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17¶ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with
[of believers. Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together,
EXPOSITION-Chap. VIII. Continued.
through the [depravity of the] flesh," that God hath done by "sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh :" though himself perfectly unstained by sin, God visited our sins upon him, as our substitute, that by him "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled" both for and in us, and all who "walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." This walking after, or according to the things of the spirit, or spiritual things, is here explained by "minding," that is, being devoted to spiritual things; as walking after the flesh is also interpreted of attachment and devotion to carnal and worldly objects. To be thus carnally minded is declared to be death in the most awful sense, as implying not only spiritual but eternal death; for the carnal mind cannot be subjected to God's law, nor can the carnally minded, while in that state, please him. The cause of this distinction is plainly shown to originate in the work of the Spirit of God; for if any man have not the Spirit of God, he is not one of his children;" but if the Spirit of God dwell in us, then do we mortify the deeds of the flesh; then are we his children. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God," by adoption and grace;-and having received the Spirit of Adoption, they are so far delivered from alarm and fear, and call upon God, as their Father which is in heaven.
"The Mosaic dispensation (says Mr. Cox) indirectly tended to excite in the minds of the Jews an awful and servile dread of the Supreme Being: but the Gospel is eminently calculated to inspire believers with a spirit of love towards God, and a lively confidence in his favour and protection. Aspirit of adoption,' the happy privilege of all real Christians, entitles them to address God under the endearing character of a friend who is reconciled to them, and a Father who loves them with more than paternal affection. The word Father being expressed both in Syriac and Greek, beautifully represents Jewish and Gentile believers as joining in the same worship, and enjoying the same filial relationship to God.
The close of this section leads us to speak of the grace of Adoption as bestowed on those who, by faith, are received into the family of God. In every act of adoption, a child is taken from another family (or perhaps from a more distant branch of
the same), and introduced as the son and heir of the adopter, a practice that is observed, more or less, in almost all coun tries among the ancients, by the Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romaus: in more modern times by the Hindoos, American Aborigines, and most other nations. [See Ency. Brit. and Calmet's Dict. in Adoption; also President Dwight's (of Yale Coll. N. A.) System of Theol. vol. iii. ser. 82.] But the most important point for our present consideration is, the witness of the Spirit here spoken of: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." And it is the more important that we should understand the nature of this bless ing, as, by mistakes on this subject, many have been led into the errors of a dan gerous enthusiasm; to avoid which, we shall refer our readers to the temperate and judicious remarks of the pious and amiable Dr. Watts :-" The substance of this testimony of the Spirit to our Adoption, may (says the Doctor) be represented after this manner :-The Spirit of God, in his word, has described the marks and characters of his children; and, by his gracious influence, he works these holy dispositions, these characters in our hearts: God has given us a conscience, which is a faculty of comparing ourselves with the rule of his word, and judging accordingly. The Spirit of God, by his power and by his providence, awakens these holy dispo sitions into lively exercise: he assists our enquiring and our judging faculties; helps us to compare our own souls with his word; and thus confirms our own spirits in the belief of this proposition, that we are the children of God. This is the more common and ordinary way and method, whereby God is pleased to give the com forts of adoption to his people." (Evang. Disc. No. XI.)
The same judicious writer, however (in his subsequent discourse), admits that there are instances of a more extraordinary nature to be found in the experience of men eminent for piety and usefulness (such as the venerable John Howe, for example); but we ought to be very cautious not to reason from them in any way that should lead us to slight the ordinary means of grace, or to act under the influence of extraordinary impressions, instead of fol lowing the written word.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifest ation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in ain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves Iso, which have the first fruits of he Spirit, even we ourselves groan
[and future glory.
within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (L)
(L) Ver. 17-27. The blessedness of elievers, and the vanity of the world.he concluding paragraph of our preced g section connects so intimately with the resent, that we cannot avoid reverting to in the beginning of this. The Spirit, acOrding to St. Paul, bearing" witness with ur spirit," that we are the children of God; bears witness also, that, "if children, en are we heirs; heirs of God and joint
heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we also may be glorified together." These, indeed, are great and mysterious truths, and must appear utterly unintelligible and incredible to those who are strangers to the spiritual and divine influences above referred to. To those, however, who by faith are enabled to cry, "Abba, Father," they afford consolation under all their trials, because they reason
NOTES-Chap. VIII. Con.
Ver. 18. Revealed in us.-Dod." to us." (Gr. eis.) Ver. 19. The earnest expectation-Literally," the retching forth of the neck," or "head," in looking ith great anxiety. See Mackn.
Ver. 20. But by reason of-(Gr. dia.) Doddr. By. "In hope.-The connecting this verse with e following (ver. 21) seems the best, and perhaps e only way of clearing up this obscure passage; d is therefore adopted by Mr. Locke, Doddridge, ayse, Macknight, Cox, Boothroyd, &c.
Ver. 21. In hope-Because-rather, In hope that, (Gr. oti.) Hammond, Doddridge, &c. Ver. 22. The whole creation (or every creature) oaneth, &c.-In our Exposition we have applied is not only to the rational creation, but by the are, prosopopoeia, even to the inanimate creation, hich being defiled by sin, will be purified by fire. Peter i. 7. Some have hence inferred a resurrecon, not only of the rational, but animal creation; r this, however, we can find no authority in the xt; and not being revealed, we are not called to ve an opinion on the subject.-Travaileth in in-The world at this time was big with revolu. ns, and with conversions.
Ver. 23. The adoption, &c.-The Romans had a
twofold form of adoption: the first, was a private transaction between the parties, receiving the person adopted into the family; the second was a public recognition in the forum. Mr. Howe thinks the latter here alluded to. (Works, vol. i. 680.) Compare 1 John iii. 2.
Ver. 24. Hope that is seen-i. e. the object of which is present. Hope necessarily regards the future, as in next verse.
Ver. 26. Helpeth our infirmities.-Mr. Cox, "Assisteth us under our infirmities." The original alludes to assisting a person to bear a burden. Doddr.
Ver. 27. Because-Marg. "that"-He (the Holy Spirit) maketh, &c.-Maketh intercession.-The word seems to be used not only in the sense of pleading, or interceding, but Doddr. thinks it is here used in the sense of managing a person's affairs as their agent. So Schleusner, in allusion to this passage, says, "The phrase signifies either, in a legal sense, to be the agent, attorney, or advocate in a cause; or, in common life, to interpose on another s behalf.... to assist, to aid."-Dr. Macknight's translation, "complaineth," as given in the Exposition, relates to the same idea of agency: the attorney lodges complaints on the behalf of his clients.
ably infer, that if they are made partakers with their Lord and Saviour in the trials and sufferings of the present life, they also shall be glorified together in a better world. "For I reckon (says the apostle) that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in (and to) us," in another life.
The following passage, however, is confessedly obscure, and being attended with such difficulty, has of course met with a variety of interpretations. It has been asked, 1. What is meant by the creature or creation (for it is the same word in the original), here referred to? 2. What is the vanity to which it was involuntarily subjected? And, 3. What the glory to which it is hereafter to be restored?
Not having room to enumerate the different answers which have been given to these questions, we shall simply state our own conceptions on the subject. 1. It may be recollected that our Lord commanded his Gospel to be preached "to every creature" (Mark xvi. 15.); and that St. Paul asserts in his Epistle to the Colossians (i. 23), written but a few years after this, that it had been so preached-meaning to every rational creature; to such, therefore, we restrain it.-2. This rational creation, as our apostle stated in chap. v. 12, &c., had been made "subject to vanity" and death, not willingly or through any act of their own, but by the sin of their first father, Adam; in consequence of which they were continually groaning together under the miseries which their own sin, and that of their first progenitor, had drawn upon them.-And, 3. Not only was there an infinitude of heavenly bliss set before them in the heavenly world, but a far better state of things was promised them even in the present life; first, in the Gospel dispensation; 2ndly, in the glories of the millennium; and, finally, in the general resurrection of the dead."
All these particulars might admit of an enlargement that would, we think, tend to establish our interpretation; but suffice it to add, upon the second head only, it is well known that a general expectation was prevalent through the world, from the time of the Hebrew prophets and the Pagan Sybils, that some mighty revolution would take place under the expected Saviour of the world; and both our Lord and his apostles encouraged such expectations by
promises of the universal spread of knowledge, peace, and happiness. Then shall "the creature"-the rational creationand, in a figurative sense, even the inanimate creation, be "delivered from the bondage of corruption," and admitted to participate "the glorious liberty of the children of God."
When the apostle, in the preceding verses, speaks of the creature being "made subject to vanity," he says it was "by reason of," or, rather, "by Him who had subjected (the same) in hope." This is differently referred by some (as Doddridge) to Adam, whose fall subjected our unhappy world to misery and corruption; but by others (as Macknight, Boothroyd, Cox, &c.) to God himself, who, upon that event, doomed the world to such subjection: but the former, in the act of his fall, had certainly no thought about his reco very, and the Supreme Being cannot be the subject of either hope or expectation : He who can command all things, can hope nothing. The best modern critics and commentators therefore read the passage with a parenthesis, thus :-"The earnest expectation of the creature (or creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God:-(for the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by [or through] him that subjected the same :)IN HOPE that the creature (or creation) ¦ itself also shall be delivered," &c. Here hope is properly applied to the general expectation of mankind, of another and better state of things. And this hope, or earnest expectation, was entertained, not only by the world at large, but even by believers, who, notwithstanding they had received the first fruits of the Spirit, still lived under the expectation of greater things in the present state, and the final completion of their hopes and expectations in the redemption of their bodies from the grave, which is attributed to the same Holy Spirit, who in the present life quickens the soul from spiritual death.” (See ver. 10, 11.)
When, in the next verse, the apostle adds, "even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption," he intimates a weariness of the world, and an indifference to both its riches and pleasures, very uncommon with Christians in the present day, who frequently seek with anxiety those very things with which the primitive Christians were weary and dis
gusted. And though here and there are doubtless some, and even many, who look beyond the present state, there are few who carry forward their wishes to the grand period of the resurrection, when the hody shall be redeemed from the grave. Whether it be from a more lively view of the intermediate state, or a more distant one of the resurrection, this doctrine seldom affects us as it did believers of the apostolic age.
Still, however, our religion consists in hope in the hope of "another and a better world" in the mean time, it is our duty to wait with patience, and pursue with ardour, the path of duty; and when our strength fails (as, alas! it soon does), and the burdens of life become too heavy for us, the Comforter, whom our Lord long since had promised his disciples, lays hold, as it were, of the other end of the load, and supports both us and it. Thus it is we teach our infant children frequently to try their strength by assisting them to carry things beyond it; supporting them from falling, yet, at times, relaxing that support, that they may learn the necessity of our assistance.
The expression, "he intercedeth for" the saints, Dr. Macknight renders "he complaineth"-and the second time (verse 27) strongly complaineth" for them; which suggests this beautiful idea, that when believers "groan within themselves," and know not what to pray for as they ought," the Spirit gives energy to their complaints, and aids their pleas "with groans inarticulate," or "unutterable." And he who searcheth the heart," hears "the groaning" of the oppressed, and the "sighing of the needy (Exod. ii. 24; Ps. xii. 5); he also knoweth the mind of the Spirit, and that he always makes "intercession for them according to the will of God." When, therefore, believers think their prayers pass unheard or unregarded,
it may be well to consider whether their heavenly Father may not have listened rather to the pleadings of his own Spirit, who may substitute what we need for what we desire; and, instead of what might really be injurious, gives that only which is good for us.
(M) Ver. 28-30. The golden chain of a believer's privileges.-So we hesitate not to call the series of divine blessings here introduced, and which we shall feel it our duty to examine with some distinctness, for every link of it was formed in heaven. In the preceding verses St. Paul had been speaking of bondage, groans, and travailing pains; but, adds he, distressing as these things may be-"We know that all things work together," or co-operate, for good to them that love God. Many of the heathens uttered fine things on the advantages of affliction, particularly Plato, who says, "Whether a righteous man be in poverty, sickness, or any other calamity, we must conclude that it will turn to his
advantage either in life or death." (Republic, Book 1x.) But Paul's representation is far more beautiful. He looks not only to the end of these evils, but assures us that, even at the present time, all things "are working together" (so Mr. Cox) for our good. Some have illustrated this metaphor, from "the art of the apothecary, "who so compounds a variety of heterogeneous ingredients, some nauseous and others dangerous, as to produce a salutary medicine; or it may be explained in allusion to the mechanism of a machine, in which a variety of motions, simple and compound, vertical and horizontal, are combined to produce certain mechanical effects.
It has been disputed whether, among the "all things" here named, moral evil should be included. Far be it from the writer to offer one word in apology for sin,
NOTES-Chap. VIII. Con.
Ver. 29. The first-born among many brethren.— See Ps. Ixxxix. 27; Heb. xii. 23.
Ver. 30. Them he also glorified.-The term sanctification being here omitted, though the doctrine is necessarily implied, some have supposed (as
Mr. Barclay, for instance) that it must be included under justification; but we should rather include it under the last article, glorification, which is its completion, since sanctification and glorification differ not in nature, but in degree.
The love] things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, bow
EXPOSITION-Chap. VIII. Continued.
or attempt to palliate its malignity; yet as the skilful physician can produce the most salutary effects from poisons, and, in so doing, most eminently display his skill; so we consider it nothing derogatory to his honour, that the Divine Being over-rules the worst actions of men to promote his glory. The apostacy of our first parent was an evil of immense magnitude; yet, when the great scheme of redemption shall be completed, who shall say that the evil has not been overbalanced by that redemption? The crucifixion of Christ was a crime of the most fearful character; and yet out of that has arisen, through the operation of infinite wisdom, the salvation of mankind. "All things, therefore, work together for good;" but no thanks to the guilty agents. Thus, also, it was in the conduct of Joseph's brethren, as himself afterwards told them, "Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good." (Gen. i. 20.) Sin, so far as man is concerned in it, is "the abominable thing which God hateth" (Jer. xliv. 4); yet may all the divine attributes be gloriously displayed in its subjection and counteraction, aud in the infinite benefits which arise therefrom.
Yet when all things are said to work together for good, we must inquire to whom they eventually do this? and the answer is, to those who are the called according to" God's eternal "purpose." By "effectual calling," as divines call it, we understand the drawing of sinners to Christ by God the Father (John vi. 44); or, which is the same thing, their conversion by the Holy Spirit. We have said, these are the called according to God's eternal purpose, and so does the apostle, "for whom he foreknew he also did predestinate." That the Almighty does foreknow future events-all future events, and that to the infinite extent of his own existence, cannot be denied, without denying his omniscience; though, at the same time, to reconcile this with man's freewill, so as to silence all objections, is that to which we do not pretend; yea, it is that to which neither Milton was equal, nor yet his angels. This is one of the things
which we know not now," but probably may know hereafter. (John xiii. 7.)
We must carefully observe, however, the object of predestination, namely, that the elect may be conformed to the moral image of Christ; for that this, and not merely a conformity either in present sufferings or in future glory, is intended, is most evident from the comparison of other Scriptures, particularly from Ephes. i. 3, where the very end of their election is stated to be," that they should be holy:" and thus St. Peter (1 Epis. i. 3) speaks of believers, as "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanetification of the Spirit unto obedience," &c. And while this truth is borne in mind, namely, that holiness is the great end of election, this doctrine can surely do no harm; unless, indeed, any man should be so awfully perverse as to say, I will persevere in sin, because God has predestinated me to be holy! But predestination originates in foreknowledge; "whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate;" from which some have hastily inferred, that God predestinated those to holiness whom he foresaw would be holy, making their holiness the source of God's decree, instead of the reverse. It is true, indeed, as Mr. Cox observes, that, "As knowledge frequently in the language of Scripture implies approbation, so fore-knowledge often includes the notion of love and favourable regard." (Rom. xi. 2; Amos iii. 2.) But thence to infer that our election originates in works foreseen, is to make our salvation not" of grace," as the Scriptures teach us, but of human merit, and the sinner the first moving cause in his own salvation; which is certainly neither the doctrine of Scripture, as above quoted, nor of the Church of England. (See Wilson on the 17th Article.)
Other divines, to avoid the doctrine of personal election, and its supposed consequences, have considered it in reference to the Jewish nation; but it would be as difficult to believe that the Almighty could foresee any thing in the Jewish nation to attract his love, as it would be to believe the same of any individual sinner: indeed,
NOTES-Chap. VIII. Con.
Ver. 32. His own Son.-Mackn. "his proper son;" the original being emphatic, corresponding with
John v. 18. See our Note there. For us alli. e. as an atonement for the sins of men.