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the spiritual weakness of the Jews, for they greatly exalted the law, and from a desire not to afford an opportunity of finding fault with it to the heretics who denounced the Old Testament, he avoids saying that the law had ceased, but declares that we have become dead to the law by baptism which saveth us, and then rising again have been united, to Him who hath Himself risen from the dead, that is Christ. And as he had called the faith which is in the Lord a marriage and union, in strict keeping herewith does he show the fruits also arising from marriage, that we should bring forth fruit unto God, says he. What then is this fruit-bearing? That our members become the instruments of righteousness. And most aptly does he show that the law itself leads us to be joined to Christ, for it forbade not, says he, a woman to be married to a second husband after the death of the first. And then he goes on to point out the difference. 5. For when we were in the flesh, that is, under the polity of the law, for the legislative ordinances concerning the flesh, as of foods and drinks, of leprosy, and such like, are what he here calls the flesh; the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members. He says not " in " the law but by the law, for it does not itself bring about sin, but it condemns sin, while that, which was good, sin uses for evil ; neither indeed do our members themselves bring about sin, but only by our members has the inclination of the soul to the worse brought its operations to effect. And what then springs from hence ? To bring forth fruit unto death.
In these words he has taught us that before the coming of (the covenant of) grace, while we were living under the polity of the law, the attacks of sin to which we were subjected were the more powerful, in that the law showed indeed what ought to be done, but offered no help to do it. 6. But now we are made to cease from the law. He still continues in the same cautious mode of expression, and says not, "the law is made to cease," but we are made to cease from the law, that is, it is inoperative as regards ourselves, we are no longer under its polity. And how are we made to cease from it? Being dead to that wherewith we had been held. For when we were subjects of the law we came to baptism, and dying with Christ, and with Him rising again, we were united to our Lawgiver, and no longer need the polity of the law, for we have received the very grace itself of the Spirit, as what follows proves, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. He here puts the spirit in opposition to letter, and the new against the old, that by the word letter he might point out the law, and by the old its having come to a conclusion. For indeed by Jeremiah (xxxi. 31, 32,) God says, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt:" so that the difference was shown even by the prophet; and on the appearance of the new covenant, the old must yield. Having thus spoken, and foreseeing as one honoured with the gifts of the Spirit, that some of the heretics would understand this in derogation of the old covenant, and conceive that the old law came from some other than the one same God, the holy apostle necessarily states the objections and subjoins the answers to them. 7. What shall we say then? Is the law sin ?
He had in the former parts of this epistle laid down many positions, which might have given an opportunity of finding fault with the law, to such as were desirous of speaking evil of it, unless he had offered the present solution of such questions, (as) "the law entered in between that the offence might abound;” and “the law worketh wrath;" and " by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight;" and the like; wherefore, for the resolution of these very things he proposes the objection. And first he shows that the interrogation is profane, and adds the expression of disavowal, God forbid, and then he teaches the utility of the law. Nay but I should not have been aware of what was sin, but by the law. Not only, says he, is the law not the teacher of sin, God forbid, but on the contrary it is the condemner of sin, for I should not have known what was evil, unless it had shown me. For I should not have known that lust was, except the law had said Thou shall not lust, The words I should not have been aware, and I should not have known, are not here indicative of a total ignorance, but mean this, that I received from the law a knowledge more complete than the mere discrimination of nature. 8. But sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. In every way he endeavours to show that it was free from blame, for having said that by the imposition of the law sins had been increased, lest any one should suppose that the law had been the cause, he most seasonably sets forth its way, that sin making use of the imposition of the law as a mean for battle, beat down the weaker powers of judgment. For wilhout the law sin were dead, for where there is no law pointing out what should be done, and forbidding what should not be done, sin has no place. And he makes this evident by an example; 9. For I was alive without the law once, for Adam before his transgression had no fear of death, bul when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. For when God had imposed the commandment respecting the trees, immediately the devil came to the woman in the serpent, and uttered those deceitful speeches, and she being enticed, and beholding the beauty of the fruit, was overcome by desire and broke the commandment. And with Adam she immediately received the sentence, for he also had shared in that food.
10. And the commandment which was ordained to life I found to be unto death. In every way he vindicates the law, and the commandment, but proves the evil of sin ; for the commandment, says he, was the minister of life, but the turning aside to evil begot death, wherefore he most properly says, found, to show that the intention of the law, and the end brought about by sin, were widely different things. 11. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. The same thing he had said before, only in different words. 12. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good. It is the Mosaic which he here speaks of as the law, and that given to Adam as the commandment. And the reason why he honours the latter with the greater praises, is that it commonly meets with the greater censures. who live in idle ease, and will not undergo the labours of virtue, cry out even against God Himself, for imposing this commandment. For if He were ignorant, say they, of what would happen, how can He be God who foreknows not the future? but if while foreseeing the transgression, He yet imposed the commandment, Himself is the cause of the trans
For they gression! But such should be aware, that the power of discriminating between good and its opposite is the property of those that are gifted with reason, for the nature of the irrational creatures possesses no such faculty of distinguishment of these things; for the wolf is ravenous, and the lion feasts on its prey while scarce dead, and bears and leopards follow in the same train ; and they have no sense of sin,* nor a conscience to be pricked at what has been done; while men, though no one be present at their actions, are ashamed and afraid on account of what they have dared to commit, for conscience supplies the accusation. How then were it possible that they who possess such a nature, should yet live without any law at all? Wherefore God enjoined the commandment, that man might thereby learn to understand his own nature, and to fear his Lawgiver. And well indeed may we perceive the loving-kindness of that Lawgiver, for He enjoined not some law which was difficult of observation, but one which could have been easily kept. He allowed to him the enjoyment of all the trees, of one alone He forbade him the use; not that He grudged him that one, for how could He do so, who had already given him power over all ? but in order to teach him the terms of submission, and to render him well-affected towards his Creator, and afford a mean for the exercise of his rational faculties. And if then, by not keeping the commandment he came under sentence of death, this can be no cause for blame to the Lawgiver, but to him who transgressed the law. For so neither, when a physician orders his patient to abstain from cold drinks, does he do this because he invidiously grudges them to him, but in order to bring about his health ; and if he not observing the injunction will take water, he draws the injury on himself, but the physician is free from blame altogether. But indeed the Lord God has treated with every possible consideration and kindness, both Adam himself and all his race, and, to pass by all other, and come at once to the noblest instance, for him, and his race, the only-begotten Word became incarnate, and put an end to the power of death, which from him had received its beginning, and promised the resurrection, and prepared the kingdom of heaven : so that He both foreknew his transgression, and made ready before-hand the mean of remedy to follow; wherefore the holy apostle calls the commandment holy, just, and good; holy, as teaching what we ought to do; just, as rightly pronouncing judgment on the transgressors; good, as appointing life to such as observed it. And then again he states the objection that might arise, 13. Did then that which is good become death unlo me ? and again according to his wont he denies it, God forbid, and shows us the cause of these evils, but sin, that it might appear to be indeed) sin, in its working death to me by that which is good. There is an obscurity here, arising from the extreme brevity made use of; what he means is this, that by that which is good, to wit the law and commandment, sin is made apparent to me, namely, as being bad and evil; and how is it so made apparent ? by its working unto death, for from the fruit I know the tree, and seeing death I hate its parent; but of all this is the law the teacher; it is not then the
* Διό και τα θηρία ούτε σώφρονα ούτε ακόλαστα λέγομεν, αλλ' ή κατά μεταφοράς, και εί τινι όλως άλλο προς άλλο διαφέρει γένος των ζώων ύβρει και σιναμωρία, και το παμφάγος είναι ου γαρ έχει προαίρεσιν ουδέ λογισμόν.-Aristotle's Elics, Book vii. ch. 6. ad fin.
law, which thus instructs, that is evil, but sin, which brings death ; and it is the inclination of our own free will to the worse, that is the author of sin. That sin might by the commandment become exceeding sinful. For though nature points out sin, its excessive turpitude the law bas more clearly manifested. The expression that it might become is incomplete, the word “apparent" being understood, for so also we explained it in the preceding sentence, “but sin, that it might be seen to be sin indeed by its working out death to me by that which is good, that sin might by the commandment become exceeding sinful,” that is, that it might become by the commandment “ apparent” that sin is exceeding sinful, that is evil. And then, like some skilful painter, he portrays the contest between nature and sin. 14. For we know that the law is spiritual. Again he crowns the law with praise, for what can be more holy than this designation ? for it was written, says lie, by divine inspiration, being a partaker of this grace the blessed Moses indited the law. But I am carnal, sold under sin. He brings before us the man who lived before the coming (of the covenant) of grace, beset by his passions, for by carnal he means one who had not yet received the spiritual help (offered in that new covenant, see verse 5 ad fin. and ch. vi. 14 ad fin. &c.); but the sold under sin we shall understand by comparing it with that passage of the prophet, (Isaiah 1. 1,) "For your iniquities have you sold yourselves.” And the same thing does he bere say, I have delivered myself up to sin, and sold myself to it.
To be continued.
DEFECTS OF OUR ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM, AND THEIR
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER.
Sir.- The following passage occurs in my last communication, page 295: “There being a right of appeal to Cour supreme courts] in order to control, and give uniformity to, the decisions of these inferior tribunals." Owing to a typographical error in the words included within brackets, this passage completely misrepresents my meaning; and at the present moment, when the Ecclesiastical Discipline Bill is occasioning so much discussion, I am anxious to have it corrected, as the words, in their present state, embody the very error which has called forth the noble and spirited opposition and protest of the Bishop of Exeter. The words should be one supreme court ; and by this one supreme court, a reference to my communication will show, that I meant
-a court of final appeal from all the diocesan courts. I do not regard this idea as at all trenching on that independence of the several diocesan courts in the first instance of an accusation, for which his lordship contends; or upon that independence also of the province of York, which the bill just introduced by the Lord Chancellor as mercilessly sacrifices, as it does the several diocesan jurisdictions of the bishops. Such a supreme ecclesiastical tribunal might receive a commission to act from the Archbishops of York, on behalf of their province, in the same way as it now acts for the province of Canterbury, by a similar commission. The plan which I then briefly submitted, it will be seen, fully saved the jurisdiction of each bishop, in the first instance, of all accusations and trials, of criminous clerks within their dioceses, only providing that an appeal should lie, as at present, to the court of the archbishop. That plan, moreover, was even more in accordance with the doctrine and discipline of the Church, (which, by one of her canons made in the reign of Charles I., specially ordered that every sentence upon a criminous clerk should be pronounced by the bishop in his own person, and not by any chancellor, or other official of the ecclesiastical courts), than the present practice; since it made the bishop to act, either in person, or by direct commission, in each particular case, in the trial and judgment of all such matters.
I profess, however, that although my objection to the Ecclesiastical Discipline Bill, is in great measure founded on the dangerous innovations it is calculated to introduce in the Church, by stripping the episcopal office of some of its most essential attributes; yet there are other considerations of a very grave character, which require us to be by no means hasty in our reforms of ecclesiastical law. For, I assure you, Mr. Editor, that in comparison with the railroad speed of reformation in these respects, which now seems to threaten us, I should be found a very
“ moderate reformer" indeed, although, in my former communication, page 296, by an error of the press, I was made to speak lightly of "us, moderale reformers.” Now, as temperance and moderation are enjoined on us in Scripture, I do not see why we should be intemperate in legislation, more than in any other matter; in fact, it was at modern reformers, not moderate ones, that I levelled my condemnation; and I suppose the two ideas conveyed by these phrases respectively, are the very antipodes of each other. Happily many of the various church reforms, gendered by the mania of the Reform Bill, have hitherto been suffered to remain in a state of abeyance ; and, now that the public are beginning to recover their sanity, all that is wanting for real improvement is, that there should be a little further delay; but suddenly, as if awaking from a slumber, our rulers, civil and ecclesiastical, seem seized with a desire of accomplishing, all at once, the schemes which have been concocting during the last seven years of the saturnalia of reform. Now, only a few years since, almost every second man you met in the streets, thought himself capable of reforming the Church, and the ecclesiastical courts; the delay which has hitherto occurred, has not only cooled down this ardour, but shown the extreme difficulty of the subject. This, indeed, is no argument against any necessary reform; but certainly it should impress on us the truth, that any reformation, to be effective and lasting, must be gradual and temperate.
Many of the proposed reforms in the ecclesiastical courts will effect changes far beyond what is contemplated by their projectors, and may ultimately expel the knowledge and study of the civil and canon laws from this country; and this surely would be no small evil. The extinction of any branch of knowledge, much less of one which is so bound up with the rise and progress of European civilization, and without which that civilization can hardly be understood and appreciated, is surely an evil ; whilst, to the people of this country, with so many and complicated interests at stake in their intercourse with foreign nations, the utility of keeping up a body of men learned in questions