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I undertook to redeem the elect, and redeem them I did. Thy predestination, O Sovereign Father of mercies, has now its full accomplishment. Thy gracious operations, likewise, O Spirit of holiness, have had their entire effect: who didst engage to renew, sanctify, and preserve the people of my Father's choice, and of my redemption. Here they all stand, washed and clothed by me, and sealed and purified by thee. Not one of them is absent, and not one of our purposes has miscarried in a single instance. Grace reigns through my righteousness, unto eternal life: and we, the triune God, are all in all!"Amen. Amen.
ROM. viii. 4.
"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit."
THE works of the law, and the righteousness of the law, are synonymous terms. By the former, we are expressly told, no flesh can be justified : nor, consequently, by the latter, as performed by us. Why? Because every man is a fallen creature and to the corruption of his nature, is hourly adding the accumulated iniquity of actual transgressions. Therefore, by such a partial, imperfect, and polluted conformity to the moral law, no person can possibly be accepted unto life. And yet, without justification, man must be lost for ever. He must, therefore, either give up all hope of salvation, or seek for a justifying righteousness at the hand of Christ. Now Christ came for this very end, to fulfil all righteousness; not for himself, who was and is the source and centre of all holiness; but for us, who had lost our original rectitude, and are become the degenerate plants of a strange vine. The Son of God left his glory, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled for us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. This must certainly be the genuine import of the text under consideration. Ινα το δικαίωμα τε νομε πληρωθη εν ημιν, the exact sense of which, according to the genius of the original, stands thus: "That the righteousness required by the law might be fulfilled for us," i. e. in our stead, or on
our account. Thus Theophylact on the place : ὁ γαρ ὁ νόμος εξέλετο μεν, ησθηνει δε, τεῖο ὁ Χρίςος εποίησε δι' ημας. What the law was desirous of [viz. perfect obedience, in order to justification], but through weakness, could not obtain; that did Christ perform for us. Now to render the preposition, by for, instead of in, does not put the least violence upon the words of the apostle. The same preposition signifies for, in many other parts of the sacred writings. For instance, Mat. vi. 7. They think to be heard, « TMŋ mohuλolia aurwy, for their much speaking.-Gal. i. 24. εdoğαlov ev eμos tov Dov, they glorify God for me, i. e. in my behalf, on my account.-Eph. iv. 1. I a prisoner
Kug, for the Lord, i. e. on Christ's account, and for the sake of his gospel. And ver. 32. Even as God, v Kgs, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.— Phil. i. 26. That your rejoicing in Christ Jesus may abound, ε εo, for me.-1 Pet. iv. 14. If ye are reproached, Ev ovoμal Xgiss, for the name of Christ. More examples might be easily produced," but these may suffice.
Admit this translation of the preposition & to be just in this place (and I think it is self-evidently so) and there is not, in the whole book of God, a passage wherein the glorious suretyship obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ is more clearly and solidly asserted.
(ROM. ix. 3.)
"I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
THIS seemingly difficult text is rendered perfectly easy and clear, 1. by inclosing part of it in a parenthesis; and, 2. by attending to the tense of the verb nuxon, mistakenly translated, I could wish.
I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart (for I myself, noun, did wish to be in a state of separation from Christ), on account of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. That is to say, "I am deeply concerned for my unbelieving countrymen: and I the more pity and lament their enmity against Jesus, because I myself was once exactly in their situation; and know, by my own past experience, the bitterness and danger of their infidel state." Something like the speech of Dido, in Virgil:
Haud ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.
1 CORINTH. XV. 29.
"Else, what shall they do, who are baptized for the dead."
It may be remarked on this portion of sacred writ, that superstition, and a too great stress on the mere opus operatum of ordinances, began very early to encroach on the simplicity and spirituality of the gospel. Hence, by degrees, the sacrament of baptism was considered, as inseparably connected with the absolute and plenary forgiveness of sins, from this mistaken idea, many weak believers were for postponing their own baptism, until their last moments. The consequence of which was, that some (through sudden death, or other unforeseen exigencies) actually died, without having been baptized at all. Their surviving relatives, equally superstitious with the deceased, imagined, that, in order to remedy, so far as could be done, the loss of that rite; it would be a deed of charity, for one of them to be baptized in the deceased person's name and stead; begging of God, at the same time, to accept the baptism of the proxy, as though it had been administered to the principal.
If this corrupt practice obtained in some of the first churches so early as the days of St. Paul, (which, however, we will not venture to affirm), the solution of the text in question will be very easy. The apostle, not from any approbation of this superstitious custom, but merely with a view to convince the Corinthians of the certainty of a resurrection, by an argument ad hominem, i. e. by an