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law of nature, it is an operative principle that worketh certain effects and emanates certain
processes in the subject where it resides. It is neither more nor less in fact than the sinful tendency of our constitution; and is quite the same with what in the preceding chapter is termed the law of sin that is in our members. It is called a law, because, like the laws of gravitation or magnetism or electricity, it impels those upon whom it acts in a certain given direction; and has indeed the power and the property of a moving force expressly ascribed to it, when it is said to war against the law of the mind, and to be incessantly aiming after the establishment of its own mastery over those whom it tries to lead captive and to enslave.
And to keep up this conception of a law in the second sense of it, let it be remembered that death is as much the natural consequence of sin, as it is the penalty of sin—that it forms the termination of an historical process by a law that regulates the succession of events, as well as the termination of a juridical process under the power and authority of a lawgiver that regarded in its true character as the extinction of the life of godliness in the soul; as the death of all spiritual joy; as the darkness and the misery of a heart, where vice and selfishness and carnality are the alone occupiers; as that moral hell, the rudiments of which every unconverted man carries about with him here, and the settled maturity of which he will bear with him to the place of condemnation hereafter; as that state of distance and disruption from God, which may now be supportable so long as earth spreads its interests and gratifi
us, but which so soon as earth passeth away will leave the soul in desolation and terror and without a satisfying portion throughout eternity --Such a death as this, comes as regularly and as surely in the train of our captivity to sin, and by the operation of a law, in the moral or spiritual department of nature—as the fruit of any tree, or the produce of any husbandry, does by the laws of the vegetable kingdom. The sinful tendency that worketh in man bringeth forth fruit unto death; just as the vegetative tendency that is in the foxglove bringeth forth poison. In both it is a fruit of bitterness and in both the effect of an established law,-apart from the awards and the retributions of a lawgiver.
Now the way in which this tendency is counteracted, is just by an opposite tendency that is implanted in the mind, for the purpose of making head against it, and of at length prevailing over it. The law of the Spirit of life, just expresses the tendency and the result of an operative principle in the mind, that has force enough to arrest the operation of the law of sin and death, and at length to emancipate us therefrom. It is deposited within as the germ of a new character; and in virtue of which there are evolved the desire, and the purpose, and the activities, and at length all the conquests and all the achievements of a life of holiness. The affection of the old man meets with a new affection to combat and to overmatch it. If the originating principle of sin might be reduced to one brief expression, and so be shortly designed the love of the creature—the originating principle of the spiritual life might also be briefly and summarily designed the love of the Creator. These two appetites are in a state of unceasing hostility. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. The law of sin and of death warreth against the law of the mind; and this law of the mind in the preceding context, is just the law of the Spirit of life in the verse that is now before us.
Let me now come forth in succession with a few distinct remarks upon this verse, with a view to complete our understanding of it.
First, You are already aware how it is the Spirit of God that infuses this principle into the mind, and sets agoing the law of its operation. Hence it may properly be denominated the law of the Spirit-even as the opposite process against which it has to struggle and at length to vanquish, is called the law of sin—a new tendency imparted to the soul for the purpose of arresting the old tendency and at length of extinguishing it; and called the law of the Spirit, just because referable to the Holy Ghost, by whose agency it is that the new affection has been inspired, that the new moral force has been made to actuate the soul and give another direction than before to the whole history.
But secondly—why is it called the law of the Spirit of life?
Just because he in whom this law is set agoing is spiritually minded; and as to be carnally minded is death, so to be spiritually minded is life. It is the law of the Spirit, because of the agent who sets this law agoing in the soul. It is the law of the Spirit of life, because of the new state into which it ushers the soul. It is like the awakening of man to a new moral existence, when he is awakened to the love of that God whom before he was glad to forget; and of whom he never thought but as a Being shrouded in unapproachable majesty, and compassed about with the jealousies of a law that had been violated. It is like a resurrection from the grave, when, quickened and aroused from the deep oblivion of nature, man enters into living fellowship with his God; and He, who ere now had been regarded with terror or utterly disregarded, hath at length reclaimed unto Himself all our trust and all our tenderness. It is the introduction of a before earthly creature into a region of other prospects and other manifestations, when now he can eye eternity with hope, and look up with confidence to the Lord and Disposer of his eternity. It is like imparting to him another breath, and enduing him as it were with another vitality, when, for the animal and the earthly desires which once monopolised all his affections, there spring up in his bosom the desire of spiritual excellence, and a love that reacheth unto all, and the new moral ambition that the image of the Godhead be again implanted upon his character. There is now a satisfaction and a harmony within, a rightly going mechanism of the soul that is in unison with the great purposes of his being, a refreshing sense of that native enjoyment which goodness and righteousness and truth are ever sure to bring along with them, the sunshine of a heart at peace and of a heart inhaling the purity of holy and celestial aspirations—all which make him feel as if he had entered on a life that was new; and in comparison with which the whole of his former existence appears corrupt to him as a sepulchre, and worthless as nonentity itself. It is only now that he has begun to live, because now hath the law of the Spirit of life begun to operate in his bosom; and only now hath that well of water been struck out in his heart, which to him, even in the life that now is, is precious as the elixir of immortality and springeth up unto life everlasting.
And thirdly, when is it that this visitation of the Spirit descendeth upon the soul? When is it that this new law is set up within it; and so a power or a tendency is established there, that arrests and at length subjugates the old one?
We think that the answer is to be gathered from the single expression of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Whatever the import of the phrase in Christ Jesus may be, it is when so in Him that this law taketh effect
upon As surely as when you enter a garden of sweets, one of your senses becomes awakened to the perfumes wherewith its air is impregnated—as surely as when emerging from the darkness of a close apartment to the glories of an unclouded day, another of your senses is awakened to the light and beauty of all that is visible—So surely when you enter within the fold of Christ's mediatorship, and are so united with Him as to be in Him according to the Bible signification of this phrase, then is it that there is an awakening of the inner man to the beauties of holi
We refer to a law of nature, the impression of every scene, in which he is situated, on the