For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have re

ceived the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.

The same Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

THE apostle sets down in this epistle a platform of Christian doctrine, whereupon all persons and churches might safely build themselves; showing therein a sure way, how those might come to the Lord Jesus Christ who are to obtain salvation by him, which he delivers in three heads, showing,

1. First, how God will convince the world of sin.

2. Secondly, he discovereth to them what that righteousness is, which without themselves is imputed to them.

3. Thirdly, he setteth forth that righteousness inherent, and created in us by sanctification of the spirit with the effects thereof, and motives, and helps thereunto.

Answering that threefold work of the Spirit in John, chap. XVI. where Christ promiseth that when the Comforter should come he should reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment;

First, he shows the Comforter shall work a conviction of sin, a making of a man as vile, empty and naked as may be; not a bare confession of sin only, which a man may have and yet go to hell, but such a conviction as stops a man's mouth that he hath not a word to speak, but sees a sink of sin and abomination in himself, such as the apostle had: "Fora I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing." To attain to this sight and measure of humiliation, there must be a work of the Spirit. First therefore in the first chapter the apostle begins with the Gentiles, who failing grossly in the duties of the first table, God had given over also to err in the breach of all the duties of the second table. Then the next chapter, and the most of the third he spends on the Jews: they bragged of many excellent privileges they had above the Gentiles, as to have the law, circumcision, to be leaders of others, to have God among them, and therefore despised the Gentiles. The apostle reproves them, shewing that in condemning the Gentiles, they condemned themselves, they having a greater light of knowledge than the Gentiles, which should have led them to the true and sincere practice of what they were instructed in. Then he goes on and shows all naturally to be out of the way, and so concludes them to be under sin, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God. This is the end of the first part.

This being done, in the latter end of the chapter he proceeds to speak of the second work of the Comforter. To convince the world of righteousness; but on what grounds?" Because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;" that is, he shall assure the conscience that now there is a righteousness of better things purchased for us: that Christ was wounded, arraigned and condemned for us; that he was imprisoned, but now he is free, who was our surety; yea, and that he is not free, as one escaped, who hath broken prison and run away, (for then he could not have stayed in heaven no more than Adam

Rom. chap. 7. ver. 18.

b Ibid. ver. 19.

could stay in paradise after his fall) but now that Christ remains in heaven perfectly, and for ever reconciled with the Father: this is a sure sign to us that the debt is paid, and everlasting peace and righteousness brought in for our salvation. This the apostle enlargeth and shews this to be that righteousness which Adam had, and which we must trust all unto. And this he doth unto the sixth chapter.

From whence the apostle goes on to the third point, convincing the world of judgment and of righteousness, unto the ninth chapter, which are two words signifying one and the same thing; but because he had named righteousness before which was the righteousness of justification, without a man, in Christ Jesus; he calls the third judgment, which is that integrity which is inherent, bred and created in us, to wit, sanctification, as we may see in Isaiah, chap. XLII. ver. 3. where it is said of Christ: "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench, till he bring forth judgment unto victory." Where he shows judgment to be a beginning of righteousness in sanctification, even such a one as can never be extinguished. So the word is taken where Job expostulateth the matter: "as the Lord liveth who hath taken away my judgment," all the while my breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue deceit. God forbid that I should justify you, till I die I will not remove my integrity from me, my righteousness I will hold fast, and I will not let it go." Here you see by judgment is meant integrity, and that righteousness which is created and inherent in us; so that the substance of that place in Isaiah is, that God will never give over so to advance and make effectual that weak righteousness and sanctification begun in us, until it shall prevail against and master all our sins and corruptions, making it in the end a victorious sanctification. And the ground hereof is, "for the prince of this world is judged;" he is like one manacled, whose strength and

Job, chap. 27. ver. 2-6.

power is limited: so that now, though he be strong, yet he is cast out by a stronger than he; so that he cannot, nor shall he ever rule again as in times past.

This strain of doctrine the apostle follows in this epistle, shewing that as the righteousness of justification by the blood of Christ is a thing without us, so the righteousness of sanctification is a thing created and inherent in us, and the ground of the witness of our spirits, as we shall shew in its own place. So that the blood of Christ doth two things unto us; in justification it covers our sins, and in sanctification it heals our sins and sores; that if there be any proud or dead flesh, it eateth it out, and then heals the wound. Therefore the apostle says, " You are not under the law, but under grace." He that sees the law is satisfied by another, and all to be of free grace, he will not much stand on any thing in himself for his justification; but as a poor beggar, be content all should be of mere grace: therefore he concludes, "sin shall not have dominion. over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

After this the apostle goes on to other particulars, shewing divers things, especially the twelfth verse of this chapter, where he drives unto the point of sanctification, as though he should say, you are freed from the law indeed, as it is a judge of life and death, but yet the law must be your counsellors; you are debtors of thankfulness, seeing whence you are escaped, that you may not live after the flesh; and then he proceeds to show them how they should walk, that seeing they had received the spirit, they should walk after the spirit; now that they had received that which should subdue and mortify the flesh and the lusts thereof, they should be no more as dead men, but quick and lively in operation, by living after the spirit, otherwise they could not be the sons of God, and he comes to the words that I have now read: "Ford ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father: for the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God."

d Verse 16.

Where the apostle shows the ground of our union and communion with Christ, because having his Spirit we are of necessity his, as St. John speaks: "Hereby we know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath given us." What ties together, and makes one, things far asunder, but the same Spirit and life in both? so that Spirit which is in Christ a full running over fountain descending down, and being also infused into us, unites us unto him; yea, that Spirit communicated unto me in some measure, which is in him in such fullness, that Spirit doth tie me as fast unto Christ as any joint ties member to member, and so makes Christ to dwell in my heart; as the apostle speaks to this purpose. That thus by one Spirit we are built up and made the temple of God, and come to be the habitation of God through the Spirit; so that by this means we are inseparably knit and united unto him; for what is it makes one member to be a member to another? not the nearness of joining or lying one to, or upon another, but the same quickening spirit and life which is in both, and which causeth a like motion: for otherwise if the same life were not in that member it would be dead, and of no use to the other; so that it is the same spirit and life in the things conjoined, which unites them together; yet to explain this more, as I have often in the like case said, imagine a man were as high as heaven, the same spirit and life being diffused into all his parts, what is it now that can cause his toe to stir, there being such a huge distance betwixt the head and it? Even that selfsame life which is in the head being in it; no sooner doth the head will the toe to stir, but it moves. So is it with us; that very Spirit which is in Christ being in us, thereby we are united unto him, grow in him, live in him, and he in us; rejoice in him, and so are kept and preserved to be glorified with him. He is the second Adam, from whom we receive the influence of all good things, showering down and distilling the graces of his Spirit upon the least of all his members. That, as

e 1 John, chap. 3. ver. 24.

Ephes. chap. 2. ver. 21.

« VorigeDoorgaan »