The Seventh Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
I have more than once had occasion to refer to this chapter,and have read some portions of it and made remarks. But I havenot been able to go into a consideration of it so fully as I wished,and therefore thought I would make it the subject of a separatelecture. In giving my views I shall pursue the following order:
I. Mention the different opinions that have prevailed in thechurch concerning this passage.
II. Show the importance of understanding this portion of scripturearight, or of knowing which of these prevailing opinions is thetrue one.
III. Lay down several facts and principles which have a bearingon the exposition of this passage.
IV. Refer to some rules of interpretation which ought alwaysto be observed in interpreting either the Scripture or any otherwriting or testimony.
V. Give my own views of the real meaning of the passage, withthe reasons.
I shall confine myself chiefly to the latter part of the chapter,as that has been chiefly the subject of dispute. You see fromthe manner in which I have laid out my work, that I design tosimplify the subject as much as possible, so as to bring it withinthe compass of a single lecture. Otherwise I might make a volume,so much having been written to show the meaning of this chapter.
I. I am to show what are the principal opinions that have prevailedconcerning the application of this chapter.
1. One opinion that has extensively prevailed, and still prevails,is, that the latter part of the chapter is an epitome of Christianexperience.
It has been supposed to describe the situation and exercisesof a Christian, and designed to exhibit the Christian warfarewith indwelling sin. It is to be observed, however, that thisis, comparatively, a modern opinion. No writer is known to haveheld this view of the chapter, for centuries after it was written.According to Professor Stuart, who has examined the subject morethoroughly than any other man in America, Augustine was the firstwriter that exhibited this interpretation, and he resorted toit in his controversy with Pelagius.
2. The only other interpretation given is that which prevailedin the first centuries, and which is still generally adopted onthe continent of Europe, as well as by a considerable number ofwriters in England and in America, that; this passage describesthe experience of a sinner under conviction, who was acting underthe motives of the law, and not yet brought to the experienceof the gospel. In this country, the most prevalent opinion is,that the seventh chapter of Romans delineates the experience ofa Christian.
II. I am to show the importance of a right understanding ofthis passage.
A right understanding of this passage must be fundamental.If this passage in fact describes a sinner under conviction, ora purely legal experience, and if a person supposing that it isa Christian experience, finds his own experience to correspondwith it, his mistake is a fatal one. It must be a fatal error,to rest in his experience as that of a real Christian, becauseit corresponds with the seventh of Romans, if Paul in fact isgiving only the experience of a sinner under legal motives andconsiderations.
III. I will lay down some principles and facts that have abearing on the elucidation of this subject.
1. It is true that mankind act, in all cases, and frost thenature of mind, must always act, as on the whole they feel tobe preferable
Or, in other words, the will governs the conduct. Men neveract against their will. The will governs the motion of the limbs.Voluntary beings cannot act contrary to their will.
2. Men often desire what, on the whole they do not choose.
The desires and the will are often opposed to each other. Theconduct is governed by the choice, not by the desires. The desiresmay be inconsistent with the choice. You may desire to go to someother place tonight, and yet on the whole choose to remain here.Perhaps you desire very strongly to be somewhere else, and yetchoose to remain in meeting. A man wishes to go a journey to someplace. Perhaps he desires it strongly. It may be very importantto his business or his ambition. But his family are sick, or someother object requires him to be at home, and on the whole he choosesto remain. In all cases, the conduct follows the actual choice.
3. Regeneration, or conversion, is a change in the choice.
It is a change in the supreme controlling choice of the mind.The regenerated or converted person prefers God's glory to everythingelse. He chooses it as the supreme object of affection. This isa change of heart. Before, he chose his own interest or happiness,as his supreme end. Now, he chooses God's service in preferenceto his own interest. When a person is truly born again, his choiceis habitually right, and of course his conduct is in the mainright.
The force of temptation may produce an occasional strong choice,or even a succession of wrong choices, but his habitual courseof action is right. The will, or choice, of a converted personis habitually right, and of course his conduct is so. If thisis not true, I ask, in what does the converted differ from theunconverted person? If it is not, the character of the convertedperson, that he habitually does the commandments of God, whatis his character? But I presume this position will not be disputedby any one who believes in the doctrine of regeneration.
4. Moral agents are so constituted, that they naturally andnecessarily approve of what is right.
A moral agent is one who possesses understanding, will, andconscience. Conscience is the power of discerning the differenceof moral objects. It will not be disputed that a moral agent canbe led to see the difference between right and wrong, so thathis moral nature shall approve of what is right. Otherwise, asinner never can be brought under conviction. If he has not amoral nature, that can see and highly approve the law of God,and justify the penalty, he cannot be convicted.
For this is conviction, to see the goodness of the law thathe has broken and the justice of the penalty he has incurred.But in fact, there is not a moral agent, in heaven, earth, orhell, that cannot be made to see that the law of God is right,and whose conscience does not approve the law.
5. Men may not only approve the law, as right, but they mayoften, when it is viewed abstractly and without reference to itsbearing on themselves, take real pleasure in contemplating it.
This is one great source of self-deception. Men view the lawof God in the abstract, and love it. When no selfish reason ispresent for opposing it, they take pleasure in viewing it. Theyapprove of what is right, and condemn wickedness, in the abstract.All men do this, when no selfish reason is pressing on them. Whoever found a man so wicked, that he approved of evil in the abstract?Where was a moral being ever found that approved the characterof the devil, or that approved of other wicked men, unconnectedwith himself? How often do you hear wicked men express the greatestabhorrence and detestation of enormous wickedness in others. Iftheir passions are in no way enlisted in favor of error or ofwrong, men always stand up for what is right. And this merelyconstitutional approbation of what is right, may amount even todelight, when they do not see the relations of right interferingin any manner with their own selfishness.
6. In this constitutional approbation of truth and the lawof God, and the delight which naturally arises from it, thereis no virtue.
It is only what belongs to man's moral nature. It arises naturallyfrom the constitution of the mind. Mind is constitutionally capableof seeing the beauty of virtue. And so far from there being anyvirtue in it, it is in fact only a clearer proof of the strengthof their depravity, that when they know the right, and see itsexcellence, they do not obey it. It is not then that impenitentsinners have in them something that is holy. But their wickednessis herein seen to be so much the greater. For the wickedness ofsin is in proportion to the light that is enjoyed. And when wefind that men may not only see the excellence of the law of God,but even strongly approve of it and take delight in it, and yetnot obey it, it shows how desperately wicked they are, and makessin appear exceeding sinful.
7. It is a common use of language for persons to say, "Iwould do so and so, but cannot," when they only mean to beunderstood as desiring it, but not as actually choosing to doit. And so to say, "I could not do so," when they onlymean that they would not do it, and, they could if they would.
Not long since, I asked a minister to preach for me next Sabbath.He answered, "I can't." I found out afterwards thathe could if he would. I asked a merchant to take a certain pricefor a piece of goods. He said, "I can't do it." Whatdid he mean? That he had not power to accept of such a price?Not at all. He could if he would, but he did not choose to doit. You will see the bearing of these remarks, when I come toread the chapter. I proceed now.
To give several rules of interpretation, that are applicableto the interpretation not only of the Bible, but of all writteninstruments, and to all evidence whatever.
There are certain rules of evidence which all men are boundto apply, in ascertaining the meaning of instruments and the testimonyof witnesses, and of all writings.
1. We are always to put that construction on language whichis required by the nature of the subject.
We are bound always to understand a person's language as itis applicable to the subject of discourse. Much of the languageofcommon life may be tortured into any thing, if you lose sightof the subject, and take the liberty to interpret it without referenceto what they are speaking of. How much injury has been done, byinterpreting separate passages and single expressions in the scriptures,in violation of this principle. It is chiefly by overlooking thissimple rule, that the scriptures have been tortured into the supportof errors and contradictions innumerable and absurd beyond allcalculation. This rule is applicable to all statements.Courtsof justice never would allow such perversions as have been committedupon the Bible.
2. If a person's language will admit, we are bound always toconstrue it so as to make him consistent with himself.
Unless you observe this rule, you can scarcely converse fiveminutes with any individual on any subject and not make him contradicthimself. If you do not hold to this rule, how can one man evercommunicate his ideas so that another man will understand them?How can a witness ever make known the facts to the jury, if hislanguage is to be tortured at pleasure, without the restraintsof this rule?
3. In interpreting a person's language, we are always to keepin view the point to which he is speaking.
We are to understand the scope of his argument, the objecthe has in view, and the point to which he is speaking. Otherwisewe shall of course not understand his language. Suppose I wereto take up a book, any book, and not keep my eye on the objectthe writer had in view in making it, and the point at which heis aiming, I never can understand that book. It is easy to seehow endless errors have grown out of a practice of interpretingthe Scriptures in disregard of the first principles of interpretation.
4. When you understand the point to which a person is speaking,you are to understand him as speaking to that point; and not puta construction on his language unconnected with his object, orinconsistent with it.
By losing sight of this rule, you may make nonsense of everything. You are bound always to interpret language in the lightof the subject to which it is applied, or about which it is spoken.
V. Having laid down these rules and principles, I proceed,in the light of them, to give my own view of the meaning of thepassage, with the reasons for it. But first I will make a remarkor two.
1st. Remark. Whether the apostle was speaking of himself inthis passage, or whether he is supposing a case, is not materialto the right interpretation of the language.
It is supposed by many, that because he speaks in the firstperson, he is to be understood as referring to himself. But itis a common practice, when we are discussing general principles,or arguing a point, to suppose a case by way of illustration,or to establish a point. And it is very natural to state it inthe first person, without at all intending to be understood, andin fact without ever being understood, as declaring an actualoccurrence, or an experience of our own. The apostle Paul washere pursuing a close train of argument, and he introduces thissimply by way of illustration. And it is no way material whetherit is his own actual experience, or a case supposed.
If he is speaking of himself, or if he is speaking of anotherperson, or if he is supposing a case, he does it with a designto show a general principle of conduct, and that all persons underlike circumstances would do the same. Whether he is speaking ofa Christian, or of an impenitent sinner, he lays down a generalprinciple.
The apostle James, in the 3rd chapter, speaks in the firstperson; even in administering reproof. "My brethren, be notmany masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.For in many things we offend all."
"Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewithcurse we men, which are made after the similitude of God."
The apostle Paul often says, "I," and uses the firstperson, when discussing and illustrating general principles: "Allthings are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: allthings are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under thepower of any." And again, "Conscience, I say, not thineown, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of anotherman's conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evilspoken of for that for which I give thanks? For now we see througha glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; butthen shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith,hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."So also, "For if I build again the things which I destroyed,I make myself a transgressor." In 1 Corinthians 4:6, he explainsexactly how he uses illustrations, "And these things, brethren,I have in a figure transferred to myself, and to Apollos, foryour sakes: that ye might learn in us not to think of men abovethat which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for oneagainst another."
2nd. Remark. Much of the language which the apostle uses here,is applicable to the case of a backslider, who has lost all butthe form of religion. He has left his first love, and has in factfallen under the influence of legal motives, of hope and fear,just like an impenitent sinner. If there be such a character asa real backslider, who has been a real convert, he is then actuatedby the same motives as the sinner, and the same language may beequally applicable to both. And therefore the fact that some ofthe language before us is applicable to a Christian who has becomea backslider, does not prove at all that the experience here describedis Christian experience, but only that a backslider and a sinnerare in many respects alike. I do not hesitate to say this much,at least: that no one, who was conscious that he was actuatedby love to God could ever have thought of applying this chapterto himself. If any one is not in the exercise of love to God,this describes his character; and whether he is backslider orsinner, it is all the same thing.
3rd. Remark. Some of the expressions here used by the apostleare supposed to describe the case of a believer who is not anhabitual backslider, but who is overcome by temptation and passionfor a time, and speaks of himself as if he were all wrong. A manis tempted, we are told, when he is drawn away by his own lusts,and enticed. And in that state, no doubt, he might find expressionshere that would describe his own experience, while under suchinfluence. But that proves nothing in regard to the design ofthe passage, for while he is in this state, he is so far undera certain influence, and the impenitent sinner is all the timeunder just such influence. The same language, therefore, may beapplicable to both, without inconsistency.
But although some expressions may bear this plausible construction,yet a view of the whole passage makes it evident that it cannotbe a delineation of Christian experience. My own opinion thereforeis, that the apostle designed here to represent the experienceof a sinner, not careless, but strongly convicted, and yet notconverted, The reasons are these:
1. Because the apostle is here manifestly describing the habitualcharacter of some one; and this one is wholly under the dominionof the flesh. It is not as a whole a description of one who, underthe power of present temptation, is acting inconsistently withhis general character, but his general character is so. It isone who uniformly falls into sin, notwithstanding his approvalof the law.
2. It would have been entirely irrelevant to his purpose, tostate the experience of a Christian as an illustration of hisargument. That was not what was needed. He was laboring to vindicatethe law of God, in its influence on a carnal mind. In a previouschapter he had stated the fact, that justification was only byfaith, and not by works of law. In this seventh chapter, he maintainsnot only that justification is by faith, but also that sanctificationis only by faith. "Know ye not brethren, (for I speak tothem that know the law) how that the law hath dominion over aman as long as he liveth? So then, if while her husband liveth,she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress;but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so thatshe is no adulteress, though she be married to another man."What is the use of all this? Why, this,
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to thelaw by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another,even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bringforth fruit unto God." While you were under the law you werebound to obey the law, and hold to the terms of the law for justification.But now being made free from the law, as a rule of judgment, youare no longer influenced by legal considerations, of hope andfear, for Christ to whom you are married, has set aside the penalty,that by faith ye might be justified before God.
"For when we were in the flesh," that is, in an unconvertedstate, "the motions of sins, which were by the law, did workin our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we aredelivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held;that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldnessof the letter." Here he is stating the real condition ofa Christian, that he serves in newness of spirit and not in theoldness of the letter. He had found that the fruit of the lawwas only death and by the gospel he had been brought into truesubjection to Christ. What is the objection to this? "Whatshall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had notknown sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except thelaw had said, Thou shalt not covet. And the commandment whichwas ordained to life, I found to be unto death." The lawwas enacted that people might live by it, if they would perfectlyobey it; but when we were in the flesh, we found it unto death."For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me,and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandmentholy, and just, and good." Now he brings up the objectionagain. How can anything that is good be made death unto you? "Was,then, that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin,that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which isgood; that sin by the commandment might be exceeding sinful."And he vindicates the law, by showing that it is not the faultof the law, but the fault of sin, and that this very result showsat once the excellence of the law and the exceeding sinfulnessof sin. Sin must be a horrible thing, if it can work such a perversion,as to take the good law of God and make it the means of death.
"For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal,sold under sin." Here is the hinge, on which the whole questionsturns. Now mark; the apostle is here vindicating the law againstthe objection, that if the law is means of death to sinners itcannot be good. Against this objection, he goes to show, thatall its action on the mind of the sinner proves it to be good.Keeping his eye on this point, he argues, that the law is good,and that the evil comes from the motions of sin in our members.Now he comes to that part which is supposed to delineate a Christianexperience, and which is the subject of controversy. He beginsby saying "the law is spiritual but I am carnal." Thisword "carnal" he uses once, and only once, in referenceto Christians, and then it was in reference to persons who werein a low state in religion. "For ye are yet carnal; for whereasthere is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are yenot carnal, and walk as men." These Christians had backslidden,and acted as if they were not converted persons, but were carnal.The term itself is generally used to signify the worst of sinners.Paul here defines it so; "carnal, sold under sin." Couldthat be said of Paul himself, at the time he wrote this epistle?Was that his own experience? Was he sold under sin? Was that trueof the great apostle? No, but he was vindicating the law, andhe uses an illustration, by supposing a case. He goes on, "Forthat which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that I do not;but what I hate, that do I."
Here you see the application of the principles I have laiddown. In the interpretation of this word "would," weare not to understand it of the choice or will, but only a desire.Otherwise the apostle contradicts a plain matter of fact, whichevery body knows to be true, that the will governs the conduct.Professor Stuart has very properly rendered the word desire; whatI desire, I do not, but what I disapprove, that I do. Then comesthe conclusion, "If, then, I do that which I would not, Iconsent unto the law, that it is good. "If I do that whichI disapprove, if I disapprove of my own conduct, if I condemnmyself, I thereby bear testimony that the law is good. Now, keepyour eye on the object the apostle has in view and read the nextverse, "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin thatdwelleth in me." Here he, as it were, divides himself againsthimself, or speaks of himself as possessing two natures, or, assome of the heathen philosophers taught, as having two souls,one which approves the good and another which loves and choosesevil. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwellethno good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to performthat which is good I find not." Here "to will"means to approve, for if men really will to do a thing, they doit. This everybody knows. Where the language will admit, we arebound to interpret it so as to make it consistent with known facts.If you understand "to will" literally, you involve theapostle in the absurdity of saying that he willed what he didnot do, and so acted contrary to his own will, which contradictsa notorious fact. The meaning must be desire. Then it coincideswith the experience of every convicted sinner. He knows what heought to do, and he strongly approves it, but he is not readyto do it. Suppose I were to call on you to do some act. Suppose,for instance, I were to call on those of you who are impenitent,to come forward and take that seat, that we might see who youare, and pray for you, and should show you your sins and thatit is your duty to submit to God, some of you would exclaim, "Iknow it is my duty, and I greatly desire to do it, but I cannot."What do you mean by it? Why, simply, that on the whole, the balanceof your will is on the other side.
In the 20th verse he repeats what he had said before, "Nowif I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sinthat dwelleth in me." Is that the habitual character andexperience of a Christian? I admit that a Christian may fall solow that this language may apply to him; but if this is his generalcharacter, how does it differ from that of an impenitent sinner?If this is the habitual character of a Christian, there is nota word of truth in the scripture representations, that the saintsare those who really obey God; for here is one called a Christian,of whom it is said expressly that he never does obey.
"I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil ispresent with me." Here he speaks of the action of the carnalpropensities, as being so constant and so prevalent that he callsit a "law." "For I delight in the law of God afterthe inward man." Here is the great stumbling block. Can itbe said of an impenitent sinner that he "delights" inthe law of God? I answer, Yes. I know the expression is strong,but the apostle was using strong language all along, on both sides.
It is no stronger language than the prophet Isaiah uses inchapter 58. He was describing as wicked and rebellious a generationas ever lived. He says, "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up thyvoice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression,and the house of Jacob their sins." Yet he goes on to sayof this very people, "Yet they seek me daily, and delightto know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsooknot the ordinance of their God; they ask of me the ordinancesof justice; they take delight in approaching to God." Hereis one instance of impenitent sinners manifestly delighting inapproaching to God. So in Ezekiel 33:32. "And lo thou artunto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice,and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, butdo them not." The prophet had been telling how wicked theywere. "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, andthey sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, butthey will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love,but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Here wereimpenitent sinners, plainly enough, yet they love to hear theeloquent prophet. How often do ungodly sinners delight in eloquentpreaching or powerful reasoning, by some able minister! It isto them an intellectual feast. And sometimes they are so pleasedwith it, as really to think they love the word of God. This isconsistent with entire depravity of heart, and enmity againstthe true character of God. Nay, it sets their depravity in a strongerlight, because they know and approve the right, and yet do thewrong.
So, notwithstanding this delight in the law, he say, "ButI see another law in my members, warring against the law of mymind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which isin my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver mefrom the body of this death?" Here the words, "I thankGod, through Jesus Christ our Lord," are plainly a parenthesis,and a break in upon the train of thought, Then he sums up thewhole matter, "So then, with the mind I myself serve thelaw of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
It is as if he had said, My better self, my unbiased judgment,my conscience, approves the law of God; but the law in my members,my passions, have such a control over me, that I still disobey.Remember, the apostle was describing the habitual character ofone who was wholly under the dominion of sin. It was irrelevantto his purpose to adduce the experience of a Christian. He wasvindicating the law, and therefore it was necessary for him totake the case of one who was under the law. If it is Christianexperience, he was reasoning against himself; for if it is Christianexperience, this would prove, not only that the law is inefficaciousfor the subduing of passion and the sanctification of men, butthat the gospel also is inefficacious. Christians are under grace,and it is irrelevant, in vindicating the law, to adduce the experienceof those who are not under the law, but under grace.
Another conclusive reason is, that he here actually statesthe case of a believer as entirely different. In verses four andsix, he speaks of those who are not under law and not in the flesh;that is, not carnal, but delivered from the law, and actuallyserving, or obeying God, in spirit.
Then, in the beginning of the eighth chapter, he goes on tosay, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them whichare in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after thespirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hathmade me free from the law of sin and death." He had alludedto this in the parenthesis above, "I thank God," etc."For what the law could not do, in that it was weak throughthe flesh, God sending his own Son in the flesh, and for sin,condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the lawmight be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but afterthe Spirit." Who is this of whom he is now speaking? If theperson in the last chapter was one who had a Christian experiencewhose experience is this? Here is something entirely different.The other was wholly under the power of sin, and under the law,and while he knew his duty, never did it.
Here we find one for whom what the law could not do, throughthe power of passion, the gospel has done, so that the righteousnessof the law is fulfilled, or what the law requires is obeyed. "Forthey that are after, the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh;but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually-mindedis life and peace: because the carnal mind is enmity to God: forit is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Sothen they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Thereit is. Those whom he had described in the seventh chapter, asbeing carnal, cannot please God. "But ye are not in the flesh,but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; butthe Spirit is life because of righteousness." But here isan individual whose body is dead. Before the body had the control,and dragged him away from duty and from salvation; but now thepower of passion is subdued.
Now I will give you the sum of the whole matter:
(1.) The strength of the apostle's language cannot decide thisquestion, for he uses strong language on both sides. If it beobjected that the individual he is describing is said to "delightin the law," he is also said to be "carnal, sold undersin." When a writer uses strong language, it must be so understoodas not to make it irrelevant or inconsistent.
(2.) Whether he spoke of himself, or of some other person,or merely supposed a case by way of illustration, is wholly immaterialto the question.
(3.) It is plain that the point he wished to illustrate wasthe vindication of the law of God, as to its influence on a carnalmind.
(4.) The point required by way of illustration, the case ofa convicted sinner, who saw the excellence of the law, but inwhom the passions had the ascendancy.
(5.) If this is spoken of Christian experience it is not onlyirrelevant, but proves the reverse of what he intended. He intendedto show that the law though good, would not break the power ofpassion. But if this is Christian experience, then it proves thatthe gospel, instead of the law cannot subdue passion and sanctifymen.
(6.) The contrast between the state described in the seventhchapter, and that described in the eighth chapter, proves thatthe experience of the former has not that of a Christian.
I. Those who find their own experience written in the eleventhchapter of Romans, are not converted persons. If that is theirhabitual character, they are not regenerated; they are under conviction,but not Christians.
II. You see the great importance of using the law in dealingwith sinners, to make them prize the gospel, to lead them to justifyGod and condemn themselves. Sinners are never made truly to repentbut as they are convicted by the law.
III. At the same time, you see the entire insufficiency ofthe law to convert men. The case of the devil illustrates thehighest efficacy of the law, in this respect.
IV. You see the danger of mistaking mere desires for piety.Desire, that does not result in right choice, has nothing goodin it. The devil may have such desires.
The wickedest men on earth may desire religion, and no doubtoften do desire it, when they see that it is necessary to theirsalvation, or to control their passions.
V. Christ and the gospel present the only motives that cansanctify the mind. The law only convicts and condemns.
VI. Those who are truly converted and brought into the libertyof the gospel, do find deliverance from the bondage of their owncorruptions.
They do find the power of the body over the mind broken. Theymay have conflicts and trials, many and severe; but as an habitualthing, they are delivered from the thralldom of passion, and getthe victory over sin, and find it easy to serve God. His commandmentsare not grievous to them. His yoke is easy, and his burden light.
VII. The true convert finds peace with God. He feels that hehas it. He enjoys it. He has a sense of pardoned sin, and of victoryover corruption.
VIII. You see, from this subject, the true position of a vastmany church members They are all the while struggling under thelaw. They approve of the law, both in its precept and its penalty,they feel condemned, and desire relief. But still they are unhappy.They have no spirit of prayer, no communion with God, no evidenceof adoption. They only refer to the 7th of Romans as their evidence.Such a one will say, "There is my experiences exactly."Let me tell you, that if this is your experience, you are yetin the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. You feelthat you are in the bonds of guilt, and you are overcome by iniquity,and surely you know that it is bitter as gall. Now, don't cheatyour soul by supposing that with such an experience as this, youcan go and sit down by the side of the apostle Paul. You are yetcarnal, gold under sin, and unless you embrace the gospel, youwill be damned.
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