Page images


volo: utinamque esset ratio minuendi: but when I contemplate what Christianity is; when I see the beauty of all the ordinances of God-governments, churches, families, so admirably adapted to set it forth and act it before men's eyes-I am filled with adoration at the goodness of God, and with terror at the lot of a people who have cast away its spirit, its meaning, and as it were its very soul, from them. It seems as if the essence of Christianity had vanished, and left nothing but the empty casket of ceremonies, now without a meaning; and institutions of man's devising, to divert their attention from the real loss which they have sustained. But as the Greeks and Romans retained for centuries the worship of Bacchus, and Hercules, and other deified men, long after they could give any rational account of the rites by which the various exploits of those heroes were pourtrayed ; so many a nation now adheres with bigotry to certain fragments of Christianity, long after it has ceased to reverence Him, to set forth whom alone the outward forms of Christianity are worth preserving.



I HAVE been exceedingly interested in the discussion, which now so much engages the attention of the church, respecting the nature of our Lord's body; and as there is one point connected with this inquiry which has been scarcely touched upon at all in any of the works which I have seen, I take occasion to offer a few remarks, hoping that some one better qualified than myself will give it a more deep and thorough examination. The point I allude to is, what sin really is ; or rather, what Daun and apapria, which we translate sin, properly and exactly denote. I begin by saying, that there are ten different words in Hebrew, and as many in Greek, for different degrees of wickedness; but that in the present question, Onun and apapria are the only words we have to do with, as our inquiry is limited to the sense in which Christ made“ an end of sins," ngun (Dan. ix. 24); and how he came in the likeness of sinful flesh" [flesh of sin, apaprias] (Rom. viii. 3). In Hebrew, the word primarily means to err, to miss a murk; as Judges xx. 16, " sling stones and not miss,” xun. In Greek, apapravw has the same radical meaning : it is defined by Aristotle, “accustomed to wander, or err:" by Isocrates, to turn aside from the way:" and Aristotle says, auaprnpara are acts not committed in dishonesty, and not contrary to reason. In Latin, peccatum properly denotes delinquency : Ainsworth translates it “ a fault, a foolish or impolitic action ;” quoting Plautus, Cicero, and Terence for it. The

Italian, Spanish, and French languages follow the Latin. And Johnson defines sinful, “ alien from God, not holy, unsanctified.” Sin, therefore, is not a distinct thing superadded to our nature by the fall; nor is holiness a distinct thing superadded to our fallen nature by regeneration ; but they are only different conditions of the same nature, which may alternately exhibit holiness or sin, according as it acts in obedience or disobedience to the law of God. Let us now turn to the Scriptures, and, setting aside wickedness, iniquity, transgression, and the other degrees of guilt, endeavour to define from the word of God what sin, apapria, means.

We have not far to seek for satisfaction in this point : “Sin is the transgression of the law" [aropia, 'lawlessness'](1 John ii. 4): “Where there is no law, there is no transgression” (Rom. iv. 15): “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. iii. 20). But sin, beginning thus in the transgression of the law, may pass on to include all iniquity; for all unrighteousness is sin,” though“ there is a sin not unto death” (1 John v. 17). Sin is therefore the 'erring and straying from the paths of truth like lost sheep;' leaving undone the things which we ought to have done, and doing those things which we ought not to have done;' and having no health in us :' and the sinfulness of our nature lies in its propensity so to do; the sin of our first parents having first turned our nature out of the way of holiness, and transmitted to us all this sinful propensity, together with original sin. Such is the condition of our whole species. And now comes the remedy: “Christ was manifested to take away our sins:" "in Him was nosin:” and “everyone abiding in Him sinneth not:" " he that doth righteousness is righteous, as Christ is righteous” (1 John iii. 5–7). The process of the accomplishment hereof is given Dan. ix. 24, where Messiah the Prince is predicted “ to restrain transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation [atone) for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.” God made man uprightlike a well-built fortress sufficiently garrisoned-but Adam let in the enemy; who not only demolished the outworks, but made the garrison his slaves : and this goodly creation lay like a dilapidated citadel, with a disheartened pusillanimous garrison, having neither the will nor the means for resisting its betrayer and tyrant: “ The strong man armed keepeth his palace” (Luke xi. 21). But“ a Stronger than he" came upon him, who not only expelled the tyrant, but put heart into the disspirited garrison, repaired the dilapidated outworks, and, conquering first in his own person, gave his followers an assurance of the same victory. “ For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John iii. 9). If VOL. 11.-NO.I.


this victory were obtained by a new garrison put in the place of the old one, the glory would be given to the garrison, not to him who sent it; but by coming himself, and working the mighty change in the same garrison and citadel, he alone obtains all the glory. Or, as one of the schoolmen neatly expresses it; “ An fuerit conveniens humanam naturam assumere ex stirpe Adæ. Resp. Sic; ut vinceretur inimicus hujus generis, ab uno ex eodem genere ; ut justitia satisfieret; ut Dei potentia ostendatur in natura assumpta.” Coming thus in our nature, the first work of Messiah was, according to Daniel, “ to finish [restrain, marg.] transgression.” Which work he began from his very birth, being the "holy child Jesus,” “growing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man;" being “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” “ Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered ; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. v. 9). Thus he fulfilled the second of Daniel's characteristics of Messiah, “ to make an end of sin.” And then, and not before, the third characteristic comes into manifestation - namely, “ to make reconciliation for iniquity;" “ called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. v. 10), “ to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. ix. 26). The sinful, or erring, or fallen, or infirm species, is thus in Him first rightened and unsinned and rendered stable; then presented as a Lamb without spot to the Father ; “ a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour" (Eph. v. 2. By which “ having obtained eternal redemption for us, “ the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, shall purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. ix. 14).

One other observation I wish to make on the meaning of the word “ sinful flesh” (Rom. viii. 3). Many have objected to the term sinful, employed by our translators in this passage, under a mistaken idea that sinful means the same as sinning. But this is certainly a mistake; for all the adjectives of this class imply nothing more than the condition of a thing, and not its action. To take a few examples : sin, sinful, sinning; hope, hopeful, hoping ; help, helpful, helping ; bliss, blissful, blessing; use, useful, using; hurt, hurtful, hurting. In all adjectives of this class it is evident that not an act, but a condition towards an act, is the meaning; which act may be suspended, and the condition remain in a quiescent state: a hurtful thing may be kept from hurting, a useful thing may be kept from using, a sinful thing may be kept from sioning; and we may call it a thing of use, or a thing of hurt, without departing from the meaning; as Rom. viii. 3 might more literally be rendered « flesh of sin.' But there is another class of adjectives, which express a condition consequent upon an act, or an act preceding the condition : as, fall, falling, fallen ; rise, rising, risen ; strike, striking, stricken ; death, dying, dead. These adjectives, or past participles, necessarily involve and pre-suppose the condition, which the former class expressed: as, fallen necessarily includes fallibility, stricken necessarily includes suffering, and dead necessarily includes mortal. Now it is granted on all hands that our Lord suffered; it is allowed by most that he really died; and it is maintained by many that he assumed our fallen nature; and yet these very persons scruple to admit that he assumed our sinful nature, though sin must necessarily have preceded fall, suffering, and death. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous” (Rom.v. 12,19). Sinful

, in Scripture, never has the active sense of sinning, but always denotes a condition liable to, or tending towards, sin ; a state, not an act. It occurs but eight times in Scripture : Num. xxxii. 14, “ An increase of sinful men;" which the context proves is not sinning; for it is said (ver. 22), “ Ye shall be guiltless before the Lord.” “Sinful nation” (Isai. i. 4), “Sinful kingdom(Amos ix. 8), “Sinful generation” (Mark viii. 38), we need not stop to prove, they are so evident. And where Peter exclaims (Luke v. 8), “ Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” he was not sinning, but following his calling, and felt only the sinful condition of every fallen man. The sinful men, into whose hands our Lord was delivered (Luke axiv.7), were but the passive instruments, and driven on to the guilt of murdering him by the “ greater sin" of the Jews. And

sin (Rom. vii. 13) by the commandment, which is holy and just and good,” was not made active, but“ became exceeding sinful;" was shewn, by the comparison with this standard, in its true character of obliquity and deformity. These are all the instances in which sinful occurs, except the text in question (Rom. viii. 3). In this chapter the Apostle shews the natural bondage of man, enslaved by sin ; and the means by which we obtain the victory and become more than conquerors” (ver.37). The first state and its consequence is deduced'in

ver. 8:

So, then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” The victory is then deduced from the indwelling Spirit of Christ mortifying the deeds of the body, to constitute those who are so led by the Spirit of God sons of God: “ If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin ; but the spirit is life, because of righteousness.” This justifying righteousness he had argued, in ver. 3, could not be attained through the law : “ For the impossible thing of the law, wherein it was powerless because of the flesh," is rendered possible by “God sending his Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin.” How this effected it is shewn in what follows: God “ condemned the sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” How condemned ? By sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to keep that law which flesh had not before kept, and, having kept it, to offer his life in sacrifice for the transgressors; and by his Spirit, to enable them to live after the Spirit, not after the flesh: “ For the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus hath freed me from the law of sin and death.... And if Christ be in

you, the body is dead through sin, but the spirit life through righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up the Christ from the dead shall make alive your mortal bodies, through the indwelling of his Spirit in you.... As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.... And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. viii. 2, 10, 11, 17). Here is sin overcome in our sinful, mortal, corruptible bodies, by the “Spirit of the Christ,” “the Spirit of God," indwelling, and empowering us to do the will of God, and advancing us to the same glory with the risen Christ. And as our“ quickening" (ver. 11) takes place by the Spirit of the life in Christ “dwelling in” this sinful flesh of ours, freeing us from the law of sin and death : so, when the Eternal Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (or in us), and in the likeness of sinful flesh, every rule of analogy and right reason force us to the conclusion that the flesh which he took “of the substance of his mother” was such fesh as that of all his brethren: “ He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified all of one ” (Heb. ü. 11). The holiness and perfection of the regenerate man are spoken of in the fullest terms: it is not possible for language to express more entire conformity to and union with Christ : “ Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected :”. “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things :" “If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father:" “ We know that when He shall

appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; and every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as Christ is pure :” “ Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not:" " Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John ii. iii.) Such are the privileges, such is the condition of the regenerate man: far higher than that of Adam before he fell, and a far more glorious work than that of creation : even the renewal of the spirit of the mind; “putting on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousnsss and true holiness."

« EelmineJätka »