« PreviousContinue »
bullock for the sin, &c. According to the strict requirements of the ceremonial law, if a man happened to touch a dead carcase, he was accounted unclean, and therefore in the eye of that law a transgressor; and even these sins of ignorance required an atonement. Considered in relation to this, or the Adamic law, it may be truly said, There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not. To such a perfection of holiness as exempts christians from these infirmities, or sins, if you please to call them so, we do not expect any man to arrive in this life. And that Solomon never designed to teach that every just man must wilfully sin against a known law, every moment of his life, is evident from verse 18. For he that feareth God, shall come forth of them all. Solomon saith in the same book, All is vanity and vexation of spirito And you might as well infer from these words, that religion, and eternal happiness, is vanity, as to suppose from the former words, that he taught the absolute necessity of living in habitual sin.
2. As you lay great stress upon the experience of -the Apostle Paul, from his words in the seventh of Romans, it is necessary to examine this part of the subject with attention. It is matter of no little surprise, that any considerate man should take it for granted, that in this chapter the apostle should be relating his present experience and exercise, as an apostolic christian, possessing the liberty of God's children; when it is so manifest, that he either introduced his experience while under the condemnatory sentence of the law, before he was delivered from its just sentence, merely to illustrate the doc. trine he had previously taught; or otherwise simply personated any man who should be groaning under the burden of sin, from a just apprehension of its rage, while under the cutting sentence of the righté. sous law. To prove that he did not design to repre„sent his own christian experience, at the time he wrote, we need only collate what he there says with what he says elsewhere. He saith, chap. vii. .14. But I am carnal, sold under sin. Chap. viii. 6. For to be carnalty minded is death. Chap. vi. 23. For the wages of sin is death. Now, according to your representation, Paul, in the seventh chapter, expressed his invariable experience as a christian. Let us bring this interpretation to the test of truth, and try its merits. I am carnal. To be carnally minded is death. -Sold under sin.-The wages of sin is death. According to this he was an enemy to God, while reconciled to him in the road to death, while enjoying life and peace... In chap. v. 10. he speaks of his being reconciled to God. Can a man be at enmity with God, and reconciled to him at the same time? To be carnally minded is death. Can a man have the carnal mind, and of course be in the way to death ; and yet be spiritually minded, and of course be in the way of life and peace, at the same time? Impossible. Chap. vii. 2. I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. Chap. viii. 2. For
the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Darkness is not more opposite to light, than the condition of the person mentioned in the former text, is, from the one spoken of in the latter. Is it possible that the apostle designed to teach that he was in captivity to the law of sin, and yet free from the same law at the same time!! To
a man is in captivity to an enemy, and free from that enemy at the same time, is as palpable a contradiction as to say a man is and is not at the same time.
Chap vii. 19. For the good that I would I do not, but the evil that I would not, that do I. ver. 18. To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. This he spoke, according to your comment, of himself, while under the influence of the spirit of liberty, after having received the spirit of adoption. Phil. iv. 13. I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me. The saints are said to be created in Christ Jesus unto good works, Eph. ii. 10. In the former text Paul saith, How to perform that which is good, I find not; in the latter, I can do all things. Can we suppose
he meant those evil things which he hated ? Did Christ strengthen him to do evil? Is it possible that he was such a bond slave to sin that he did nothing but evil, all the days of his life? If in chap. vii. 18. he spoke his invariable experience as a chrisian minister, he never performed that good which he would ; but was always under the influence of an evil which his soul hated; and yet strange to tell, He laboured more abundantly than they all he travelled by sed and land to preach the everlasting gospel-he endured all things for the elect's sake, that they might obtain salvation-he fasted and prayed, wrote and preached, endured stripes and imprisonments, suffered cold, hunger, and nakedness, joyed and rejoiced in Christ Jesus, abounded in the love of God-lived by faith in Christ Jesus, fought the good fight--and besides all, he had the care of all the churches. And *yet, if your interpretation be accurate, in the midst of all these sufferings and labours, he was under the tyrannical power of sin, willing to do good, but never doing it, hating evil, and always subject to it. Did then the strong man keep the palace of St. Paul's heart so closely, that it was beyond the
pow. er of Jesus Christ to bind him and cast him out? Is not this representing Christ as being “vanquished, and flying before the conqueror ?" That which I do, I allow not. John saith, If our hearts condemn us, God is greater, and knoweth all things.-Surely the great apostle to the gentiles must have been in a pitiable condition! A slave to sin, condemning himself, and of course condemned by the Lord-doing the evil which he hated - under captivity to the law of sin, although free from itstruggling against sin, but never able, although the omnipotent God was on his side, to overcome it-an enemy to God, under the influence of the carnal mind!! He that is not for us is against us, saith Christ. From your comment, therefore, Paul was working against the kingdom and interest of Christ.
Such sir, are the dreadful consequences resulting from your "view" of the seventh chapter to the Romans. There must be some capital error in that
scheme,” which represents the holy, the diligent, and indefatigable Apostle in such a contemptible light. Nay, according to your own interpretation of the text, you make it appear, that Paul did not please God. P. 31. “By his flesh, he did not mean his animal nature.”—“He says, that with the flesh he served the law of sin. In the next chapter he testifies, They that are in the flesh cannot please God; and then in an address to his christian brethren, he adds, But ye are not in the flesh.” Now, if by the flesh “ he did not mean his animal nature," and if christians are not in the flesh, then it follows, that when Paul said, With the flesh he served the law of sin, he did not speak of himself as a regenerated man ; or if he did speak of himself, he did not please God. From your own words, therefore, you are reduced to this dilemma, Either to admit that you have given an erroneous interpretation of the text under consideration, or, that Paul never pleased God. Error is always inconsistent with itself. Like the serpent, who was the first author of it, it takes a meandering course, often crossing its own tracks, until, by its intricate maze, it leads its advocates into inextricable dilemmas.
3. Having shewn the absurdity of your interpretation, it is proper to propose another in its place. We conceive then, that the Apostle Paul, in the seventh of Romans, designed, either to speak of his