« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
sinner, which had Christ not done, no such topic could have at all been urged upon him. But we fear that it is not enough to bring argument however powerful from without, whereby to assail the feelings and propensities of the human heart-that additional to the great outward transaction of Christ's atoning death, from which we have endeavoured to fetch a persuasive for turning from all iniquity--there must be also an inward operation upon every disciple, ere the persuasive can be so listened to as to be practically effectual: or, in other words, -as, through what Christ hath done for us we are forensically dead unto sin, so, that we may be regarded as having already undergone the curse in Him-so, there must also be a something done in us, a personal change wrought, a deadening process undergone whereby sin is no longer of power over us.
Now though this be the work of the Spirit-yet the Spirit accommodates His work to the nature of the subject upon which He is employed. He treats man as a rational and intelligent being. It is not by the resistlessness of a blind impulse, that He carries any given effect on the desires of the heart -but by making man see what is desirable, and then choose it, and then labour after it with all the strenuousness of a willing and purposing and acting creature. He does not become personally dead unto sin, or personally alive unto righteousness, but by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Yet this operation is not a simple fiat, by which the transition is brought about without the steps of such a process--as marks the judgment, and
the feeling, and the conscience, and the various other mental faculties of him who is made to undergo this great regeneration. Agreeably to the language of our Shorter Catechism, though this be the work of God's Spirit—yet it is a work whereby He convinces and He enlightens the mind, and He renews the will, and He persuades to that which is right, and He enables for the performance of it. Let us endeavour, if possible, to trace the succession of those moral influences, by which man under the gospel is conducted from the natural state of being alive to sin and to the world, to the state of being dead unto these things and alive unto God.
Ver. 5, 6. We are planted together in the likeness of His death-By His death He bore the curse of a violated law and now it has no further charge against Him. He acquitted Himself to the full of all its penalties; and now He is for ever exempted against any future reckoning with a creditor whom He has conclusivly set aside; and just because He has completely satisfied him. He is now that immortal Vine, who stands for ever secure and beyond the reach of any devouring blight from the now appeased enemy; and we who by faith are united with Him as so many branches, share in this blessed exemption along with Him. We have as good as had the sentence of death discharged upon us already. In Christ our propitiation we have rendererd the executor all his dues.
In Him our Surety we have paid a debt, for which we can no longer be craved or reckoned with. And here we are like unto Christ, in that
we are as secure from the visitation of the great penalty, as if we had borne it ourselves—in that as with Him the hour and the power of darkness have now passed away, and never again to go over Him; so we, just as if we had undergone the same trial and the same baptism, come forth acquitted of all our trespasses and the hand of the avenging adversary shall never reach us.
And as we thus share in His death, so shall we also share in His resurrection. From the humiliation of the grave, He arose to the heights of sublimest glory. By what He hath borne in our stead, we now stand as exempted from punishment as if we had borne it ourselves. By what He hath done of positive obedience in our stead, He hath not only been highly exalted in His own person ; but He hath made us the partakers of His exaltation, to the rewards of which we shall be promoted as if we had rendered the obedience ourselves. And it is thus that we understand the being planted together with Him in the likeness of His death, and the being planted together with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.
The sixth verse we think ushers in the transition from the forensic to the personal. By being dead unto sin we understand that we are spoken of as in the condition of having already undergone the penalty of death, and so being acquitted of this great penal consequence of sin. We get into this condition, not by actually suffering the death ; but, as it is expressed in the third verse, by being baptized unto the death of Christ, and so as in the fourth verseby being buried with Him in this baptism, and in the fifth verse planted together with Him in the likeness of His death-All indicative of our being forensically dealt with on account of Christ's death, just as if we ourselves had undergone the suffering which for us He hath endured. And we would even carry this style of interpretation to the first clause of the sixth verse; and understand by the old man being crucified with Him, that the sinner is now to be reckoned with, just as if, in his own person, he had sustained the adequate punishment of that guilt, for which Christ rendered the adequate expiation. And all this however for a posterior end—all this for a purpose specified in the remaining part of the verse now under consideration all this for the achievement of such a personal change upon the believer, as that in him the body of sin might at length be altogether destroyed; and that henceforth, or from the moment of his becoming a believer, he might not serve sin.
This tallies with another part of the Bible, where it is said that Christ gave Himself up for us—suffered in our stead—died the death that legally impended over us, so that the sentence is as much over and
from us, as if it had been inflicted on our own persons—This He did for an end even posterior to that of our deliverance from condemnation-for an end analogous to the one stated in the verse before us—even that the body of sin might be destroyed, and that we should not serve sin; or, as we have it in the passage now referred to, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify us unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.
Now where it may be asked is the connection? How comes it that because we are partakers in the crucifixion of Christ, so that the law has no further severity to discharge upon us—how comes it that this should have any effect in destroying the body of sin, or in emancipating us from the service of sin! Whence is it that exoneration from the penalty, should lead to emancipation from the power? What is the hidden tie that conducts the believer from being forensically dead unto sin, to his being personally dead unto sin also ? How is it that the fact of his being acquitted leads to the fact of his being sanctified ? and what is the precise nature of that step which conducts from the pardon of a reconciled, to the purity of a regenerated creature?
There can be no doubt that the Spirit of God both' originates and carries forward the whole of
He gives the faith which makes Christ's death as available for our deliverance from guilt, as if we had suffered the death in our own persons; and He causes the faith to germinate all those moral and spiritual influences, which bring about the personal transformation that we are quiring of. But these He does, in a way that is agreeable to the principles of our rational nature ; so that His agency does not supersede the question -how is it that a belief on our part, that we are so far partakers of the death of Christ as to
partake in the deliverance which it hath wrought from the guilt of sin—how is it that this belief destroys the being of sin upon our persons, and releases us from that slavery in which nature is held to its allurements and its charms ?