because of the still endured burden of the unchanged body of humiliation and of sin.

The remaining verses of this wondrous chapter stand little in need of comment in this place. To one who has entered at all into the general doctrine of the apostle in that which precedes, they must come with a power of self-commending truth and blessing which may more easily be marred than helped by methodical exposition. One or two remarks will suffice. The question, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" provoking, as it does here, the triumphant reply of the Spirit, implies clearly that such separation, though impossible, — because it is not our love that is in question, but the love of Christ, — would yet be attempted. Satan made the attempt when, in the days of the Lord's flesh, he withstood Him in the path of His devoted obedience unto death. The same adversary renews the trial now, when, by all the varied means with which he plies the hearts of God's saints, he endeavours to alienate the minds, or to deter the hearts of believers from the right ways of the Lord, and thus to force them, as he thinks, beyond the limits of the Divine mercy.

But it is not so. The sheep of Christ are safely kept of Him. Hard and strenuous pulls may be made to drag the saved from the hands of the Saviour; but He holds them still. There is not a thing here mentioned as striving thus to sunder us from Christ, which is not in itself a stronger force than the believer's natural will. Yet are we more than conquerors in them all; for the might of our battle is the perfect victory, of the love of Christ.

We may remark here the extended scope of verse 36, characteristically describing, as it does, the condition and prospects of the believer here below, as the consequence of his being so entirely severed from the world, because possessed (as we have seen) of the Spirit of adoption. There is not even an especial, certainly no exclusive reference here to apostolic experiences as matters of fact. The question is about those who are the objects of God's love in Christ; that is, about all Christians who are really such. It is desirable to keep this in view, lest our souls should haply count it a strange thing if at any time the sharp afflictions of the Gospel were again to return upon us. The world has undergone no intrinsic change (except indeed as it has in one sense become worse) since these words were written. Flesh is still flesh, and lusts as ever against the Spirit. They that are born of the flesh have still the hearts of persecutors towards the children of promise (Gal 4:29).

It is the realized power of the present effects of redemption, as they are detailed in this chapter, which makes the probability of persecution a familiar thought to the believer's mind, because of the distinctness with which the contrariety of the world to the Father is seen and felt. That the world knows not Christians is because the world knew not Christ (1 John 3:1). But a power is in the world which is the power of Satan and of darkness. From that power the children of light must expect to suffer, if they walk in the manifestation of that from whence they are born. Hence the general warning uttered by this same apostle when, in writing expressly on the subject of the last times of Christian defection and corruption, he says: "All who are willing to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (hoi thelontes zen eusebos, 2 Tim. 3:12). Lastly, in connection with this subject, I would remind the reader that in the final Revelation of the Lord to the beloved disciple, we find persecution unto death a familiar thought in relation to the Church, not only in the epistles to the Churches, but in the sequel of the book, until the place of the destroyer is no more found in heaven, because the time is come for the celebration of their triumph who loved not their lives to the death (Rev. 12:10-11). It is well to recall these things to our minds in the present day, though, as I have remarked above, it is hard to understand their being long absent from the thoughts of one who truly estimates, and, by the grace of God, can in measure enjoy the hope of his calling as elect of God.

Nothing, then, can separate us from the love of Christ. For of all that is against us, there is nothing which is not His creature, and as such, the servant of His love to usward who believe. All thus work for good, and not for evil, though the intent of the enemy who uses creature power against the truth be not so. No attribute of God can cross this love; for already He has glorified all His attributes in binding us to Himself in Christ. No species of trial can separate us; for it is God who in the trial proves His own work, that it may be for praise, and honour, and glory, in the day of salvation and of rest (1 Peter 1:7). Life may not do this; for already we are dead with Christ. Death cannot do it; for already we are alive in Christ from the dead. Neither angels nor principalities nor powers, can reach for harm the place of the believer who already is exalted in Christ, and made to sit with Him above the heavens. Present things may not separate, though fear may be on every side; for the power of God is already known in victory, and His sustaining presence as the God of all comfort is sweetly witnessed by His Spirit in the heart (1 Cor. 15:57; and 2 Cor. 1:3-4). Things to come, instead of separating, shall by their advent bring yet nearer the hour of our hope; for the day of nature's dread, the day of judgment, has no fear for those whose boldness in that day is, that they are already one with Him who is the Judge (1 John 4:17). Height or depth are equally vain to obstruct the energy of a love which has already measured all heights and sounded all depths in the effectual operation of redeeming grace (Eph. 4:8-10). And is there any other creature which might lift itself in anger against the peace of God's beloved? The Spirit of God finds none. Having filled the blessed vessel of God's choice with the pure knowledge of Divine love, as witnessed in the Father's unspeakable gift, persuasion of eternal exemption from all ill becomes the necessary effect of our being thus beloved.

This chapter, then, has opened to us in part the love of God: of the Father in delivering His Son; of the Son in the blessed work of His grace; and of the Spirit as the indwelling revealer of all truth; the minister of our joy, the groaning intercessor of our grief, and the effectual helper of our infirmity.

May the hearts of those who read these things so enter, as led of that Spirit, into the gracious realities of this love, that, as they stand, if believers, eternally held in the unchanging love of God in Christ, so they may hold fast on their part the perfect remembrance of Him. The danger ever is that something (and alas! how light a thing will often suffice for this), should separate Him practically from our love. Yet does He love us still.

Romans 9.

The termination of the chapter we have just quitted is also the close of one great division of this epistle. The foregoing chapters have displayed the perfection of the Divine glory in unfolding the character of the God of all grace. They have shown us how the perfect union of holiness and grace is found in the manifestation of Divine love to lost man. God has been seen in Christ, dealing with sin as the God of judgment; with the sinner, as the God of peace. The eighth chapter, in conducting the believer to the summit of all blessedness as an anointed heir of glory, has summed up the recital of his privileges and his hopes by the discovery of the deep foundations of his rest, as laid fast from eternity in the changeless purpose of God. The strong reason of the Christian's hope is the God in whom he trusts. The blessed and only Potentate has been seen to be the effectuator of His own counsel in Christ, even as He is the all-wise purposer of that good pleasure in which alone the salvation and the glory of His many sons are made to stand.

A fair and wondrous page of God's blessed truth has thus been opened to our view. But much more yet remains to be perused, if we would acquire the wisdom of God-taught men (2 Tim. 3:15-17), while still delighting and adoring in the liberty of God-begotten children. Infinitely precious as the church is in the sight of the Father who gave it to Jesus, the doctrine of the church is not the entire truth of God.* The church is, indeed, a comely object in the Father's eyes. She is a fitting bride to become in due time the Lamb's wife (Rev. 19:7). She is a chaste virgin espoused to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2); the beautiful perfection of His own eternal thoughts of love. But the church is not Israel. Her birthright is not the inheritance of Israel's earthly hope,** nor does she enter into her true position by virtue of previous special promise (except as made to Christ before the world was, 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2), but as the work and product of Divine creative power, acting effectually in the Gospel of the grace of God for the accomplishment of a purpose which, until its appointed season came, remained an undisclosed mystery in the mind of God. The time and opportunity for the revelation and the effecting of this purpose was the apparent frustration of the written promises through the rejection, by the natural heirs of promise, of the One in whom alone those promises were secured and could be enjoyed.

{*Nor, as has been already stated, is it completely presented in this epistle. Farther on this will be noticed more fully.

**Inclusively it is so, of course; all the promises being in Christ yea and amen, to the glory of God by us. I speak here of her distinctive calling and hopes as standing apart from Jew and Gentile alike.}

To clear up all doubts as to the true and ultimate aim of prophetic promise in the Old Testament, to place the question of Israel's national prospects in its just light, and to prevent by these means the dangerous though easy error of substituting the church in the stead of Israel, as the true and proper object of the promises made to the fathers, appears to be the immediate intention of the Spirit of God in the present and two following chapters. In treating these subjects the apostle is led into a far and deep view of the mystery of the dispensational wisdom of God. The solemn and pride-quelling truth of the absolute and irresistible sovereignty of the Divine will, is the ground upon which are traced the varied events of human vicissitude which severally present themselves to our view. The same mighty truth is afresh disclosed to the eye of faith as the exhaustless well of its own sure blessedness, as having all its springs in God. The unity of God's way, and His consistency with Himself, in the exhibition both of His goodness and of His severity, are strikingly displayed. In connection with the subject of the administrative power and wisdom of God, the church is introduced in a dispensational point of view. Solemnly and most practically interesting- is the instruction contained in the eleventh chapter with respect to this. But I will not extend these preliminary remarks. May the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation guide both myself and the reader of these Notes into a deeper and richer knowledge of the only wise God, the Saviour.

Let us now turn to the chapter immediately before us. The first three verses are full of meaning, as well as of most deep and tender feeling. The apostle knew well that Jehovah had permanently connected His own name with that of Israel; that the very name which the nation bore, was the token of supremacy among the nations of the earth. He knew that the God of glory who had revealed His promise to Abraham, and sworn His oath unto Isaac (Ps. 105:8-9), had also confirmed the same unto Israel for an everlasting covenant.

It was the knowledge of this which had enabled him to affirm, in the earlier part of this Epistle (Rom. 3) the supremacy of the natural seed of Abraham in comparison with the Gentiles who knew not the covenants of promise. The statement which was then made of the still existing excellency of the Jew, was substantiated by an appeal to the indestructibility of Divine promise as secured in the name and the eternal character of the God of truth. As a vessel of Divine power, filled with the Holy Ghost, the apostle could only write in the order of Divine inspiration. Accordingly, after having, as we have seen, affirmed the Jew's supremacy, when contrasted with the Gentile, he does not immediately proceed to develop fully the history of the nation either prophetically or retrospectively (except so far as sufficed to the necessary conviction of the Jew as under sin), but rather to bring into clear and full distinctness the especial glory, of the grace of God, as it finds its expression in the calling of the Church from Jew and Gentile alike.

Having, then, done this, he returns in the present chapter to the subject of Israel. How near that subject was to his heart may be understood by the remarkable expressions with which he commences the chapter now before us.

Now it was not the strength of natural feeling merely which governed the emotions of the apostle's mind. He was indeed, as touching the flesh, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He had been, in conversation, a more than Jew in the consistent energy of his zealous devotedness to the religion of his fathers (Gal. 1:13). But he had, since then, learned and felt the power of a truth, which had rendered the loftiest advantage which flesh can compass no better than dross and dung, in the estimation of one who reckoned and valued according to the realities of the heavenly calling as they are revealed by the Spirit (Phil. 3). The very keenness, however, of this perception and enjoyment of his blessedness as a Christian, reacts upon the deep-seated love of his heart towards his brethren, his kinsmen after the flesh. His feeling was not patriotism, in the ordinary acceptation of the term. He regarded the natural seed of Israel, not according to the instincts merely of blood, and soil, and language, but as the Divinely chosen nation to whom the promises of God were made. He beheld them now, as they lay hard bound in the strong fetters of judicial blindness and unbelief He knew that already one national distinction of the Jew was to be a denier that Jesus was the Christ; and because, by the grace of God, the chief of those recusants had been, in His own person, transformed from the madness of self-righteous opposition to the glad and heartfelt acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Jesus, he felt the more acutely the actual wretchedness of his brethren while still remaining in their unbelief.

Nor was it only the gracious sympathy of a loving heart which thus yearned to impart a portion of its own blessing to the objects of its love. The Divine sanction of the name of God was upon these strong emotions of His servant's heart. His conscience bore him witness in the Holy Ghost, while uttering a desire which has but one parallel (Ex. 32:32) in the Word of God.* Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, was nevertheless an Israelite; and although, in Christ, he know no man after the flesh, and gloried in that cross which had abolished utterly the personal claims and pretensions of Jew and Gentile alike, yet, because Christ died for that nation (John 11:51), there was a warrant of Divine truth which governed the ardent yearnings of his desire towards his kindred according to the flesh.

{*I believe the words, to be exactly rendered in the English Version. Compare, for the construction, Acts 25:22. A comparison of the apostle's circumstances when speaking thus, with those of Moses, as related in the passage referred to in Exodus, suggests considerations which, though full of interest, cannot be dwelt on now.}

But there was yet more than this. God had made promise to the fathers, speaking good things concerning the nation of His election. Had, then, the calling of the Church in any wise set Israel aside? Had the promises become void because of their unbelief; or had the mind of God altered with respect to the original object of His choice? The apostle knew that this was impossible. The name of God, as the God of Israel, was the eternal pledge of the eventual accomplishment of national blessing. While, therefore, the heart of this blessed servant of Christ might be wrung by the continual proof of the fatal stiff-heartedness of the Jews in his day, he finds in the revelation of the ways of God, which it was given Him first to perceive and then to minister to the Church, a solace and compensation of his grief. Rising by the power of faith above the actual sphere of things, and quieting the turbulence of natural sorrow by the recollection of the stedfast continuance of the nation's hope in God Himself, he presently enters into the general question of the faithfulness of Jehovah as the sovereign dispenser of blessing according to His own promise. Drinking, as he runs, from the deep springs of Divine joy in the gradual unfolding of the perfect way of God, he finds his heart strengthened to utter at the close of this inquiry (Rom. 11:26-36), the memory of the Lord's great goodness (Ps. 145:7), and to sing of the righteous mercy of His faithfulness while discovering the unsearchable greatness of His way. Let us now follow him as he opens to us the secrets of this way.

Verses 4-6. We have first, in these verses, a recital of Israel's national and distinctive prerogatives. These are here reviewed not only as things which once had been, but as enduring realities of national pre-eminence. I will notice them very briefly. First, we have the emphatic mention of the national name; "who are Israelites." We have already seen in part the peculiar force and meaning of this name. As we advance our present subject, we shall find a fuller explanation of the emphasis which it here receives. The national privileges then follow — "to whom pertains the adoption." The peremptory message of Jehovah to the king of Egypt was: "Israel is my son, even my first-born; and I say unto thee, Let my son go" etc. (Ex. 4:22-23). He was the Rock that begat them, their Father that had bought them (Deut. 32:6, 18). This was the gracious name which the God of Israel assumed when He assayed to go and take a nation from the midst of another nation, that they might be His people, and that He might be their God. But the nation had meanwhile corrupted itself, and the spot of His children was no longer their spot. Nevertheless, the same mouth that bore this testimony to their self-corruption, and spoke words of fierce rebuke against their sin, maintains their cause, and asserts their eventual security and blessing as the nation of the Lord's salvation (Deut. 32:15-26; 33:26-29). The prophets abundantly testify to the time when Israel, brought back from their own ways and established in the new covenant, shall be known and glorified as the nation of Divine adoption* (Jer. 3:19).

{*Jer. 31:9. "I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born." It is necessary to remember that it is national adoption, and not that of individuals, which is here in point. It is written, indeed, concerning the earthly Jerusalem: "Thy people shall be all righteous" (Isa. 60:21), but the adoption as here mentioned is regarded as a national prerogative, to be vindicated in due time.}

The next mentioned of national distinctions is "the glory." Much need not be said on this point. How the Divine glory filled the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness; how the temple of Solomon was afterwards filled with the same glory; and how that glory was seen by the prophet Ezekiel to withdraw from the place of Jehovah's name, because of the exceeding abundance of the national sin, are things which are, probably, sufficiently known to all who will read this book. But it is not, there is reason to suppose, so generally recognized that the glory which withdrew from Jerusalem because of Israel's sin, is eventually to return thither, when the Lord shall have Himself returned to the long forsaken place of His earthly rest. Yet are the voices of the prophets equally distinct in affirming this. The very prophet who so fully describes the circumstances of the departure of the glory, is the one whose vision comprises within its scope the return of that which he had seen depart (Ezek. 43).

The building up of Zion from the waste of her ruin will be at the appearing in glory of the Lord Himself (Ps. 102:16). There is a day coming when He will reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.* The latter glory of the house of Jehovah will be greater than the former. This is a promise of God.** The house of God is one, and not many. It may be overthrown and trampled on, but when the time of restitution comes it is the same house still. Solomon had built a house for Jehovah's name, and the presence of Jehovah had filled that house with glory. Again, the glory had departed, and the house had been broken down. To the remnant employed under Haggai and Zerubbabel in rebuilding the house in the midst of weakness and conflict, the promise of the Lord is made. But, like every other Jewish promise, it bears on the glory of the Messianic reign. Intermediate events are scarcely touched on, but a contrast is made of the former glory of the house with its latter glory, when, the promised Redeemer having come to Zion, the glory of Jehovah shall have again arisen upon her, and He will "glorify the house of His glory" (Isa. 59:20; 60:7). To enter further into this subject now is incompatible with the object of this work. I content myself; therefore, with repeating the apostle's assertion, that to the Israelites pertains not only the adoption, but the glory also.***

{*Isa. 24:23. "Vor seinen Aeltesten ist Herrlichkeit." — DE WETTE.

** Haggai 2:9. "Grosser soll dieses Hauses letzte Herrlichkeit denn die erste seyn." DE WETTE. I have no doubt that the LXX translation is right. They who look on the first advent of Christ as the fulfilment of this prophecy are principally induced to do so from the tenor of our English translation. But it is well to remember that, in point of fact, that house had virtually ceased to exist when our Lord first came, the repairs under Herod amounting to an almost entire rebuilding (compare John 2:20).

***I need hardly pause to remind the reader that in all these considerations the glory of the Church is quite out of view. The subject before us is Israel, and their national prerogatives.}

Moreover "the covenants" are theirs. The first covenant and the second alike pertain to Israel The Church finds her place within the second covenant, because, as it is the covenant of saving grace in the blood of Jesus, the justified sinner whether Jew or Gentile, whether partaking dispensationally of a heavenly or an earthly calling, can alone find his security there. But though this be so, and therefore the fullest application of the second covenant is everywhere in the New Testament made to the Church; yet this does not in any way impair the force of what the apostle here affirms. It is with the house of Israel and the house of Judah that the new covenant is to be made (and already is made in Christ, though as yet they know it not), and its fruitful effects will hereafter be seen when under its gracious power, Israel will blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:6).

"The giving of the Law" (he nomothesia) is next mentioned. With respect to this expression there is some little difficulty in my own mind, as to whether it should be regarded with reference to their own condition as receiving the Law from the only Lawgiver, or whether it relates to their standing as the head and not the tail of the nations, their being the destined lawgivers to those who in the day of the Lord shall own Immanuel's land to be the glory of all lands, and shall render homage in humble guise to those whom once the nations had despised. I shall not now tire the reader by any discussion of this point, but remark merely that both things are true of Israel, and of Israel alone. They, only, received statutes and ordinances immediately from God, and of Jerusalem alone it is said that the nation and kingdom that will not serve her shall perish (Isaiah 60:12). For out of Zion shall go forth the law; and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2; Micah 4:1-2) in that day.*

{*My own judgment decidedly inclines to the latter of these views. Nomothesia means legislation. It thus describes the act or conduct of a nomothetes, or lawgiver. That it may mean a code of laws is true, for the word is found (not in Scripture, where it occurs once only) in this sense. In the lxx. it is used where nomos might have been expected. I only add that as to the former of the meanings mentioned in the text, it is involved in what is said respecting the covenants.}

"The service of God" (he latreia) next follows in the catalogue of national distinctions. I think I need not do more than remind the reader of what has already been said about the temple, to make it appear that one perpetual characteristic of the nation, when contemplated in its state of blessing, is that of worship toward God. "A kingdom of priests" is the descriptive title of conditional promise addressed to Israel when about to receive the old covenant. This title will be realized when, under the covenant of grace, the seed of Israel will be named afresh the priests of the Lord, and called by the nations who will drink of the overflowings of their cup, "the ministers of their God" (Isa. 61:6).

"The promises" come next; for these too are theirs, and shall be fulfilled in due time, as the sequel will further show.

"The fathers," too, are theirs. They are the lineal seed, the natural successors of them to whom the promises were made. Last of all, it was "from them that Christ came as concerning the flesh, who is over all God blessed for ever."

Thus to the nation of Israel are assigned and secured all the dispensations of Jehovah, so far as they are the subject of revelation in the Old Testament. God promised nothing apart from Abraham and his seed, and Christ as the true seed of Abraham becomes the root on which, in due time, the nation of God's choice is to grow and have its increase. But he had already spoken of Israel as having rejected Christ, and he was himself the apostle of the Gentiles. Had then a change taken place in the purposes of God? If Christ was of Israel, how came it that as a nation Israel alone seemed excluded from its own proper portion as having the word of Divine promise? The reply to these questions will be found in verses 6-13.

And first, the word of God had not failed of effect. The statements which follow in proof of this position unfold the principal truth of all Divine teaching; namely, that human blessing is the result of elective mercy alone; that God, that is, confers nothing upon flesh for its own sake or on its own merits; and that consequently all title to Divine blessing must be of faith, and not in the way of natural right. Thus Israel, when as a nation it enters into the blessings promised, must previously have been brought nationally within the covenant of that electing mercy of which Christ crucified is the security, and Christ risen and glorified the abiding pledge. It is in Him alone that all the promises of God are yea and amen.* Until, therefore, the time be come for the fulfilment of the promise of national regeneration (Ezek. 36:25-28; Acts 3:19-21), Israel as a nation is a fleshly nation, and as such, is incapable of attaining the blessing. Meanwhile, though the national blessing be in abeyance because of the unprepared state of the nation to receive it, both the name and the hope of Israel are preserved. The unity of the nation as the foreknown vessel of election was not impaired by the defection of nature from the truth of God. "For they are not all Israel which are of Israel."

{*2 Cor. 1:20. The verse thus concludes; "To the glory of God by us." This expression is important, not only as pouring into the lap of Christian faith now the fulness of all blessing, but also because it indicates the mediate position of the Church of God as having first trusted in Christ, when the day shall have arrived for the vindication of the promises in their direct application to their proper and original object, which we have already seen to be the nation for which Christ died.}

The specialty of Divine election as the necessary condition of all blessing is now illustrated by examples. Abraham had many children; but among them all one only was born according to promise. The successor, then, to the title of Abraham as God's called vessel of promise, was Isaac. Ishmael was no true heir of promise, for his birth was at the will and in the power of the flesh. In natural order he was Abraham's heir. But natural inheritance can never comprehend the promises of God. The word of promise must create its own fit object, according to the power of God. Thus Isaac's birth is postponed to the extinction of the force of nature, that his birth might be of God. The birth of Isaac out of the loins of aged Abraham is thus a type of the birth of the nation* in the latter day of regeneration, when Jehovah will be known as their Father, though Abraham be ignorant of them, and Israel acknowledge them not (Isa. 63:16). That is, when the expectation of nature on the ground of the Abrahamic name and title shall have been found to end only in the last affliction of Jacob's trouble, and the hard bondage of the oppressor has extinguished the natural hope of the nation, then it is that the set time of promised mercy will have come, and the nation shall be born at once to its inheritance of promise (Isa. 66:8).

{* Let not the reader suppose that I am here diverting this type from its object as elsewhere expressed in Scripture. Isaac as the heir of promise is a threefold type. First, of Christ as the true heir. Secondly, of the Christian, as severally quickened according to the calling of God. And, lastly, of the nation when brought into its blessing as the vessel of grace and promise under the new covenant.}

The general statement of Divine election as the ground of blessing having been illustrated by reference to the birth of Isaac, the case of Jacob is next introduced in order to narrow the principle in its application, and thus to place the doctrine in a yet more striking light. Rebecca was the wife of Isaac the heir of promise. She had been appointed for him of God, who sped the messenger of Abraham on his way (Gen. 24). God, then, was in the birth of Isaac and the choice of Rebecca. Further, the conception of Rebecca was in answer to the prayer of Isaac's faith. He prayed for seed, and a double answer came; twins were in the womb of Rebecca. While, however, the children were as yet unborn, their appointed destiny was revealed to their mother. "The elder shall serve the younger" (Gen. 25), was the expression of His will who is not only absolute in the original choice of His vessel of promise, but who likewise directs the course of the blessing once conferred.

The promises of God do not perpetuate themselves and flow to their fulfilment through a natural channel. Esau had nature's right of inheritance, for he was the first-born; but the thing to be inherited being Divine promise, it can rest only in the vessel prepared to receive it. The calling of God is thus made to anticipate the course of nature, and to contradict it. Blessing is kept in God. Abraham could confer on Isaac the wealth which God had given him, when God had first created Isaac to be the receiver and holder of the blessing. In the case of Jacob, God in like manner directs positively the course of His own blessing according to the immediate choice of His own will. Now all this was done, as the apostle here tells us, "that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth." God loved Jacob, and hated Esau. But why was this? Had Jacob earned His love? Nay, he was loved while as yet unborn. Had Esau by evil works incurred His hate? As Jacob's twin he too was yet in the womb, and so had done no evil.

Jacob and Esau were alike incapable of blessing as the natural seed of Rebecca. For nature, as we have seen, cannot enter into the promises of God. Jacob's blessing came by love: "Jacob have I loved." But the love of God is not constrained, any more than it is purchasable with a price. It is the good pleasure of the Divine will that is pleased to call the elect vessel of His love. Now Jacob is here considered not only personally, as contrasted with Esau, but nationally, as the quotation from Malachi is sufficient to prove (Mal. 1:1-5). The love, then, which chose the younger twin while yet unborn, and pronounced a promise of supremacy on one whom nature would have condemned to serve, will in due time exalt its object to the appointed sphere of blessing which, as the holder of the promises, it is surely destined to attain.

The liberty of God to purpose and to act without let or hindrance, according to the pleasure of His own will, has thus been asserted as a doctrine, and vindicated by historical fact. Keeping in mind the specialty of the apostle's aim as it respects the elucidation of the Divine dealings with Israel, let us now pursue the further development of this all-important principle.

Verse 14. "What shall we say, then?" etc. We have here, as in former instances, the expression of human feeling and judgment on the ways of God. The natural mind, reasoning upon the strange facts above quoted by the apostle in illustration of the dealings of God, finds its ideas of right and propriety entirely traversed. The natural ground of all distinction is merit in the object of honour. Nature (as alienated in thought and judgment as well as in affection, through sin), is ever striving to establish a claim upon God. The plain, direct statement of elective grace, as the divine witness of God's sovereignty in mercy, only provokes in the natural heart a suggestion of unfairness in the character of God. Yet man in thus forsaking his own mercies is a witness against himself. For all the reasonings of men as to the duty of obedience and the equity of the legal condition of acquiring blessing, are grounded on nothing else than the experienced fact of personal imperfection, which suggests amendment as the practical law of man's life. Nature never penetrates the mystery of her own corruption. "Deteriora sequor," is the reluctant admission of weakness and conscious imperfection in an honest mind yet ignorant of the truth of God. It is the Holy Ghost alone who, as the Spirit of truth, reveals the secret of human ruin. He makes manifest the helplessness as well as the depravity of the natural man, in order that the rest which unfallen nature refused to find in the goodness of God as a Creator, might be found and enjoyed by those who taste in Christ His mercy as a Saviour.

The suggestion, therefore, as to there being unrighteousness with God, serves to bring out the more especial doctrine of mercy as a particular aspect of the electing will of God (verse 15). The common guilt and consequent ruin of the creature having been once proved, the question of justice is necessarily excluded from any display of Divine favour towards such. That is, considered in themselves and with reference to their own works, the entrance of God into judgment with men must destroy all hope. For vengeance against sin is the natural march of Divine justice. But this would involve the destruction of all, for all have sinned. Power belongs to God, and the natural condition of man as a sinner provokes the exercise of that power in wrathful indignation. But mercy also belongs unto Him. Now mercy is in its nature of necessity controlled and directed by the will of Him that shows mercy. It is drawn by no attraction of desert. Moreover, human wretchedness being in itself the natural effect of Divine judgment against sin, is no compelling cause of mercy. Its deep and blessed spring is to be sought for and found (if indeed that depth be searchable) in the mystery of the love of God — in God Himself, whose name is Love.

Nor is this all. The objective display of mercy when revealed in its full brightness in the person of Jesus, is not enough to secure the blessing of the chosen vessels of God's grace. Nature can never believe the truth of God, whether for good or for evil "Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not (John 8:45), is the expostulation of Truth itself when dishonoured and withstood by those who, as touching the flesh, nevertheless stood near to God. The vessels, therefore, of Divine mercy must be fitted to receive mercy. Truth must act subjectively on the heart and conscience by the power of the Holy Ghost, or all promise and testimony alike will fail of effect. And so "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that shows mercy."*

{*The probable allusion here to the fleshly preference of Isaac for Esau, and the going of the latter in quest of the venison, will easily suggest itself to the reader.}

Now it was to Moses the man of God that the secret of electing mercy was declared (verse 15). Its grand exemplification to Israel will be in the day when, having wearied itself in the greatness of its way (Isa. 57:10), the scattered and dispersed nation shall again be brought into its own land. For the mercy which their sin under the old covenant had caused to depart, will yet again revive when the time of promise shall have come. "I will have mercy on her that had not obtained mercy" (Hosea 2:23), is the word spoken concerning her who had first been put away for her sins. Moreover, the Lord will yet return with mercies to Jerusalem. His house shall be built in it, and a line stretched forth upon Jerusalem (Zech. 1:16). For a small moment He has forsaken Zion, but with great mercies He will gather her (Isaiah 54 passim). Thus we find, first, the solemn assertion of the sovereign will of Divine mercy as the alone condition of blessing; and secondly, the distinct assurance that the good pleasure of that will is to show mercy unto Israel in the latter day.*

{*As I am not writing a treatise on the nation and its hopes, but merely noting in succession what I find in this epistle, I here and elsewhere assume many things which some would no doubt question. The application of Jewish promise to Israel in its restored unity, I hold as a fundamental maxim of prophetic interpretation. As the apostle's subject here is Israel nationally, I have quoted prophecies which refer severally to Israel and to Judah, though they are not to be confounded by any means.}

Verses 17, 18. The power of God as the God to whom vengeance belongeth, is now illustrated as the converse of His mercy, while both proceed absolutely at the bidding of the same will. It will be observed that the instance chosen is that of Pharaoh, the oppressor of Israel. The name of Jehovah has once been known and His power declared as the smiter of the Egyptians for His people's sake. The same arm of the Lord that cut Rahab in ancient days, will again be made bare for the deliverance of His chosen in the day of Jacob's final trouble. The cup of trembling shall he taken out of the hands of Jerusalem, and placed in those of them that afflict her (Isaiah 51:22-23). She shall herself become a cup of trembling to all the nations round about (Zech. 12). The destruction of the enemies of His people will be the discovery of His fame, and of the glory of the God of Israel, to the spared among the nations, who shall then bow before the sceptre of His Christ (Ps. 18:42-45; Isa. 66:15-22). As the hardened heart of Pharaoh, whose natural will refused subjection to the God of Israel, lifted him up to his destruction in the Red Sea; so will it be when the king that does after his own will (Dan. 11:16-36), the wicked one, the lawless one,* the man of sin (2 Thess. 2), after having planted the tabernacles of his palaces upon the glorious holy mountain, shall suddenly be destroyed by the revelation of the Hope of Israel, according to the eternal faithfulness and truth of His declared counsel, of His promised will.

{* Ho anomos. He is the wicked one (Isaiah 11:4), as well as the lawless one: that is, he is both intrinsically wicked, and the practical defier of all Law, exalting himself above all that is called God or worshipped.}

We have seen thus how the sovereign attributes of elective purpose, of absolute mercy, and of judicial power, not only appertain to God, but are severally associated with His name as the God of Israel, the pledged fulfiller of the mercy promised to the fathers. The verses immediately following have a more direct application to the actual calling of the Christian now, and therefore demand our especial attention.

Verses 19-24. The assertion of Divine sovereignty in power as well as in mercy, provokes a reply against God "Why doth He yet find fault?" is the utterance of the natural heart, which, while quailing perforce before the Omnipotence of God, still avoids the confession of its own condition as ruined by sin. God, though dreaded, is not feared. The attempt is made to charge the weight of human misery upon the name of the blessed God, as if He were the author of evil and not of good; while the excellency of His grace in the display of His glory as the Saviour of the vessels of mercy, is dishonoured, and as it were resented by the unbelieving heart of nature, which reasons darkly on the ways of the only wise God, and scruples not to impute respect of persons to Him who alone is the righteous Judge.

The world ever rebels in heart against that which it inwardly regards as iniquitous in the Divine way. Just as Pharaoh was strengthened in his resistance to Jehovah by the evil arts of the magicians of Egypt, so the Devil now, as the spirit of error, stirs up men to resist indirectly the truth of God as it is revealed in the declared word of His grace. He does so by insinuating to the self-flattered heart of nature, that that is attainable by the will and power of man, which it belongs to God alone to dispense and confer according to the abundance of His mercy in Christ Jesus. Hence the perilous mimicry of self-righteousness on the part of those who, while professing holiness and zeal for God, are really denying Him in the very works to which they attach the most value, and on which they vainly rely.

But true-hearted believers are not unfrequently staggered and alarmed by the thorough statement of the doctrine of election. Satan is often busy with this truth in the hearts of God's children. By a sort of argument "ad verecundiam," the poor faint-hearted Christian, more versed in the sad experience of personal unworthiness than accustomed to the clear shining of the Sun of righteousness, is pricked and startled by an appeal to his own conscience as to whether such an one as he is can safely deem himself the object of the special choice of Divine love. Now, let a soul harassed by temptation through indistinct apprehension of the doctrine of election, question itself simply thus: Do I believe that I can save myself? But if not, do I believe that salvation is solely of God? And if so, does the doctrine of free mercy and declared grace through the blood of Jesus meet the conscious need of my soul as under sin? If there be life in the soul from God, the answer to the last two of these questions will be as certainly in the affirmative, as that to the first will be in the negative. But, if able thus far to confess the truth of God, the believer may rest safely assured that he is in very deed elect of God. For it is not in nature either to confess its own completed ruin, or to welcome God in Christ as a Saviour. Repentance and faith are alike gifts of God, and what He gives He gives not at random, but according to the perfect election of His will.

The universality of the testimony to grace in the Gospel becomes thus the instrument of God's will in separating the chaff from the wheat. Nature never lays hold of any divine truth except to adorn itself. Faith, on the other hand, awakens out of sleep at the hearing of the report, and hastens from the leprous house of natural experience into the prepared ark of God's deliverance. Faith thus honours God. The day of the Lord's appearing will be the moment of God's justification against the hard speeches (Jude 15) of those who with present impunity lift their heads and bend their tongues as a bow against the eternal truth which is settled in heaven (Ps. 119:89). At present the short question to be addressed to an objector is: Are you then unwilling to receive the mercy of God? His will is to glorify His mercy in the persons of saved sinners through Jesus Christ. Are you then willing to bow to this will of God, to worship the God of grace according to the riches of His glory revealed in His Son? It is in the will of man that the fatal disease of unbelief has always had its seat.

Man then is but the clay, while God is the potter, to do at His pleasure with His own (verse 21). A few remarks seem desirable on the next two verses. The vessels of wrath are said to be "fitted to destruction."* The force of this expression appears to lie in the fact of man's natural condition as a sinner placing him from his birth under the eye of Divine holiness, as obnoxious to judgment. God destroys nothing but sin. As His nature is holiness, so His pleasure is not death, but life. Hence it is said that He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). That is, God is not the deviser of destruction as the good pleasure of His will. He is the author of life and blessing. Hell and destruction are indeed before Him as the instruments of His will, when that will is contradicted by the madness of sinners. The fitness, then, of man for destruction is his being a sinner before God. The will of the first Adam wrought death by defying God. He tried the rash venture of an attempt to live without God. Mankind, as Adam's seed, inherit his condition as a condemned sinner. Considered, therefore, apart from the specialty of Divine election, man's nature and position are such as to invite and attract the wrath of God as his portion. Hence we are said to be by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Nothing in man can remedy his natural condition. He is a born rebel. The blood of corruption is in his veins because of inherited sin.

{*Katertismena eis apoleian. Their state is described, not the means by which this state was produced. "Thoroughly ready for destruction" just expresses the meaning.}

Viewed in this light, the world's continuance in its present state is a marvellous proof of Divine patience and long-suffering. God endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath: destruction, however, is the end of such. For there is a judgment of evil-doers according to truth and according to righteousness, as we have already seen. Men know this. But alas! the heart that knows through the conscience the truth of God's sayings, often refuses to humble itself beneath His mighty hand, though it be with perfect mercy that that hand is filled. Thus it is the strong hand of human perverseness that binds the seal of destruction to the self-ruined vessels of wrath.

But there are vessels of another preparation, and for another end. It is not the power of Divine anger that is alone to be revealed in the day of the Lord's arising. He will also make known the riches of His glory in the vessels of mercy which He had afore prepared unto glory (verse 23). The foundation of glory is mercy. The Church (verse 24), as the destined vessel of glory, is founded upon mercy, upon God as showing mercy. It is built upon Christ as the manifestation and eternal security of this mercy. The believer, then, is a vessel of mercy. God prepares him as such. Naturally a child of wrath, he becomes, when taken into the plastic hand of Divine grace, transformed into an heir of glory. The potter sees fit at his will to form a vessel for beauty and for praise. Even so does the blessed God exert the power of His good pleasure in preparing His vessels of mercy. The expression, "He prepared before,"* is full of meaning. As a vessel of elect mercy, the believer is God's workmanship from the first. Dating His choice in Christ before He created the first Adam in His own image, the after history of man is but a stage in the prog1essive preparation of the work of God. Sin itself becomes thus capable of being regarded as a means to the end of Divine glory. God suffered man to fall. The effect of this fall, bringing man, as it did, under sin and death, made way for the operation of grace. Although sin was the work of the destroyer, and though it cast down from his former excellency the first man, made as he was in the image of God, yet it becomes in the wisdom of God a preparatory means for the accomplishment of His eternal counsels of mercy and of glory. Glory was God's end. This glory was to appear and be displayed in man as His image. Christ, the second Adam, is the absolute fulfilment of this, according to the accomplishment of the mystery of redemption. Believers, whether Jew or Gentile, who, as called of God, partake His mercy as vessels of mercy, are fitted for glory: they will shine, to the praise of His glory whose workmanship they are, in His light who is already in them the hope of glory. The Holy Ghost thus turns every thing into an argument for the praise of God as the only wise God, the Saviour. Satan himself is made to contribute indirectly to the furtherance of the work of God, that power and dominion, salvation and praise, might belong alone to Him.

{* … proetoimasen eis doxan. The use of the active verb here, as contrasted with the passive participle in the former verse, is expressive of the difference between the negative fitness of the vessel of wrath and the positive preparation, as an act of God, of the vessel of mercy. The change of words still further conveys this difference of meaning.}

Verses 25-29. The quotations which are now made by the apostle in support and corroboration of what he has stated are remarkable in two ways. First, they confirm in a striking manner the general doctrine of this chapter, and bring the prophets who spake to the fathers distinctly forward to witness to the unity of the Divine way. Secondly, and more especially, they afford an instructive instance of the manner in which the Spirit of God often adapts a portion of His own former testimony, given primarily for another purpose, to the illustration of a general principle in the dealings of God, within which principle both the present and the original objects of testimony are equally found to fall. An attentive reader of the prophet Hosea must, I think, conclude that the proper subject of what is there written is the nation of Israel. Yet the apostle evidently quotes from this prophet in support of the extension of the calling of grace to the Gentiles. The reason is plain. Israel, as the object of prophetic promise, must be brought first into the condition of mere repudiation (compare Amos 9:7) as now — and thus occupy the same level morally as the sinner of the Gentiles. This must needs be, that grace might proceed. Hence we see at once how the passage applies to the Gentile election, while its full force as a national prophecy still remains.

The quotations from Isaiah respect the nation more immediately. A remnant, according to Divine election, is shown thus to have been ever the order of God's dealings with Israel. I need not point out the bearing of these last quotations upon the leading argument of this chapter. It may however be remarked, that in the use here made of these quotations the apostle comprises in the alternative of condemnation not only the unbelieving seed of Abraham, but in an equal measure every one who, while professing to recognize the truth of Scripture, withholds the obedience of faith from the saving doctrine of gracious election.* We have already seen that grace and election are almost convertible terms — that grace effectually received into the heart of a believing sinner is the result of his being an elect vessel of Divine mercy. The Scripture reveals but one alternative. Sodom and Gomorrah are the standing types of the progress and result of natural iniquity. They are the especial exemplars of a self-guided and self-governed world. They are applied to the case of man as well under law as without law_ The reason of man's will, and the lusts of his heart, which alike turn away from the hearing of the faith of God's elect, are wandering only to lose themselves without hope in the streets of the city of destruction.

{*Full well I know that no one who calls upon the name of the Lord in the day of grace shall perish. But never was there one really born of God who, when giving a reason of the hope that was in him with meekness and fear, according to the Gospel of the grace of God, referred his justification to aught else but sovereign mercy. Such is ever the faith of God's elect.}

We come now to the conclusion of this branch of the general argument (verses 30-33). The apostle had delivered the doctrine of Divine election: first, absolutely; secondly, in its relation to the nation; and lastly, in its application to the Church. The result is found to be, that Gentiles* who followed not after righteousness had obtained that which they did not seek, while Israel's fleshly hope, founded upon pretended legal obedience, had altogether failed. They were an unrighteous nation still. The Gentiles, naturally aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, were without hope and without God in the world; yet justification and acceptance were now known by many such through the faith of the Son of God. The nation of God's election, having the promises, surnamed for blessing and supremacy by Jehovah, had nevertheless missed their blessing, and lay broken on the stumbling-stone of Christ. They sought for righteousness but found it not, because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. But this their stumbling had been foreknown of God, and was in itself among the intended means of compassing His eternal purpose with respect to the Church. We shall see in the sequel whether the breach of Israel shall be again repaired.

{* E-thne, not ta ethne. Meaning, of course, elect Gentiles, as distinguished from the nation which had not attained to righteousness, though individually many had.}

Meanwhile, the practical application of the doctrine of this chapter to the Christian is as solemn as it is precious. The sifting of the creature already effected in the earlier chapters is here renewed. Man is found incapable of attaining any prize, as the reward of his endeavour, but death. He runs his course as a sinner, and meets the Judge at the goal. Righteousness may be sought for, but cannot be found, save in the revelation of the grace of God. But that blessed grace is now revealed. God has laid in Zion His chosen stone. We must not allow the force of the last verse to escape our observation. It is in Zion that the stone is laid. It is Christ crucified that is the foundation upon which all the glory of the Divine counsels rests. Christ in the flesh is, as we have seen, a Jewish Christ. Christ crucified is the foundation of peace to the believing sinner, whether Jew or Gentile. Christ glorified after having been raised from the dead, is the eternal and (to faith) manifested security of all the fruits of Divine counsel and promise, whether relating to the nation or to the Church. The risen Jesus is thus the living stone, the Rock of Ages, under whose shadow the weary may find rest. God stands upon that Rock to cause His voice of mercy to be heard by any wandering sheep of His numbered flock that He may espy still erring in the wilds of a condemned world. God rests in Christ. The believing sinner rests there too, finding confusion and shame turned to light and glory in the knowledge of righteousness in Him. Such shall never be ashamed; for the open wounds of Christ, known in heaven not less than here below, as the Lamb newly slain, shall give drink for ever to the thirst of the people of His choice (John 6:54-55; Rev. 5:6).

Romans 10.

The calling of the elect Church of God, although it glorifies the riches of Divine grace, does not meet the desire of the apostle's heart with respect to Israel. He knew that the nation was the object of Divine promise, as well as the possessor of the oracles of God. He had, indeed, already shown that the word of God had not failed of effect, while justifying, in the preceding chapter, the ways of God, who, in the sovereignty of His wisdom and power, is pleased to fulfil His word in the manner and at the season which are good in His sight. Still, though His heart could rejoice in the actual work of God, the condition of the nation as self-excluded from the hope of their fathers burdened him with an enduring sorrow. The opening of the present chapter accordingly gives expression to this feeling. But it is most interesting to observe how the tranquillizing effect of the divine communion with which the writing of the last chapter had filled his spirit shows itself in the softened expression of the same desires, as uttered now in prayer to God.

He prays, and prays with a right desire, for the salvation of Israel. He prays in the Spirit for that which he well knew to be the final purpose of God towards His people. But his prayer is the more earnest in their behalf because of his ability to bear witness to their zeal to God-ward. And surely none could speak with a fuller appreciation of what be said on this subject than the writer of this Epistle (Acts 22:3). He could thoroughly sympathize with a zeal which had once been the distinctive honour of his own name as a child of tradition, while exposing, as an apostle of truth, the futility and total unprofitableness of such zeal. Thus, while he could find it in his heart to make their zeal for God a ground of advocacy for that nation as distinguished from the nations who cared not for God, he has to pronounce as from God the entire rejection of that which, unless produced and directed by the Spirit of truth, is but a dead work of the flesh. Zeal not according to knowledge ever turns in its result to envy and hatred of that which is of God. "He has spoken blasphemy" was the decision which led to the cry, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him." "Why persecutest thou me?" was the question which awakened the most zealous of those who thought to do God service by shedding the blood of His saints, to the fearful discovery that that which his self-satisfied heart most gloried in was the direst of all sins against God.

Verse 3 declares the nature of the controversy which God had with the nation. They were going about to establish their own righteousness. But God had in Christ revealed His perfect righteousness, to which He required the obedience of faith. Israel, then, so long as he thinks of legal righteousness as a thing attainable by himself, remains in a state of disobedience. Ordinances and traditions cannot enlighten the heart, nor quicken a soul dead in trespasses and sins. Would God that the natural Israel were alone in this controversy with God! How many in the present day, while supposing themselves to be Christians, and perhaps zealous ones, are in reality opposing themselves to the righteousness of God. Self-righteousness, inherent as it is in the natural heart at all times, is the bitterest mockery with which the father of lies can bewitch and befool the sinner's heart. "There is more hope of the fool than of the man wise in his own conceit," says the true proverb (Prov. 26:12): even so is it with the man who in self-complacent reliance on Christian ordinances deems himself secure, while it may be his heart has never truly known one syllable of saving grace, nor ever really felt his need, as a self-condemned and truth-convicted sinner, of the precious blood of the Lamb of God. There are such as I have described; and should the eye of any such light on this page, may the God of all grace arrest him in his way, and awaken him from his dream of self-confidence to find the saving truth of life. It is more probable, however, that the reader of this will be himself, if not already established in the faith, at least seeking with a right desire the knowledge of the peace of God. To such an one I would earnestly commend the apostle's argument of Divine righteousness in the verses of this chapter which remain to be considered.

Verse 4 dissolves and sets aside for ever all ground of reference, on the part of the believer, to the Law as the measure of human justification, by showing its perfect accomplishment in Christ. The name of Christ thus supersedes, to the believer, the claims of the Law. Christ stands for such in the Law's place. Both could not stand together. Human righteousness and Divine righteousness cannot harmonize; for one is a lie, and the other is the truth of God. The first was proposed by the Law, but it proved, as we have seen, "the Law's impossibility" (Rom. 8), and by the Law came only the knowledge of sin. The second having come, has supplanted the first. Life and incorruptibility because of righteousness have now in Christ taken the place of death and judgment as ministered by the Law because of sin.

We have next (verses 5-9) a comparison of the conditions of human blessing as they are expressed by the language respectively of Law and of grace. The quotations which are made by the apostle are drawn, the first from Leviticus (Lev. 18:5), and the second from Deuteronomy (Deut. 30:12-14). If we examine these quotations, we shall find that they respect the nation of Israel under widely-differing circumstances. In the first they are addressed as under the responsibility of obedience to the Law as yet untried, themselves undertaking the charge of the Lord's commandments as the condition of their blessing. In the second passage they are regarded as broken and dispersed through the countries because of national disobedience and breach of covenant. Instead, therefore, of the confidence of unbroken strength, we see the expression of fruitful repentance towards God in the confession of their failure, and a turning to Him who had smitten them as to the one who alone could heal. Their remedy was not in seeking back to the Law, as if it yet remained as an available means of blessing through their obedience, but in remembering the word which, while it condemned their ways, yet led their hearts to God as the God of promise and of grace. They would seek Him, indeed, in the light of the Law, and that would be the rule of their practical obedience until taken out of the way; but God would meet their return of heart to Him in the riches of His grace in Christ, binding up the breach of His people according to the truth and mercy which had been spoken of old.

Now that which Moses spake in prophecy to the nation, the apostle here applies in the widest manner as a preacher of the Gospel of the grace of God to man. The fitness of this application is apparent the moment the true nature of the principle thus illustrated is perceived. God dates the commencement of the believer's blessing from the moment of his unreserved acknowledgment of helpless ruin because of sin. He must, in order to act effectually in grace, first bring man into practical acquaintance with the secret of his own wretchedness. What Israel have to learn nationally by the chastisements of Jehovah, in order that in the latter day they may seek Him and His goodness, every individual vessel of Divine mercy has to learn in measure, by the convincing power of the word of truth as applied by the Spirit of God to the conscience.

Sin, then, being charged upon the conscience, the word of Divine righteousness addresses itself to the heart. "Say not in thine heart," etc. There is, first, the dissuasion from self-communing (verses 6, 7). There is, secondly, the persuasion of the word of grace to trust simply in a Saviour-God (verses 8, 9). Communing of heart is not only a natural but a necessary thing in its right place (Ps. 4:4). But the heart of man, while it can suggest much counsel, can never conceive truth until it has been brought by the power of God to turn to Him in the way of faith — hearkening to His voice to whom alone it belongs to reveal truth as the blessed expression of His own thoughts of peace. In bringing forth Jesus. as the manifested righteousness of God, the Spirit of truth puts an end to heart-communings and self-counsel. God speaks in the Gospel of His truth, and declares the secret of His will as the God of grace. The communing of my heart, which only ends in deepened perplexity and despair, must now be replaced by the precious thoughts of God's ripened counsel, as they stand revealed in Jesus. Blessed thought! A poor sinner has now but to countersign by his own amen the charter of his own everlasting liberty and blessedness (John 3:33), which God presents for his acceptance in the name of Jesus. Such is now the condition of salvation. The Law tries to make something of man, and fails, turning conditional blessing into hopeless condemnation. Grace, finding man lost beyond all hope in himself; lifts him into Christ, and in Him presents him without spot to God.

The only barrier now to a sinner's salvation is his own will. Power is not demanded. Work is not required. "Wilt thou be made whole?" is now the gracious question addressed in the Gospel to every one who has an ear to hear. But (verse 8) there is such a thing as having the Word of life in the heart, and as it were upon the lips, while yet the confession of the name of Jesus is never heard. Conscience that is, may and often does inwardly corroborate the record of God's truth, although the heart refuses Christ its love. A thousand things may operate to choke the germinating seed of life (Matt. 13:19-22), but it is the effectual power of God alone that can open the lips of a heart-cleansed sinner to show forth the abundance of His praise.

It is instructive to remark, that the communings of a man's heart with itself ever result in an expression of unbelief. A sign is desired (verses 6, 7), where God is not already in possession of the heart's confidence through faith. And is it not often thus in the case of those who now are seeking peace, yet find it not? Haply, some reader of these Notes may find his own heart painfully familiar with those care-trodden ways in which the tired spirit vainly seeks to find that peace which God may seem to have hidden from the fainting desires of the soul. If such an one has found the name of Christ as yet insufficient to dispel his fears, and to pour the full joy of salvation into his bosom, let him be assured that the cause of his distress is not only within his view, if he will turn his eyes towards it by the light of this precious word of faithful witness, but also that it is within the power of his own removal, if he be only willing to put more honour upon the eternal truth of the living God, than upon the mutable counsels and most fallacious suggestions of his own weak and joyless heart.

It is in the ninth verse of this chapter that we find a clear and express statement of the conditions of Christian salvation. Two things are here affirmed to be necessary to this salvation, First, confession; and, secondly, faith. I quote the words: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." The person of Jesus, now exalted above the heavens and made both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), is the saving truth to be confessed. The crucified and dishonoured man is thus acknowledged, with Divine worship and honour, to be the only Lord. This confession at once separates the believer from the world, on which the guilt of rejecting Christ lies, and places him under the eternal sanction of the Father's acceptance, who has willed the Son's honour as His own (John 5:23).

Confession of the name of the Lord is first stated, because it is that which forms the decisive token of distinction between the living Christian and the dead world. As it is presently after added, "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Confession, then, seems placed here first in order, lest Satan, whose lie deceives the whole world, should seek occasion from such a passage to persuade men that a mere belief of the resurrection as a matter of fact, or even as a proof of Divine power, could suffice to save the soul. But the source of this acceptable confession is a heart which by faith not only perceives the reality of Divine truth as declared in Scripture, but believes in God who raised Jesus from the dead; who, being thus raised, is recognized in the heart, and therefore openly declared by the lips to be the only Lord. This will open itself more fully to our view presently. Meanwhile, let us remember that the object presented to faith in the preaching of the Gospel, is Jesus the Lord (Phil. 2:11). Through Him, as raised from the dead, we are called on to believe in God, who raised Him up and gave Him glory (1 Peter 1:21).

To the inquirer after salvation, the Spirit of God can make no other reply than this. He may amplify it in His mercy, in order to win our slow hearts to a more ready acquiescence in such strange terms of salvation; but the essential truth which brings deliverance to the soul, is the Name and the glory of the exalted Lamb of God. Amplify it He does, as we shall, I trust, presently see: let us only first remark the pointed individuality of the language in the present passage. "If thou shalt confess," etc. The world admits the truth of the resurrection.* It is, as a generally received scriptural fact, allowed a place in the memories of men, lying there side by side with other great facts of Divine witness, which it is not as yet judged seemly to deny.

{*Speaking, that is, generally. There are, indeed, some who flatly deny it, endeavouring, by the sound of their own denial, to silence in their consciences the voice of a truth which speaks no joy to them. But there is a resurrection, both of the just and also of the unjust.}

But God's question as the revealer of Jesus is with me. He finds me wretched, and professes to bring me health and cure. He speaks to me, in the blessed Gospel, of Jesus, affirming Him to have been given to death by the grace of God. The word of God, then, addresses my heart, where all the fruitless and disquieting thoughts of nature have hitherto had their birth and their exercise. "What thinkest thou of Jesus?" is the simple question which the Spirit of truth propounds to me. If, by the grace of God, I think Him indeed such a Saviour as I need, such, that is, as God reveals Him, then I must needs confess this truth, But to confess it unto God is to become for ever safe; for His witness of Jesus is that by Him all that believe are justified from all things (Acts 13:39). And this first, this secret confession of the blessed Lord, uttered as yet in no ears save those which had been first filled with the mournful groanings of the heart's secret bitterness, is the prelude to another confession which the now truth-liberated soul is not ashamed to make before the world. "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation," is the language, not of apostolic boldness only, but of simple-hearted faith, which can find no cause of shame in the acknowledgment of a truth that has filled with the Lord's joy the once empty vessel of vanity and despair.

Let us now pass on to the consideration of the four following verses (10-13) the connected sequence of which, in their order, is remarkable, as well as the united bearing of them all upon the statement in the ninth verse which we have just been examining. These verses are a series of demonstrative assertions made by the Spirit of truth in order yet more surely to establish the weak-hearted believer in Jesus on the firm foundation which has been already laid.

First, we have a re-statement in general language of the doctrine of the preceding verse, in which the order previously observed is now reversed. "For with the heart man believes unto righteousness," etc. It is the justified who are saved, but it is by faith that justification comes. Justification is firmly bound by the Spirit of God to faith alone. Nothing,is said here about degrees of knowledge. Still less is anything mentioned respecting the world of the saved sinner's inward experiences. I am not Christ: but it is of Christ that the Gospel speaks, that I may believe. Nor is anything which Satan can help my naturally unbelieving heart to set in order as a reason for hesitating to appropriate the freely proffered grace of God, an argument of delay; but rather, when rightly judged, a motive of more decisive faith.

It is often hard for the tried soul of a believer, when in conflict, to keep steadily and simply in view the object which the Spirit of God has set before his faith. A sense of personal unworthiness, how deep soever it may be, is intended by the Spirit (whose searching power as the Witness of truth produces it in us) to render us more susceptible of the infinite preciousness of Christ — to compel our souls more forcibly to the cross. But it often has an effect widely different from this. Satan, whose aim is directed to the dishonour of God in the frustration of His purposes of grace, knows well how to use truth itself as a means of obstructing truth. The sense of sin, and consequently of distance from God, is a gracious result-of the positive operation of the Spirit of truth upon the soul. But it is something very different from the disclosing to the sinner, thus awakened, the truth as it stands revealed in the person of Jesus, and not in himself. The truth of God with respect to man's condition is, that he is ruined in sin.

Now, when this truth, which we can read calmly enough as a mere doctrine, comes to the heart and conscience in direct personal application, the effect is always painful; sometimes, it is utterly withering to the soul. Satan's interest is to magnify by all means the effect of Divine truth upon the receiver of it, so far as it tends to depress and alarm the conscience. His object is to deter, by an overwhelming sense of personal depravity and wretchedness, the advances of the heart towards God. So long as God can be kept before the eye of an awakened soul through the medium of an evil conscience, the knowledge of peace is impossible.

But it is well for us to remember, that the purpose of God in preaching the Gospel is not only to acquaint us with ourselves, but with Him. He is not inviting us to a renewed scrutiny of our own hearts, if haply some lurking principle of good may yet live, unextinguished though sore oppressed, amid the sea of evil that is there. The record which God has given in the Gospel, is concerning His Son. The ministry which He has committed to the servants of His truth, is the ministry of reconciliation. It is as a Saviour, not as a Judge, that He is pleased to reveal Himself in Christ.

Now the case of a man, as reported by his conscience, may be very desperate. He may be cognizant in his own polluted soul of every imaginable form of evil. His ways may even have been strange, and but little known to the common herd of sinners. He may have been saturated with sin to such a degree, and may have been so deep in the mire of corruption, that in the ears of ordinary men, the recital of his acts might easier provoke disgust than obtain belief as credible experimental facts. Add to this the indescribable maze of unfulfilled desires, whether of flesh or of mind, the summing up of which would baffle the most tenacious memory of the most alarmed conscience. A man may be such as I have described. All that he is may be forcibly brought to his remembrance, and bound as with a shackle of iron to his conscience.

And now, if this be so, what is it that is described, when language has been exhausted in the effort to portray the hideous features of human sin? It is God's ruined and degraded creature. No amount of aggravating circumstance can place the case beyond the limits of that Divine testimony which, while it affirms that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, makes the condition of man, as under sin, the occasion of manifesting the righteousness of God. What God meets in the blood of Jesus is human sin. The most polluted of evil-doers is but a sinner; a great one, doubtless; but the magnitude of his offence is not the question. The Spirit of God does not use Divine truth as a gauge and measure of quantity in searching a man's heart. What He does, is to convict of sin. "More in number than the hairs of my head," may and will be the confession of the exercised conscience, when seeking, in the spirit of godly sorrow and self-judgment, to number that which God alone can tell. Yet the proclamation of grace is not to great or to small sinners as such, but to sinners as lost in the ruin of their sin — as dead in trespasses and sins. A man may have to speak of himself as the chief of sinners, when, in the sober judgment of his way, he finds no parallel in the world without him to that which, in all the nearness and distinctness of self-consciousness as in the Divine presence, he discovers with dismay to be in himself. Still, when the varied measures and phases of sinful experience are gone over and weighed, the result is in principle the same. Sin is ascertained to be the intrinsic condition of fallen nature.

But God meets sin in Christ. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin," is the affirmative assurance to the believer that, let the multitude of his transgressions be what it may, the mightier multitude of Divine mercy is sufficient to remove them all. God opposes the redemption-price of Christ's blood to the accumulated debt of my sin. Moreover, sin has its limits, be they never so wide. But the love which God commends to us in Christ has no limits. It is the sovereignty of perfect love, accommodating itself in grace to the actual condition of the object beloved, of which the Gospel speaks. Now, holiness and love being alike in God, until one is satisfied the other cannot act upon its objects so as to be felt and understood. But it is this that has been done in the precious cross of God's Son.

God, then, has in Christ accomplished a work which enables Him to make the confession of a sinner's misery a reason of forgiveness, and not of wrath. While, therefore, the measures and degrees of actual transgression in man are almost infinitely various, and while the profoundness of the heart's self-acquaintance as a sinner before God may vary, and certainly does vary, in the same individual, according to the paucity or the abundance of his real knowledge of God, the standard and condition of acceptance with Him remain perpetually the same. God accepts nothing intrinsically but Christ The faith of a believer, perceiving the love of God in the gift of Jesus, trusts God as a Saviour. Faith judges of God by His declared ways, and, seeing the precious blood of Christ flow under the delivered stroke of Divine judgment, finds no solution of this strangest wonder but that which the word of Scripture alone can furnish. God has acted in the matter of my sin. He has given His own Son to die, the just for the unjust. Now, this act of God in grace meets in the mind of simple faith all possible questionings about sin. Let its presence in me be ever so much felt and hated, it is a condemned thing in Christ. It is a forgotten thing before God. The Holy Ghost bears this express witness when reasoning on the value of the sacrifice of Christ. "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb. 10) is the word of promise in the New Covenant, which is already fulfilled to the believer the moment he has come in faith to the blood of the cross.

It will be remarked, perhaps, in reading this chapter, that in enumerating the conditions of salvation no mention is made of repentance. The reason is doubtless this. It does not specifically fall within the line of the apostle's present argument. The controversy lay between human righteousness as dreamed of by the Jew, and the righteousness of God as perceptible and to be enjoyed by faith alone. Moreover, it may be remarked, that repentance towards God must ever precede faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Repentance (metanoia) means a turning to God on the part of one whose mind had been previously alienated. That this must be a precedent thing to the decisive exercise of the will in the way of faith is clear. I am not, therefore, called on here to ask myself whether I have repented, but to believe on the Lord. If faith responds to the call, it is because the heart has already repented towards God. Looking into myself in any way is not looking at Christ — is not faith. But I am commanded to look at Him — to believe. Now it is with the heart that man believes. With the heart also he doubts and distrusts. But the reason of such misgiving is suspicion of God — truly a hateful evil for our hearts to harbour respecting One who has demonstrated His love in the cross of His Son.

Of all sins this is the worst. For it makes God a liar if we believe Him not (1 John 5:10). Unbelief is the only sin which, if persisted in, is unto eternal death. The difference between a real Christian and an unreal one is, that the former does not draw back unto perdition, but believes to the saving of the soul (Heb. 10:39). Have I then a heart for Christ? Can I trust the word of God, who cannot lie, more implicitly than I can rely on my heart, which is deceitful above all things? Can you not do this, reader? Let not the word which may be trembling to escape your lips be still repressed because you yet feel the sense of personal vileness. God is not addressing you because you are not vile, but because you are so. He preaches peace to them who in themselves can have no real peace. He bestows His own righteousness in Christ in the same word which pronounces the full forgiveness of your sins if you believe in Jesus. The depth of our own feelings in regard to sin is in one sense immaterial. It is not by an inference that we are justified, but by faith. Conclusions inferred from within are exactly opposite to the venture of faith, that casts all on Jesus at the bidding of God's word.

I have lingered already too long over this verse, yet I add one word further on the subject of confession, for the sake of any weak or tried conscience to which it may be found to apply.

Satan has power to turn the most precious truths into weapons of offence against the soul, where the heart is not simply discerning and resting in grace. Thus a question might suggest itself to the mind of one who desired to find rest in the large and free expressions of this passage, of this sort: — salvation is made dependent on confession, and not on faith alone. "Now, I believe," the heart might say, "but how far may I be said to have confessed the Lord? Has my confession been sufficiently ample and clear? But are not my life and walk as a consistent Christian the sort of confession on which alone I can safely rely?" To such an inquirer, I would reply that the word is, "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." As to relying upon any length of consistent conduct, it would not be relying on Christ; it would not be faith at all, and would have nothing whatever to do with the soul's salvation, except in so far as it would hinder your true perception of it, in hiding Christ from your view by the intervention of your own shadow. What you acknowledge, in confessing Jesus as the Lord, is the truth and the glory of the blessed God as a Saviour. A Christian is a child of truth. He is begotten by the Word of truth, according to the will and by the power of God. The name of Christ once spoken from the heart, in obedient confession before God, establishes the lip that makes such confession for ever in His sight (Prov. 12:79). The testimony of the Gospel is the record of God. By accepting such testimony and confessing to its truth, I set my seal to the witness of God. Henceforth, then, my soul remains safe kept of Him, within the shelter of that truth which is the everlasting buckler of defence to the believing children of His love (Ps. 91:1-4).

Verse 11. "For the Scripture saith," &c, We have here a corroborative appeal to the word before spoken. The unity of God's counsels, and their perfect attainment in the Person of Jesus now demonstrated to be the Lord, are thus more clearly shown. The exclusive claim of the Jew to the Divine favour, is also thus refuted as it were out of his own lips. It is Jewish Scripture that affirms, that whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed. But more especially the citation by the Spirit of God in the New Testament of passages from the Old, is valuable to the believer, as distinguishing between that which does and that which does not directly apply to the Christian as under grace. The Holy Ghost, by thus corroborating, in evangelical testimony to the person of Jesus, the prophetic promise addressed of old to the fathers, at once reveals to the believer the point of view from which he is to regard the Old Testament. His conscience is thus, freed (and this is practically an important consideration with reference to the present state experimentally of many Christians) from any and every burden which might otherwise seem to be laid upon it through the reading of such parts of the Old Testament Scripture as treat of personal responsibility, because they address themselves to those who actually were under Law; though the hope of better things to come might be disclosed to those who had a heart of faith to believe the word of the prophets. Christians are often in a legal state. It is quite natural under such circumstances to misapply the truth of God. But, though Christians are often experimentally short of the liberty with which Christ has made them free, yet they never ought to be thus, because such a state is never according to the truth of God. A Christian is in no sense under Law. He is not lawless towards God, for he is bound in subjection to Christ;* but it is as the Lord's freedman that he is thus bound. He is subject to Christ as the wife to her husband, as we have seen. Moreover, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17). The only power that rightly exercises dominion over a believer's conscience is the Lord Himself. But Christ is not a minister of sin, but of grace. Hence the ability of the Spirit to bear such witness as He does here, to the eternal stability of the believer as a child, not of shame, but of glory. But I will not dwell on this further.

{*1 Cor. 9:21. It is worth remarking that in the verse preceding, the best editions of the Greek Testament agree in inserting the words me ou autos hupo nomon, after tois hupo nomon hos hupo nomon.}

Verse 12 magnifies the riches of the blessed Lord as the lavish dispenser of the wealth of salvation to all that call upon Him. Jew or Gentile, Pharisee or Canaanite, are alike, and in precisely equal degree, eligible as objects of Divine grace. "There is no difference." Their personal characteristics may differ to the widest range of possible variance; but as regarded by the Spirit of truth, they are sinners alike. Now, the Lord is rich to all that call upon Him. As He has elsewhere said, "Him that comes unto me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). A rich Christ, then, reader, waits still to be gracious, to prove His riches as the receiver, with everlasting welcome, of all who call upon Him. "For (verse 13) whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Joel 2:32). Here we have another quotation added as a closing witness, first, to the full and wide aspect of the grace of the Gospel; and, secondly, to the identity of the Jehovah of the Old Testament with the Jesus of the New.

I make only one further remark on this verse. The calling here spoken of is not the vague cry of an uneasy conscience, but it is the cry of faith. "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst" (Matt. 8:2), is the language of petitioning faith, while as yet no clear indication of the mind of the Lord has been given. "Lord, I believe" (John 9:38), is the glad expression of the same faith, when the revelation of the truth in the person of Jesus lays the believing sinner as a willing worshipper at the feet of the Son of God. Faith lays hold of the person of Christ with the firm grasp of conscious dependence on Him alone — of utter hopelessness of help or safety, from within or from without, save only in Him. The cry, "Lord, Lord," may, alas! as we are solemnly warned, proceed from lips whose sound never came from a believing heart. But the note of true faith is, that its aim is God. Its misery is distance from Him. Its joy is in the blessed Jesus, because by His precious blood the believer is brought nigh in Him (Eph. 2:13).

Verses 14, 15, vindicate the wisdom of God in making the foolishness of preaching the instrument of His saving power (Compare 1 Cor. 1:21). But the preacher must be sent. Divine truth can be rightly delivered only by those whom God sends. The word preached is His. The souls addressed are His. His messengers proclaim the Gospel of His mercy. But who are thus sent? Firstly, and generally, every Christian who has himself tasted that the Lord is gracious, has both the liberty and the responsibility of "holding forth the word of life" (Phil 2:16). As possessed of the Spirit of God, the heart of a believer is fitted to impart to others a portion of the blessing with which he is himself blessed of God in Christ (John 7:38). "I have sent them into the world," is the Lord's word respecting His disciples, when He was regarding them, not as office-bearing servants in the Church of God, but as the first-fruits of that Divine election of mercy which, in due time, would grow to the completion of the body of Christ. Further, "Let him that hears say, Come" (Rev. 22:17); calling not only on the Lord to come in fulfilment of His promise, — that He may take His own to the prepared mansions of their rest (John 14:3) — but also upon those who may yet be within the hearing of the word of grace; to come ere the day of long-suffering patience be closed, and to take freely of the water of life. But, secondly, evangelists are sent. There are those whom the Spirit of God especially sets apart for the work of evangelism. An evangelist is a gift of Christ (Eph. 4:11). He is sent forth at the will of the Spirit, who empowers him to preach the Gospel to the world. The Church has no power to send evangelists, because the source of evangelism is not the Church, but Christ. An evangelist is an ambassador of Christ. Collectively, the Church in its unity was the world's great evangelist (alas! where is it now?) as the pillar and ground of the truth. Paul and Barnabas may be separated by their brethren for an especial work (Acts 13:2-4), but it is at the express command of the Holy Ghost; and when they go forth it is as sent by Him, and not by the Church. In a word, evangelism, like every other species of ministry, is derived to its vessel immediately from God. It is held, therefore, in responsibility to the Lord, whose servant the minister is. We shall return to the subject of ministry when examining the twelfth chapter. Meanwhile, we have in this passage another quotation from Isaiah, where, if the context be examined, the deliverance of the earthly Jerusalem will be seen, I think, to be the proper subject of the prophecy (Isaiah 52:7). Accordingly, the apostle, having opened to view (as we have seen in the former part of this chapter) the wide range of Gospel grace as now preached, a range limited in its aspect only by the extent of the ruin which it is designed to meet, begins now to view the especial application of this principle to the case of Israel.

Glad tidings had been brought to Zion. The lips of Truth itself had opened, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. But they had stopped their ears against the word of the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and had refused to hearken to the voice of Divine wisdom when speaking in their streets. They had slain the heir, and cast him out of the vineyard. Nor was this all. The prayer of the rejected sufferer, when upon the cross He said: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), had not been in vain. The nation lives by virtue of that intercession of Jesus, echoing as it did the eternal counsel of peace which, in the deep thoughts of God, had ever looked towards that nation as a chosen means for the display of His glory. Accordingly, we find that the Spirit of Christ, when first He spoke the full truth of accomplished salvation, addressed Himself to the nation (Acts 2:22). "Men of Israel" were the first subjects of the grace of the Gospel, which preached remission of sins through the precious blood of Jesus. But although the prayer of the dying Lamb of God produced a present and abundant return in the wondrous effect of the preaching of Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem, yet the bulk of the nation remained unconvinced. The rejection, first, of the testimony of Peter and John, corroborated as it was by the miraculous and apparent energy of Divine power, and next of the direct appeal made through Stephen (Acts 7) to the conscience of the nation — as it was represented by the high priest and elders who sat in judgment upon that first martyr to the death, of them who were appointed as sheep to the slaughter, — proved that, though Christ died for that nation, the time for the national repentance was not then come. They were still a nation in whom there was no faith. Hence the apostle introduces here (verse 16) the quotation, "Who has believed our report?" as applicable to the state of the nation out of which, nevertheless, a present election of grace had been gathered. They had not all obeyed the Gospel. In the succeeding chapter we shall see the bearing of this expression more distinctly.

Verse 17 states the Divine order in which saving faith is produced. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." The report may not perhaps be in all cases communicated audibly, but sometimes by other means; but the thing reported is Divine truth. It is by means of the word of God that the hearing or report comes. That oral testimony is the appointed mode of preaching is clear, though blessing might flow, and many times has flowed, from a written testimony to the same precious grace. The conclusion, whether it relate to the nation of Israel or to the world at large, is that the rejection of proffered grace is the sole reason of a sinner's ultimate perdition. Ruined already by sin, and that from the womb, the Gospel meets him thus as the report of perfect forgiveness and unqualified grace. To reject this is to perish. But Israel had rejected it, as we have seen. Israel, then, as a nation, is a lost and outcast nation. Not believing on the Son of God, they could not call upon Him; and not calling upon Him, they could not be saved: seeing that no other name is given under heaven whereby men may be saved (Acts 4:12).

Yet, though they had not believed, they had heard (verse 18). The quotation from the 19th Psalm is remarkable. The subject of that Psalm is the glory of God. This glory is there celebrated as pervading creation, letting fall its light upon every visible thing, and disclosing nothing that did not witness of God. Especially, it was the heavens in their silent beauty, and the alternations of day and night, that gave the most emphatic testimony to the power and Godhead of Jehovah. No speech or language could exist where their voice was not heard. If man's tongue remained dumb, and rendered no responsive praise to the Creator, it was because, in the madness of his heart, he had given himself to vanity (Rom. 1). Similarly now, the reach of the Spirit's witness as the revealer of Christ — the true light of the Divine glory — is to the creature under heaven (Col. 1:23). Such is its aspect. The sunshine of the Gospel, as the witness of Divine grace, is as freely shed upon the unthankful and the evil as is the visible light of the revolving day. The actual responsibility of rejection attaches, of course, to those only who have heard the report. The apostle's matter here is not a statement of results, but the enunciation of the principle of universality as that which characteristically belonged to the existent dispensation of grace.*

{*Divine election directing, meanwhile, and controlling the administration of this grace. The apostle and his companions in labour, for instance, were not suffered to enter Bythinia, though they essayed to go in. They were forbidden, again, by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, etc. (Acts 16:6-7).}

The remaining verses, bringing the nation as thus forsaking its own mercies again before our view as the single object of our contemplation, are heavily fraught with the burden of Divine denunciation. Yet is there in the first quotation (verse 19) a ray of hope discoverable, which the coming chapter will brighten into a steadier and clearer day. Meanwhile, the Lord is justified in His dealings with His people. He had spoken, and they had refused to hear. Again, they had heard, but they had not known. But all these things had happened according to the prediction of God through the prophets. Israel's condemnation was thus doubled. They not only refused, that is, the abounding grace of God in the cross of Christ, but in doing so they contradicted the very truth in which they professed to make their boast as disciples of Moses. On the other hand, their disobedience to the truth confirmed and fulfilled the testimony of Jehovah in all these things. Not knowing the voices of the prophets any more than they knew the person of the Son of God, they had fulfilled them in condemning Him (Acts xiii 27). The spirit of slumber had settled upon the eyes of Jacob because of the judgment of the Lord. Israel had been weary of Jehovah, and He had fed them upon the bitter bread of their own delusions. Their stumbling was of Him. He was Himself their rock of offence (Isa. 8:14).

To sum up, then, the contents of this chapter. The apostle shows us, first, that Israel, nationally regarded, is lost. Secondly, the cause of his perdition is stated.

Viewing the nation at large, he has to bring them under the condemnation of the word of God as having forsaken their own mercies, and set up the idol of their vanity in their hearts. They had rejected God. Deliberately so, having both seen and hated the Father and the Son (John 15:24). Moreover, this had been done in the light not only of the word of the prophets, and of the manifestation of God Himself in the flesh, but also in spite of the gracious testimony of the Holy Ghost confirming His word by signs and wonders (Heb. 2:2-4). They had resisted unto blood the ministry of grace. They were, then, without excuse. They had of old broken the Law, and despised the covenant; and now that grace had opened in the blood of the Lamb a fountain for sin for their sakes; now that God, whom they and their fathers had grieved from the day He knew them, was preaching peace through Jesus Christ, they were meeting His message of mercy by a protestation of legal righteousness!

This filled up the measure of their provocations. Wrath, therefore, must come, and had already come upon them (1 Thess. 2:14-16). Thus the apostle's desire of heart toward his kindred is found to have no rest or relief whilst reviewing their actual condition, and what had led to that condition. The case was indeed desperate. They had counted themselves unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46). They would none of Christ.

Romans 11.

The close of the last chapter left the nation in a state of complete alienation from God. All the promises which pertained to them as the people of His choice were, so far as they depended for their fulfilment on the national obedience, entirely gone. Israel had rejected God. In rejecting Jesus they had cast His word away from them, and with it all their hope. The story of the nation, then, has been told. The Spirit of God has demonstrated, in the two chapters last considered, the actual condition of Israel as the result of their own way, the fruit of their own will. One question, however, yet remains. Had God cast off His people? The present chapter contains the answer to this question. Israel had indeed destroyed himself; yet in Jehovah was his help still found (Hosea 13:9).

A new point of view is now taken from which we are to regard the nation. The prospects and destinies of Israel are examined in the present chapter in their immediate relation to the Name of Jehovah. What He is, in the sufficing fulness of His own grace and power, as the God of Israel, is exhibited in contrast to the foregoing picture of the nation's vanity. The patience of His grace, the faithfulness of His covenanted love, and the effectual display of His righteous power, are all exemplified in His dealings with Israel. He had named them with His name because He had formed them for His praise. Accordingly, it is here shown that, though the nation had stumbled, yet its ultimate position is uprightness and glory. God's people are a people of blessing. The very womb and fountain of Israel is the promise made to Abraham. The fulfilment of this promise in Christ — the nation's forfeiture of its natural interest therein — the development of the hitherto secret counsel of God with reference to the Church, as a result of the national failure — the prophetic intimation of the foreknown issue of the dispensation of Gentile mercy — and the eventual fulfilment, in the restored nation, of the promises which, though long suspended in effect, remained immovably secured in the record of Divine truth — these are the topics which receive in this chapter the especial treatment of the apostle, to whose calling it pertained to feed the sheep of Christ with a knowledge which it behoved them not to be ignorant of, lest they should be wise in their own conceits (verse 25).

Let us now examine the chapter in its order. Verse 1. "Hath God then cast away His people?" This question comprises not only Israel nationally, but individuals of Jewish blood severally considered. Seeing that the nation had so emphatically disowned the Lord, had God altogether abhorred His own, so as to leave Himself no remnant? Had He, in turning to the Gentiles, shut up for the present all His mercies to the natural seed of promise? In reply to this question, the apostle refers to his own calling as a conspicuous and decisive proof that the conduct of the nation and its rulers could not frustrate the gracious purposes of the Divine mercy in individual election. Paul was no proselyte, but a born Jew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He had, moreover, been the very edge and energy of the national hatred of Christ. Yet, by the grace of God, he was now the chosen messenger of the Lord to the Gentiles.

But in the direct answer to the question (verse 2), we have not only the assertion of individual election, but also the assurance that, though Israel be nationally cast off and lost, in the righteous award of Divine judgment, still the people of God remain secure. The expression "people" in this verse I understand in a double sense. First, the election of grace draws lost sheep of Israel to the bosom of Christ, just as it does godless and hopeless Gentiles. The Church, thus formed, is a people for His name. But, secondly, the Spirit of God would, I believe, by the use of this expression, still keep our minds fixed upon the nation as the object eventually of Divine favour, according to the truth of the mercy sworn of old. This will appear more distinctly as we proceed.

The quotation which follows is in every way remarkable. Its immediate application here is to the election of grace from among the blinded nation, of which the apostle had been a specimen; but it is cited as a solemn and most touching proof that God never forsakes His people who are such indeed. The contrast between the intercession of the prophet against the nation, and the Divine response (ho chrematismos), is as instructive as it is wonderful. The eye of man, dwelling upon things apparent and affecting his heart by the evidence of facts, guides his mind to a judgment which, though his heart may be true to God, is ever found to come short of the will of God. God's counsels are wider and deeper than may be expressed by human action, or understood by human thought. The righteous zeal of God's most devoted servant Elijah leads him to make intercession against Israel. He had had a long and weary experience of the utter apostasy of the people from their God. He seemed to stand alone. He did so in fact. That is to say, he alone was known in Israel as a servant of Jehovah. It was an effect of this experience to concentrate his thoughts and his desires upon himself. He ceased to reason by faith. Hence, while zealous for God, he forgets in his affliction that the name of his Holy One is the God of Israel.

But man's intercession against his fellow brings forth the deep response of Divine power and grace: "I have reserved," etc. God had been acting while He made as though He acted not. The nation was indeed a reprobate nation. But God remembers His own name. Nature, indeed, can merit nothing but a curse instead of a blessing. God, first committing His name to a promise of blessing, afterwards prepares the vessels of mercy in which the promises are to become vested, for their fulfilment in due time. The appeal of the prophet was as true as it was forcible. They had killed the Lord's prophets. They had digged down His altars. They did seek His poor weary servant's life. Yet God had a remnant of mercy then. A large and goodly band when matched with the solitary unit which had filled all the prophet's view — "I only am left alone." Still they were but a few among the many thousands of Israel. But they were God's people, the men in whose hearts His name lived, and for whom His power was ready to be put forth.

"Even so, then," argues the apostle (verse 5), "at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." The fulfilment of all wickedness in the generation that slew the Lord of life, did not impede the operation of the sure purposes of Divine mercy. The children whose fathers had slain the prophets, and had digged down the altars of Jehovah, had indeed excelled in their deeds the sin of their fathers. They had destroyed the living Temple of the blessed God (John 2:19). They had preferred a murderer to the Prince of life, who healed their sick and raised their dead. They sought the life of Him who was indeed left alone. They sought it, and they found it in due time; for there was a hand they wist not of, that led them to that prey. The counsel of salvation was the secret truth of the blessed God, which, long withstood, and reaching its effects by degrees imperceptible to men who merely watched the course of events, and marked the flight of time by the ordinary recurrence of the days of man's vanity, rose into victory and eternal praise out of the grave of the crucified Son of man. The first-ripe fruits of the perfected love of God were ministered to the election of His mercy from among the nation of the murderers of His Son.

And here let us remark, before advancing further into the chapter, that the special operation of Divine election in the days of Elijah left the nation unimpaired in its capacity to become the subject of future dealings on the part of God. The prophecy of Hosea, for instance,* pregnant as it is with national promise, was delivered after the days of Elijah. In like manner, the calling of the election of grace out of the nation into Christ, leaves the nation itself in unimpaired completeness, as the subject of such especial promises and dealings of God as may yet remain to be fulfilled,** and the fulfilment of which appears, from the testimony of the Scripture, to be incompatible with the standing and the calling of the Church of God. To proceed with our chapter.

{*I quote this prophet because his subject is generally "Israel" as distinguished from "Judah;" but I must add that I feel altogether persuaded that the unbroken unity of the nation is the object of the apostle's view in this passage.

** Acts 26:7, affords a good illustration of this, Our twelve tribes, etc.}

Verse 6. The remnant was according to the election of grace. Works, then, were excluded. Grace and works cannot consist, but contradict each other. Both things are perfect in themselves. Salvation, then, may be proposed as attainable by either, but cannot be by both. Fully as I have treated this point in earlier pages of these Notes, I feel desirous of yet again pressing upon my reader the antagonism of works and grace, when considered respectively, as means of human salvation. But one may say; Am I not to satisfy myself that I am in the faith, by referring to my works? The answer is, that Scripture never directs such a process. When the apostle elsewhere calls upon Christians to examine themselves whether they be in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), his appeal is to the spiritual consciousness of the believers addressed; "Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" The internal testimony of a heart which, because it is possessed by the Spirit of God, believes that Jesus is the Christ, is the evidence of a man's being in the faith. Works, if good, flow from love, and love is gendered in the soul by faith. If, therefore, I want to know whether I believe, I must look at the object of my faith, I must look at Jesus. If my heart is glad at the mention of the dying love of Christ, then, why is it so? And again, if rising above the miserable feelings of my own selfishness, I am emboldened to claim that Christ as mine, whom God gave freely for the sinner who might feel he needed such, what is it that I find in Him? Do I find less than a Saviour?

But if it be a denial of all truth to detract from the glory of the Lord by diminishing the weight and measure of His perfect work, then it is a similar contradiction for me to doubt respecting the true nature of my standing as a believer in Him A Christian's faith is, as has been shown already, an effect of His election of God. He is elect by the grace of God, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. The sanctification of the Spirit, begins its effect, according to Divine foreknowledge, from the moment that the mighty hand of God is laid upon the sinner to lead him to Christ. But the purpose and object of this choice of God is salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). Salvation, then, is an end, a result. It is so, but it is God's end; the result of Divine purpose, and the crowning effect of a Divinely finished work. Again, the same witness testifies that it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His own mercy He saved us … that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5, 7). The means are stated in the same passage. It is instrumentally "by the laver (loutron) of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." God is thus the operator in the means, as well as the deviser of the purpose. Regeneration is not my work, but God's. The renewing of the Holy Ghost is effected by the abundant shedding forth of that blessed Spirit "through Jesus Christ, our Saviour." That is, the Spirit, which is the vis and potency of effectual work in man, acts thus only in those who already, as born of God, are regenerate; and who, as believing confessors of Jesus Christ, the Lord, already rejoice in Him as a Saviour. But if so, then are they safe. Now may they work. The fear of wrath being replaced by the peace of God, they may well bethink themselves how they may henceforth walk so as to please Him. In a word, the only ground and starting-point which the holy word of God reveals for work in His sight is perfected acceptance in Christ. Where grace is known, work must follow; for faith is a living and an operative thing.*

{*James 2:26. The argument of the apostle James against the hollow pretensions of mere verbal profession turns upon the very point insisted on above. It was the presence of faith in Abraham and Rehab that produced the works whereby they obtained a good report. God bare them witness of their faith (Heb. 11:17, 31).}

I do not forget that we are exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; but this exhortation, instead of disturbing the doctrine of the grace of God, owes its very existence to the completeness of that grace. It is the indwelling energy of God in the believer, which accomplishes the doing of His pleasure in the vessels of His mercy (Phil. 2:12-13). A believer is sanctified unto obedience. Because he is a son, obedience as such becomes the principle of his conduct. But because his knowledge of Christ is now by faith, and in a body as yet unredeemed, his obedience is ever rendered in opposition to the will of the flesh. The life therefore of a Christian is of necessity a life of conflict. He is saved by hope. His progress, as a liberated captive of sin and Satan, is toward the rest that remains for the people of God. His way lies through dangers which will surely swallow up and overwhelm everything but faith. He has, then, to fear, lest by any means he depart from the living God (Heb. 4). Moreover, he has to order his conversation aright in the fear of the Lord. But he has, above all, to hold fast, without wavering, the beginning of his confidence (Heb. 3:6-14). Now the beginning of his confidence as a believer, was God in Christ. To that he has to cleave. His first rejoicing, on emerging from the darkness and dismay of a sinful conscience, was Christ. That rejoicing he has to hold fast and firm unto the end. The hope of the Gospel is Christ; already in Him as the hope of glory (Col. 1:27) — objectively before him as the end of his race (Phil. 3). He is to take heed that he be not moved from thence (Col. 1:23).

But I feel that I am carrying my patient reader further from the present matter in hand than he may consider wise or profitable. Yet for his sake it is done; and if by the grace of God his own heart, because already firmly set in Christ, needs no such aid as is here offered to the feeble-minded saint, he will not grudge the labour of perusing a page which, while superfluous to himself, may find its use in blessing to some less happily taught than he.

Verses 7-10. These verses place the nation of Israel in direct contrast to the election. That which Israel had vainly sought for, the election had obtained. The rest were blinded, or hardened. The quotations which the apostle here makes in proof of his doctrine do not appear to call for any especial notice: but as the term "election" is used in this passage for the last time* in contradistinction to the national title, it is desirable to consider for a moment the order and manner in which this grace of election then acted.

{*In verse 28 it is applied to the nation itself, as we shall see.}

The election of which the apostle speaks is plainly that which the grace of God drew forth from the apostate and blinded nation. Hence, the term is used in this chapter in a more restricted sense than in the ninth. Now that which separated the saved remnant from the rejected nation was the faithful confession of Christ. The election had obtained in Him that which the nation still groped for in the darkness of their unbelieving hearts. But the effect of this separation from the nation was to unite the believer apparently and outwardly (as well as intrinsically because of common birth, being alike begotten of the truth) to that which held and confessed the name of Christ in the world. He became a member of the Church of God, as the necessary consequence of his being quickened into life through the word of the Gospel. So long, then, as the Church of God stood forth as the pillar and ground of the truth, salvation could reach none but those who — because they confessed that truth of which the Church bare witness — were identified by that confession with the Church as Christ's sole witness in the world. To be in the visible Church may, in this sense, be said to have been a condition of salvation, while, in the unbroken unity of that Church as the one body of the risen and glorified Christ, the light of life shone forth from her upon the nations of the world, and the Spirit of glory and of God rested upon her in her patient endurance of the afflictions of the Gospel.

But the chapter before us is written mainly to unfold and explain to us a mystery respecting the dispensational government of God, by means of which the ancient counsel of truth and promise, of which the nation of His choice is the object, is in its own appointed season to be brought to pass. The chief feature of the mystery here referred to is the order and standing of the professed Gentile body of believers, which in our own day is but too well known as the professing Church; being distinguished by that title from that which really belongs to Christ as alive from the dead. The place which this body occupies in the dispensational arrangement of God, and the result of its professed acknowledgment of the faith of Christ, will appear as we approach the close of this chapter. In the meanwhile, the verses which immediately follow will show us how the wisdom of God has provided for the carrying out of His counsels respecting Israel, and for the preservation of His remnant through the whole course of the Gentile dispensation; even when the light of Divine truth should have ceased to rest upon the shattered candlestick of the divided and corrupted Church, and when, in the total failure of that which is sometimes called the Christian dispensation, preparation should have been made for the resumption of the cast-off branches of the natural olive, and for bringing to pass, in the nation's redemption, the remainder of the mercy promised to the fathers from of old.

Accordingly, in the eleventh verse, the apostle, dismissing for the present the subject of the election, turns again to the consideration of the broken and rejected nation, as the yet-reserved object of Divine mercy. "I say, then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall* salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy." This is a truly important passage. In order to estimate justly the force of these words, it is necessary to recall to mind the tenor of those Old Testament prophecies, which bear as their burden the prospective blessing of the Gentiles. I shall quote here a few passages, and only a few, in proof of the general assertion, that the prosperity of the nations as partakers of the blessings of the Abrahamic promise, is most frequently regarded in the Old Testament as dependent on, and immediately resulting from, the establishment of the nation of Israel, in the enjoyed blessings of the new covenant, in their own land.

{* "Fall" is not a good word, as it had just been said that they have not stumbled to their fall. "Lapse," "false step," or even "transgression," or "offence," are preferable. It is in the last two meanings that the word is everywhere rendered in the New Testament, except in this chapter. De WETTE renders it here by "Fehltritt," which appears to express it very justly.}

First, we have in the song of Moses the following words, "Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries; and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people" (Deut. 32:43). The apostle's use of a part of this quotation, in the fifteenth chapter will be noticed when we arrive at that part of our work. I now make only two remarks: — First, the joy of the Gentiles is here stated to be with His people, and not without them: and, secondly, that by the term "people" is meant the nation, and not the elect remnant, is evident from the mention which is made of the land.

My next proof shall be from the prophet Isaiah: "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples* shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," etc., (Isa. 2:2-3). I merely remark on this passage that, after deducting for figurative language, if it be so regarded, there remain these clear facts: — first, the mountain of the house of Jehovah is recognized as the centre of the world's worship; secondly, the locality of this worship is Zion or Jerusalem; and, thirdly, the nations which set their faces toward the Lord, seek Him under the express title of the God of Jacob.

{* Having quoted this one instance, I shall not feel it needful to repeat my reference to the Hebrew text, in justification of future changes of number from singular to plural.}

Farther on in the same prophet, we read as follows: "And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His doings among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto Jehovah, for He has done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry aloud, and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee" (Isa. 12:4-6). On this it is sufficient to remark, first, that we have here the restored nation calling upon the name of the Lord, and therefore saved;* and, secondly, the proclamation of the name of Jehovah to the nations is stated as an effect of this restoration and salvation. Earth is the scene of this chapter, and not heaven. The God of Israel is known in the midst of Zion as having returned thither after His anger had been turned away.**

{*Ante, Rom. 10. passim; specially verse 13.

** Compare verse 1. If the whole of this short but richly beautiful chapter be read thoughtfully, noticing its connexion by the introductory words "In that day" with what precedes, I think much light will be acquired on this subject. But, indeed, it is hard to select proofs of what is the main burden of all prophecy.}

The whole of the sixtieth chapter of the same prophet, is devoted to the celebration of the glory and blessedness of the earthly Zion as the branch of the Lord's planting. In contrast to what she had been, when forsaken and despised among the nations, she is there presented as receiving the homage of the Gentiles, as the centre of blessing to the nations on every side. Again, in the following chapter, we read, "Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the peoples: all they that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Jehovah has blessed" (Isa. 61:9). Independently of the strong Jewish character of the context, it is evident from its very terms that this passage does not relate to the Church; seeing that nothing can be more contradictory to the calling of those who are to count it no marvel if the world hate them — whose very calling is to suffer, who are appointed as sheep for the slaughter — than such a description as this.

The same subject is richly illustrated in the remainder of the prophecy of Isaiah, and in many of the other prophets. From these I make but two extracts: First, in the prophet Zephaniah we find, after a recital of the Lord's purposes both of judgment and of mercy, — the end of which is the restoration and blessing of Jerusalem because of the presence in the midst of her of Jehovah, her God, as King of Israel, — the following promise: "I will save her that halts, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all peoples of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord" (Zeph. 3:19-20).

My last reference is to the prophet Zechariah, where we read in the 14th chapter, after mention has been made of preceding events, as follows: "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zech. 14:16). That the language here is simply literal, and not at all figurative, must, I think, be apparent to any one who reads the remainder of the chapter from whence the above extract has been made. I add no more to this series. My difficulty has been to select from a large number so many as, without being so numerous as to encumber the general argument, should suffice to place the point immediately under our notice in a clear light. From the Psalms I make no quotations, though they present at almost every page the completest proofs of what I have thus endeavoured to substantiate.

If the above quotations and remarks have been effectual in convincing the reader's mind of the correctness of the assertion in support of which they have been used, the language of the apostle in the verse on which we are commenting will be seen to refer to a dispensation of God towards the Gentiles, differing materially, as to the instrumental means of its accomplishment, from that to which the prophecies in general relate. Instead of a re-united and prosperous nation, Israel lies now before us completely broken upon the stumbling-stone. But the Lord's own words assure us of a time when the self-same city which rejected Him and would none of His love, though from of old He had been to them as a hen towards her chickens in the compassionate tenderness of unwearied mercy (Matt. 23:37-39), should yet with seeing eyes behold Him, and with blessings receive Him as the One who comes in the name of Jehovah. In the Psalm from whence the Lord takes some of His words (Ps. 118) we find a full and richly triumphant strain of national thanksgiving on the part of Israel, who celebrate the glory of Jehovah; first, as their deliverer from external oppression, and, secondly, as the opener of their eyes, once dark, to the shining of the light of life, to see and to accept with blessing the advent of His Christ. "God is the Lord who has showed us light," etc. The stone once refused by the builders, is there gloried in and built upon as the head of the corner. Another builder has taken the work in hand, even He of whom it is said that "when the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory" (Ps. 102:16).

The contrariety of the state of Israel as regarded in these chapters, to what has been adduced from other parts of Scripture which relate to the restored prosperity of the nation, having now been shown, I return more immediately to the verse before us. Israel has stumbled, but not to his fall. On the contrary, the actual condition of the nation is a part of the dealings of Jehovah with them as His people. They had provoked Him to anger with that which was not God; and he would move them to jealousy with that which was not a people (Deut. 32:21). The present dispensation of Gentile grace stands thus in a direct relation to the eventual purposes of God with respect to Israel nationally. It intervenes, as a distinct manifestation of Divine grace and wisdom, between the rejection of the nation and its restitution in the day of the Lord.* Nothing is more important, when considering the general subject of God's dispensational government, than to remember that no promise of God, once addressed specifically to an expressed object, can ever fail of its exact accomplishment. We have to bear in mind that the promises proceed out of the mouth of the same wise God, who displays the riches of His wisdom in the varied dispensations of His will to the praise of His own glory as the God of truth. Intermediate events, while they bring into fuller and richer display the glory of the Divine wisdom, instead of frustrating, will be found in the end to have conduced to the fulfilment of anterior promise. Now, as we have seen in the ninth chapter of this Epistle (ch. 9:4), there are promises which belong to Israel. They are made to them nationally, and until the time shall arrive for the fulfilment to the nation of God's choice of the promises expressly made to it, those promises remain in reserve.

{*I use the expression "day of the Lord" here, as a general term by which to distinguish the millennial dispensation from that which is now drawing to its close. The latter is styled "man's day" (1 Cor. 4:3), being the time during which the absence of the Lord from the earth leaves opportunity for faithfulness or unfaithfulness on the part of those who professedly bear His name. He is gone to receive a kingdom, and to return (Luke 19:11-12).}

God has never owned as His people any nation of the Gentiles. He calls, it is true, by the Gospel of witness, a people from among the nations, which people, as the united body of Christ, stands alike distinct from Jew and Gentile. But no nation has ever been set in the place of Israel, so as to become the direct object of Israelitish promise. Most true it is, as we are presently taught, that the Gentiles who outwardly own Christ are regarded dispensationally as having taken, ad interim, the place of Israel, and are dealt with according to the responsibilities of their position as professedly the people of God. Nevertheless, the present mercy to the Gentiles is, in the actual mode of its administration, a part of the chastisement wherewith Jehovah chastens that people which alone He knows as such among the nations of the world (Amos 3:2).

The verse which follows opens this further: "If the fall (paraptoma) of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?" The transgression of Israel has opened the treasures of Divine mercy to the world. The Gentiles are enriched by the diminishing of the now disowned seed of Abraham. But if so, he argues, how much rather will these results of blessing flow from their restoration; from the re-opening and filling with the fulness of blessing the channel through which, as we have seen above, the eventual enrichment of Divine blessing is to overspread the nations. The force of the apostle's à fortiori reasoning arises from this, that the present dispensation of Gentile grace is limited in its effects, and most precarious as to its continuance. It is the undefined duration of Divine long-suffering which alone postpones the second advent, in glory, of the Lord Jesus, whose coming will be for judgment upon that which in His absence has had the witness of His name. The present dispensation of grace to the Gentiles is administered by those, the urgency of whose persuasion, as ambassadors of Christ, is to induce men to escape out of a world already condemned by the rejection of the Son of God, and to flee for refuge to that Name which is now preached for salvation to every creature under heaven. The descent from heaven of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 4:15-18) to accomplish the salvation of His Church by the redemption, in power, of their bodies of corruption, has been from the day of His ascension the hope and promise of them that believe (Acts 11). While the Church stood fast in its unity, its attitude was patient waiting for Christ. To the isolated Christian, who may find himself in the last days of apostasy and ruin, the same blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and Saviour is ministered by the Holy Ghost as the sustaining power of his faith and patience. On the other hand, when Israel, instead of being, as now, "an empty vine" (Hosea 10:1), shall have begun to blossom and bud, the dew of that blessing which shall lie upon his branch will be the same saving knowledge of Christ in redemption which is now the life of the quickened believer in His name.

But the administration of Divine truth among the nations will be in the manifested power of the kingdom of God. Instead of a testimony exposed to the derision of those who regarded the preaching of the cross as foolishness, and treated its messengers as the off-scouring of all things, there will be the overspreading, in commanding power, of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. The nations that have for so long wearied themselves for very vanity (Hab. 2:13-14), shall then be brought to acknowledge that the one God of all the earth is also the Redeemer of Zion (Isa. 54:5). The throne of wickedness will then have been cast down, and the seat of righteous judgment will have been set. "A king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isa. 32:1). Christ and His fellows will administer that kingdom in power which as yet is but a testimony to the world, the value and the reality of which are felt only in those hearts which are opened of the Lord according to the election of His grace. Satan will then be bound, and the creature will be set free into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The name of Jerusalem, then recognized as the joy of the whole earth (Ps. 48:2), will be "The Lord is there." The God of Israel will be known and acknowledged as the giver of strength and power to His people, when, because of His temple at Jerusalem, the kings of the Gentiles bring gifts of homage unto Him (Ps. 68:29, 34, 35). As to the endurance of this reign of blessing, it is affirmed to be co-equal in continuance with the ordinances of heaven (Ps. 72). Until the time arrives for the Son to render up the kingdom to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24), that the ultimate accomplishment of revealed purpose may be brought to pass in the new creation where God shall be all in all (Rev. 21:1-5), the kingdom and dominion of all which is under heaven* shall prosper in the hands of the anointed King of nations** (Dan. 7:14, 27; Ps. 2:612).

{*Above the heavens too, most assuredly, as no Christian, I trust, needs to be reminded.

**That ethnon, and not hagion is the correct reading in Rev. 15:3 is now, I believe, generally admitted by the soundest critics.}

Well might the apostle, then, as a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, while joyfully contemplating the actual dispensation of Divine mercy of which he was himself a partaker, look forward with a yet fuller joy to the time of the more abundant display of the same mercy through the accomplishment of the long deferred national promise.

Verses 13-15. The casting away of the natural Israel is thus made the date of the commencement of that new and distinct dispensation of God towards the nations of the earth, exclusive of Israel, (except as Israel may now take its place among other nations (Amos 9:7), and be therefore comprehended in the generic appellation of Gentile), which forms the epoch of the world's mercy. It is with reference to this that he is able to speak (verse 15) of the casting away of Israel as the reconciliation of the world. The immediate object of the testimony of the Holy Ghost is now the world. "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation," is a descriptive expression of the aspect of Divine grace as it is now preached through Jesus to every consenting ear.

He magnifies his office as the apostle of the Gentiles. His desire is to provoke to emulation them that are his flesh. His heart, ever yearning towards his own, seeks comfort thus in the very work which most emphatically witnessed of the nation's rejection. Some might, he hoped, still thus be saved. The testimony of the Spirit of God among the Gentiles, confirmed as it was by the signs and mighty wonders of apostolic energy according to the power of God, might act upon the conscience and the heart of the individual Israelite, and stir him up to go forth without the nation's camp (Heb. 13:13), in order to meet and be owned by Him who had forsaken His former habitation. For this he hoped, though the nation had dropped for the present beyond the actual range and limit of Divine mercy. Meanwhile, he knew that though repudiated in fact, Israel was not forgotten in those counsels which from of old were faithfulness and truth, and which in due time were to ripen into the rich and abiding harvest of peace and glory for that broken and afflicted people, whose end was to be yet more wonderful than their beginning* (Isa. 18:7).

{*The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. The promises, therefore, of which the nation is the object, are the recorded pledge of the national restoration. For no dealing of God with a third party, for instance, with the Church, can ever amount to a fulfilment of promises made specifically to Israel by name. Peter, addressing the election then standing in Christ (1 Peter 2:9-10), applies to them language which is elsewhere used of the natural Israel when brought under the new covenant. The reason is clear. They were, as an election, saved by the same grace which by and by, will visit the people as such, when the nation shall itself be chosen. Thus they occupied morally and by anticipation, (in conjunction with yet higher blessings as a part of the body of Christ), a position and privileges which will nationally be enjoyed by Israel in the day when the vail is taken away.}

The language of the fifteenth verse is remarkable. Its drift and general meaning seem to be this. The casting away of Israel is the reconciling of the world. The nations, that is, instead of being known afar off, are dispensationally brought near. God wills now that all men should repent and come to the knowledge of the truth. But, though general in its terms, the grace preached is partial in its effect. The blessing of the Divine mercy, which is proclaimed and dispensed to the Gentiles in the message of the Gospel, is confined really to the election, as we have seen (Rom. 9:23-24). If, then, this visitation of the Gentiles by the God of grace, by a means and ministry quite unexpected and in its character altogether dissimilar to that of which the prophets speak, be the result of Israel's rejection; what shall the restoration of the nation be, but the perfecting of that blessing in its fulness of effect, by the complete accomplishment of that mercy to the world which the word of God has for ever bound up in the name and with the blessing of Israel as His people? As it is written: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts. I will go also. Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you" (Zech 8:20-23). In this passage we have a most striking description of the effect of the national restoration on the hearts as well as the consciences of the Gentiles. With respect to the expression "life from the dead," although I do not feel that I am assured of its exact meaning, I have little doubt that it is to be regarded as a strong figure, in which the actual state of the nation is contrasted with the future glory and fruitfulness of the same nation, when the filthy rags of its own righteousness shall have been exchanged for the garments of Divine salvation (Isa. 64:6, and 61:10). The figure of resurrection is more than once used in the prophets in order to express the revival of the nation from the death of its natural hope (Ezek. 37; Isa. 26:19-20). In the reception of the returning prodigal we have an application of the same figure very closely approximate, as it seems to me, in its moral force, to the passage now before us (Luke 15:32).

In the sixteenth verse the unity of the nation's destiny is further exemplified. "If the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches." By the expression "first-fruit" I understand the apostle to mean the nation of Israel in its primal calling and honour.* As it is written: "Israel was holiness unto Jehovah, the first-fruits of His increase" (Jer. 2:3). The nation had been thus owned when God brought them up out of Egypt, and gave His strength to the people in whom he saw no iniquity (Num. 23:21). But the blessing of the Lord had departed, and Israel had become an empty and dishonoured vine (Ps. 80). Yet the Shepherd of Israel and the Stone of their help abode still in His counsel. He had ordained blessing for the people of His calling, and whose name He had joined with His own. The apostle's argument, accordingly, is, that the eventual destiny of the nation will be worthy of its primal calling. So Balaam judged, when, in the reluctant utterance of the commanded blessing, he made mention of the latter day of glory which was to fulfil the promises of Divine faithfulness to the people of God's choice (Num. 23:10). The nation is itself the creature of Divine promise. Grace is the true fountain of Israel. But the law had entered, and a curse came instead of a blessing. Because they had rejected the Lord, in His prophets and in His Christ, the nation was now cast off. Yet was there hope in their latter end. The Spirit of God appears to be here connecting the past display of Divine grace and power in the Exodus from Egypt, with the future manifestation of the same mercy in yet more abundant richness of result. That mercy still holds fast, in the counsels of God, the seed of Abraham His friend. Deeply graven on the palms of His hands there remain the record and the number of the many thousands of Israel (Isa. 49:16). The sanctity of the former generation, when Jehovah walked among them in the tabernacle of witness, will be yet excelled by the generation who shall date their birth not only from the natural fountain of Israel, but from -the effectual power of quickening grace. The name of Jerusalem, when, as a place without walls (Zech. 2:4-5) she shall overflow with the multitude of the Lord's blessing, will be "The Lord is there;" and upon the very bells of their horses shall be read in that day the inscription of His most holy name (Zech. 14:20).

{*Although the same term (aparche) is applied to the Church in James 1:18, I do not see that it has here any reference to it. It is not until mention is made of the branches of the olive, that the Church as a dispensation comes under review.}

With respect to the remainder of this verse, I regard the "root" as meaning, first, the primeval word of promise, which gave expression originally to the purpose of God as the God of grace — secondly, and especially, it here, I think, intends the promise made to Abraham. The general drift of the reasoning which follows is clear. The root was naturally the producer of the nation. Promise brought Isaac forth by preternatural birth, and in Isaac had the natural seed been called. On the other hand, the Gentiles, in order to partake of the root, must be grafted in. If, then, the root was holy, so were the branches, whether natural or engrafted. The general application of this is plain. But in the verse before us I believe that the apostle is still regarding the national branches as they will hereafter appear, when, after having been for a time estranged from the root that bare them, they will be again engrafted into their own tree, and become fruitful in blessing to the nations of the earth.

Verses 17-21. The mention of the branches in the last verse brings now more immediately into our vie w the mystery of the Church dispensation, which stands set in its place according to the order of God's manifested dealings as the sovereign governor of the world. It is this subject which will now engage our attention. Nor can we, if believers, be occupied by anything more truly momentous than the consideration of the Spirit's testimony with respect to the dispensation which has produced ourselves, and in which we live. May we have wisdom to perceive and accept with joy all that the grace of our Father has provided for the profit of our souls.

The Church of God, as the quickened and anointed vessel of Divine grace and power, has already come in a measure under our notice in the earlier chapters of this Epistle. Viewed in its perfection as the elect body of Christ, it has no place in the apostle's present argument. But what is here reviewed is the visible and aggregate result of the dispensation of Gentile mercy during the period of Israel's alienation.

It is a principle obvious in itself; and everywhere exemplified in the testimony of Scripture, that any especial revelation which God is pleased to make of Himself; not only confers upon the objects of such revelation the peculiar blessings which characterize it as a dispensation of God, but places, at the same time, the receivers of these blessings under the direct responsibility of glorifying God according to the special manifestation of His will which is thus revealed. We have had before us in the former chapters of this Epistle some striking examples of this. It was because men, while knowing God, refused Him His honour as the Creator (though in Him they lived, and moved, and had their being, and though His goodness filled their hearts with food and gladness), that God brought judgment to avenge on the abusers of His mercies the eternal holiness of His name.

The waters of the flood brought in upon the world of the ungodly, and the catastrophe of Sodom and Gomorrah, exemplify the same principle. More largely, and with a more forcible and immediate application to ourselves, we find the history of Israel under the Old Covenant to be the appointed page of instruction and of warning, prepared by the mercy and faithfulness of God for the admonition of those on whom the ends of the ages are come (1 Cor. 10:11).* Nor is the Church, considered dispensationally, an exception to this general rule of the Divine government. On the contrary, we find the New Testament full of the most varied and emphatic testimony to the general truth, that the assumption of the name of Christ renders the professor of that name responsible to the Lord as the Judge of His own house. That we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, is a truth known to every Christian. A believer who has learned of God the full truth as it is in Jesus, finds no cause of dread in the prospect of meeting Christ as the Judge of His servants. The knowledge of perfected love gives boldness in that day (1 John 4:17-19), as has been shown more fully in an earlier page. A sense of his own wretched short-coming and unfaithfulness may make a Christian, while engaged in judging himself, feel as it were a shrinking of shame from the ordeal of that day. This, however, is not the effect of any doubt of his own acceptance, but arises from the opposite feeling. He feels, that is, in proportion to the distinctness with which he discerns the freeness of grace, a corresponding sense of self-reproach at having so ill requited the Lord, together with an anticipation of loss, when respect is had to that recompense of reward which, by the soul that loves the Master, will be held in no light esteem.

{* "Die Enden der Zeiten." — DE WETTE. — The force of this expression appears to be this. There has been a sequence of successive dispensations of God from the days of Eden until now. The publication, in the Gospel, of life and incorruptibility through the righteousness of a Saviour God, closes the long day of Divine patience, during which the qualities of man have been put to the test. Grace rejected brings on the judgment which will usher in the cloudless morning of a brighter day — the day of the Lord, and not of man.

But I may not here pursue this topic. Another question than that of the adjudication of reward to the true servants of Christ is now before us. The Lord will judge His people. He does so now (1 Peter 4:17). But there is a time at hand when He will suddenly return to that which during His long-protracted absence has borne His name in the world. The effect of that visitation will be according to the condition of the professing body, as it will be judged unerringly by the decision of Divine holiness. With respect to this, the Spirit of God bears ample testimony in the Scripture to the introduction, the progress, and the final result of evil in the professing body of Christ. The seal of the sure foundation of God is, first, "The Lord knows them that are His;" and, secondly, "Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." But the express witness of the Spirit is, that instead of departing from iniquity many would depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4) — that evil men and seducers would wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3) — that the pernicious ways (2 Peter 2) of such would draw many back from faith unto perdition. It is, moreover, plainly affirmed that the principle of evil had already found its lodgment in the Church, which in dine time should ripen into its destined climax of impious hostility to God (2 Thess. 2; Jude, passim).

The passage upon which we are now entering is fraught with instruction of the utmost practical value on the same subject, inasmuch as it defines the limits of what is called the Christian dispensation, and testifies distinctly to the causes and the manner of its coming to its end. Let us examine the verses in detail. "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree, boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee" (verses 17, 18). We have the Gentile Church regarded here, dispensationally, as an adventitious graft, which finds, its place on the stem of Divine promise during the absence of those branches which had been broken off to make room, for it. Essentially, the Gentile is a wild olive branch. Without promise or birth-right in himself, he becomes, by grace, a partaker of the promises of God through the Gospel. A violence had been done to the natural growth and development of the root of promise, before the foreign branch could be received so as to become an integral part of the tree. Through the fall of Israel salvation is come to the Gentiles. But being grafted in, the Gentile branch became immediately connected with the root in all its fatness. The danger then was, that in the consciousness of actual favour there would be a haughtiness of place, while contemplating the subversion and rejection of the nation as the precedent condition of the setting up of the Gentile Church. It is this which the apostle here endeavours to anticipate and counteract, by reminding them that they owed their standing to no other thing than their being upborne upon the root which naturally was none of theirs. Yet they might plead (verse 19) the breaking off of the natural branches for their sakes in justification of their boastings. But the reply is as ready as it is decisive: "Because of unbelief they were broken off; and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee" (verses 20, 21).

The position of the Gentile Church as an engrafted branch of the olive root has been already stated. We have now declared to us the tenure by which alone that position is maintained. Unbelief had broken off the natural branches. Faith was the instrumental introduction of the foreign shoot. Now the very mention of faith, as the condition of their standing, is sufficient to still the self-gratulating boast against which he had just before warned them. Faith being the means of binding the Church to the promises, whenever that cement shall lose its proper virtue, the branch, already grown strange again by ceasing to draw its life-sustaining supply from the root, remains but a burden to the tree, and is in readiness to be again cut out. Regarded, then, as a dispensation, the Church takes the place of Israel, and holds that place just so long as it continues to stand by faith. There was, therefore, cause of fear rather than of self-confidence. The blessings in which they might boast themselves were by the grace of God, and could in no wise be tasted in reality except by the, faith of His elect. Yet was there a possibility that, the once pure and unleavened Church might, by the subtle insinuation and stealthy growth of error, lose altogether its distinctive glory as "the household of faith." There was yet the more cause to fear in the remembrance of the Gentile origin of the Church. If once out off, it was without all hope of restitution. There is no hope in her latter end, as is the case with the natural branch. God, who did not spare the natural branches, would not spare, but would irrecoverably cut off, that which had taken their place, if the condition of its standing were not maintained.

The three verses which next follow (22-24) bring the subject now before us into a still closer application to the conscience, as a practical warning to the Church. We are called on to behold the goodness and the severity of God. The unchangeable character of God as the God of judgment, is presented to us in conjunction with the display of the riches of His kindness. It was the maintenance of the glory of God as the righteous avenger of His own name that caused the cutting off (apotomia) of them that had fallen. The self-same line of righteousness, when applied to the professed people of His name who, from among the Gentiles, hold the title of Christ as their own, would condemn, in equal impartiality, whatever was found to fail of the alone condition of continuance. Meanwhile, the actual standing of the Gentile profession is the goodness of God. "Toward thee goodness, if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (verse 22). We have here a direct intimation that upon failure on the part of the professing Gentile Church to stand in the goodness of God, that Church will be cut off.

The all-important question now is: Has the condition here stated been kept? Has the Gentile Church, as an aggregate, continued, and does it still continue, in the goodness of God? In endeavouring to meet and reply to this question, we must first recall to our minds what the foundation is upon which the Church of God was originally laid. The goodness of God now revealed in the Gospel is Christ, as the propitiation for human sin and the manifestation, in grace, of the righteousness of God. The goodness of God, in a word, reveals itself in presenting Christ as made of God to the believer righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Continuance in the goodness of God, then, can only be affirmed of such as, having once received the knowledge of that goodness by faith, have remained unmoved away from Christ the true and only hope of the Gospel. The substitution of works for grace — the gradual corruption of the doctrine of justification by faith alone into that of self-righteousness and external forms — the retention of the name of Christ and the letter of the Gospel, while the vivifying power of the Holy Ghost is denied or unknown — these things, inasmuch as they are severally and unitedly derelictions from the goodness of God, which is expressed and imparted in Christ alone, disqualify the body to which they attach for its continuance as a branch in the tree of promise.

Now if we steadily apply this principle of judgment to the Church as it has existed and does still exist upon earth, what result shall we find? First of all, let us diligently bear in mind the testimonies of the Holy Ghost — to which I have already referred in a former page of this chapter — in proof, first, of the commencement of an evil work in the Church; and, secondly, of the foreseen progress of that evil as it should conduct the self-deceived while apostate body towards the closing days of the present dispensation. I pass by very much Scripture, both from the Gospels and the Epistles, which might be adduced in further evidence and corroboration of the general statement which I now make on the authority of the chapter before us, supported by the passages already referred to — that from the apostolic times the Church had become practically corrupt, and that the word of God contains no warrant for an expectation of any other termination or issue of the long-suffering grace of God in this dispensation, than the quickening of His elect unto eternal salvation, and the hardening of that which has a name to live but is dead, to its ultimate destruction. As a corollary to this, it follows that that which now overspreads the earth in the form of Christianized Gentilism, whilst to the conscience and the heart of every real Christian it is not the Church of the living God, is, nevertheless, the ripe subject of the solemn warning contained in the verse now under consideration.

And now, with respect to historical facts which might be demanded in support of this general assertion, I answer, first, that to a godly mind the declared word of Divine truth is sufficient in itself to afford an assurance altogether infallible as to the soundness of conclusions drawn directly thence. When the Spirit of God delivers a prophecy, He foretells an event. The event thus foretold is, to the believer, a fact already assumed, and therefore to be used in aid of his spiritual understanding in forming a judgment on the actual circumstances in which he may find himself, and in penetrating the disguise of contradictory appearances with which the prince of this world ever seeks to mislead the minds of men. When, therefore, I read in Scripture that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Tim. 3:1-5) — that the form of godliness shall be found lingering over the utmost excess of all practical sin, which will then be found to hold the place of long-departed holiness and truth, so that the foulest features of natural apostasy are reproduced under the mask of religious profession — and when, further, I read of a time to come in which the pure truth of God would no longer be tolerable in the ears of those, who would be nevertheless distinguished by a prurient eagerness for religious novelties — that men should turn away their ears from the truth, and should be turned unto fables (2 Tim. 4:4-5) — in these passages of Scripture I find a revelation of Divine foreknowledge as to what must surely come to pass. Did, then, the outward aspect of things, at any stage of the dispensation, seem to contradict such a statement of results, I am still to bear in mind that judgment according to the appearance is never righteous judgment, and that God alone is capable of pronouncing upon the character and progress of that which He holds Himself in readiness to judge.

Yet, as appearances are most deceitful, and as occasional instances of freshly displayed Divine mercy are not infrequently turned rather to the sanctioning of the existing condition of things, than used as a stimulus to a nearer and fuller knowledge of God's ways; I shall here devote a few lines to the consideration of the bearing of the passage before us on the Church under the aspects in which it is presented to us historically. Let it, then, be remembered that the question before us is, Has the Gentile branch continued in the goodness of God?

Now; passing by the Book of Revelation, where the last of the seven phases in which the Church as a local witness to the truth of God comes before our view is pronounced by the Lord as fit only to be spued out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16), and in which mention is afterwards made of the mystery of abomination (Rev. 17); I would ask the Christian reader who may be acquainted with ecclesiastical history whether, in the extant monuments of the earliest post-apostolic times, he finds the Church of the Gentiles continuing in the goodness of God? Let him enumerate the heresies of the first and second centuries — let him compare the average standard of practical doctrine among those who are quoted as orthodox teachers and fathers in the Church, with the pure word of the truth of the Gospel as it was ministered by the apostles — let him ponder the several points of controversy which divided church from church during the interval which elapsed between the death of the last of the apostles and the accession of Constantine to the imperial sceptre; and then, when he has meditated sufficiently on the practical condition of the mass of professed worshippers, as indicated by the numerous writings in those times of a hortatory character, and has well examined the factitious sanctity of ascetic observances (so highly extolled by those who by their office and personal influence gave the tone to the general religious sentiment of the day), and compared them with the precious fruits of the Spirit which are borne only in hearts established with grace, and not with meats; let him say whether he finds continuance in the goodness of God to be thus far characteristic of the professed Gentile Church.

It is not needful to pursue this inquiry through the following ages anterior to the Reformation. Most Christians are aware that the riper iniquity and more deeply corrupted doctrine of Rome, were but the growth and expansion of that radical subversion of the pure grace of the Gospel, which, to speak generally, prevailed in the professing Church at the time of the Council of Nicea. I pass, then, at once to the Reformation. Now, what was this? Its name would imply, that from a state of declension the Gentile Church had regained its pristine purity. But was it so in fact? First, after taking the largest estimate of the extent of the Reformation, we find at least one half of Christendom remaining as before. But, secondly, was its effect, in the sphere of its actual operation, to restore the Gentile Church to its original condition? Now, whilst, in common with every one who through grace is able to value the truth of God, I bless the exceeding mercy which wrought for the recovery of sound doctrine through the instrumentality of the Reformers, I feel that I need only refer any sound-minded believer to the history of that movement, whether in his own country or on the Continent, in order to convince him that no such effect was produced. Blessing to individual souls doubtless abounded, through the preaching, in more or less clearness, of the word of grace: but the adoption by states and governments of a sounder form of doctrine, and the settlement according to the will of the powers that be of means for the diffusion of scriptural knowledge, though in one sense ascribable to the mercy of God, is a very different thing from a return of the collective Church of God to its normal position, as the habitation of God through the Spirit — the single and undivided pillar and ground of the truth.

Without pausing to dwell on the political results immediately or indirectly flowing from the Reformation, — the wars, the intrigues, the complicated evil and wickedness which, alas! meet us as familiarly in the history of Protestantism as of its less enlightened and therefore less guilty rival; I hasten to close this digression by a momentary glance at the actual condition of the Christian world in this our day.*

{*It is not, I hope, necessary to remind the reader that I am speaking of Protestantism as an aggregate system, in reference to its responsibilities as bearing the name of Christ, not overlooking, meanwhile, the vast amount of blessing of which it has instrumentally been the means.}

Looking first to the Continent, we find that, after a lapse of more than three centuries, the doctrines of truth recovered at the Reformation, instead of being the universal delight of those who profess a knowledge of the truth, are becoming daily less esteemed. Romanism, with the kindred yet rival Greek system, Socinianism, Rationalistic theories (varying indeed according to the perverse windings of the darkened mind of nature, yet all far apart from godly edifying which is in faith), Pantheistic Gnosticism, and avowed indifference to all that is called God or worshipped, — occupy, respectively, so large a space in European Christendom, that the places where even a form of godliness remains are by no means numerous. And is it in continental Europe alone that these things are to be found? Let us regard for a moment the most favoured of the Gentile kingdoms. After all that has been done and all that has been hoped, is the love of Christ a growing, not to say a pervading, principle of English society? Is the dark-minded zeal for human ordinances and lifeless works on the one hand, or the more widely-prevailing liberalism which every day demands more room for the free development of what is in man's heart, and already deems professed subjection to the name of Christ a needless qualification for a British legislator, to be regarded as symptoms of a continuance in the goodness of God?* The progress of Romanism in this island of late years, and its present accredited standing, are facts sufficiently well known. But there is an evil in England yet more deadly than Popery, difficult as it is to overrate the evil of that which speaks lies in hypocrisy. But there is now in its early development a methodical system of anti-Christian blasphemy, which openly aims at the subversion of the faith even in name. The letter of inspired Scripture is the present object of attack. Modern science is the torch by means of which men who glory in being Protestants are labouring to undermine the foundation of all Divine knowledge. Books in which every distinctive doctrine of Christianity is denied, and the letter of the word, both of the New and of the Old Testament, is openly blasphemed, are put forth by those who are accredited as public instructors of the youth of this country.** And I would earnestly call on those who are fondly congratulating themselves on the various existing institutions which the zeal of modern times has created for the furtherance of evangelical blessing,*** to remember that what the Spirit of God is contemplating in the passage before us is the aggregate of professing Gentilism, and not a fraction of the whole. The contrast lies between the nation of Israel now discarded, and that which, as a united testimony to the name of Christ, occupies its place dispensationally as the people of God. Few things are more injurious to the soul of a believer than a partial apprehension of a general truth. In such a case, quickness of discernment and decision of conduct will generally increase his blindness to the full revelation of the mind of God; the effect of which on the position of a Christian, as a witness for the truth, I need not stay to point out.

{*I might point to the United States of America as a yet more striking example of the substitution of varying degrees of religious opinion for the unity of the faith once delivered to the saints. But I have no desire to prolong an inquiry, every step in which is attended with sorrow and with shame.

**I allude particularly to Mr. F. Newman, now or lately a professor at the London University, a yet more devoted enemy of all saving truth than his more celebrated brother, whose apostasy to Rome is known to all.

***A zeal often, I doubt not, flowing from true devotedness to Christ, and therefore worthy of all praise, even where the want of knowledge may frequently cause it to be misdirected.}

And now I shall leave the reader to furnish such reply to the question above proposed as his conscience may suggest to him on a thoughtful consideration of what has been said. The Gentile branch either has or has not continued in the goodness of God. But if the latter be the case, then there remains but one event which must befall it, and that at an hour whereof they who are the subjects of the judgment will be the least aware. It is when men are saying "peace and safety" (1 Thess. 5:2-3), that the undesired advent of the Judge will bring a destruction upon them from which there will be no escape. Let us proceed to the following verse.

The counterpart of the judicial excision of the reprobate branch is here stated. God is able to replace the discarded branches if they abide not in unbelief. They shall be graffed in again. There is much force in this last expression. When Israel is restored, it will be from a condition similar to that from whence the grace of God took up the Gentile vessels of election. Yet will it be their own tree (verse 24) into which they will be again graffed; to be no more thence removed, but to flourish in everlasting righteousness, as the lign aloes which the Lord has planted (Num. 24; Hosea 14).

Verse 25. The apostle expresses directly and explicitly, in the verse at which we are now arrived, the object for which the important chapters which have so long occupied our attention were written. "I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." There was a necessity for his imparting to the Gentile Church so much of the determinate counsel of God as respected the actual dispensation under which they lived, in order that they might not become wise in their own conceits.

The natural conclusion which the minds of men would infer from the two-fold fact, first, of the rejection of Israel nationally; and, secondly, of the fusion of the elect remnant into the new and distinct body, (which, under the name of the Church or assembly of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), now took the place of the former witness of His name), was the permanent endurance of that to which the favour which God had withdrawn from His ancient people had now been transferred. But such an inference from facts would have led them into a similar danger to that which ruined the nation whose fall had been their rise. It was the saying, "The temple of the Lord" (Jer. 7:4), — in the vanity of a self-confident boasting, which mistook the possession of national privilege for the knowledge of God, whose name they were dishonouring in the far-removal of their hearts from Him, — that provoked the fierce anger of Jehovah to lay that temple waste, and to drive His people into captivity. It was the same pride of self-deceived ignorance which led the yet more fatally-blinded children of these fathers to stumble at the manifestation of the Hope of Israel, because they looked for one like-minded with themselves, and dreamed of peace and national triumph while as yet unwashed from their sins. They thought that the Holy One of Israel was even such an one as themselves (Ps. 50 passim), because they believed not the words of the prophets whom He sent.

The national catastrophe of Israel owes its origin, in a word, to the folly of heart which led them to forget that the sole condition of their being owned as God's people must ever be their subjection, wholly, to His declared will. They were a "foolish nation" the moment they began to think themselves to be something, on the strength of national privilege, in such a manner as to lose sight of their immediate dependence upon God. Yet was there in their case, as compared with that of the Gentile Church, a reasonable ground for this confidence. They were, as distinguished from the Gentiles, the chosen seed of Divine promise. The name of God as their God was published in His word as a perpetual memorial of the pre-eminence of the nation among the peoples of the earth. The standing, on the other hand, of the Gentile branch is, as we have seen, solely by faith. Hereditary title can have no existence where the blessings to be enjoyed are ministered only by the Gospel of the grace of God. No privilege or hope stood in any way connected with the nations of the world apart from faith. The word preached might be known and received outwardly by those who heard it, and such reception might produce a nominal profession of Christ, but if unmixed with faith, it profited nothing (Heb. 4:2). Still they to whom it was fruitlessly addressed are judged according to the word they hear, as was the case with the people in the wilderness of old. God judges men according to the responsibilities of the name which they bear.

We have shown already from other parts of God's word what the testimony of the Spirit is to the rise and progress of evil in the Church of God. The end of this is judgment. As it was with the nation whose place the Gentile Church now holds, so will it be with the grafted branch in due time. In the case of Israel, a remnant of election was called out of the nation's ruin, and found its place in the new dispensation of Gentile mercy. The rest were blinded and dispersed in judgment. In the prophetic history of the Church dispensation a similar result is disclosed. The continual progress of corruption would leave but a remnant of true believers at the end, who would still rejoice, in the midst of general earthly-mindedness and apostasy, in the blessed hope and glorious appearing of their God and Saviour. They would be awaiting the day of the revelation of the Lord for the realization of their long-deferred hope of rest and glory; loving and desiring that day the more earnestly as they saw its approach indicated externally by the fulfilment, in the Church and in the world, of the several predictions which the grace of God had caused to be uttered for the sake of those whose eyes should see the actual evils of the last times. It was the descent of the Holy Ghost from heaven that in the former case was the immediate preliminary to the actual change of dispensation by the solemn renunciation of the people and their rulers, and the turning of the full stream of gracious testimony immediately towards the nations of the world. A last appeal was made to the heart of Jerusalem by the preaching of the apostles; but the stretching out of the arms of Divine mercy was, as we know, requited by the yet more abundant manifestation of hatred and rejection on the part of the gainsaying people. God then proceeded to do His marvellous work. Severity and goodness showed themselves forth at the same time, but upon different objects. The nation was cut off, and the era of Gentile mercy began (Acts 13; Isa. 29).

The fruit of effectual mercy through the preaching of the Gospel is the gathering of the Church of God. Of the members of this Church the characteristic description is, that they had "turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven" (1 Thess. 1:9-10). The distinctive blessing of the Church, as well as of the individual Christian, is the indwelling Spirit of God. The substitution of form for life, and of word for power, was the natural progress of evil in corrupting the Church, if evil found its entrance there at all. The flesh having once gained the grand victory over the Spirit, whereby nominal profession and external rites were held good as a title to Christian fellowship, the Spirit, where it moved at all in power within the professing body, would act in testimony against its position and its discerned evil. It did so. The result of this was to array fleshly against spiritual Christianity. The born-hatred of flesh against Spirit exercised its persecutive energy within the nominal body of Christ. As it had been with the Jewish prophets, who suffered for the truth at the hands of those who yet said, "The Lord be praised!" so has it been, and still is, in the case of the professed body of Christ.

Now the judgment of God respects the aggregate body as a testimony for His name, to be approved or condemned. The dispensation of Gentile mercy, after having run its allotted time, will be terminated by that event which from the beginning was the distinctive hope of those who knew that mercy indeed by the effectual grace of God. The Lord will return. His coming, as we have before seen, respects both the elect remnant of living believers, and the dead mass of apostate profession.* He will take the former to Himself, transferring them to the sphere of eternal blessedness, which will be their manifested place in the dispensation to come. He will execute the judgment written upon that which shall then be found unnumbered among the election of His love, though laden with the responsibility of having borne and dishonoured His most blessed and most holy name.

{*Twice dead. Once by profession, to the world; and again dead to God by apostasy from the faith. Vide Jude, passim.}

The excision, thus, from the olive-tree, of the reprobate Gentile branch will be the preparation for the re-introduction of the natural branches. That they were to be so replaced is a part of the mystery which it behoved them to know. The blindness which had happened to Israel was for a season only, and partial in its extent (apo merous). The appointed limit of this season of hardness is the incoming of the "fulness of the Gentiles." God has enclosed the Gentile dispensation within fixed limits. Faith, rendered conversant with the mystery of the Divine dealings with Israel by means of the word vouchsafed, abides in Christ as its secure place of rest and blessing; and, while learning lessons of solemn yet fruitful instruction from the visible page of human events, as it unfolds itself in a continually increasing distinctness of approximation to the recorded testimony of the Holy Ghost, awaits with joy the advent of its blessed hope. Meanwhile carnal self-confidence is nourishing itself as in a day of slaughter, and sporting itself with its own deceivings. Men are willingly ignorant of God's past ways in judgment, and utterly careless of the prophetic testimonies of his word (2 Peter 3).

Does, then, the Christian reader, who has weighed the apostle's general doctrine in these chapters, think that the Church has heeded the solemn caution here given? When we consider that until within the last half century the idea of a national restoration of Israel seemed to have been almost entirely renounced; and when even now by far the greater measure of the real godliness of the day is devoted to objects which clearly indicate the persuasion that it is the Gentile Church which is to be regarded as the minister of the world's millennial promise: it seems difficult to suppose an affirmative reply to such a question as this. The permissive settlement of a few foreign missionaries in the city of Jerusalem,* under the sanction of international treaty, and the erection there of a visible representation of two of the numerous and all discordant bodies into which the unity of the Church of God has been divided by man's sin, may be a matter of congratulation to those who look on Gentile Christianity as the means for filling the earth with blessing. It is, at least, a solemnly instructive fact in proof of the practical neglect with which the apostle's warning has been received; since it plainly indicates an expectation that the restoration of Israel to its own olive-tree is to be effected mediately through the Gentile branch, instead of this being (as is declared in this chapter), an act of God subsequent to the previous cutting off of the former. But it is a small encouragement of hope to one who has learned from the sure word of prophecy that the founding of Zion shall be of the Lord, and that when He does build it up it will be in the appearing of His glory (Ps. 102:16).

{*I allude to the Anglo-Prussian Episcopal establishment set up within the last few years at Jerusalem.}

But I will not enlarge further upon this. May the Lord preserve the reader of these pages, as well as myself, from the easy snare of self-conceited wisdom. It is the entrance of the Divine word that alone gives light (Ps. 119:130). It is by the word of His mouth alone that we can be kept from the paths of the destroyer (Ps. 17:4).

With regard to the expression "fulness of the Gentiles," it stands in contrast with the diminishing of the nation.* It seems to be used here. in reference to the advancement of the Gentile at the expense of the national diminishing of Israel. But it may, and probably does, refer also to the measure of Christ's harvest of Gentile election to be reaped at His appearing. It is in the former sense, however, that the word seems to exert its chief force in the present verse. The world is now the object of God's testimony. The Son of God has given His flesh for the life of the world. The Spirit of grace thus declares the title of the crucified and risen Jesus as Lord of all (Rom. 14:9). The acceptance of the Gospel as the truth of God places its professors dispensationally under the direct government of God as His people (2 Peter 2:1). The professing Gentile world now holds that place.** It is this which is the very ground of the judgment which is to act against that which has a name to live, but is dead.

{*In verse 12 we have both words, pleroma and hettema, applied to Israel; the latter indicating its actual condition, the former expressing its prospective restoration.

**Dispensationally only. For in no other sense is it true that the Gentiles are, as such, owned of God. What the Church of God is, in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile, is not at all our question here. But although the Gentile masses under Christian profession constitute, in this sense, the nominal people of God, it is on grounds quite distinct from the special standing which belongs to the natural seed. Never can an Englishman, for instance, simply as a member of the nation to which he belongs, apply justly to his own countrymen the words of Isaiah: "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us" (Isa. 20:22). To do so would be to usurp the place of that nation whose truthful appeal is to be yet made in the latter day: "We are thine, thou never barest rule over them (the Gentiles); they were not called by Thy name" (Isa. 63:19. Compare Amos 3:2).}

Now the things before mentioned as consequences of the national fall of Israel are these.
First, the turning of God to the Gentiles.
Secondly, the dispensational establishment of a Gentile body as His people.
Thirdly, the decision of God's judgment as to the substituted Gentile branch, according to the responsibilities attached to the nominal owning of Christ.
But all these things have their place and their accomplishment during the period of Israel's depression, and the last of them is, as we have seen, the immediate antecedent to the return of Jehovah with everlasting kindness to His ancient people.

Accordingly the apostle proceeds (verse 26), "And so all Israel shall be saved," etc. The purpose of God is to save the nation — all Israel. But the heart of Jerusalem must be washed (Jer. 4:14) before salvation can be placed in Zion for Israel His glory (Isa. 46:13). Hence the advent of Him who is to turn away ungodliness from Jacob is the truth next stated. Even as Christ died for that nation in the day of His gracious humiliation (Isa. 45:17, 25), when His judgment was taken away, so shall he again appear to claim Zion as His own, and to turn away iniquity from Jacob. He shall come out of Zion as the deliverer,* for He will be in that day the strength of the children of Israel, when the dark night of Jacob's trouble shall have come to its close, and shall be dawning into the morning without clouds (Joel 3:16-17). But in that day there shall be also a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness (Zech. 13:1). Then will the once-rejected Jesus be known, alike as the Saviour of His people from their outward enemies, and from their then acknowledged sins. The verse next following claims for Israel the full blessing of the New Covenant. Already it has been shown that both the covenants are theirs (Rom. 9), though the Church, as fore-trusting in Christ (Eph. 1:12), enjoys the fatness of the blessing while the natural object of the covenant remains as yet an outcast.

{* This is not an exact notation from the LXX., nor, on the other hand, is it a close translation of the Hebrew of Isaiah 59:20. It is a repetition by the Spirit of God of His former testimony, with such verbal change as might serve to render its application to the actual subject more distinct and emphatic. Instances of this, I think, are not infrequent in the New Testament.}

Verse 28 is important as a confirmation of the general argument. It clearly implies that Israel cannot be recovered by the preaching of the Gospel. "As touching the Gospel they are enemies for your sakes." The alienation of the nation is of equal duration with the preaching of the Gospel.* I do not see that the expression will bear limitation. The Gospel is to be preached as a witness of the truth of God's grace, and of the saving power and coming glory of Christ. It is to be preached thus to all nations. But the conversion of Israel will be by other means. Yet the time of their conversion will surely arrive; for, "as touching the election they are beloved for the fathers' sakes." We have here the term election directly applied to the nation. It is used anticipatively as to the order of fact, because, as we have already seen, he elsewhere contrasts the election as a present thing with the nation in its apostasy. But it expresses the purpose of God, according to the breadth and completeness of which the entire nation will in due time be saved. His elect, when brought into the prepared mercy of Him who has chosen them, will long enjoy the work of their hands (Isa. 65:22).

{* Strictly speaking, even longer, as the Book of Revelation seems to show: but the leading features of the dispensation are alone the subject in this chapter.}

The grand principle on which rests all the stability of creature blessing is then stated (verse 29) in its application, not to the elect Church, but to the dishonoured nation, as still held fast in the unchanging faithfulness of the God of promise. He who has spoken good of Israel's latter days, "is not a man that He should lie, neither the Son of man that He should repent" (Num. 23:19).

Verses 30, 31, require the more attention from their exhibiting one of the few instances in which the usually accurate English authorized version is evidently at fault. Nor is the mistake unimportant. The verses as they stand in our English Bibles afford quite a justification (if, as is too often the case, they be read apart from their context) of the common but delusive view of Gentile continuance referred to in an earlier page of this chapter. The mistake lies in the 31st verse, which should be read thus: "Even so these also have now not believed your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy."* I refer my more critical reader to the note at the foot of this page. Meanwhile, I remark that with this, as I venture to say, necessary change, the passage is not only consistent with itself, but entirely so with the preceding argument, a continuance of which it is. As the passage is now misrepresented it quite contradicts the whole doctrine of dispensational sequence and its accompaniments, so solemnly laid down by the apostle in the verses which precede.

{*I think I may venture to affirm that ordinary rules of construction demand that the words toi humeteroi eleei be regarded as the object of the verb immediately preceding, as in the case of toi Theoi in the verse before. This is no correction of mine. I believe the present version of verse 31 is generally condemned by those acquainted with the original. I add Luther's translation of that verse, as follows: "Also auch jene haben jetzt nicht wollen glauben an die Barmherzigkeit, die euch widerfahren ist,auf dass sie auch Barmherzigkeit überkommen." This
is further confirmed by Tyndale's version: "Even so now have they not believed the mercy which is happened unto you, that they also maye obtayne mercy."}

I can only attribute the very forced construction which our Translators furnish of verse 31 to a generally prevailing misapprehension of the context in their day, even still more than in our own. As I have altered the verse, the argument stands thus: They had disbelieved the mercy to the Gentiles, that which should have been for their welfare, becoming a trap (Ps. 69:22). They utterly rejected the counsel of God against themselves (1 Thess. 2:15-16). The effect of this was their degradation to the level of Gentile distance from God. But this was in order to bring them, as a nation, within the effectual reach and operation of that mercy which, in Christ, could alone be the means of the national blessing. The promises made to the fathers could be fulfilled only in the way of perfect grace. The promises are yea and amen in Christ. The Divine love, then, which chose the fathers, and contained, for their sakes, the nation in the unrepented purpose of ultimate favour, must express itself to the children in the way of pure mercy. The assertion of their right had produced their ruin. Going about to establish their own righteousness, they had stumbled and been broken upon the rock of offence. The vindication of Immanuel's right as the stone and shepherd of Israel, will be the visitation of the outcasts in the fulness of a mercy that never shall be taken away — the sure mercies of David.

This mercy, sure and abiding in its effects, is not less comprehensive in its extent. It is elsewhere written: "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory" (Isa. 45:25); and similar is the language of the apostle in the verse next following: "For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." I only remark on this verse, that while the common translation gives a just and consistent meaning as far as it goes, yet the needless introduction of the pronoun, "them," renders the force of the words rather ambiguous.*

{*I cannot doubt that the reference is here to verse 30, as well as 31. That tous pantas, that is, includes Gentiles as well as Jews.}

The apostle has now arrived at the close of the general argument in which he has been unfolding the glory of the Divine wisdom and power in the varied dealings of God, whether with Jew or Gentile. The present verse being a résumé of the whole, expresses in a word the main principle on which all those dealings turned. To make man, whether Jew or Gentile, a debtor to mercy, was God's purpose. We have seen how this has been exemplified in the calling of the Church, and how it is to be fulfilled yet more abundantly in the future restoration of the nation of Israel. God thus, as the fulfiller of His own purposes in the way of mercy, is discovered to be the hope of Israel still. The Law had entered, destroying in its result all hope. But the hand of mercy is guided to the recovery of the nation by the counsels of eternal truth, which did not suffer the entrance of the Law until the certainty of the destined blessing had been first secured in the word of irrevocable promise.

The remaining verses of this chapter express to us the effect which the meditation of the ways of God produced on the mind of the apostle. Solemn, indeed, as well as infinitely precious, is the knowledge of those ways which, to the Christian, as having the mind of Christ, are thus unfolded in the word of truth. The destined effect of such knowledge, is to fill the souls of God's children with a profounder sense of the amazing riches of that grace which has deemed poor outcast sinners to be fitting objects, through the Divinely furnished atonement of the Lamb, of a mercy which not only has eternally obliterated all memory of their iniquity, and made them to shine in brightness before the face of God, but has also rendered them capable of fellowship with God, in the understanding of His mind. There is a knowledge, the effect of which is to puff up; a knowledge which, although it be of truth in the letter, is not the knowledge of God in the Spirit. There is another knowledge, acquired instrumentally through the same word of truth, but learned neither by intellectual diligence and acuteness of research, nor as the easily comprehended outline of the Divine dealings which may be presented to the mind in the way of human exposition. It is such knowledge as God alone can teach, and which He ever delights to communicate to the hearts and the understandings of the children of His love. Such knowledge, while it informs the mind of coming events, and acquaints it beforehand with the terrors of the God of judgment; yet, because it is the knowledge of God Himself, and not merely of events ordained of Him, acts as the healthful and nourishing diet of the soul, which gives firm strength to the man of God when, as a soldier of Christ, he is called to stand, for His name, in the evil day.

What prepares a Christian's soul for advantageous meditation on the word of God generally, is a just appreciation of the grace in which, as a blood-redeemed child of mercy, he stands already before God. Knowledge is the portion of those who first have obtained "precious faith." It is to this faith that knowledge is to be added (2 Peter 1:5). To be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is the progress of Christian life, where the unhindered energy of the Spirit is doing its blessed work as the leader of the sons of God. All such knowledge, while it delights the spiritual understanding, fills also and humbles the heart. The result is to render the instructed Christian a more fervent, because a more intelligent, worshipper of the blessed God. The knowledge of Him as purposing all things, as filling all things, as effecting all things, as containing all things, makes the shadow of the Almighty to be a present and appreciated reality to the heart and conscience of the watchful saint. The remembrance that the God thus known is, in the perfectness of His nature and the glory of His power, the assured portion in Christ of the poor believing sinner, while it deepens evermore the astonishment of his joy in proportion to his growing acquaintance with God according to the revelation of the Spirit, keeps him firm set upon the deep-laid foundation of eternal mercy, which upholds him for ever as an acceptable vessel of God's endless praise. May such be the experienced portion of the reader of these poor Notes.

Romans 12.

We enter now upon the last of the three great divisions of this wonderful Epistle. The apostle has discussed at large, in the three chapters last examined, the question of the dispensational wisdom of God. The entire subject which forms the material of those chapters is capable of being regarded independently both of the preceding part of the Epistle, and of the chapters which follow. It is sometimes profitable so to regard it. But let it not be supposed that it is a mere parenthesis in the Epistle. If we recur to the close of the eighth chapter, we shall find that the point to which the Spirit of God had there conducted the believer, presented to him a view of the glory of his blessing as being nothing less than God Himself, his eternal portion in Christ.

Passing thence, to the subject of the ninth and two following chapters, the same blessed Spirit has opened to us a deep and solemn insight into the mysteries of the kingdom and glory of God, as they relate to the display whether of power or of mercy, and as they pertain to the glorifying of His name in faithfulness and wisdom as the accomplisher in effect of His own unrepented promise. The bright line of inextinguishable light which leads the believing soul, as a clue, through every maze of the labyrinth of human circumstance, is the unchangeable mercy of God. Read by that light, the mysteries of the kingdom of God contain no terror for the simple heart of faith. The solemn spectacle of Divine severity in the case of the natural branches, and the yet deeper woe which awaits its accomplishment in the final judgment and rejection of the grafted shoot of Gentile profession, cannot appall the Christian whose mouth can show forth the praises of God from a heart filled with the marrow and fatness of Divine mercy.

Knowledge has now been added to faith, and its effect is to enlarge the soul's comprehension of the grace in which it stands. And now, returning from what might seem to be, but is not in reality, his digression, the apostle proceeds, in the remainder of his work, to treat more at large the question of practical obedience in service. The manner in which exhortation is combined with, and as it were made the vehicle of, still increasing instruction, presents itself remarkably in the chapter now before us.

Verses 1, 2. The ground on which exhortation is here addressed to the believer is his own subjective acquaintance with mercy.* An appeal is made to the hearts of the brethren as being actually Conversant with the mercies of God. The effect of mercy had been to acquaint them with God as their portion. The end, therefore, of their continuance in the body was the glory of God. They were His. Originally such, as creatures of His power, they were now become so in a new and especial sense as new-created in Christ to the praise of His glory. The reasonable service, then, of a Christian is devotedness to God. It is a service adjusted to the character of the saint as the creature of Divine mercy, that he should be the devoted instrument of the will of God. Self-denial thus becomes a commanding principle of Christian conduct. But this, which is a negative thing, is subordinate to and produced by a positive principle anterior in its possession of the heart of the believer, and that is the love of God in Christ. There is a self-affliction which is not, properly speaking, self-denial at all; because, as it proceeds upon a false estimate of the requirements of the Divine will, formed in the soul's ignorance of completed mercy and grace in Jesus, it is but one form of self suppressing and supplanting another. A legal or self-righteous heart is incapable of self-denial in the true sense of the term, because it really is self that is ultimately sought. The alabaster box of very precious ointment can be broken for the feet of Jesus only by the hands of one whose heart is filled without room with the first love of a Saviour.

{*"I beseech you", There is a difference, I think, between the terms eleos and oiktirmos. as used in the New Testament, which it is desirable to notice. They appear to me to be distinguished thus. The former signifies "mercy" as an attribute of God simply, without any special reference to its object. The latter denotes rather "compassion," as respecting more. directly the condition of him who receives mercy. The active display of grace, while it originates in the eleos of God, acts towards the poor outcast sinner as oiktirmos, and is as such owned on his part. Hence the practical force of the present appeal. They had received all the rich blessings of the heavenly calling in Christ, not only through the will of the Divine mercy in giving Jesus, but also through the especial compassion of Him who had begotten them severally again, and had brought up each of their souls from destruction through the gift of saving faith.}

The bodies of God's saints are to be a living sacrifice to Himself. No hand can offer such sacrifice but that of faith. If a Christian is truly conversant with the doctrine of the cross, so as to realize as a present truth the power of the resurrection, his standard of practical conduct will be according to the declared truth of his marvellous position, as already in Christ brought nigh to God. And how real, how wondrous, a nearness is that! But in proportion to a man's appreciation of this nearness as the effect of redemption, will be his distance of desire and ineptitude for enjoyment of that which feeds and gratifies the will either of the flesh or of the mind. A soul full of Christ cannot enjoy the world. It is impossible. But Christians are not always full of Christ. They should be so — they may be so. But, alas! too often it is with far different meat that the soul of a believer is filled. What keeps a Christian in his true place of certain blessing, is the stedfast remembrance and recollection of mercy. The remembrance of a doctrine of truth, is not the same thing as the meditative recollecting and renewing in the mind of the specialties of applied mercy, as they have been found and tasted by the soul in the true discernment of the cross. This is a point of much practical weight, but I may not enlarge on it further in this place.

In the second verse, nonconformity to the world is pressed upon the conscience as a responsibility. But, like all other Christian responsibilities, it owes its rise to the truth which fills to the full the joy of the believer in the known love of Christ. True joy in the Lord renders the soul in which it dwells incapable of enjoying what the world esteems pleasure. Natural pleasures are the solace of that which is essentially alien from God.* True knowledge of God produces as its result a willing ignorance of the world. Not that indifference to the world in its busier and more exciting forms, which is often the effect merely of constitutional temperament, and which may well consist with an entire absence of saving faith; but the ignorance of the world's ways, which practical holiness produces, and which still increases, as the man of God is more habitually conversant with the path of life. The true service of God consists in the surrender of self, not to the government of contemplative indolence, but to the motive exigencies of His own most perfect will. The activities of the Spirit's energy, in forming and filling the mind of a believer, find their occupation, and take their direction, from the varied expression of the will of God, as it stands revealed in the word of truth. The present world** is the thing here warned against. The reason is plain. It was to deliver us from this present evil world that Jesus died at the will of our God and Father (Gal. 1:4). Until the Lord return, whose right it is to possess all things, conformity to the world is enmity to the cross of Christ. For the course of this world is governed not by the Spirit of God, who glorifies Jesus, but by the power of darkness, which rejected Him (Luke 22:53). Satan is the prince and the god of this world (John 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4). He is judged, it is true, and the time is near when he shall be finally bruised under the feet of the Church by the God of peace. But as yet he rules the world, and directs its ways. Its lively amusements and its serious pursuits, are equally with its grosser forms of vice, the ministers of his rule. He governs the world by the natural lusts of men — the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The world, then, must stand, in all its forms, in perpetual contrariety to the truth as it is in Jesus. (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Separateness, therefore, from its fellowship, and nonconformity to its maxims and its ways, will ever be the result of spiritual energy in the soul.

{*Let not the reader mistake this expression so as to suppose that the mind of the writer savours of that thankless asceticism which forgets the God who gives us all things richly to enjoy. So far from the enjoyment of natural blessings being incompatible with spiritual joy, it is the spiritual man alone who can enjoy them aright. Natural pleasures are such as the world pursues, because it has not the Spirit. They are the objects of those who are "lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God."

** Aion is the word used, not kosmos. We well know what we mean when we speak of the course and spirit of the age. This is just the meaning of "world" here. The contrast is between the drift and progress of the natural mind according to the current of the world's ways, and the distinct assertion of the will of God as the regulating principle of ordinary life, on the part of those whose glory is to be in this world as servants of One whom the world knows not.}

To prove the perfect will of God is the calling and responsibility of a child of God. What is requisite for this end is here stated to be the renewing of the mind (nous). "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove," etc. The mind of nature is reprobate, as has
already been shown (chap. 1:28); but a believer has the mind of Christ. With respect to the instrumentality of thought and judgment, the faculties of the mind, like the members of the body, may be used either for good or for evil, for holiness or for sin. Now, the natural and ceaseless tendency of every man's mind is from God, and towards the world in some shape. But there is in a Christian a power of government competent to the control and management of that which is naturally averse from God, so as to turn it into an instrument of obedience to His will. This power is the living Spirit of God and of Christ. There is, moreover, another thing to be remembered. The Christian is himself a new creature. It is not only true that the Spirit dwells in the heart of a saint, producing thence the cry, "Abba, Father." The man is himself renewed. There is an inner man which the Holy Ghost may and does strengthen indefinitely as to the measure of its comprehension of Divine things (Eph. 3:16), and which may be renewed by the same blessed Spirit day by day (2 Cor. 4:16), but which we must not confound with the power that thus acts upon it.

Now, it is the possession of this new nature, this distinct principle of life, quite separate from, and incongruous with, that which is of the old nature, that renders the Christian accessible to the warnings or the exhortations, in a word, to the ministry generally of Divine truth. But, side by side with this new nature, and on every side encompassing it, there is found the old man still; dead, as we have seen, in truth, according to the effectual judgment of God in the cross, but living still in fact, and ever striving for the leadership and government of the believer's way.

The word of exhortation is intended, by its action on the conscience of a Christian, to quicken the energies of his inner man to the more effectual assertion of the glory of God by like-mindedness to Christ (Phil. 2:5), and consequent subjection to the will of the Father. Christian conduct is not that negative holiness only which consists in abstinence from moral evil in obedience to the commandments of God. It is the fruit and expression of an energy which has its birth-place in the soul's communion with God in Christ, and seeks its end in the positive accomplishment of His will. It is, therefore, a progressive thing. Every real believer has been sanctified once for all to God through the precious blood which has washed him, and the Spirit which has sealed him, as now no longer his own, but pertaining to Him who has bought him with a price. But there is another sense in which a Christian is said to be sanctified, namely, as the result of single-hearted devotedness to the Lord, which, making Him the sole object of life and action, is withdrawn more and more from harmful contact with evil, whether in the Church or in the world. Dissociation, in the power of a word-enlightened conscience, from all evil, is the just effect of the sanctification of the Lord Himself in the heart (1 Peter 3:15). A Christian who walks thus, is said to be a vessel sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work (2 Tim. 2:21). Conscience thus becomes the regulating spring, and the continual incentive to the believer as a bearer of the name of Christ.

Now, the mind and conscience are closely connected, so that what defiles one defiles the other (Titus 1:15). The mind is of necessity either occupied fixedly with an object which commands its energies, or it is wandering in quest of some such object; unless it be in a state of torpor or indifference. As to the last condition, it is not that the mind is idle. The cause of its indifference to what. is outside itself is the too busy occupation that it finds within. A sluggish Christian thinks only of himself, and thus has no mind left for Christ. His conscience ceases to act healthfully, as the consequence of this. A dulling of every spiritual sense follows as the inevitable effect, because, God not being present continually to the mind, the thoughts are taken up with other things in His absence. Thus, while fundamentally the soul remains fast in Christ, there is a practical moving away from the hope of the Gospel, because the mind and affections are no longer occupied with the only things which can nourish and invigorate that hope (Col. 3:1-4).

The renewing of the mind, then, is the thing here insisted on. All the old ideas and motive principles which once swayed the judgment, while as yet the knowledge of God had no place in the heart, have now to be exchanged for new ideas, new views, new intents, and new objects, which appear and are contemplated in the light which that knowledge affords. A Christian's glory as a new man in Christ is that he is capable of pleasing God. As they that are in the flesh cannot please God, because the carnal mind is enmity against Him, so the believer, because he is in the Spirit, cannot but please God if only he walk as that blessed guide would lead. The measure of a Christian's walk is Christ. "To me to live is Christ," said he, whose exhortation is now under our eyes. We are to walk even as he walked, if we would walk unto well-pleasing before God.

The thing which Satan endeavours to infuse into the minds of those who are really established in the grace of the Gospel, is a wrong judgment with respect to their condition, not as sinners, but as saints. If ever the soul is allowed to meditate upon its blessings and its privileges apart from Christ, the effect is invariably to render a man self-complacent, even though be may be fully conscious that his blessings are the effect of pure grace. Thinking of Christ brings me in spirit before God. Thinking of what I am only, as a partaker of Christ, unless my thoughts proceed far enough to perceive the end of my redemption, and to find it to be God, uplifts rather than humbles, because no thought of acquired blessing is in itself sufficient to set the soul in its true place before God. We must know not only that we are blessed, but how, and why, and where we are thus blessed. Now, it is in Christ that a believer is the favoured because beloved object of Divine regard. The Father's eye rests there upon the children of His love, in the fulness of that peace and welcome with which He joys for ever in the one Beloved.

A soul kept watchfully in the presence of God, through its constant communion with the blessed Person and the finished love of Christ, will surely be kept lowly. But the apostle knew how far this is from being the necessary consequence of a man's being in Christ. He knew this as taught of God, who would teach him, for our sakes, the solemn lesson (making Satan himself the instrument of imparting it, 2 Cor. 12:7), that no man in the body of sin can bear the weight of Divine blessing, unless detained still in the presence of God.

The manner in which in the verse which follows (verse 3) he introduces his direct warning, is striking. "I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man," etc. He felt that, in addressing words of exhortation to his brethren, he was contemplating that in them which existed also in himself. Standing in the clear light and the actual enjoyment of grace himself, he could feel that the ministry of needed exhortation, or even of reproof, that any manifestation, in short, of the Spirit by his means, made for his own profit and blessing as well as for theirs.

With respect to the point of his exhortation, it is to sobriety of judgment and lowliness of mind. The will of God being the object of Christian service, real devotedness must consist in depreciation and denial of self. But a Christian is a prepared servant of God. He has his measure of faith. The danger is, that if he does not fall asleep through indolence, he will outrun the bidding of the Lord at the spur of his natural will.

Under the mask of godly zeal and desire, there is commodious place often found for the fleshly mind to act. Pretensions are easily asserted, and to the outward eye in a measure maintained, which are not really to the glory of God, because they are unsustained by faith. The possession of all the gifts of the Spirit is no sufficient qualification for truly acceptable service, if the actual position of the soul be not that of faithful dependence upon God. If God be thought of, there will ever be an adjustment of the work to the power which has been received, or which may be relied upon as available in Christ. A man finds his true place among his fellow-servants when he has found it first before God. Esteeming, then, others better than himself, he may find that the exercise of love according to the measure of the faith that is given to him, has brought already a harvest of blessing and honour to his share, for the Lord's name's sake, while he thought only of sowing, with long patience, that the Lord Himself might reap, in the harvest ripened by His own gracious blessing, the fruitful abundance of His praise.

Verses 4-9. The apostle, having laid down the general principle of individual conduct above stated, proceeds in what follows, to view more largely, the subject of Christian service under a twofold aspect. It is treated, first, in its relation to the position of the Christian as a member of the one body of Christ; and secondly, with respect to his separate calling, and the responsibilities which attach to him personally as a man in Christ. It is under the former of these heads that the subject is principally regarded in the present chapter. In the fourth and fifth verses the unity of the Church as the body of Christ, and the constituent relationship of every Christian, both to the entire body and to each of the several members composing it, are stated and illustrated. The doctrine which is here presented, is in a high degree important to any one to whom the perfect will of God is the present aim of life.

We must remark in the first place, that what is here stated is an unalterable truth. We, being many, are one body in Christ. We are every one members one of another. The question before us, it must be remembered, is Christian service. The direction of the Spirit of God as to one great sphere of this service is based upon the statement of the Christian's relation to the one body of Christ, and to all other Christians as members of that one body.* This is a practical truth, which neither time nor circumstance can destroy. The recognition of it on the part of the believer will be according to the paucity or the abundance of his own communion with God in the truth itself.

{*The doctrine of the unity of the Church as the body of Christ is treated most fully in the Epistle to the Ephesians, where the Church is not only viewed in its finished blessing in heavenly places in Christ, but is set upon its foundations and shown forth to view as the habitation of God through the Spirit upon earth. The same subject is again presented, though not from the same point of view, nor with the same immediate object, both in the Epistle to the Colossians and the first Epistle to the Corinthians.}

The discernment of the unity of the body as a thing revealed in the word of God's grace, places the believer under the government of that truth as a portion of that by which he is to be practically sanctified (John 17:17). The utter dissolution of the outward structure of the Church, through the folly and sin of man, does not at all affect the principle here stated. A Christian may, indeed, look in vain in the present day for the corporate unity of the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Nevertheless, the truth which man has dishonoured remains as at the first. It remains, a witness, indeed, of the general apostacy of the professing Church, but for the guidance also and the comfort of those who, in any day of darkness, and under all circumstances of discouragement, will confess and not deny the whole truth of God. There is not a Christian alive in Christ who has not a claim upon the affection of all saints. As it is the quickening power of the God of grace which puts a man in Christ, not at the desire of his natural will, but by the effectual working of the Divine good pleasure through the faith of the gospel; so his now being in Christ gives him an interest in, and makes him a debtor in love to every one who is truly alive in Christ unto God, because partaking of the like precious faith. Would God that the gracious obligations of love in the Spirit were felt and acknowledged as weighty realities of God's present truth! The factitious ties of special membership which now draw Christians more apart from each other in proportion to the strength of those ties, would then be set aside and replaced by the one living bond of perfectness according to which the unity of the Spirit may alone be practically confessed.

In close connection with the doctrine of the unity of the body, we have next brought before us the subject of Christian ministry, so far as it pertains to the Church itself as the sphere of its exercise (ver. 6-9).

The source and power of this ministry — elsewhere more fully stated, where the sovereignty of the Divine presence and the distributive grace and energy of the Holy Ghost in the Church, are in question — are here intimated only by the general reference which is made (verse 6) to God, as the bestower of grace and gift. The question of ministry is viewed in this chapter not so much with reference to the individual responsibilities of the servant to his master, as in connection with the doctrine of membership in the body. What the Church is to itself is here the apostle's subject, and not what it is to the world. The believer, thus, while always retaining untouched his individuality, whether of blessing or responsibility, as a man in Christ, a man of God, finds himself brought within the proper sphere of his privilege, and service as a member of the body of Christ.

The body is the thing to be lived for and laboured for, because it is Christ's. One's own blessing and comfort are not the just measure of the soul's desire and attainment, but the will of God. But God's object is the Church. The gifts of His love and the operations of His power, are for the edifying of the body of Christ, for the accomplishment of the perfect man, the attainment effectually of the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4). Hence, it is the blessing of the body that is the object to be lived for. It is for this, moreover, that we are responsible, seeing that we are, as God's workmanship, severally members one of another, being settled each into his appointed place in the body, according to the tempered unity of Divine adjustment, as it has pleased Him whose workmanship the body is (1 Cor. 12:24).

The same Holy Spirit that reveals to the believer the richness of his portion as blessed in Christ, acts also upon the heart and conscience by means of the word which makes manifest the perfect will of God, Subjection, therefore, of mind to the Spirit of Christ would surely produce as its result a measure of communion with the thoughts of Christ, which ever have the Church as their object. Christ loves the Church, and not only the souls individually which compose it. The remembrance of this opens to the soul of a Christian, a new and special range of service, quite distinct from the line of personal faithfulness which he has to follow as a witness for Christ in the world. The Lord has a claim upon him, not only for a holy walk in the world for the glory of His name, but also for the furtherance of the joy of those who are partakers with himself of the like precious faith.

With respect to the sphere of this ministry, it is the Church of God, without reference to locality or circumstance. Being a gift (charisma) from God, it is wholly independent of all human control. The holder of the gift is responsible for its use to Him who gave it, and to Him alone. The condition of its effectual operation, is immediate dependence upon God, and at no time can any ministry be exercised with profit to the minister, unless faith is in actual exercise toward God. The possession of a gift is not alone sufficient for the accomplishment of profitable ministry (1 Cor. 14 passim). A gift may be really present, yet utterly misused. It will be so, when the soul is not kept watchfully in the presence of the Giver of the gift. It is according to the practical nearness of the soul to God, that efficacy for any service is acquired. The spring of it all is devotedness to Christ, and to the Church for His sake — "ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5); as he said, whose more abundant zeal is our shame, indeed, yet our pattern still.

The varied distribution of ministerial gift is also to be noted.* God has ordained, not one channel of supply, but many. The distinction between office and gift is quite clear. The latter is antecedent to, and qualifies for the former. A man cannot fulfil the office of a teacher who has not received ability from God to teach. But if he has his ability from God, so has he also his liberty to exercise that in responsibility to Him, which he has conferred for the accomplishment of His own will in the edifying of the Church. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). But the abiding resting place of the Spirit of the Lord is the Church of God. It is a habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:22). Although, therefore, the Holy Ghost might and certainly sometimes did mediately confer a spiritual gift, as through an apostle (2 Tim. 1:6); or by a special indication of Divine choice might select by prophecy, and qualify by a mediate communication of peculiar gift (1 Tim. 4:14); yet it is manifest, that the distribution of such gifts was generally immediate, even as it was always at the sovereign will and direction of the Spirit of God that they were distributed and conferred. The premonitory caution already noticed (verse 3) is a sufficient proof of this. The apostle evidently, in the present passage, regards membership and operative grace as the gift distributed to each, under the same point of -view. Every member is necessary to the unity and completeness of the body, and each several member has its own proper function, in harmony with the widely diverse, yet equally needed functions of the rest. Hence, while there is an enumeration here of certain ministries of a more manifest and extensive effect, and of more public exercise, such as teaching, exhortations, etc., yet it is most instructive to remark, how these more prominent and conspicuous ministries appear but as units in a crowd of spiritual energies which follow in detail, and which, along with the gifts of more extended power and more general effect, are the manifestation in each particular case, of the faith which God has in measure apportioned to each member of the body.

{*Comp. for this purpose, Eph. 4:11-13, & 1 Cor. 12:27-31.}

Christian ministry is the result of the Divine energy of God in the Church. It is not based on man's liberty to act as a member of the body. It is, on the contrary, the liberty of the Spirit working according to the excellency of the perfect will of God, and in the energy of His own power, through the special instruments of His own choice (1 Cor. 12:6, 11). When a man, then, felt himself qualified to fulfil a certain ministry, the consciousness of power invested him at the same time with a responsibility to exercise the gift bestowed on him to the glory of God. He became a debtor to his brethren according to the extent of the ability conferred. To fetter or obstruct this gift in its exercise, was to contend with God. Faith and watchful dependence upon God, were absolutely necessary for the profitable exercise of the ministry., as were they also on the part of those ministered to, that God in all things might be glorified (1 Peter 4:11). Blessing in result, would doubtless be proportionate to the measure in which lowliness of mind and simplicity of dependence might enable God, who gives grace to the humble, to act in power by means of the ministry of His own grace.

I must again and again remind the reader, that the Church of the living God consists of members themselves alive in Christ. Facts, alas! flow in upon us in overwhelming abundance, in proof of the nonexistence of any such apparent unity in manifestation now, as that which is contemplated by the Spirit of God in the chapter before us. There are living units in dead masses. There are spiritual exceptions to carnal profession. It has even come to such a pass, that by an inversion of the scriptural illustration (1 Cor. 5:6-7), the lump may now be taken to represent the flesh, and the little leaven the Spirit, in estimating the general features of professing society. Still, it is well to remember that truth is a permanent thing. That which the Spirit of truth portrays as the just expression of the mind of God, in describing the unity of the body of Christ, and adjusting the order of Christian service, remains (unaltered by the lapse of time, and unimpaired by the progress of corruption) as the expression of the same mind still respecting the selfsame things. The standard of Divine truth is incapable of change; nor may the conscience of a Christian who desires to glorify God, adopt a lower measure than His perfect will.

Human innovations may have infringed and practically set aside Divine appointment; methodical arrangements of official place may have superseded the lively perception of the real presence and power of the Holy Ghost; faith, instead of being the necessary condition of Christian worship, and of the efficient ministration of the grace of God, may, by the substitution of words for power, and of form for life, have become no longer necessary, in the judgment of men, for the performance of Divine worship. Such things may be, and have been. They have been witnessed in times past; and, alas! are still acquiesced in far and wide where Christ is outwardly acknowledged, and the Person of the Holy Ghost is not in word denied. But the question for the simple-minded believer is, not how far Satan may have been permitted to work his evil work of corruption through the folly and sin of man, but what says the still heard voice of the Spirit of God in the true and faithful witness of the word.

Nothing can ever alter the position of the Christian as a sanctified vessel of Divine obedience. The very trial of his faith in the day of apostasy is his continuance in the things heard from the beginning, while on the part of the Church at large many things have been let slip. Personal security is not the question here, but the glory of God as accomplished in the doing of His will. A Christian of to-day stands in the same relation to the living members of Christ's one body, in all respects, as was the case when this chapter was written. He may find, and indeed cannot but find, experimentally, that the true position of the Church has been practically abandoned long ago, and that impediments and obstructions present themselves at every step to the practical realization of the truth which he holds. Nevertheless, the truth itself is the thing to be acknowledged. In acknowledging His truth, I own God, and seek His glory. And if, in the acknowledgment of this truth, there must needs be the deep and large confession of the common sin which has at length obtained such mastery, even in the hearts of God's saints, as to lead them to turn Christ's glory into shame by boasting in the very institutions and sectarian divisions which most emphatically witness to the completeness with which the very idea of the Church's unity has faded from their thoughts,* — if, moreover, the revival of truth bring with it the sense of feebleness and distress, because of the apparently hopeless difficulties which beset the simple and unhesitating assertion of the word as it is, — let the heart that loves Christ better than itself remember that it is not reformation which is the duty of a child of truth, but the holding fast the testimonies of God. To keep the word of God, to hold fast the traditions and commandments of the apostles of the Lord, is now more than ever the privilege, as well as responsibility, of the saints The word of Christ's patience is the deposit of the Lord's love, for the proving of their faithfulness to Him. There are precious promises to such as keep this treasure without loss. "Hold fast that thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:10-11), is the word of Him who stands ready to appear to the joy of them that look for Him. I may not diminish Christ in order to please Christians. A great deal of most precious truth may be habitually ministered and enjoyed on the part of those who yet remain in a position which, while professedly maintained in the Lord's name, is really at variance with the word of God's truth.

{*Except as it is recognized necessarily as a thing existent in heaven. But the doctrine of Scripture respects the forming and maintaining of the one body here below.}

At the present day, the instability of everything which men have constructed, and which may have sheltered many souls beloved of God in time past, nay, may yet contain multitudes of His children, is being demonstrated in a way which must strike the least observant Christian. Nothing is capable of abiding the hour of shaking and of sifting but the pure truth of God. As the principles of Divine truth are eternal, so the forms of Divine doctrine are permanent and unchangeable so long as they remain among the recorded testimonies of God, until the purpose for which they were revealed is effectually reached. Now, the ministration of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, is, until the Lord, whose absence He supplies, be again revealed in glory. If, therefore, a Christian desire to glorify God as a servant of the truth, it must be in the unreserved and decided affirmation of what the Scripture reveals, and in the firm refusal to acquiesce in anything which, while it is not a confession of the perfect truth, yet occupies in the eye of the world the professed position of the Church of God. I believe assuredly that the very question which is now being put for the trial of the precious faith of God's saints is, whether they will or will not, in this day of boasted light and knowledge, give ear to the still unbroken Scripture of God's perfect truth. May the rich perception of the abundance of the mercies of God strengthen my own heart, and that of my reader, into a readiness of desire to do His will. Then will all doctrine become yet more clear (John 7:17). Then, too, will the sweet and more than compensating joy and blessing of Divine communion be more than ever enlarged and enjoyed in his soul, who, while girding the loins of his mind to bear the burden of all truth, even though he should find none to share it with him when all seek their own, will find that in wholly following the Lord he has a strength, in the discernment of the Lord's joy, which he never could have had but for the possession of the very truths which haply, for the time, may cause him to pursue his path almost alone. Seclusion, when it is the effect of obedience, because it shuts us up with God, really enlarges the heart's affections more than ever towards the children of God (1 John 5:1-3). Meanwhile, the exhaustless depths of His own sufficing blessedness, revealed by the Spirit in the Son of His love, become more than ever perceived and enjoyed in the soul that is thus exercised of Him.

In the verses which follow the ninth, we have a wider reach of general precept, bearing not so much on the Church collectively, as on the heart and conscience of the Christian individually, with a view to the full expression of the life of Christ in him, by his ways, whether within or outside the Church. I do not mean to examine these verses in detail. I would, however, remark, that the ninth verse itself contains, as it were, the end and summary of all spiritual exhortation, pure-hearted, undissembled love in the Spirit (1 Peter 1:22), preserved from degenerating into any lower or less comprehensive sentiment by the stedfast following of holiness. The various exhortations — presented in these verses are a setting forth of what is looked for from Christians, as no longer carnal but spiritual. Because the believer has the mind of Christ, and because he has, also, the unction of the Spirit, there is expected from him both an ability to distinguish between things good and things evil, and a decision of choice in rejecting and abhorring the evil, while cleaving to that which is good.

Now, our ability to meet the demand here made, will ever be in proportion to the degree in which we are realizing and enjoying by faith the deeper truth out of which all these exhortations arise. Christian happiness is the result of Christian obedience (John 13:17). On the other hand, Christian obedience is effectually rendered by love alone. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15), is the word of Him whose commandment is, that we love one another even as He has loved us. The measure of love which He has meted to us is the pattern of the love of our hearts to the brethren (1 John 3:16). A heart that meditates on the love of Christ to usward, will presently find that its debt of love to the brethren is not a subject of weight or measure. It is due to them for Christ's sake, according to the manner of the love wherewith He has loved us. Brotherly love is put in Scripture as the one decisive test of a man's position before God. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death" (1 John 3:14). Where this love is in practical exercise, there every good work will be found abounding. Acts of kindness, the expression of particular sympathy, meekness and forbearance, quietness and gentleness, with other kindred fruits of blessing, put themselves forth for the refreshment of Christ's weary brethren, where the Master's love is so truly enjoyed as to become the reason and the measure of our walk among His saints.

Passing by many things without comment, I would dwell for an instant on the exhortation (verse 12) to continuance in prayer. The prayer of a Christian who truly knows the grace of God, is not for the deliverance of his own soul from wrath, for already he belongs to Christ, who has delivered him from that. This is surely clear to all who are, by the grace of God, capable of rejoicing in Christ Jesus. The end of prayer is to enlarge the soul's acquaintance with God, as the giver of more grace. Prayer is in itself the expression of habitual dependence upon God. A Christian has already all things in Christ. But his position here is dependence upon God for the use and enjoyment of the blessing wherewith he is blessed. He has nothing in himself. He is nothing in himself. The effect of prayer is to enrich his soul with more enlarged perception of the ability of God, to bless actually and presently according to the riches in glory which in Christ Jesus remain inexhaustibly the believer's portion as preserved in Christ.

Nor has prayer one object only. It is not for himself alone that a Christian, when praying in the Holy Ghost, makes known his requests unto God. It is for all saints that he has to supplicate with perseverance (Eph. 6:18). Prayer will abound according to the measure of liveliness in which the heart of the believer is conversant with the things of Christ. That, on the other hand, will be in proportion to his acquaintance, through the Spirit, with the word of God. It is that word which directs and regulates the sympathies of the inner man. The specialty of any trial which may befall either the Church or an individual member of it, while it interests and commands the sympathies of Christ in His saints, turns to the profit. and blessing of the soul thus exercised, by enlarging its sphere of positive communion with God.

Prayer is the condition of practical blessing to the saint. Combined with thanksgiving, it is the outward expression of the faith of the inner man. Power for service flows as a result from prayer, for such power is the acting of God in sympathy with His own Spirit in us who produces the desires thus expressed. The moving spring of prophetic energy of old was the prayer of faith (James 5:16-17). Jesus prayed before He called Lazarus from the grave. He glorified God thus. Refusing to act as from Himself, He called upon Him whom He came to glorify by perfect dependence in love. Thus He could say, "The Father which dwells in me, He does the works." Solace to the wearied and buffeted spirit, springs, too, from the same source. I need not pursue this farther. I add only one consideration, that prayer is the inalienable right of a Christian. There is no time, or circumstance (except actual sin), when a Christian may not pray. Prayer is, indeed, the proper touchstone of a believer's actions. Whatever cannot be done prayerfully, should not be done at all.

Verse 14, opens another standing characteristic of Christian calling. A Christian is called to bless, and not to curse. His birth is of the blessed God, and he is called to inherit a blessing. This is the vantage ground which the Spirit of God takes for the saint. Blessing is his condition. He is blessed with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). As established in the Blessed One, he is satisfied with favour, and full of the blessing of the Lord. It is in the consciousness of this that he is called to walk, having feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. He is thus, while incapable of being enriched by the world, a vessel, from which may flow the precious blessings of Christ, into the curse-dried wretchedness of poor gainsaying sinners, whose anger against the Lord may be turned to prostrate adoration by the weighty infliction of a meekly rendered blessing in His name.

When God enjoins His children to overcome evil with good, He is only calling on them to be imitators of Himself. This is His way. The gift of His Son is the eternal witness of this. J close these remarks. The chapter is full of pregnant sentences, which we surely do well to ponder. May the Lord's light shine forth more and more for our guidance from the living pages of His word.

Romans 13.

Continuing still his train of exhortation, the apostle opens the present chapter with a peremptory call for the unreserved* subjection of the believer to the actual possessors of power in the world. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." The reason is immediately added: "For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God."

{*Nothing being reserved but the paramount right of God to the obedience of His servant, when the commandments of men are found to be in collision with His declared will.}

The doctrine of this passage is of the utmost moment to a Christian whose end is to glorify God in obedience. We have to remember that a believer, as one called to confess Christ before men, is also to stand in the world as a witness for God. His glory, as well as responsibility, is to own God in all things. The true position of a believer in the world is that of a pilgrim and a stranger. Divine truth in Christ has opened heaven to him, not only as a hope to be realized in due time, but as his home in spirit now. We sit in Christ, in heavenly places now (Eph. 2:6). Faith, taking the soul into the presence of God, according to the revelation of the present truth, finds its pleasant places of inheritance to be nothing less than the heaven which Christ now enjoys. A Christian, therefore, because he belongs to heaven as a citizen (Phil 3:20.), has no longer a place found for his name on the roll of the world's citizenship. His registry of franchise is the Lamb's book of life.* He is a stranger here. But the same truth which has delivered him from the present evil world, and reconciled him to God with whom the world remains at enmity, marks out for him now the line and measure of his way, and furnishes him with governing principles of conduct while yet remaining in. the world, although no longer of it (John 15:19; 17:16).

{*I do not forget the instances in which the rights of Roman citizenship were asserted by the apostle himself. Without noticing here the circumstances of the case in each instance (though it is most needful to do so if we would extract from these instances the special instruction which they contain), it is sufficient to notice the general principle of Scripture, that in the state in which a man is called of God, he is to remain (1 Cor. 7:20-22). Privileges may attach to that state which may stand a Christian in stead in certain emergencies. He may surely use these, if, by so doing, he contradict no commandment of God. But to contend for such privileges as personal rights, and, when they are questioned by the ruling powers, to endeavour forcibly to maintain them, is to quit the only relation in which the Holy Ghost sets the Christian towards the powers that be. This subject is opened further in the sequel.}

One of the chief privileges of a Christian is to have to do with God in everything. Being himself God's workmanship, he is never in his true place except when under the dominion and direction of the Divine will. In all the circumstances and relations of life he has to act or to suffer according to the truth and the power of God. The government of the world, in what manner soever it may be conducted, or in whose hands soever it may happen to, be, is by the Christian to be referred to God. The powers that be are ordained of Him. Now the natural thought of man is far from this truth. To regard himself as the origin of his own honour is a characteristic trait of the natural man at all times. At the present day, we find on every side the assertion of this principle in the broadest terms.

The democratic principle which now exerts so commanding an influence upon the public mind in civilized Christendom is, in its full expression, the very contrary of the maxim here laid down for the guidance of the believer by the Spirit of God. But I do not mean to enter here on a comparison of the various forms of government which prevail among men. Our question is with the relation in which the Christian stands, as a servant of God, to government and power of any kind in the hands of the authorities of this world.

With respect to this, it is well for us to bear in mind that the seat of government for the ruling of this world, as well as all worlds, is reserved for Christ (Ps. 8; Heb. 2:5-8). He has, with His other titles of glory, that of "Prince of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5). The purpose of God, as we have noticed at an earlier page, is to set up His kingdom in the hands of Jesus, who shall reign, a priest upon His throne, before the face of the Most High. No form, therefore, of present government can really satisfy God's end, so long as Christ remains hidden with the Father, and expecting until His enemies be made His footstool. But, in the meanwhile, the possession of power or dominion places the holder of it under an especial responsibility to God as His delegate. In administering rule and exercising power, he is administering and exercising that which belongs to God, and not to man. For "power belongs unto God" (Ps. 62:11). And again, "He is the governor among the nations" (Ps. 22:28). Nevertheless, the right of the ruler to the obedience of those ruled is secured to him by the sanction of God's own name. Casar, thus, has his things, which are to be rendered duly into him (Matt. 22:21); and to refuse to acknowledge this due is to deny the sovereignty of God. This is a wide and general principle, addressing itself to the conscience of every man who owns subjection to God.

The thing which a Christian has to recognize is the eternal right of God in the distributive exercise of His own power. "For there is no power but of God." The will of man naturally resists and resents the imposition of arbitrary restraint. That man should be his own governor is the aim and effort of those who promise themselves liberty, while yet ignorant of the truth, which alone sets free. The cardinal idea of the human heart, so long as the man remains unregenerate, is the paramount value and importance of natural, personal rights. The glory and blessedness of a believer is to be able to say, that the things which once he counted his chief gain are now become dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. The cross is the extinction of human rights, as well as the discharge of human responsibilities. By it the world is crucified to the believer, and he to the world (Gal. 6:14). A believer is Christ's freedman. He is the Lord's servant. He knows no longer any man after the flesh. His place in the world is to be as his Master, and that was ever to be the perfect servant of the perfect will of God (Isa. 42:1). "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his Lord." To walk as He walked, is the hopeless yet cherished ambition of the child of God.

But it may be asked, "Has a Christian then no duties to perform as a member of the human family, and has he not a place and functions in the social system of which he forms, even if involuntarily, a part?" The answer to this is at once ready. It is in the several relations of human life and society, that a Christian is to adorn the doctrine of God his Saviour. A Christian is not called to be an eremite. He is called to have his conversation in the world, according to the truth of the Gospel, and by the grace of God (2 Cor. 1:12; Phil. 1:27). He is to act in the various situations of human relationship according to the will of God. The same things are to be done and discharged by the believer as by other men, in very many respects. But the motive principle in either case is utterly different. Policy, expediency, advantage, self-esteem, emulation, natural inclination or affection, hope or fear, with other motives, variously acting according to circumstances and natural temperament on the minds of men, form the regulating springs by which the general course of the world is governed and maintained. On the other hand, the Christian is to walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Whether as a father or a child, a husband or a wife, a master or a servant, a subject, or in what other relationship soever he may be, it is to the Lord that what he does is to be done; it is in the Lord that all these relations are to be held (Col. 3:18, 23; Eph. 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 7:22).

The point of view from which a Christian has to regard everything earthly is the cross. His estimate of earthly things is to be taken from thence. But the world viewed from thence is a withered and a desolate thing. It is already a judged world (John 12:31). The standing which a Christian has in the world is that of one alive from the dead. He is thus dissociated effectually from all that which is not standing in the power of redemption. The basis and condition of Christian society is life, in the risen and ascended Christ. To recognize a fellowship on any other basis, is to deny in principle the first truth of the Gospel. Hence the earnestness of the exhortation to separateness from the varied forms of natural evil which, in their aggregate, express "the world," elsewhere addressed to the believer's conscience (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Testimony, and not communion, is the proper character of a Christian's intercourse with the world.

The spectacle which presents itself to the eye of a believer when in our own times he attempts a survey of the world around him, is widely different from that which met the view of a Christian in apostolic times. Instead of idolatrous heathenism, he sees professed Christianity. In place of the sword of the magistrate being in the hands of the avowed haters of the name of Christ, authorities and powers nominally Christian are the guardians and conservators of a state of society which recognizes, as a fundamental maxim, the authenticity and the claim of revealed truth. In addition to this, there are found Christians who are really such, not only filling almost every variety of post and office in the system of the world's government, but intimately connected with and contributing powerfully to the furtherance of nearly all the leading schemes of social change and amendment, which so largely operate for good or for evil upon the generation of the present day. Deep and most real personal piety is frequently found united in the same person with laborious energy in the pursuit of objects which are valuable only within the precincts of natural life and experience, but which fade into vanity when viewed in the light of the resurrection from the dead. To be carnal and to walk as men, does not of necessity imply such an indulgence of apparent sin as would render a godly Christian incapable of its toleration. The Christian who is not walking in Christ above the maxims and principles of the world, must be acquiescing in and accommodating himself to the ways of men, so far as he has a common object with themselves.

It is the end of a man that determines his way. But a Christian's end is Christ. "To me to live is Christ." He has not many characters to sustain, but one. To associate, for the sake of personal advantage, with those who love not the Lord, is to dishonour Him, and to depart from the place of testimony to His name. To enter into combination or confederacy with unbelievers for the furtherance of objects common to all, is to forget that no object can exist for the heart of a spiritual man in separation from the glory of God as its end. But that glory can be asserted by obedience to the truth alone; and it is the word of truth that denies community of interest to be compatible with the difference which God has established between a Christian and the world (2 Cor. 6:14-48).

At the present day, a Christian finds himself invoked by a multitude of claims which, with more or less of speciousness, address his sympathies, and solicit his natural feelings and energies, as a man, and as a member of civilized society. It cannot be doubted, that very many of the temporal comforts and advantages which are now so largely enjoyed by ourselves, are owing, in great measure, to the influence of Christian doctrine, directly or indirectly, on the masses of society. It is no unusual thing to hear men congratulating themselves on this fact, and drawing from it inferences as to the purpose and intent of the Christian dispensation, which, in very many instances, are such as to place the minds and consciences of those who accept them under totally false impressions, with respect to the times in which they are living, and the declared counsel of God as it regards both the Church and the world.

There is a Christianity in the present day, of large and general acceptance, in which the cross of Christ is really no element at all. To mind earthly things, instead of being regarded as a fatal symptom of reprobation (Phil. 3:18-19), which must needs fill with anguish the hearts of those who love the Lord indeed, is now sanctioned as a duty by multitudes who, nevertheless, are not slow to make outward profession of the name of Christ. This is, indeed, Satan's chief handy-work. To reduce the grace of God, which brings salvation through the redeeming blood of the Lamb, to a mere instrument of moral amelioration for the amendment and polish of this present world, is the last outrage but one which can be offered to the long-suffering holiness of God. When Christian truth becomes a matter of mere opinion, Christ is already gone.

The certain tendency of all the revolutionary changes in human society, is to work the natural mind more and more free from all restraint. Christian opinions are no restraint, so long as they are simply such. A man's opinions are the creatures of his own mind, and are subject to himself. He may change them at his will. Truth, held from God by faith, binds its possessor in heart and conscience to Him in whom he believes. The cross of Christ cannot be taken up as an opinion. The Gospel is to the believer the power of God unto salvation. The Christian religion, as men speak, may, on the other hand, be thus viewed. It commonly is so, and being thus mentally adopted, is varied and coloured in its form and expression according to the temperament of the mind in which it finds a place. And so it has happened, that the preaching of the cross has been, and now is, nearly as much an offence in Christendom as it was within the sphere of the ancient civilization, to which, in many respects, our own day presents so striking an analogy.

A simple-minded Christian is not deceived by names, because he feeds upon truth. Such an one knows the difference between flesh and Spirit, between God and the world. He knows (and it is a truly solemn consideration) that the truth of God in Christ, if it be not effectual in salvation to them that hear, is a witness of condemnation, and a token of destruction (2 Cor. 2:15-16). The world has not become the friend of God because it has borrowed the name and outward profession of Christ. If Christ be not owned in truth, according to the witness and in the power of the Holy Ghost, the debased and misappropriated doctrines of the Gospel are but the spoils of God's dishonoured and rejected Son, for which inquiry will surely in due time be made.

A Christian, because he is a child of God the possessor of heaven and earth, is free in all places and at all times. He is free to use the world. There is not a convenience of modern device which may not, in its place, be gratefully acknowledged as a mercy, to the Father of mercies, if it meet some present need of a child of God. The very things which feed and inflame the natural pride of men, and the inventions whereby their dependence on God is rendered more and more remote, are capable of use to the glory of God in the hands of such as fear Him. For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."

There are blessings and advantages of a high order attaching to an Englishman by natural birthright. Assuredly a Christian is not insensible to such benefits, when they fall to his share as having his lot cast in this much favoured land. The recognition of Divine mercy in a tranquil and well-ordered polity, where personal liberty and a large variety of desirable immunities are freely enjoyed, is a daily obligation on the heart of every thoughtful Christian. But for men in Christ to be contending for such things as their rights, still more that Christians (as is often the case in the present day), should be endeavouring to compel* the ruling powers to their will, too surely indicates the loss of that separate standing of heavenly strangership which pertains to the believer as united to the risen Christ.

{*One of the most common and mischievous fallacies of the day, is the assumed distinction in principle between moral compulsion and physical force. In either case it is man's will attaining its end by subduing an opposing force. God's word commands subjection to Himself in the person of the ruler. Revolutionary movement of any kind has its rise in the dissatisfaction of the governed party. A grievance is no sooner felt than it is sought to be removed. If refusal be given to a request, dictation by the moral force of expressed opinion is resorted to. Every day the quality of executive power is becoming less stable, from its virtual dependence on the will of the subject. Is this according to the mind of God?}

Liberty is the professed aim of such political movements as, tending upwards from the governed class, seek to control or to modify the existing order of government. Liberty of this kind is a thing to which men seem ever to be approximatively, but never fully attaining. It is a natural thing for the human mind to desire freedom from all outward restraint, because every man naturally refers his happiness to himself as its cause. Hence, the whole course and process of civil polity in the world is but a prolonged strife of separate interests. No fixed standard of right and truth is asserted. God is not owned in immediate relation to human government, and therefore the restless changes of human expediency are continually causing the form and pattern of the times to vary and to shift, according to the particular direction of the dominant will of the moment.

But that which the natural man gropes at vainly as an ever-fleeing shade, the believer already possesses in full perfection in Christ. He is free. The house of his liberty is God in Christ. The supply of his necessities is from the Father of lights. The cross has taught him the end of all human perfection, and he has already begun to look into the open vision of peace and glory which the Spirit of liberty displays to the waiting patience of inquiring faith in the still increasing disclosure of the love of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

The present chapter contains a text (verse 2) which, if applied to much that has ranked very high in the recorded estimate of human worth, and has even received large praise from men, themselves no strangers to Christ, would prove instructively how little sympathy there is between the motives and ends of human action at its fairest, and the Divine bodings of the Spirit of God, whose single motive is to exalt Christ, and whose one end is the glory of God in the way of unreserved obedience to His will. Very much might be advanced in illustration of this, but I hasten to the sequel of this chapter.

The believer, that he may adorn the doctrine of God, has to exercise himself so as to have a conscience void of offence. He is to walk blameless. With the decision of political questions he has properly nothing to do. He has to submit himself to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake* (1 Peter 2:13-15). God comes before him in the ordinances of men. The ruler is therefore a minister of God to him for good (verse 4). Upright conduct and peaceful following of that which is good, would secure him the favour instead of the resentment of the power. Where men can only see themselves, a believer is privileged to see God. The enactments of the ruling government are stamped with the name and weighty with the sanction of God, in every case in which nothing is enjoined on him which renders obedience possible only by a breach of some Divine command. A law might be in its terms most unjust; yet is the Christian to obey it still, if personal inconvenience or suffering be the only evil consequence of obedience. In complying with an oppressive edict of man, he is rendering obedience to the will of God, who is not slack to recompense, even in this present life, the affliction of such as suffer for His name. If he resists, he not only dishonours God, who commands subjection, but renders himself obnoxious to a special judgment** at the hands of Him who is not mocked. All suffering of the kind just referred to is an affliction of the Gospel. It is something borne for the name of Christ; and the Spirit of glory and of God rests approvingly upon them that suffer thus (1 Peter 4:14).

{*The Scripture does not contemplate the Christian, I believe, anywhere as a ruler. The reason of this is not only the fact that at the time none such had embraced the faith, but rather, as it seems to me, the incompatibility of pure Christian principle, as a realized thing, with those maxims on which alone the world will consent to be governed. Flesh will not obey Spirit. Nor will the world obey Christ. A government conducted in the energy of the Holy Ghost according to the truth of God, would be none other than the Church itself.

** "Damnation," as in the English Version, conveys quite a wrong idea.}

But secular government is regarded both here and elsewhere, rather in the light of a blessing from God (1 Tim. 2:1-2). It is in the nature of a blessing when impartially administered, and is as such to be enjoyed and acknowledged to the praise and glory of God. The conscience of a Christian, although susceptible of appeals of a very different kind, is not regarded by the Spirit of God as above the necessity of warning as to his conduct as a man in the world. He is placed with others under the government of one who, as God's minister, is the dispenser to him of praise or blame, according to the manner of his outward life. For it is no impossible thing that a Christian while in the flesh, may justly come, if not careful and vigilant, within the reach of the arm of the secular power for correction. The judgment of the power would in such case be the visitation of God upon his ways.

It is not, however, for wrath alone, or chiefly, that he is called on to be subject, but for conscience, sake (verse 5). Submission, that is, was to be perfectly rendered, lest they should in any way even seem to confound the holy liberty of God's children with the natural license of the flesh. For thus they would hinder the Gospel of Christ by furnishing to the adversary a valid accusation such as he loves, to find, of their walk and conversation in the world (1 Peter 2:12). They were to take good heed to this, lest the truth of God in Christ should for a moment or in any one point appear capable of identification with any of those movements of the natural will, which, under what disguise soever, always betray their true nature and source by aiming at earthly ends. Righteousness and pure dealing as before God must ever form the straight line and measure of the saint's way. Love may go beyond this, but can never either vary from, or fall short of it.

Verses 6, 7, confirming and extending the general doctrine already laid down, carry the sanction of Divine command into all the specialties of detailed administration. The impositions, sometimes, of oppressive weight, which a positive law of human government lays on its subject, are to be regarded as due. The Spirit of God recognizes them as such. A Christian, being personally on the ground of grace alone, has no personal rights which he may justly regard as infringed by such enactments. It is a comely ornament of the doctrine of the Saviour-God, when a child of salvation is enabled thus to accept, without murmuring or disputing, the circumstances of his position as a stranger in the world which men call theirs, but which really belongs to them that are Christ's (1 Cor. 3:22-23). Submission, not grudgingly nor unwillingly, but cheerfully, as to the Lord and not to man, is the clear path of the Christian in these things. His obedience to the ordinance of man is itself a result of his perfect freedom from man. It is to God, and not to man, that all these things are done. These verses are, with the entire passage which precedes, of pointed application in the present day.

Verses 8-10 are pregnant with weighty exhortation. The injunctive prohibition with which the passage opens, passes presently into an affirmative precept of yet deeper and wider range. We are not to remain debtors to any man. We are to own still an unpaid debt of love. With respect to the first of these, I only remark here that there is no just argument to be drawn from this passage against a Christian's borrowing money, or anything else, on the free consent of the other party. The question is not about borrowing, but paying. If a thing be due, it is to be at once paid. But a loan, of course, is not due, until the set time of payment has arrived. A heedless borrowing, with no present prospect of restitution at the appointed time, is a breach beforehand of this express command. Christians do well to weigh carefully this counsel. No small dishonour has been cast on the precious name of Christ from the neglect of this. Faith never oversteps the bounds of right. But there is a burden of debt from which the Christian has neither the ability nor the desire to be free. He is bound in a firm bond to the perpetual love of the brethren, for the Lord's sake. His real creditor is the Lord Himself. His sheep are the appointed receivers of His due (John 21:15-17). It is the new commandment, addressed to the children of the true and perfect Light (1 John 2:8-10).

Love is here set as the seal of Christian service upon the heart and conscience of the believer, in the place of the letter of Law. The Law repressed and forbade evil: "Thou shalt not covet," etc. Grace, acting on the affections of the new man, calls forth into operative exercise desires which are eternally opposed to that evil selfishness which the letter vainly essayed to subdue. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," was originally addressed to man in the flesh. Its fulfilment is possible only by those who, as new-born in Christ of the Father's love, are already members one of another according to the unity of the Spirit of life. The heart of a Christian who is rejoicing in his portion by a lively faith, goes forth willingly to meet the commandments of God. They are not grievous to one who is himself "of God."

But, while every child of God is surely rooted and grounded in Divine love, there is large diversity of practical condition in those who are thus blessed. The Spirit of God may be able sometimes to speak of saints as no longer needing exhortation to love one another (1 Thess. 4:9), while to others He may have to address such words as: "Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be judged;* behold, the Judge stands before the door" (James 5:9). It is a humbling but a needful thing that the word of exhortation be addressed to a Christian in terms which indicate, not merely a possibility, but an imminent danger of his falling into ways and practices utterly at variance with the sound doctrine of the blessed truth. Holiness is the native atmosphere of the child of God. His inner man cries out for God. Yet nothing is more certain than that prayerful watchfulness of Self-government can alone secure him from the ways of evil. He has to watch and pray, lest he enter into temptation. Nothing can for a moment keep him but the gracious power of God. This power, though it surely acts in a measure far beyond the application of our desires in prayer (or where should we be?) is yet intended to act as the concurrent aid of the exercised diligence of the obedient child of God. We must have to do with God, as the companion of our way, the present upholder of our steps. Assuredly, the soul that is delighting itself in Him will need no quickening appeal to conscience, in order to keep it in the pure ways of holiness and peace. The fear of the Lord is a clean thing (Ps. 19), and the Spirit that leads the children of God, rests likewise upon them as the Spirit of that fear, that they may be quick of perception in the right ways of the Lord (Isa. 11:1-2). A legal spirit in a Christian may produce an abundant discharge of preceptive obligation at the bidding of conscience. The ready flow of devotedness in love can only come from a heart which God has filled with Himself. The heart which is really full of Christ finds no regret, save in the thought of the scanty measure in which he loves who is himself so mightily beloved. Yet is he most fruitful, who most feels this sense of shortcoming and defect.

{*The true reading in this passage seems to be, hina me krithete.}

In the 11th verse we have a new and solemn accessory introduced in connection with the preceding exhortations. The nearness of the salvation to the obtaining of which they had been appointed of God (1 Thess. 5:9), is now brought before their view as an additional stimulant to their hearts and consciences alike. The desire of that day of joy is intended to act with purifying effect on the ways of God's saints. A believer is expected to have knowledge of the time. The world takes no willing note of the lapse of time because the world's day is now. A believer is a prisoner of hope in this body of death and corruption, expecting until his change come.

It is a remarkable fact that death, in the New Testament, is never spoken of as the natural end and expectation of a Christian. The general principles are indeed laid down that, living or dying, we are the Lord's (Rom. 14:8); that to die is, to a believer, gain, because to depart and be with Christ is far better than to continue in the midst of toil and sorrow (Phil. 1:20-23); that death in Christ is no argument of hopeless sorrow to those who survive the departure of their brethren, seeing that the dead in Christ shall at His appearing first arise, before the bodies of the saints then alive shall undergo their change from mortality to life. But the one great object which the Spirit of God sets and keeps before the view of the Church in the word of truth, is the revelation of the Lord from heaven. We wait for a salvation which is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). It was shown to the apostle Peter, that he should put off his tabernacle of flesh before the Lord's return (2 Peter 1:13-14). The writer of the present epistle seems to have had a similar intimation (2 Tim. 4:6). Moreover, the testimony of the Spirit with respect to the progress of that evil which, beginning while yet the apostles wrote, was to pass through more than one stage before its ultimate ripeness for judgment should be attained, clearly indicates that some undetermined space of time must needs elapse before the promised and desired advent of the Lord in glory. Still, while the testimony of the Spirit measures with prophetic distinctness, the progressive stages of the present dispensation, and furnishes, thus, the man of God with unerring counsel for the guidance of his steps, in what scene soever of this drama of still deepening evil his lot may have been cast; the truth which evermore presents itself to the eye of the believer, when he turns for solace from the stress of evil to those sure testimonies of God which make the spirit glad (Ps. 119:14), is the promise of the speedy coming of the Lord.

The truth now before us, how little soever it may have been owned and valued in the Church at large since first she left her early love, will be found, on an examination of Scripture, to occupy a very prominent place in the mind of the Spirit of God. From the day that Jesus ceased from the sight of men, because ascending into the light which no man can approach unto (Acts 1:11), the date of the patience of His Church began. To wait for the Son of God from heaven became from that moment both the duty and the desire of those who not only knew the fact of their Master's presence there, but understood the purpose wherefore He was gone.

He had spoken of His return before the hour of His departure had arrived. Whether as the Son of man, invested with all majesty and dominion, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Matt, 24:30; 25:31), as the unwelcome and unlooked-for minister of vengeance against a hardened and apostate world (Luke 17:26-37); as the righteous awarder of His servants' due when suddenly returning to make inquest into His house (Matt. 25:19-30); or, finally, as the faithful Redeemer of the special promise of His love, when, in preparing the hearts of the disciples for His departure, He spake of mansions in the Father's house, the preparation of which should occupy His care until He came again to receive them to Himself, in each and all of these characters had He taught to them that heard Him the doctrine of His second advent, while as yet He was among them in the days of His flesh.

The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven to be the witness to the Son, to the glory of the Father who had exalted Him, and placed the name of Jesus above every name (Phil. 2), makes mention of the readiness of Him whom now that Spirit revealed and preached as a Saviour, to come forth at the appointed day to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). The scriptural testimony in further proof of this I need not here repeat. But it is to the Church of God, the purified object of Divine affection, the bride whom the blessed Spirit ever seeks to arouse to readiness for her Lord's return, that the second coming of Christ is especially revealed and presented as a hope. To the mind of the Spirit in the Church this truth is continually present. It stamps a character upon all true worship in the Spirit during the absence of the Lord. The continual remembrance of the dying love of Jesus is kept with especial reference to this. "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death "until He come" (1 Cor. 11:26). To be waiting for the Son of God from heaven is the attitude in which the Church is placed from the moment that it turns from idols to the knowledge of the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9-10). "A little while" is the brief though indefinite line of time with which the Comforter measures, for them whose need was patience, the interval which still separated them from the unfulfilled desire of their souls (Heb. 10:36-37). I pass by the very many passages of Scripture yet unnoticed, in which this truth, so all-important to the Church, is treated, and return now to the present chapter, which presents in its concluding verses so striking and so practical an application of this momentous and most precious doctrine.

There are two ways in which the promise of the Lord's coming is intended to act on the believer. First, to excite and stimulate his spiritual affections, augmenting thus the abundance of his labour of love for the Lord's sake; and secondly, as a warning to his conscience, since he is ever in danger of departing more or less from God by reason of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13). Both these ends are contemplated in the exhortation before us. It was high time to awake, because the day was at hand; but that day was the day of their completed salvation and glory (verses 11, 12). They had need of watching still, for it was yet night, and the dangers of the night remained around them still But deliverance was the near expectation of those who were thus aroused. They had not to seek afresh the evidence of their hope and title of blessing in the day that was so near. Because they had believed, they were already saved in hope, and the salvation of promise was daily drawing nearer to their sight. They stood already sealed and fitted, by the grace of God, for participation in the inheritance of the saints in light. They were already "of the day" (1 Thess. 5:8). But they had diligently to look to their ways, as called to stand before God.

It is because the condition of a Christian is perfect sanctification in Christ, that he is exhorted to be holy as God is holy who has thus sanctified him in His Son. Salvation is the end and present hope of the saint who still struggles in the conflict with the powers of darkness. That salvation (1 Peter 1:5) which is a synonym of rest and glory, must not be confounded with the same word as it expresses the standing of the justified believer as already safe. "He has saved us" is the triumphant reason of the hope which looks with patience for its vindication in glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile the daily shortening of the term of patience was to be the still recurring argument of watchfulness and hope. Each daily revolution in the flight of time, while it sealed to their hearts the sweet assurance of the still nearer advent of their salvation and their rest, added another incentive to a yet more earnest zeal. The way of pilgrimage had been long, but they were nearly at its close. With yet more watchful diligence, therefore, had they to cast aside all that which yet remained as a weight or hindrance to their course (Heb. 12:1). They were on the eve of meeting God. They had therefore to put off every defilement contracted by the way, that their entrance into the place of His dwelling might be with readiness and with joy (compare Gen. 35:1-4).

The Christian has to put off, to thrust from him with effort, the works of darkness by which he is surrounded, and in which, without this vigilant decision, he is sure to be entangled. He has to cleanse himself, because already he is clean, through the pure washing of the word of grace. He has to keep those garments clean which are already whitened by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 16:15).

Nor has he only to purify his way. He is called to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 14). To cease merely from sinful practice, is to present our souls as the objects of Satan's aim, whose temptations are not ended till we rest with God. To hide himself in Christ is the only safety of the saint. The flesh will have provision for its lusts where the soul is not full fed on the satisfying portion of the bread of life. We have to put on Christ. Already we are in Him. We are planted in His likeness before the living God. But we are called to walk up and down in this present evil world in the holiness and power of that name. To put on Christ implies a divesting and denying of ourselves. A daily death to the world and its desires must precede and accompany a living to the Lord. But the confidence of faith, which knows and trusts that blessed name as the proper fountain of its peace and joy, thinks that a gainful loss which must be foregone in order that the fuller light of life may shine.

May the blessed Spirit of all truth so guide my reader and myself into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ (2 Thess. 3:5), and so confirm the diligent zeal of our hearts for His name, that when the voice of the archangel is heard indeed (1 Thess. 4:16), we may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless in His sight (2 Peter 3:14).

Romans 14.

The transition from the closing subject of the last chapter to that which the apostle now introduces, is less abrupt than may at first sight appear. The strong exhortation to personal holiness and putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, if effectually obeyed, would induce, not only increased vigilance of personal conduct, but a diligent circumspection and watchful caution with respect to the admission of anything into the Church which might prove to be an evil communication, such as would only work corruption and defilement in the body of Christ. The working of this principle of godly vigilance might, however, if untempered by the sound-minded wisdom and love of the Spirit, lead to the erection of a factitious standard of Christian fellowship, by which personal qualities might become the warrant of a man's reception into the Church, rather than his recognition and enjoyment of the grace of God.

But this would have been a ruinous error. It would have been to lose sight of the Lord, whose name it is which is the title of entrance into His own house. It would have been a confounding of knowledge, which, in the mind of the Spirit, is an after-addition, with faith, which is the foundation on which it rests (2 Peter 1:5). The basis of Christian fellowship is the grace of Christ — is Christ Himself. The cross of Christ is the common meeting-place of the saints of God as children of mercy It is as saved sinners that men know one another in Christ, according to the grace in which they are themselves known of Him. The requisites, therefore, for Christian fellowship were faith and holiness. One who had been a thief to the moment of his conversion, was as fully received of the Lord as he who might have been zealous in all works of human righteousness, while yet ignorant of the grace of God in truth.

But there was another point connected with the reception of new converts. The case might arise of-those who made profession of the name of Christ, and against whose admission into the Church no moral objection might be urged, while, on inquiry, it might appear that they were feeble or imperfect in the faith itself. The chapter before us opens with the direct expression of the mind of the Spirit as to this point.

Verse 1. "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye." Such is the plain and positive commandment of the Lord who knows His sheep, and whose will it is to reject none who truly come to Him (John 6:37). It is the believer who is to be received, without reference to the degree or measure of his faith. With respect to this, there might be a large diversity. There are babes who have need of milk, as well as men who use strong meat (Heb. 5:12-14). The emergence of a believer's conscience from a state of legal bondage into the perfect liberty of Christ, might be, and often would be, in fact, a matter of time. But, in the meanwhile, the government of such conscience was in the hands of the Lord, who had received its owner on the ground of faith. And so it is immediately added, "not to doubtful disputations," or, according to the margin, "not to judge his doubtful thoughts."*

{* "Doch nicht zur Erregung zweifelnden Gedanken," as DE WETTE renders.}

An ignorant conscience is a very different thing from a defiled conscience. There were some who professed that they knew God, while in works they were denying Him. Such persons had a mind and a conscience alike defiled (Titus 1:15-16). But widely different is the case of the man who, while under impressions perhaps most erroneous, and altogether remote from those which a fuller light would produce, yet walks with pure intent under such impressions, as under a yoke which God has placed upon his neck. It would be a proof of spiritual weakness if a Christian abstained from meats. But so long as his observance of this scruple was not obtruded on the conscience of other men, as a thing absolutely right, he was not to be despised on account of what might seem to the more established saint a bondage of conscience unworthy of the liberty of Christ (verses 2, 3).

But where the conscience of a believer is, in its intelligence, below the just appreciation of the truth which forms the standing of real Christian liberty before God, there is a danger that his spirit will become censorious in proportion to the sensitiveness of his conscience. This opposite evil is, therefore, equally to be watched. For the moment individual conscience is set up as a standard by which to judge another's conduct, the Lord is thrust out of His true place. The judgment of declared evil is a different thing entirely. In such a case, it is the Lord who, by expressing His own judgment in the word, leaves nothing but simple obedience as the course of the Christian. That word grants no immunity to an evil or defiled conscience. It deals with evil according to the truth and holiness of God.

Assuredly, the conscience is the immediate arbiter of good and evil to the man. But the directory of the conscience is the word of truth. Unless, then, a believer is walking in a way inconsistent with the declared commands of God, to reject Him on account of paucity of faith, or of spiritual discernment or attainment, is to despise and reject the Lord Himself, who has received him in His grace. While, therefore, the entrance of allowed evil was to be watchfully resisted, and no pretext listened to which would serve as a cover for the introduction of the leaven of false doctrine into the temple of Divine truth (2 Cor. 6:16); the weak-hearted Christian, whose heart was right with God, though his joy might be but scant and feeble, because the light of God as yet shone dim within him, was to be received according to the Spirit of liberty, into the Church in which that Spirit dwells. He was to be welcomed in the bowels of the love of Christ. He was to come among them, not to be questioned or directed as to his individual conscience, but to be comforted, and strengthened, and led onward in the path of truth; to be owned according to the fellowship and power of that kingdom of God which is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The doctrine of this chapter is of much practical weight and importance at all times. For the gracious adjustment of Christian liberty within the Church of God will ever be a matter of difficulty; to be met and overcome only by the watchful recognition of the Lord, in the several members of His body, and by the mutual and habitual exercise of self-denial and of grace.

The distinction between individual weakness of faith and consequent special observances for conscience' sake, and an active legal spirit which would insist on such observances, is clear in itself, but is to be carefully kept in view as a practical point. The one never goes beyond the individual conscience. Certain things are observed to the Lord, for conscience' sake. In the other case, the object is to place a yoke on the necks of others, to spoil and hinder the liberty of Christ. But this is a thing to be resisted utterly wherever it occurs, as being from Satan, and in no wise of God. It is an evil of constant recurrence in the Church of God, and one which demands therefore incessant watchfulness. Its root can never be perfectly extracted or destroyed, for it lies deep in the natural constitution of the human heart. Yokes and bonds to bind again the consciences which Christ died to set free, are the incessant machinations of the enemy of light, who finds, alas! too ready a material and too commodious a space for his evil work in the natural heart. The Epistle to the Galatians is worthy of all attention on this head (cp. also 2 Cor. 11:12-16; Acts 15).

To proceed with our chapter. Verses 4-6 assert powerfully the paramount claim of conscience in the Church of God, and assign to the Lord His true place of pre-eminence as the alone Judge of His servants' way, and the Maintainer of those whose hearts are given, in simplicity and godly sincerity, to the fulfilling of His will. The latter part of the fifth verse is rich in re-assuring comfort to the soul of the poor unprofitable servant, when judging himself on account of the faultiness of his work. He has no hard master to deal with. God is able to make him stand. It is God whose interests are bound up in the prosperity of His servant. This is ever the true rest and ultimate resort of the exercised soul. The power of God is the wealth and confidence of the saint under all circumstances. He knows that his being called to serve at all, is the result of his being already blessed in grace.

The caution in the following verse should not be lightly regarded — "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" A Christian is never rightly in a state of indifference as to anything. He is called to the exercise of a sound mind before God upon everything with which he is brought into present contact. He is to walk by faith: to stand with loins girded, not loose. Full persuasion, therefore, is expected as a precedent condition of his actions of what kind soever. The Lord is often dishonoured in this respect. Christians follow each other's example much more easily and naturally than they follow the Lord. It is the characteristic of the wise man that he is able to render a reason for what he does. This wisdom is looked for from the Christian. As it is elsewhere said: "See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise," etc. Example is no reason in itself for imitation. We have to judge the work, and when we discern the faith which produced it, we are to follow that (Heb. 13:7). Thus God is glorified; for what is then done, is done to Him.

The seventh verse expresses in brief the ruling principle and maxim of proper Christian life. Fellowship and inter-communion can never be really of the Spirit of God where this principle is lost sight of or obscured. The principle is a simple one. It has its root in the very ground-truth of Christian doctrine. The cross, which has terminated judicially the believer's mortal life, leaves now no other life but Christ Himself. To Him, then, he lives, for in Him he lives. He lives (verse 8) because he is the Lord's, not his own. Living, therefore, or dying, he is the Lord's — His own, at the paid price of His most precious blood. Yet, simple as this principle is, it demands for its practical observance the watchful, ceaseless exercise of self-denying grace. Meanwhile, the blessed truth (while its recital may well shame us because of our dull, and slow, and altogether inadequate exemplification of it), remains still in its undiminished power of sustaining comfort to the soul. Living or dying, we are the Lord's.

Verse 9. The special mention of the Lord's name as the owner, in absolute possession, of the believer as His peculium, makes way for the solemn and mighty expression of Divine doctrine, as to the power and dominion of the Lord Christ, which is delivered in the present verse. "To this end Christ both died and lived,* that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." There is here the statement of a purpose in the death of Christ, which, though it contains in it the specialty of the Church's redemption, goes infinitely beyond that truth. Christ died to establish His dominion over the dead. The cross transferred the keys of death and Hades to the hands of Jesus. By means of death, He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. Satan's power of death is now transferred to Christ.** The day of ultimate resurrection will attest this, when, after the blessed harvest of the first resurrection shall have been safe lodged a thousand years in the barns of God's eternal rest, those who had no part in that resurrection shall come forth at the voice of the Son of man, to bear reluctant witness to the glory of His power as the Lord of the dead (Rev. 20:12).

{*Such is the reading now, I believe, almost universally received by critical inquirers. Griesbach, Scholz, and Tischendorf concur in omitting the intermediate words.

** Faith sees it thus, because faith sees truth as it is revealed in Christ. Satanic power may wield mortal weapons, even against God's saints; but in such conflict, though they love not their lives to the death, they overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (Rev. 12:11).}

There is a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust (John 5:27-29). With respect to this last, some further remarks seem desirable. The vindication of the character of God, as the judge and avenger of sin, is the occasion of this resurrection. It is the prelude to God's last act with respect to sin. Now the root of sin is the devil. And so it is written, "The devil sins from the beginning." The fruit of his work is death. Man from the beginning has fed upon this bitter fruit. But the death of the body is not the fulfilment of death. That first death is but the decease of a life which sin has limited in death by the sentence of God, who gave that life to the creature of His hands. This death of fallen man is in Scripture referred to the devil as the administrator of its power (Heb. 2:14). But there is another death to which he will himself be subject. The sinner and his work will alike be swallowed up of that second And eternal death (Rev. 20:10-15). Resurrection, which to the believer is the entrance into the endless life, in hope of which he passes now the time of his patience, will be the preparation to the unwashed sinner, for the death from whence there is no more hope of resurrection or release. The deceiver and his willing victim find fellowship of ever-during woe in the perpetual sorrow of that restless death. This fearful reality of finished death, instead of being a cessation from sentient existence, is the entrance of its subject into the condition of awarded punishment. It will be the ultimate result of that day of appointed judgment (Heb. 9:27), in which the unconfessed secrets of mens' hearts will be discovered, and a portion awarded to each man according to his deeds. Unredeemed sin will receive at that day the judgment already denounced against it, of the wrath of God.

But the Judge of that day is Christ. The Man whom God has raised up from the dead, will vindicate the perfect righteousness of God, by the just award, according to truth, of the eternal judgment from of old ordained against sin (Acts 17:31). It is a wondrous and a solemn thought that thus brings the wide domain of corruption under the direct sway of the Lord Jesus, placing the dark beginnings of death under His control, who alone as yet, has truly tasted death in its full reality, as the penalty of human sin. By the grace of God, He has tasted death. He died, and now the utmost chambers of the grave are under His hand, to be unlocked in due time by the word of His power. Christ died, then, to establish thus His right of dominion over the dead. By dying, He has made death evermore His own.*

{*And therefore ours who believe. Wondrous, and mighty, and triumphant truth! (1 Cor. 3:22-23.)}

But He has also lived again. He is alive according to the power of an endless life (Rev. 1:18). Life and the living, then, are His For His return from the dead was the manifestation of His Person as the Prince and Lord of life. Having descended into the lower parts of the earth, He has ascended far above all heavens, to fill the abodes of life and joy with His fulness as the Lord of life, even as He had reached in that fulness the deep extreme of all that death contains. His dominion over the living He will exercise in power, as well as His lordship over the dead. He will drive far away, and utterly remove the shadow of death from the redeemed heirs of life, -when, in the majesty of His power, He calls back their wasted bodies from the dust of death. He will enfold in the mist of everlasting darkness the self-destroyed recusants of mercy, and the ungodly, corrupters of His grace (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13). As Lord of the living and the dead, He will do what He will with His own. The full blessedness which flows to the heart of the believer from this demonstration of the sovereignty in power of the. Saviour and lover of his soul, I will not further dwell on in this place.

The 10th verse returns to the subject of conscience, and re-states the question put in the 4th verse There is now, however, a new argument of forbearance brought forward, which takes its rise from the doctrine of Christ's lordship above stated. There is a judgment-seat at which all Christians must appear. But let us carefully mark the distinction which the Scripture draws between the judgment which the Lord will pass upon His servants, because they are such, and have wrought for His name, and the judgment which will sit upon those whose chief and decisive condemnation will be their insubjection to the Gospel of the grace of God. Respecting the believer in Jesus it is said, that he shall not come into judgment, but that he is passed from death into life (John 5:24). These are the words of Divine assurance, uttered by none other than the Judge Himself.

If the doctrines of grace with which the earlier chapters of this Epistle so richly abound have been received in simplicity into the reader's heart, he will not need a large digression in this place in proof of the essential difference which exists between the citation of the believer before the judgment-seat of Christ, for the adjudication of reward or loss according to the quality of his work (1 Cor. 3) and the entering into judgment, on the ground of human responsibilities, by one who has to learn Christ for the first time when revealed as the Judge. As to these responsibilities, they have, in the believer's case, already been borne and met for him to the full by the grace of Him who died, the Just for the unjust. We who believe have boldness, therefore, in the day when others fear; because our fear of condemnation has been exchanged for the Divine assurance of the Holy Ghost that to them that are in Christ there now remains no condemnation.

Still it is a solemn truth that a believer has an account to render up to God — to God in Christ. A Christian's present position in the world is that of a man of God. He is called to be and to act among men worthy of God. Moreover, he is especially, and by name, the servant of Christ the Lord. For this service he has power according to the might of God (Col. 1:11). The Holy Ghost is, to the believer, the enabling power of all obedience to the will of God. All things pertaining to life and godliness are already given to him through the knowledge of Him who has called him through glory and virtue (2 Peter 1).

Now the Lord is not indifferent to the ways of His saints. He has spoken no word in vain; and most assuredly the slighted commandments of God will have their vindication in due time. "The Lord will judge His people" is the expression of a standing principle of the Divine government. We have already seen, in the 11th chapter of this Epistle, one fearful exemplification of this principle in the case of the lifeless body of mere nominal profession. But it applies to that which is truly alive to God, as well as to that which lives only in name.

It is, however, necessary to make a distinction between the works of a Christian, and his confessed sins and failings. With respect to the former, a man may be flattering himself most foolishly in his own eyes, and mistaking external bustle and activity for true devotedness to Christ. His estimate may be most faulty and erroneous as to the measure and quality of his service here.* He may be comparing himself with others, and may think, in self-complacent foolishness, himself to be something, to the disparagement of others who perhaps may be, to their surprise and his, exalted far above him in the Lord's adjustment of his house. Nay, if he be looking at his service at all, except in order to judge and to amend it, he most certainly will form wrong conclusions as to his position. Looking stedfastly at the Lord, alone keeps the heart full, and the spiritual judgment, as well as the conscience clear. In such circumstances, service will abound. The apostle himself stands before us as the most perfect example of true Christian service. He could call on his brethren to be followers of him, as he followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). As one who spoke in Christ and before God, he was able to speak of the testimony of his conscience as to his pure and faithful conversation. Nor does he hide from our knowledge the rule by which he walked. It was by the zeal of Christ. "Not I, but Christ," was the motto and the power of his service. The love of Christ constrained him; and so the manner and the ordering of his conversation were ever, by the grace of God (2 Cor. 1:12). This kept him full of Christ, and therefore of love and Divine energy. Yet even he had to abide the award of that day (1 Cor. 4:1-5), though he knew well that a crown of life and glory, a crown of righteousness, was ready in the Lord's hand to be placed on his head, and not on his alone, but on the heads of all who loved the appearing of the righteous Judge (2 Tim. 4:8). The confidence which remained always clear and stedfast in his heart, was founded solely on his conscious enjoyment of the grace of God (2 Cor. 5:5-9). That, therefore, which stayed his soul, and kept him ever full of glad alacrity in the labour of love, is common to all saints, as alike partakers of Christ. Assuredly there shall be no shame to such as hold fast Christ as their confidence towards God, and whose only ambition now is to be acceptable to the Lord. Meanwhile, the word of needful caution is, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth" (2 Cor. 10:17-18).

{*The epistles addressed by the Lord to the Churches, are full of the deepest and most practical instruction on this point.}

On the other hand, the conscious sins and failures of a Christian, are, when confessed, forgiven things. The faithfulness of God secures this (1 John 1:9). Confession of sin, or of shortcoming, casts the matter confessed, with the person who confesses it, on the righteous advocacy of Jesus. The blessed Lord acts thus for the instantaneous removal of all that can defile or darken the conscience, or afflict the soul with a sense of guilty deficiency. Confession of deficiency and shortcoming is at once met, in the fulness of that grace which flows evermore towards the once purged worshipper, by the intercession of our great High Priest. Peace thus is again restored to the conscience, while the heart yet retains its humbling sense of personal vileness. For it is the true discernment of the gracious action of restoring mercy that effectually humbles, and keeps low the soul.

But forgiven sin is no subject of the Lord's judgment at that day. Having acted as the advocate for the lightening of our faces when ashamed before God, He is not going to revive and reproduce the pardoned sin, to the denial of His own work, and the contradiction of the perfect truth of God. "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more," is the testimony of the Holy Ghost, concerning the abiding state of God's mind in Christ towards believing sinners. But things thus willingly forgotten by the grace of God (whose Spirit thus, by words so full of precious meaning, declares the Omnipotence of Love to extend even to the forgetfulness of what has been, in the present contemplation of what is), are surely not again to come into mind with Him who has already welcomed us with perfect acceptance in the Son of His love. The ashes of an heifer, when, according to the lustral ordinance of God, they sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, prefigured not alone the efficacy of the blood of Christ, as once felt in its peace-giving power in the heart and conscience of a newly awakened sinner. They showed forth the perpetual efficacy of that once shed blood to restore to the worshipper, purged once for all, the consciousness, which sin might have disturbed, of the pristine and incontaminable purity in which the blood-cleansed soul for ever stands before God (Heb. 9:13-14; 10:2, 10, 14).

It is not, then, a second judgment of faults already judged in ourselves and forgiven of God in Christ. which awaits the believer at the judgment-seat of Christ. That place and hour are for the bringing to light the hidden things of darkness, and for the manifestation of the counsels of the hearts (1 Cor. 4:5); "and then," it is added, "shall every man have praise of God." Secret acts of love, and settled purposes of heart, uncommunicated to any mortal ear, will then come forth from the treasury of the Lord's remembrance, and receive the praise which He for whose sake these things have been devised and wrought, will know well how to award. Then, too, will other purposes and acts, the doing or imagining of which may haply have fed with illusive expectations of reward the hearts of those whose minds were lofty because of knowledge, or falsely confident because of cumbrous service, be weighed and balanced at the beam of truth and holiness, and, being found imperfect, will be cast aside. What once seemed gold or silver to the partial eye of its possessor will prove, perhaps, but wood or stubble, fit only for the fire, in that day (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

On the next two verses (11, 12), I only remark that they form a striking testimony to the person of the blessed Lord. The Godhead of Christ is perhaps nowhere more strongly and directly stated. The passage from Isaiah here quoted has been noticed before, in connection with the subject of the glory of the risen Jesus as exalted and glorified of God (Phil. 2:10). There is a difference in the uses which the Spirit of God sometimes makes of the same passage of Scripture. Thus, in the present instance, the words of Isaiah are cited, not for the demonstration of the Lordship and dominion of Christ as that which he has received of God, but rather to affirm the proper glory of His person as essentially Divine. It is to God that we have to give account, each for himself accounting, and not for another, unto Him that tries the hearts.* We may be sure that if our present thoughts of our redemption-blessings do not carry us into the presence of God, we are quite out of our true position. To have to do with God is our calling now. "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:21-22). It is thus that an exercised heart and conscience make the prospect of appearing to give account to God, a prospect of joy rather than of dread. Alas! it is to be feared that of the multitudes of saved souls who truly know the sure salvation of God in Christ, there are but few who are really walking thus in the light and joy of that day of God. The incurable selfishness of the human heart is the grand hindrance to this. Glory alone shames this feeling — the glory, that is, of God, as it now sheds its ineffable brightness by the Spirit into the unveiled heart of faith, when looking stedfastly up into heaven and seeing Jesus there.

{*There is, too, an account to be rendered, by such as take in hand to guide Christ's sheep, of the souls over which they watch (Heb. 13:17. Acts 20). The doctrine in the text is general.}

Verses 13-15. The certainty of a coming judgment of the saints of God imposes on them severally a new and especial responsibility, and that of a mutual kind. Instead of judging one another, they are to "judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (verse 13). Every Christian has a living interest in his brother, as a member of the body of Christ. As a consequence of this, he is interested in his brother's ways. He has to make straight paths for such as are out of the way (Heb. 12:13). He is to look diligently to his own way, lest, by too heedless a use of his liberty, he unwittingly become a hindrance in his brother's path. The effects of the conduct of God's saints upon each other's way, as those effects are made apparent in the day of the Lord, will alone discover to the full the practical importance of a careful walk — of keeping a conscience void of offence towards man as well as towards God. Meanwhile there is but one way of avoiding occasion of stumbling. Love of the brethren, if real, is a sure preservative from offence (1 John 2:10). It ought to be an easy thing to them who are born of love to walk in love. Yet alas! it is here that the root of all difficulty lies. One's soul droops with shame while pondering the precepts of the Spirit of grace (founded as they are on the perfect testimonies of accomplished mercy), at the thought how little there is found the mind to care naturally for the estate of one's brethren. Alas! it has ever been so. Nor will love have its perfect course until the mighty change from flesh to spirit once wrought upon these bodies of humiliation shall leave no longer anything of our own to be cared for (Phil. 3:20-21), and we shall know, in the light of His own joy, that when seeking the things of Jesus, we were seeking best our own.

The 14th verse is of importance. I regard it as superseding to the Gentile Christian, the rescript of the Church at Jerusalem, so far as that related to the eating of meats offered to idols.* "I know, and am persuaded of the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself," etc. The conscience of a believer is expected to be adjusted to the truth in which he stands. A risen man is a new man (Col. The earth on which he tarries until his change come is the Lord's, with all the fulness which it contains (1 Cor. 10:25-29). He is free from all legal bondage. This truth was not brought fully forth while as yet the Lord's mercy lingered over Jerusalem, and the apparent throne of the Spirit's government was in the Church assembled there. The proper apostolate of the Gentiles was but beginning in the person of Paul, who was himself the bearer of the decrees ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem (Acts 16:4). But we have here, and elsewhere in his Epistles, an estimate of things founded on the now declared and manifested setting aside of law and ordinance of every kind, because Christ as the life, the second Adam — the beginning, the first-born from the dead, as well as the substance of all Jewish ordinance — was now clearly made known as a present truth. The position of the Church as already raised in Him from the dead was preached among the Gentiles, who received that Gospel of the grace of God which revealed to them their heavenly calling, as the regulating principle of their earthly walk (Col. 2:20-23).

{*Even the prohibition with respect to things strangled, founded as it appears to be on Gen. 9:4, I should regard as no longer binding on one who draws the daily aliment of his soul from the shed blood of the Lamb. But as to these things, we do well to heed the general caution in the text.}

Still, the conscience was to determine the man's actual way. "To him that esteems anything to be unclean, it is unclean." And love, which is the bond of perfectness, would keep a man who walked by that rule from grieving his brother's conscience with his liberty of meats (verse 15). It is to be remarked, that the exercise and privilege of personal liberty is founded on individual faith. It it thus a private matter strictly. It is a constituent part of that perfect blessing in liberty which makes the believer free and happy anywhere and everywhere as being Christ's, and seeing, and touching, and using nothing that is not Christ's. Where, therefore, a Christian is associated with others, this conscious feeling of liberty (though ever held firmly fast in his heart) is to be tempered in practice by the mightier principle of love. He is not to think of himself, but to have respect to the state and requirements of those with whom he is associated, or before whom he walks.

Edification is to be his end. But the first condition of this is self-denial. The importance which the Spirit of God attaches to this is evinced by the strong language found at the close of this verse. What does not edify or build up, does pull down and destroy. A doubtful heart is the constant associate of a violated conscience. But conscience is often violated through the force of example, and when thus violated easily becomes dulled and hardened in its temper. A false and carnal boldness, far different indeed from the confidence of faith, is noted by the Spirit as the natural result to the consciences of our fellow Christians, where liberty is the only rule, and spiritual expediency is left out of our account (1 Cor. 8 passim, spec. 10, 11; 1 Cor. 6:12). But to pub conscience aside is to expose faith to shipwreck (1 Tim. 1:19).* It is a ruinous thing. To blunt conscience is practically to lose Christ. He cannot reveal Himself where His claims are deliberately set aside to please the flesh. The solemn importance of the principle here enforced cannot be over-rated. The almost invariable declension and corruption which are observable in large bodies of Christians after a while, arise mainly from disregard of this principle. Imitative action then becomes the counterfeit and the wretched substitute for the true energy of faith.

{*The life of every Christian is hid with Christ in God and therefore secure from ultimate loss. He is preserved in Jesus Christ (Jude 1). The apostle's question is not, here with the ultimate loss or safety of the soul which really belongs to Christ, but to show that all is gone when conscience is let go. Gone, that is, as far as the Christian is himself concerned; but where we fail, there God still abides faithful. Yet in stating the principle he shows (and it is a most solemn consideration) that the carelessness of a Christian may harden a sinner to his destruction.}

But to proceed. Passing by the 16th verse, we find in the one following, a definition of the kingdom of God. It is not meat and drink. It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. What God owns is spirit, and not flesh. But meat and drink are not of the Spirit, but of the flesh. They are things to be used to God, if used at all. Essentially, they are neither of blame nor of praise (1 Cor. 8:8). But if not used in subjection to the truth which is above them, they surely work evil and not good. On the other hand, the undisturbed sway of God is known by three tokens here given. Where God is enthroned in the conscience according to the truth of the Gospel, there will be found righteousness; and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Meats and drinks can establish no heart before God. They may, and often do, disturb and unsettle, but it is grace alone which can establish, strengthen and settle the soul (Heb. 13:9; 1 Peter 5:10). Verse 18 applies itself searchingly, yet with comfort, to the individual heart. It is well for a Christian to ask himself often how and in what things he is serving Christ. Otherwise, zeal may sometimes injure rather than profit. Nothing is either pleasing to God or profitable to men, which is not done in the power of this kingdom of God. So long as a believer is realizing the presence and power of God, he will surely be acting rightly if he act at all. For God will then act by him and in him, to the fulfilment of His own will. Apart from God, things right in themselves often turn to a mischievous result, because it really is the fleshly will that furnishes the strength for the work, instead of the Spirit of God.

I do not examine minutely the remaining verses. The reiteration of the principle (verses 20, 21) attests its intrinsic importance in the eye of the Spirit of God. But in verse 22 we are furnished with a decisive test by which genuine spiritual liberty may be at all times distinguished from its counterfeit, carnal wilfulness. "Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God." There is a careless assumption of privilege, founded on doctrinal liberty, which is quite a different thing from faith. The faith here spoken of is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It is not justifying faith in Christ, but it is a fruit which grows and results as a practical effect of the justified believer's personal communion with the Lord. This faith is a home joy of the soul. It abides within, choosing the privacy of the presence it loves best (Prov. 5:15-19). Faith of this kind courts no observation, and makes no boast of privilege. It is discovered in its effects, and these effects are always according to God, and therefore for blessing to others. The light and liberty enjoyed within may enable one thus blessed to help forward with more effect the lagging steps of those who need some guide to clear them, it may be, from the mazy ground in which they are bewildered. Meanwhile, it is the heart's pure peace and blessedness to be thus fully filled with Christ.

But there is another point connected with this. The presence of God is the only place where faith can really act. But God is light. And in that light is everything to be weighed before it is allowed under the plea of liberty. Conscience thus becomes the regulator, as it were, of faith. Else mere persuasion of self-will might easily usurp the place of genuine faith toward God. And so it is added: "Happy is he that condemns not himself in the thing that he alloweth." A weighty sentence, and full of needed caution, such as may temper and regulate the flow of Christian liberty, lest, ceasing to be restrained within the conscious limits of godly fear, it should degenerate to mere self-pleasing, and the natural license of the fleshly will.

The last verse of the chapter states another principle of still more solemn importance. A Christian is a man of faith. If he ever walks according to a lower principle, he is dishonouring, so far, the standing which he occupies. Nothing that a Christian does is merely indifferent. It is an act either of obedience or of sin: that is, he is either pleasing God or himself. Hesitation or doubt as to any course, is a peremptory reason for abstaining from it. The moment there is a question as to the nature or quality of a step proposed, the question is already decided in the heart of faith. For faith can go nowhere without God. Actions which do not satisfy the conscience before Him are always wrong. God leads in the way of uprightness. The light which He is is radiated through the word into the heart that lives upon Him. The consideration of the large amount of action in which a saint may be engaged, with, perhaps, no thought at all as to its true nature or intent, is a truly solemn one when taken in the light of this passage.

It will be seen, that though the particular instance stated in this verse is a religious scruple with respect to meats, the principle which it illustrates is one of the widest description. Yet we must be on our guard against a fretful conscience. Light is the healthful atmosphere of conscience. But grace is the ground on which the soul of the believer rests. The word of grace is the medium through which the light which is to regulate his conscience is communicated to a child of God. That the children are free (Matt. 17:26) is the Divine assurance of Him who alone had the right of sonship in that house of liberty into which He has now brought the believing heirs of promise, until, by His finished work of grace and truth, He had Himself secured eternally that liberty to them (John 8:32-36). May we, then, who believe, stand fast in that liberty with which Christ has made us free (Gal. 5:1).

Romans 15.

The present division of these chapters is not a happy one. The first seven verses of chapter 15 conclude the subject which immediately precedes, and should not have been separated from their context. At the 8th verse there is a change in the subject, as we shall presently see. Meanwhile let us proceed with the exhortation.

Verse 1 assigns to the strong their true place and service. Their strength, if it be really such, has here a labour matched with its degree. There is a tender and yet powerful appeal in this passage, addressed to the true sympathies of the inner man, which is well fitted to check and abase that natural high-mindedness which, even in a godly man, is ever ready to assert itself. We are to have faith to ourselves. We are to be strong for others. Looking on the burdens and infirmities of his brethren, a believer who rejoices in the consciousness of gracious strength finds its true exercise in ministering to the infirmities of the weak. This is a work which, because it calls for patience, and forbearance, and diligence, because, too, its fruit often lies long hidden, and its present effect may seem to be little more than a vain exhaustion of strength, is one of no attraction to the natural mind. With many kinds of Christian service natural elements easily mingle; and, where they enter, always deteriorate, if they do not utterly corrupt, the blessing of the work. But with the patient labour of love the flesh can have no part. It can oppose and resist it; and so indeed it does, because at every step it finds itself thwarted in its natural course of self pleasing. But further it it never can. The Christian, because he is a vessel of the grace of God, is not to please himself. For he is not his own. But compulsion is not the Spirit's way of teaching. He lays down, indeed, His Divine principles, as the guiding maxims of Christian conduct; but the preceptive direction is sustained, and the believer invested with power for its accomplishment, by a continual reference to the person of Christ Himself.

Accordingly, after the general expression of active charity, as the practical rule of mutual conversation within the Church of God (verse 2), he adds the commanding motive which the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ supplies with an ever-increasing force and effect to the inner man, according to the believer's growth and advancement in the precious knowledge of the Lord Himself. "For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." The glory of that blessed One was to be the servant of the Father's will, and the minister of the desperate necessity of poor sin-ruined man: "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). It was not for Himself that He came into the world. It was not for His pleasure that He remained in it. He tarried awhile in it as a stranger, only that He might fulfil the word of God. That which was good in the Father's sight was the rejoicing of the Spirit of the lonely Son of God (Matt. 11:25-26).

We have seen in the foregoing chapter, how the Spirit of God sets forth the majesty of Christ's person, as Lord both of the dead and the living, and how the prospect of their appearing at His judgment-seat is made to bear upon the conscience of His servants. But now the blessed One who is to judge our work of what sort it is, comes before our view as the pattern of the way in which that work is to be done.

It is the happy privilege of a Christian, that there is nothing taught or commanded him of God, which is not presented to his conscience in immediate connection with the person of Christ. We are called to learn Him, that the mind which was in Him may be also in us. The ineffable grace of the Lord's person, who, although the hand which was nailed with pain and ignominy to the cross, was the hiding-place of Omnipotent power (Hab. 3:4), yet suffered in weakness, and with the utterance of that loud cry of sore distress, which told of a heart broken under the sense of God's desertion (Matt. 27:46), is the subject which the Holy Ghost places before the view of the believer, in order to produce in him a Christian frame and temper in the true sense of the word. The contradiction of sinners, which the blessed One endured against Himself, when contemplated by the believer as a preparation, in the mystery of Divine grace, for his own salvation through the endurance of the last reproach by the anointed Lord of glory for his sake, becomes to his heart a deep and blessed lesson of patience and of grace. He learns thus to deny himself, when he perceives in the self-denial of the Son of God the immediate condition of his own redemption. Christian self-denial is a fruit borne only through the energy of Christian love. Christian love, again, is but the reverberate echo of the love of God in Christ to usward who believe. We love Him because He first loved us.

It was the zeal of God's house that ate up the strength of the man of God's delight. But the parent of that zeal was the knowledge of the Father's love, which filled the heart of the Son. He abode in that love (John 15:10); dwelling in and proving its delight, in continual obedience to the Father's will. The love of the Father was that which made all toil and suffering endurable to Jesus. He leaned upon that love for the present solace of His grief. He looked to its bright end of joy, and drew from thence persuasion of triumphant endurance, when in immediate prospect of the cross (Heb. 12:2). Jesus bore the cross, because He loved the Father (John 14:31). It was the tremendous, and yet, to the perfect devotedness of the obedient One, the acceptable expression of the Father's will. For love lives only to perform the will of love. Now the witness of these things is given for our sakes. They are written, not only for the furtherance of our joy, and the confirmation of our hope, but also for the fashioning of our hearts end ways as obedient children, according to the pattern of the perfect truth.

The quotation from the Psalms, contained in the 4th verse, gives the apostle an occasion of settling the minds of the saints at Rome, and of all believers, as to the true value and bearing of the Old Testament Scriptures. Questions might arise, and probably had already arisen, as to the continued validity and authority of the Jewish Scriptures, now that the full and especial revelation of the truth had been made by the Lord and the apostles of His word.* Already he had quoted largely from the Old Testament in the course of his argumentative demonstration of Christian doctrine, and the exposition of God's dispensational dealings, in which the nation of Israel held so conspicuous a place. Now, however, there is a direct reference made to the Old Testament, as to that in which the Christian is to search for and to find Christ. It is presented to the believer as entirely his own; as written for him and for his sake. This is important, because it enables the Christian to lay distinct claim to all Scripture. But while this is so, he is cast, as to the relative bearing of each part, and its more or less immediate application to the Church, on the Spirit of God, which is given to them that believe for their guidance as the Spirit of a sound mind — to lead and direct, as the Spirit of truth, into all the truth.** The word of the Old Testament is, then, placed on an equal level with that of the New. Both are the testimony of the same Spirit, and both alike belong to the children of God. They were written for us Christians, though doubtless not for us alone.

{*How early these questions arose, and how earnestly the father of lies laboured to break the unity of Scripture is well known to students of Church history.

** John 16:13. The Scriptures testify of Christ. The Old Testament, equally with the New, is the word of Christ which is to dwell richly in the saints (Col. 3:16). Yet how needful to distinguish between the widely differing character and object of the varied testimonies of the One Spirit. Christ is the unity of Divine truth. But to conclude from this that the Church is the unity of the Divine work and purpose in redemption, would be to err most injuriously. Yet this error has prevailed, and yet does prevail, over many Christian minds. But where this is the case, the word of God is sure to be more or less dishonoured by perversion from its just intent. This remark applies to much which goes under the inappropriate name of "spiritualization," when used with reference to the exclusive Christian appropriation of Scripture properly Jewish.}

The Scriptures are presented here to the believer as the means and practical supply of patience, of comfort, and of hope. They are so because they are the word of God, who is alone the minister of these things. He is the God of patience, and the God of consolation (verse 5), even as He is the God of hope. He is to be sought and inquired for as such in the word of His own grace. And here it is only necessary to repeat, that what is given to us is the entire word. The habit of partial selection which is so common among Christians is an injury to their own souls, as well as a neglect (rather because it is a neglect) of the gracious provision which the Father of lights has furnished for the necessary instruction of the children of light in the midst of the darkness of this world. Such an acquaintance with the word of Scripture as suffices to keep the springs of salvation fairly within the soul's view is not alone sufficient for the man of God; for it may be safely said, that the just appreciation of the word of God is impossible where the soul of a believer is not sufficiently established in the grace of God to enable him to see, and understand, and feel, that his individual salvation in Christ is the beginning, and not the end of his calling. His justification and sanctification in Christ are the preparation by which he is made ready now to know the will of God, to become a partaker, through the Holy Ghost, of a wisdom and knowledge which it is the portion of the heirs of promise only to possess, and the revelation of which is now made to such as a mystery, according to the wisdom and prudence of the God of grace (Eph. 1). Hope, then, will abound, with comfort and patience, according to the diligent simplicity of our faith in pondering the whole word of Christ, and thus increasing in the knowledge of God.

Verses 5-7. The end of individual growth and blessing is union in the practical fellowship of the truth enjoyed. Praise, one-minded and one-toned, offered to God in the perfect knowledge of Him as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the comeliest fruit of the one blessed Spirit by whom both Jew and Gentile, in the unity of the New Man, alike have access as the true and acceptable worshippers of His name (Eph. 2:15-18).

God, then, is glorified (verse 7) by our mutual reception of one another in the faith and power of the name of Christ. Personal knowledge of Christ is thus laid as the basis of Christian communion and fellowship. "As Christ has received us," so are we to receive one another. To receive on a lower ground than this, by substituting mere verbal recognition of doctrine for living faith, would be to exchange the communion of the Holy Ghost for the agreement of human opinion, and to forget that living stones can alone be used for the construction of the temple of the living God. To add to the divine conditions of life and holiness, further requirements as necessary to communion, would be to grieve the Spirit of grace, and to glory in man rather than in the Lord; turning thus the perfect liberty of the grace of God into an evil bondage to the will of man.* They were to receive one another. The strong were to receive the weak; the weak, the strong. The Jew was to acknowledge the Gentile; the Gentile to rejoice together with the Jew, as an equal partaker of the grace of Christ. Christ had received them both alike to the glory of God. God was thus glorified in them, as alike vessels of His own mercy. The cross, annihilating all fleshly distinctions (because it was the dissolution in death of the flesh itself), was the preparation for glory as their portion in the knowledge of Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. They were, then, to know one another not after the flesh but after the Spirit, "according to Christ," (verse 5) and God would be thereby glorified in them, in proportion to the honour thus by them rendered to Jesus in the impartial and ready exercise of mutual love for His sake.

{*It may not be superfluous in the present day of general laxity in doctrine, to remind the reader that the holiness of a believer's standing is the holiness of truth (Eph. 4:24); that "the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth" (Eph. 5:9); that the toleration, therefore, of unsoundness in doctrine is utterly repugnant to the ground principle of Christian communion, the condition and the power of which is the presence of the Spirit of Truth. To receive into Christian fellowship one unsound in doctrine, would be to receive him not to the glory of God, but to His highest dishonour, by refusing to distinguish between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of Error (1 John 4:1-6).}

At the 8th verse, the apostle takes up a new subject, though not without its connection with what has just preceded. The statement just now made of their common acceptance, in the way of grace, does not interfere with the question of the separate calling of the Jew and the Gentile. To the former, the sending forth of Jesus was the proof and witness of the faithfulness of God, who redeemed in the person of His Son the promises made to the fathers. "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." How these promises, confirmed and secured in the person of Christ, will have their eventual fulfilment in their destined objects, we have already seen. On the other hand, the Gentiles were to glorify God for His mercy (verse 9). As strangers to the covenants of promise, they had been taken up in the way of pure and unsought grace and mercy.

The passages which are quoted in succession in the following verses (9-12), deserve careful attention. They are here quoted in order to attest the unity of the Scripture as the word of Christ. If the passages be examined, there is not one of them which has yet received its complete fulfilment. The first in the series might appear at first sight an exception, but it is not really such. A careful examination of the several places from whence these extracts have been made, will show that in every case the object before the mind of the Spirit is not only the glorified person of Christ, but that person and that glory in their specialty of manifestation in connection with the accomplishment of earthly promise. They relate to the future effects upon the nations of the world, of the earthly reign of Immanuel, as the true son of David, the anointed king of Israel. The quotation from Psalm 117:1, is clearly the utterance of the grateful celebration of Israel's new-born joy and blessing, when reinstated in the favour of Jehovah according to the fulfilment of His loving-kindness and His truth. Filled themselves, and satisfied, with the merciful kindness of the Lord, they call on the Gentiles to share their joy, and to echo their praise. As it is written in the former verse: "Rejoice ye Gentiles, with His people."

We have already considered, in a former chapter, the present condition of the nation, and have seen how its restoration to the mercies of the Lord is made dispensationally to attend the issue of the present work of God among the Gentiles, during the time when they are enemies, as concerning the Gospel, for the Gentiles' sake (chap 11:26). The passages here quoted are, in fact, all of them Millennial passages. Yet have they a fulfilment in principle even now. The grace which is to have its triumphant manifestation in the kingdom of the glorified Messiah, is already the ground of the believing Gentile's confidence and joy. The person of the Lord, in whom all the promises of God are Yea and Amen, is the theme and subject of the Spirit's testimony in the word. Thus, while clearly discriminating between the differing and often contrasted portions of the perfect truth, the Christian is already put in full possession of that which makes all Scripture directly applicable to the furtherance of his own proper blessing, as an heir of all (Rev. 21:7; 1 Cor. 3:21-23).

Christ being known through the Spirit as the substance of the promises, the believer already stands, by anticipation, in that day when the root of Jesse shall be manifested as the ensign of the nations (Isa. 11:10-16),* and when the Gentiles will rest under the sway of that sceptre of Peace and of Righteousness, which shall then be held, as the rod of fruitful blessing, in the hand of the glorified son of David, the God of the whole earth. The Gentiles will in that day hope in Him who is the desire of all nations. But the now believing Gentile knows that hope already, in a yet higher and more abundant measure of blessing. The day which brings the earthly hope of Jew and Gentile within their reach, shall witness the heavenly glory of those who now trust in Christ, of those who, relatively to the pervading reign of Millennial blessing, are said to have fore-hoped in Christ (Eph. 1:12), for whom there is a blessing which belongs only to those who, not having seen, have yet believed (John 20:29; 1 Peter 1:8-9). It is in the light of the glorified Church, the reigning bride of the Lamb, that the restored and justified nation of Israel, and the nations of the Gentiles which share the blessing of Israel, will rejoice in that day.

{*The apostle's quotation is not from the Hebrew original, but from the Septuagint.}

The Person of Christ is the hope of the believer now. The same Person will be the hope of the nations hereafter, when His dominion shall be to the ends of the earth. Kings and nations, rulers and tribes, will then acknowledge, in the day of His power,* the name which as yet is known only to the election, who are called to bear His reproach and to confess His shame as their glory until He come. The transition from the 12th to the 13th verse is not so well appreciated by an English reader, who is not aware that the last word in verse 12 should be "hope," and not "trust." The God of hope is invoked to fill them with all joy and peace in believing, that they may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. This is a very full expression when its connection with the foregoing passages is seen. The Gentiles will laud and magnify the name of Jesus in the day when the kings of the earth shall sing in the ways of the Lord, because the displayed majesty of His glory is great (Ps. 138:4-5). Very full will be the cup of blessing which in that day will satisfy the desires of the nations who stand in the blessing of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:3). But that day is not yet. The night which precedes it is indeed far spent, and the day is at hand; but as yet the creature waits in earnest expectation for the manifestation of the sons of God. Until then, the sieve of vanity contains the nations of the earth, in readiness for that last shaking (Haggai 2:6-7; 21-23; Heb. 12:25-27), which shall produce as its result the apparent presence in glory of Him who, having borne up from of old the pillars of creation, will then manifestly be known as the One whose hand establishes, in the sure fulfilment of recorded mercy, that which must first be shaken in the righteous judgment of His truth.

{*It is in one sense already the day of His power. All power has been committed to Him of the Father, power in heaven and power in earth (Matt. 28:18). To the Church, which knows Him as its Head, this is a realized truth. The Holy Ghost is the witness of it, and faith is the means of its appreciation. But it is to faith alone that this is revealed. While we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, we see not yet all things put under Him. For that He awaits the day appointed of the Father.}

But in the meanwhile, the believer, as a child of hope, and an anointed heir of promise, has outspread before him in the word of truth the wide domain of the patrimony of the Son of God, the Heir of all things. The Holy Ghost is given to him to be the witness and revealer of this, and of his personal interest in it all as a joint-heir with Christ. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of the inheritance, thus becomes the God of the believer's hope. This hope, which is Christ Himself, comprises as one of its specific expectations, the fair scene of millennial promise. The dispensation of the fulness of times, when earth as well as heaven shall be held under the confessed dominion of Christ, is, to the disciple of the Holy Ghost, the first bright page of the exhaustless volume of Divine promise. It is the first of the ages to come (Eph. 2:7). And who shall tell the number of those ages which are to have their course in everlasting witness of the exceeding riches of that grace of God, whose chief expression is His kindness towards the Church now called to suffer with a world-rejected Christ?

There is thus to the believing Gentile now an abundance of hope. For bis calling is not to rejoice with Israel the earthly people of the Lord, but to rejoice in hope of that glory which is his appointed and hoped-for portion as made already in Christ a participator, in hope, of the heavenly as well as the earthly inheritance of the saints in light. The power of the Holy Ghost is the means of this more abundant hope. It is that Spirit which alone can draw forth for the believer's comfort the marrow and fatness of that good word of promise which is the appointed meat of the heirs of promise. While, therefore, this verse (13) is full of comfort to the heart of a Christian, when considered simply as a corroborative testimony of that word of grace which nourishes in him the sure hope of personal salvation, it is not for this end alone that it was written, but rather to raise and fill our souls in the just and practical perception of the true nature and dimension of this our marvellous hope, that the perfected praise of the God of hope might abound in the lips of the sucklings of the pure word of truth, because they believe to their joy in these gifts unspeakable of the grace of God (1 Peter 2:1; Ps. 8:1-2; 1 Cor. 2:12).

Verse 14 expresses the apostle's happy persuasion of the effectual working of the Spirit among them, to the abundance of those fruits of refreshment and those works of holiness and love, which should make for the furtherance of their common joy and their growth unitedly toward God.

Verses 15-17. In referring to the Apostolate of the Gentiles as that which, being his especial calling by the grace of God, emboldened him to address them, he again places the present dispensation of Gentile mercy in a striking light, as contrasted with that which is to come. Instead of the Lord Christ on His throne of government, demanding and receiving the homage of all nations, we have the mission of His servant and witness, speaking as an ambassador of grace among the Gentiles, the word of life, and of deliverance from a world already judged. The result of this ministry was the bringing nigh unto God with acceptance the Gentile offering which was sanctified by the Holy Ghost.* This expression I understand to refer primarily to the election of grace, but in a wider sense to extend to the dispensational standing of the Gentile Church as occupying the position and privilege of the people of God. He had, then, a boast (verse 17) in the things of God. This was a confidence which pertained to him simply by the grace of God, which had made him to be what he was, according to His will. His rejoicing, then, was still in Christ, whose apostle he was.

{*Paul was a minister (leitourgos) of Jesus Christ. His service was the ministry of the Gospel. The result of this was the acceptance of the Gentile offering sanctified by the Holy Ghost. The Church is an offering acceptable to God. At Pentecost this had its first exemplification, when the Holy Ghost descended upon the saints. Dispensationally, as we learn from Romans 11, that which was once a pure lump becomes a loathing and offence at the end — to be cut off as a sapless branch from the tree of promise. With respect to this meaning of the expression "offering," a good illustration may be found in Num. 8:11-21.}

The two verses which next follow (18, 19), pursue the same topic. It was Christ who wrought in him. Mighty signs and wonders had appeared, which had enforced, with Divine power of attestation, the preaching of the word of the Lord's messenger. Of such things he would speak freely, that the Lord might be magnified who had wrought the work. For he was not ashamed of His message. Moreover, he knew that there were false apostles as well as false brethren, and he hastens thus to lay his credentials (albeit this marvellous Epistle itself might, as an exposition of the doctrine of Christ, have appeared sufficient proof of apostolic power) before them, that if any urged upon them apostolic claims, they might have as it were a security against deceptive pretensions, in the possession of the genuine lineaments of an apostle of Christ *

In the 19th verse there is a descriptive statement of the limits within which the power which wrought by him had confined itself up to that time. From Jerusalem, and in a circuit as far as Illyricum, he had fully preached the Gospel of Christ. The passage is remarkable. When we remember the specialty of the apostle's dispensation among the Gentiles, and compare our Lord's words (Matt. 24:14), respecting the character and objects of the evangelical ministry which was to intervene between the ascension and the second advent, there appears no warrant for limiting the terms here used. The testimony as to these parts was fulfilled. Wherever the apostle preached, a constituent part of his testimony was the near approach of the day of judgment. Wherever the testimony was owned in blessing, to the gathering of believers to the name of Jesus, the speedy coming again of the Son of God from heaven was ministered as their characteristic hope in the midst of a hopeless because Christless world. The accomplishment, then, by the apostle, of his mission in any given district, left nothing more to be necessarily done. The work was finished, so far, that is, as the fulfilment of the Lord's word respecting the Gospel of witness was concerned. The Lord might tarry still. He did tarry, and lingers even yet, because His suffering is long, and He waits with much forbearance while the record of His goodness is, because still despised, but hardening the world in the ways of its destruction.

{*These lineaments are more fully traced in the Epistles to the Corinthians. The complete figure and living portraiture, however, of this most Christ-like of Christians and least imitable of apostles, is only to be collected in its several features from an attentive and prayerful study of the entire body of his writings, and from the Acts.}

But I regard this passage as one which, rightly considered, utterly confounds and disallows that perilous notion (itself the offspring of the Church's declension from its proper standing and true expectation) which leads men to regard the apostles as simply founders of Churches, and leaders in the work of Gospel testimony. They were this, undoubtedly. But the sure word of Scripture, if carefully heeded, will convince us that the ideas of permanence* and improving progress are both of them opposed exactly to the plainest expression of the truth of God respecting the actual calling and the prospective dispensational character of the Church of God in the world.**

{*Permanence, that is, in an earthly position. Instead of this, its place is that of waiting expectation, until the coming of the Son of God (1 Thess. 1:10).

** In one of the last Epistles of this apostle (Col. 1:23), he speaks of the Gospel having been preached to every creature which is under heaven. When we remember that the unwearied labours of the other apostles, which we know were in a different direction and in different localities from those of Paul, were concurrent with his own, this expression seems capable of acceptation as a simple statement of fact, as it regarded the then known world. Ecclesiastical historians have already noticed this.}

On the next five verses (20-24) I have not much to remark. The jealous zeal of the servant, whose boast was to do not the work of another but his own, still conspicuously appears. From verse 22 we may gather a practical lesson of value. He had long desired to visit Rome. Possibly, the idea of carrying the Gospel into that vast metropolis of spiritual death may have powerfully stirred his ardent spirit. But he had to abide the Lord's pleasure as to the time, the distribution, and the manner of his work. He should see Rome in due time; yet not as he had thought and wished, but as the Lord had willed with more perfect wisdom of counsel. Conflict between inclination and duty is a thing of every day occurrence with a tried servant of Christ. "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10), was the word of this most susceptible yet most stedfast of servants. Least of all, if self be pleased, can a man hope to be used of God. We see, in verse 24, how large and wide were the anticipations of future labour, which filled the mind of this devoted and unwearied apostle. Whether these anticipations were fulfilled in the instance of the Spanish journey is unknown. The preparation, however, which he proposes to make for it, is worth our attention. He would not willingly go thither alone. He would carry with him some remembrance of the brethren at Rome. He would gather, from a respite of toil spent in the sweet and precious fellowship of the Spirit, a measure of fresh strength and courage to proceed still further on his dangerous yet welcome way.

Apostolic labour, like every other species of ministry, is the fruit of personal responsibility to the Lord. It must, therefore, be exercised without conference with flesh and blood. Yet it is the happiness of the servant to find his hands strengthened and his way cheered by the cordial sympathy and prayerful aid of his brethren. For the work is the work of the Lord, and in that work all have their common interest, and all are exhorted to abound (1 Cor. 15:58). How necessary to his help and comfort in labour Paul felt the prayers of the saints to be, appears from the frequency with which he calls on them in all his epistles to aid him thus. Nor was it only or even chiefly for his sake, but rather for their own, that he sought thus to excite and keep alive in them a constant interest in the work of the Lord. For he ,well knew that their true prosperity of soul depended much on the singleness of zeal with which their hearts were occupied with the things of Jesus Christ.

Verses 25-28 announce his contemplated journey to Jerusalem, and the objects with which that journey was to be made. It was a strong and stedfast purpose of heart which made him still persist in the endeavour to accomplish that enterprise, so remarkable in its accompanying circumstances, and of such eventful result. The prospect of bonds and imprisonment did not deter him. We have the circumstances which preceded and accompanied, and the consequences which followed this visit to Jerusalem, detailed in the Acts of the Apostles. At present I only notice the remarkable language in verse 27. The Jew's pre-eminence is fully asserted here. Nor, indeed, does he ever lose it, though when the cross is known in its power all fleshly distinction is set aside. But salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). The spiritual things are theirs; for theirs is the Christ. The believing Gentile, while rejoicing in a light which utterly transcended the national Jewish blessing,* had still to remember that it was the despised and forfeited blessing of the Jew which had become thus to him the opening of the gates of salvation and praise. They were enemies, as concerning the Gospel, for the Gentiles' sake.

{*The heavenly calling, and the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints, being the distinctive portion of the Church.}

But not only so. The believing remnant of Israel, who by the grace of God had trusted in Christ, formed the nucleus of the body which, though characteristically Gentile, because formed by a testimony which the nation at large had rejected, was yet in its primary commencement Jewish. Thus, while the effectual work of grace wrought in the cross to the dissolution of Jew and Gentile alike, that one new man might appear in the risen Christ (Eph. 2:15), grace would ever lead the Gentile believer to recognize a special debt to the Jewish brother. He would be thus recognizing God in the appointed mode of His dispensational dealings. Mindful of the exceeding riches of that grace which had for a while forsaken its ancient channel, and descended as a mighty stream of blessing to the world (Rom. 11:12-28), he would remember that the place of the Gentile, as a receiver of blessing, is, in the Divine order, ever a mediate place. As it is written before: "To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile" (Rom. 2:10).

Verse 29 expresses his confidence as to the effect of his wished-for visit to Rome. He knew that when he came it would be in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. He knew this, first, because he was well aware of the nature of the dispensation committed to him (Eph. 3:1-8), and what its fruits would be when faithfully ministered and gladly received (Colossians 1:4-6); but, secondly, because, after so long deferring of his desire, the time seemed really come. Let us carefully observe, that his being an apostle was not in itself sufficient to secure a blessing as the result of his visit. He had to wait on God. This he had done as it respected the fulfilling of His will in the countries in which he had been labouring. Now, therefore, he feels free to go whither he had long desired to go.

There was, however, one intervening engagement on his hands. The journey to Jerusalem, which (whether rightly or no I hesitate to say) was so settled a purpose in his mind, alone remained to be performed before he set out, free in body and zealous in desire, to enter on his new and untried field of evangelical labour at Rome and in Spain. That he felt misgivings as to the results of this journey is apparent from the earnestness with which he calls upon the saints at Rome to further him with their prayers (verse 30).

He had, indeed, other fears than those which respected his personal safety. He dreaded lest by any means Satan should successfully act on the Jewish pride and prejudices of the saints at Jerusalem, and thus render them unwilling to accept the aid of their European and Gentile brethren. The preservation of the unity of the Church, as a practical reality, depended on this. The Gospel itself was involved in the consequence of Jewish refusal of unreserved fellowship and coequal standing and privilege to the Gentile believer. The reception of pecuniary aid by one church at the hands of another is a very complete and entire recognition of practical fellowship, founded on the confessed unity of the body. Grace alone in the receivers would prevent the intrusion of natural feeling to the hindrance of this blessing. Yet upon the maintenance unbroken of this truth depended the efficiency of the Church as a testimony of God in the world. This was a matter which needed something more than apostolical power to arrange and prosper it. Besides, though an apostle to the Gentiles, he was none to the Jews. He felt, therefore, that the preservation and cementing of the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, and love, and mutual confidence, must result from the active and prayerful energy of the Spirit's love in the saints themselves. The saints at Rome had not been concerned in this movement in Macedonia and Achaia, yet were they interested in its results. For, as having been all baptized into one body, and as having all drunk into one Spirit, the object of their interest, and the just measure of their spiritual sympathies was the body of Christ, and not one part of it alone. He reckons, therefore, upon this active liveliness of spiritual affection, in writing to those whom face to face he had as yet not seen.

Nor were the dangers which threatened his personal safety either few or small. When he prayed for deliverance from the unbelieving Jews (verse 31), he was conscious of the terrible energy of that perfect hatred of Christ, which in his own case had once made the blood of the saints a pleasant spectacle to his eyes. How the event of this visit to Jerusalem turned, in the Lord's hand, to the accomplishment of his desires respecting Rome, I will not pause to recount here. The attentive consideration of what has been recorded as to these things in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 20, 28) will largely repay the reader who studies the word of God not for information simply, but as that which is altogether profitable for the perfecting of the man of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Verses 32, 33, close the main body of the Epistle. They are noticeable now only as again reminding us of the state of conscious dependence upon God in which the apostle lived. His office was no security for his person. He held not his life as an apostle by any fixed tenure as to the appointed number of the days of his service. This, had it been so, would doubtless have acted mischievously on his flesh as a man. Its direct tendency would have been to withdraw him from that state of dependence on the Lord which is the sole condition either of personal blessing in communion, or of effectual power in service (John 15). May he be in this, as in all other things, the heeded pattern of our ways.

Romans 16.

This concluding chapter of the Epistle stands apart from the rest of the work, and possesses a character and an interest peculiarly its own. It is a kind of postscript, the Epistle having been closed by the valedictory sentence at the end of the last chapter. We shall find it, however, well worth our careful attention.

Verses 1, 2. The sister here mentioned by name may possibly have been sent or have voluntarily gone to Rome on some matter which affected the Church assembled at Cenchrea. The nature of the relation in which she stood to the Church of which she is here called "a servant,"* as well as that of the particular matter, if such there were, in which she was charged or had undertaken to act for them while at Rome, is quite unknown, and is entirely immaterial. Private and personal business of some sort would rather seem, from the second verse, to have been the occasion of her presence in the city at this time. Being there, she was to be received in a manner worthy of saints,** whom it became to welcome and succour one another in the Lord.

{*Phoebe is called a deacon. This proves nothing as to her position. Because, though there may possibly have been female diakonoi in an official sense in the Church, there is certainly no passage in Scripture which clearly exhibits the term in that sense. In the text it may simply mean to express the general character of this devoted woman. On the other hand, the inference from this verse that she was a "deaconess," is not at all absurd.

**In another passage, where those who had gone forth to preach Christ are the subjects of commendation, the expression is different. Such were to be received (3 John 6, 7).}

But beyond the common claim of Christ upon their charity in Him, Phoebe was one whose praise was already in the Church elsewhere as a succourer of the saints; and the apostle hastens to put upon her that comeliness in their eyes which would make, not for the puffing up of the fleshly mind, or the kindling of jealousy or emulation, but for the furtherance of practical communion, through the discernment of the grace and love of the Lord as it shone forth from the individual members of the body, and gave its light in the house for the comfort and blessing of all.

With this view it is, too, that he connects his own name so pointedly with that of Phoebe, and with the many others who are expressed by name as his fellow-labourers and helpers in the course of this chapter. He was eagerly watchful to take all occasion of bringing such under the notice of the saints. Ever jealous in the highest degree for the doctrine, because jealous for the Lord, he never suffers his apostolate to become a pedestal on which to display himself. To him to live was Christ. What was wrought in him by the grace of Christ he made no secret of, that the Lord, to whom the excellency of the glory pertained, might have His praise. On the same principle of single-hearted devotedness, where he saw the abundance of that grace and power displaying itself in others, he found equal cause of joy and of glory. The root of this feeling was grace. Personal experience of what God is in grace can alone produce and sustain this thorough disinterestedness of heart which will enable the soul to find unmixed joy in the honour which, for the Lord's sake, is put upon others.

Verses 3, 4. Priscilla and Aquila are distinguished according to their work. There is a blending of personal affection with a higher and more solemn feeling, which connected itself with his calling and position as the apostle of the Gentiles, beautifully apparent in this greeting. He owed them his life; and joyfully proclaimed that debt, to their praise, and for their worthier esteem in the Church of God. But how does this smaller, and in a manner more natural though most precious feeling, become enlarged and sobered into solemn thanksgiving to God, when the value of the life thus rescued is perceived. The expression "all the Churches of the Gentiles" is very full. Yet it was even so. To none other had the Lord committed the apostolate of the Gentiles than to Paul. He had found, indeed, and delighted to own fellowship in that work. Nevertheless, to him it pertained to sustain the burden of all the Churches (2 Cor. 11:28), and to fill up that which remained of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake — the Church (Col. 1:24). None but Paul could do that. With him others might share in part the burden, but it was given to him peculiarly to bear, by the especial grace of God.

On the expression "the Church that is in their house" I make a brief remark. The term "Church" in the New Testament is used in three senses only. First, it signifies the one body of Christ, the aggregate of those living stones which form the habitation of God through the Spirit. Secondly, local assemblies of united worshippers, themselves severally recognizing the unity of the body, and kept asunder by local distance alone, are called Churches.* And, lastly, the same name is given to the diminutive assembly of a man's own household, where that house was kept for the Lord, containing as its inmates none but those who loved His name. The beauty and the gracious power of this last expression, implying as it does the security to such domestic assemblies of all the fulness of the proper blessings which flow from the recognition of the Divine presence of the Lord, as dwelling in the midst of His Church, are as apparent as they are precious.

{*But vainly will search be made in the word of God for a passage which would justify a sectarian position in the Church of God. A local Church was the Church of God in a place. Alas! the hopeless corruption of the nominal Church may force out from it those who choose the Lord in preference to Baal. Still the position of one who for Christ's sake separates with God from evil, is in itself, if rightly understood and scripturally taken, a witness to the unity of that which really is the body of Christ.}

I shall not linger over each of these greetings, though I heartily recommend my reader to do so. It is well, however, to bear in mind that we read in this chapter, as in the rest of the epistle, the language of the Holy Ghost. The remembrance of this suggests one general reflection with respect to the varied salutations contained in this chapter. The delicate adjustment of praise, according to a discrimination which refuses to confound labouring in the Lord with labouring much in the Lord, and which, while greeting all in love unfeigned, sets some conspicuously in the light, that all might see and approve with joy that which till then had perhaps remained unnoticed or unknown, is a circumstance full of instructive force. It affords, perhaps, to the Christian understanding, a readier explanation and illustration of the doctrine already stated of future reward and loss, than any other part of Scripture. That there are such differences of reward and loss, as well as that there are wide diversities of place and function in the kingdom whose glory is so soon to be revealed, is most sure. The Spirit of God, when declaring to us the truth as it is revealed in its perfection in Christ, presents the Church in its unspotted perfectness before God as a subject of our common faith. All believers are there seen unitedly presented on the ground of redemption, and the assured and everlasting favour of God is affirmed to be the indefeasible possession of every heir alike. The same Spirit, when speaking to the saints concerning their ways, as the Spirit of testimony in the Church, because He acts still as the Spirit of truth, gives a varying testimony according to the actual state of that which He describes. Thus, in the present instance, some were to be honoured especially because of their more abundant labours and more diligent devotedness. Others were noted by no mark of personal approbation, while saluted equally in the love of Christ. Surely, no question ever suggested itself either to the mind of the apostle or to those whom he addressed, as to their perfect equality in spiritual fellowship as alike saved by grace.

So will it doubtless be in that day. No saved child of grace shall find his portion in the kingdom less than royal. For by one Jesus Christ shall they all reign in life (Rom. 5). Nor will the worship which the more honoured guest of that feast of eternal charity shall receive in the presence of them that sit at meat with Him (Luke 14:10), be other than the increase of the joy of all, where emulation and an evil eye shall have no place, because the former things shall then be wholly passed away.

To return to the chapter before us. It is most interesting, and affords quite a precious trait of Christ in the apostle, to notice how assiduously he labours thus (and he is speaking in the Spirit), to turn the hearts of the several saints to each other. Certain individuals were to be saluted publicly, whose names and whose value had perhaps been little known before. The end of this was the more perfect communion, the closer knitting together in love of the saints addressed. Nothing is more easily deranged than Christian fellowship. The moment the principle of esteeming others better than ourselves is practically lost sight of, the mainspring of happy fellowship is gone.

The mention of Epoenetus and Stachys, with the adjunct of "beloved," while the name of the Lord is not expressed, seems to indicate that these were personal friends of the apostle. Brotherly love contains all saints. But within that limit there is room for specialty of personal intimacy, without prejudice to the wider sentiment which includes it. Epoenetus was indeed doubly dear, as being the first link of that long chain of tender and enduring association which bound him, as a father in Christ, to so many in Achaia.*

{*Rather in Asia, as I believe, taking this word in its limited application, as used in the New Testament. Tes Asias is now generally accepted by critical editors in this passage instead of tes Achaias. This reading, if sustained (and it is not, I believe justly disputable), removes at once the difficulty which might otherwise be felt with respect to 1 Cor. 16:15.}

The kinsmen of the apostle are not overlooked. With respect to the expression "of note among the apostles" (verse 7), I feel uncertain as to its precise meaning. I think, however, that the term apostle is here applied in a lower sense, to the Lord's messengers indifferently.

Rufus is saluted as "chosen of the Lord" (verse 13). So were they all. I should suppose that this particular style of address was used in order to meet some doubt or difficulty in his mind on the subject of election. I see nothing improbable in this. Certainly, such a greeting would do much to confirm in the faith a tried spirit, whose mind Satan might haply have been assailing and darkening on this point.

Verses 17-19. Faithfulness and vigilance in keeping themselves pure are here insisted on in immediate connection with the subject of practical fellowship. Unquestionable soundness of doctrine is a condition of Christian communion entirely indispensable (1 John 1:7). Moral corruption is equally to be abhorred and avoided. For holiness and truth are the two regulating springs of all intercourse in the Spirit. In the present instance, corruption of doctrine is the danger chiefly warned against. This is, indeed, ever the most dangerous, because the most insidious evil, and the most readily communicative of injurious effect. The effects, too, of false doctrine, are far less easily removed in ordinary cases, than a vicious habit of a moral kind. False doctrine, because it directly dishonours Christ by setting a lie in the place of Himself who is the Truth (for let the ramifications of error be what they may, they all touch Christ directly or indirectly), deteriorates, of necessity, the whole tone of the man in whose mind they find acceptance. His light is become dimmed, if not dark, and his walk will be according to his discernment, which, without the clear shining of Christ, is never secure from the sides of the ditch.

But it is in its contagious effect upon a company of Christians that the presence of false doctrine is to be chiefly dreaded. With respect to this, every Christian is both forewarned and forearmed. He has learned the truth, and he has an unction from the Holy One whereby he is to hold fast that which he has received, and to continue in the things which he has heard and learned. He must abhor evil. He must keep himself pure. If the Church refuse to judge it, he is responsible still. For his obedience is due to the Lord, and not to the Church, He is to be wise as to this. For neglected warning will leave him else a prey to the very delusion which at first he may, perhaps, have clearly estimated, but forborne to shun or to denounce.

The character of evil, against which the warning is here given, is defined with great width of expression; and yet precise enough in the terms employed to furnish believers at all times with available counsel in similar cases. Anything which on any pretence led the souls of God's sheep away from Christ, was to be shunned. It might not amount, perhaps, to a patent heresy; but on pretence of refinement of exposition, or of a deeper investigation of the more recondite mysteries of the faith, an imposing claim might be set up to the ready attention of those who were eager to advance in the knowledge of Divine truth. This is an ancient device of Satan, and one which he continually practises in the Church. The moment our minds are accustomed to regard the truth of God as an abstruse subject, we are in a fair way to trip into some snare of this description. The word of God is never abstruse, in the ordinary sense of that term. There are, indeed, things hard to be understood, even in the writings of our apostle (2 Peter 3:16). But the difficulty arises from the subject being the unsearchable way of God. Now the teacher of this way is God Himself, who pours His instruction only into the obedient ear (Isa. 50:4). Child-like patience, waiting upon Him, and pondering, not so much with effort of mind as with simplicity of sober-minded faith, the sure testimonies of God, finds nourishment in that which the unlearned and unstable man wrests, in his impatience, to his own destruction. It is the fancying that intellectual effort is the first condition of a proper understanding of Scripture, which leads so many persons, who are clever theologians, into paths of inquiry which conduct only to fields of profitless disquisition, to the exhaustion rather than the enrichment of the soul. Scientific theology (in popular phrase) is no sure or safe exponent of the truth of God.

They were to be on their guard against the insidious entrance of corruption. It was not enough for them to be simple and pure in mind: they were to be vigilant as well. They were to be wise concerning that which is good, and simple concerning evil (verse 19). Guilelessness of character, unaccompanied by watchfulness toward God, would expose them to the craft of the deceiver.

But (verse 20) the time of their watching and their patience would be short. The adversary, meanwhile, who eyed them and who sought their life, was fierce, and cunning, and very strong. Moreover, he was, as it were, ubiquitously present at their steps. It is he who contends in heavenly places (Eph. 6:11-12) against the entry of the believer into that sphere of blessing, into which the Spirit of adoption already leads him as no longer a stranger in the house of God; seeking ever as the accuser of the brethren to cast his own dark shadow upon the pure surface of those consciences which the precious blood of Christ has purged. It is he who, as the ruler of the darkness of this world, sets in array the native animosity of the flesh to the Spirit, and stirs up the men who are after his own heart to oppose and oppress such as confess the love of the Father in the name of the Son. It is he, too, who as the deceiver, the mock-preacher of Christ, the pretended angel of light, sows within the field which is Christ's, the tares of destruction, which grow side by side, to the marring of the crop, with the true wheat of the garner until the time of harvest be arrived (Matt. 13:24-30). It is the same ever-vigilant adversary who, when not heard as a roaring lion, is even yet more to be dreaded for the serpentine subtlety which deceives the whole world, and which, but for the faithful guardianship of the true Shepherd, would doubtless lure back again to their destruction the very sheep who had once escaped.

All these, and manifold other modes of evil warfare, are possessed and practised by Satan against the believer. But the God of peace is for him. The standard of the battle is the name of Jesus, which already in heaven is known and honoured, because of the eternal victory already won in the hour of His bruising by the grace of God. God's face, which in Christ is towards the reconciled people of His redemption, is against their adversary. He has sworn to put out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. He wages a war with him from generation to generation until then (Ex. 17). Meanwhile, the word of promise is that He will shortly bruise this dreaded foe under our feet, even as he has been and is prostrated under the feet of Christ.

The first resurrection will be the fulfilment of this word. Each successive pilgrim who departs to be with Christ, knows a full cessation from the molestation of this enemy, as well as from the burden of the body of this flesh. But the bruising of the evil one himself is to be a manifested thing (Rev. 20). The day of glory will reveal it, which is to display the prepared thrones of that kingdom, which already is known in promise, as the pledged gift of the Father's good pleasure to the sharers of the reproach of Christ. Until then, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ was with them, to keep them that they might be presented faultless in that day.

At the 21st verse he again pauses to introduce into his Epistle the several messages of love in the Lord which fill this and the two following verses. Perfect, happy fellowship, far indeed removed from magisterial distance, characterized the intercourse of the apostle with those whom he delighted to own as brethren beloved, and as fellow-labourers in the husbandry of God. And so he inserts everything that could minister to comfort or edifying, on one side or the other. His Epistle is the channel through which Timothy, Sosipater, and the rest, convey their love in union with his own to these distant brethren, to whom it is probable they were as little known, personally, as himself. I make no further remarks on this passage, though interesting thoughts suggest themselves to my own mind, as they probably will to that of the reader who reflects carefully upon it.

Verses 25-27. We come now to the remarkable doxology which finally closes this most full, most weighty, and in every sense, most precious Epistle These concluding verses are in a high degree important. We have, first, the general commendation of the saints to God, as the Omnipotent establisher and preserver of that which He had Himself produced by the word of His power. But there is an especial mention here made of the Gospel (which the apostle here calls his own), in connection with the mystery of God, which should by no means be overlooked.

The mystery here mentioned is said to have been kept secret since the world began.* What this mystery is we find from the passage before us. It is the preaching of Jesus Christ among the Gentiles. That is, the doctrine of Christ which is now preached in the Epistles of Paul among the Gentiles, opens to the believer a calling quite distinct in many of its characteristic features from any that had preceded it. Distinct even, in some important respects, from that which the first testimony of the Spirit to the name of the ascended Jesus opened to those who, in Jerusalem, hastened to save themselves from the untoward generation among whom they dwelt.

{*A strong and clear expression, which plainly shows that, although the letter of the revealed word of God may have contained hidden in it the truth of the mystery, yet it formed no part of the revelation of the Holy Ghost to the saints of God until the time arrived to bring it forth, and to minister it now among the Gentiles.}

It differed in this, that while the forgiveness of sins was as freely preached through the precious blood of the Lamb, from the first moment that Peter had his mouth opened to address the murderers of Christ (Acts 3:17-26), as it was by the apostle Paul, yet the preaching was, for the time, limited in its scope to the nation, and was characterized by a direct appeal to Jewish national promise as that which, being already secured in the person of the glorified Jesus, awaited only the repentance of the nation for its full manifestation to take place. Instead of something kept secret from the foundation of the world, Peter pointedly refers to the testimonies of the prophets, who, they well knew, had spoken before of the things of which he then bore this fresh and divinely authenticated testimony. With respect to those who received the word of Peter's testimony, they became immediately a part of the Church of God.

That, however, which was the special standing and calling of the Church, its true nature and its proper hope; although it was in one sense included in the name which was preached from the first, was not made the subject of distinct revelation until the Lord was pleased, on the foreseen rejection of the last witness of His long-suffering to the nation, to turn completely away from them, in order to take from the Gentiles a people for His name. I refer the reader to the 11th chapter, and to what has been noted there on this subject, for a fuller view of the point. In the mean time, I add a few words as to what the Scriptures reveal with respect to the distinctive blessings of the Church standing, as brought fully out by the apostle Paul.

The Gospel which was intrusted to his ministry was not the Gospel of the kingdom only. The subject of his testimony was the person of Christ, in them the hope of glory (Col. 1), and their inheritance in Him according to the mystery of God (Eph. 1). This mystery was something more than the preaching of salvation to Gentiles as well as Jews. It included that, but extended much further. The fellowship of Jew and Gentile in common redemption blessing on earth, was no secret to the Old Testament prophets. But there was now revealed in the Gospel the union in Christ of the two, as that quickened by the Holy Ghost into the knowledge of the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1; Phil. 3:14). The present subject of testimony is the formation of one new man in Christ; the old man, whether Jew or Gentile, being first abolished in death.* This was the new thing which God, who foreordained it from eternity, had kept hidden from the sons of men, until the light shone forth from the Person of the ascended Christ, in which alone it could be seen and known.

{*Evidently this was involved in the first preaching of the cross; but it was reserved for the apostle to bring it clearly to light.}

It is Christ, then, glorified in heaven, hidden in God, and believed on through the Spirit in the world, which is the mystery here spoken of.* This had never been declared in former ages. Scripture indeed contained its constituent truth, but not as a manifested doctrine, nor even as an expressed promise. That is to say, the actual manner of its present revelation, in the calling and anointing of the Church, was no subject of ancient prophetic testimony. The Person of the glorified Christ, now presented to the believer as the hope of glory, is the manifestation of the hidden and previously silent mystery of God. That silence was broken by the voice of the Spirit, sent down to declare the glory of Christ as the immediate portion in hope of the Church. He is revealed now as the exalted man, the second Adam, the appointed heir of all things, the Head moreover, and especially, of that body which now from among the Gentiles is brought into the fellowship of the Son of God.**

{* Closely connected with this is the doctrine of the Church as the bride of the Lamb. That subject, however, cannot be examined in this place.

**The Jew finding his place in that body, not as a matter of inherited privilege, but by the grace of God, which meets him in the cross as a lost man.}

Meanwhile, the Scriptures of the prophets were the means by which the Holy Ghost opened and alleged the truth of His blessed Person wherein the mystery is contained. It was by the commandment of the everlasting, the only wise God, that this was now done. He had caused His perfect word to be so written that it should not only present the ordered detail of His dealings with Israel, and the record of the promise of blessings which mediately should flow through them to the Gentiles, but should likewise become a voucher and a witness to the heavenly mystery of the Church's election and calling, during the interruption and suspense of the still remembered promises once made to the fathers.

An incarnate Christ was the subject of primal promise. The seed of the woman was foretold before the seed of Abraham and of David was especially defined. All this has been fulfilled by the first Advent of the Lord. But the accomplishment of the blessings which were to flow from Him to the nations by the terms of the promise, has been frustrated hitherto, as has been shown (chap. 11). Nor will it take effect until the appointed channel of the world's full blessing is again re-opened by the restoration of Israel, in the plenitude of gracious favours, to Immanuel's land.

A regnant Christ, triumphing in the victory of righteousness as the God of the whole earth, is no mystery. It was a constant burden of the ancient prophecy. But the Son seated on His Father's throne, awaiting the time for His kingdom to be set up, is the mystery of blessedness which now already dawns in its brightness upon the eye of faith, and shall presently be realized in all its results of perfected glory, when the long night of patience shall for ever have vanished into the cloudless day of His appearing.

May the only wise God be the refuge and stability of the reader of these Notes until that day, and in that day his exceeding great reward.

The end.

Bath: Binns and Goodwin.
London: J. K. Campbell, High Holborn; J. B. Bateman, Ivy Lane.
Dublin: John Robertson and Co., Grafton Street.
Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.