Romans 8
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The apostle speaks much in the language of the Law. He himself was not only acquainted with the useful handicraft of tent-making or sail-making, but he was also trained in the profession of the Law - brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. He had a considerable acquaintance, too, with the practice of the law-courts. From the brief references in the Acts of the Apostles to his personal history before his conversion, it would appear as if previous to that time he had been engaged as a public prosecutor of the Christians. After he became a Christian, he was frequently called upon, for Christ's sake, to appear at the bar of Jewish and Roman courts of justice. On his first missionary visit to Europe he was dragged before the magistrates at Philippi, and again before Gallio at Corinth. Then, again, he stood before the Jewish council at Jerusalem; before Felix, Festus. and Agrippa at Caesarea; and, finally, before Nero himself at Rome. On the present occasion he is writing to residents at Rome. Rome at the time was the metropolis of the world, the centre of the world's legislation. To stand at Caesar's judgment-seat was to stand before the highest earthly authority then in existence, and to be tried by the greatest code of laws which, with the exception of British law, the world has ever known. The laws of the XII. Tables, as they were called, which were the basis of all the Roman laws, were engraved upon twelve tables of brass, and set up in the comitium, or public meeting-place, so that every one might be able to read them. Every educated Roman youth learned by heart these XII. Tables. It was to a people thus familiar with the ideas and the practice of courts of justice that Paul, himself a well-trained lawyer, was writing. He keeps before their minds and his own the thought that there is a higher than all human authority; that there is a judgment-seat more terrible than that of Caesar; and that the great concern of every human being is how he or she shall fare in that great day of reckoning - that day which bulks so largely in St. Paul's mind, which stands out so prominently before his mental vision, that he constantly speaks of it as "that day. It is an important subject, how to prepare for meeting God in the judgment.

I. THE PREPARATION OF THE CHRISTIAN. The apostle speaks of the Christian as being prepared for a judgment-day. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." That day needs a preparation. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." The thought of that judgment makes strong men tremble. Felix trembled as Paul the prisoner reasoned with him of righteousness, temperance, and the judgment to come. It is that dread of something after death that makes the murderer's sleep so restless, and that makes the dishonest man's gains like a weight of lead upon his mind. Conscience does, indeed, make cowards of us all. The Christian recognizes that there is a terror in the judgment, as Paul did when he spoke of "the terror of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:11); but the judgment brings no terror to him. He knows that he too will be judged according to his deeds, that the fire will try every man's work of what sort it is, and, therefore, he will realize his responsibilities and privileges. But he knows that one thing is certain, and that is that he is safe from condemnation. He carries his pardon in his hand. The Christian's confidence comes from the very Judge himself who sits upon the throne. That Judge is Jesus Christ himself. But before he would sit to judge men, he came into the world to die for them as their Saviour. To every one who receives him and accepts his salvation he gives the white stone (Revelation 2:17), the token of acceptance and pardon. He becomes their High Priest, their Advocate with the Father. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." In Christ! What a sense of security that brings with it! In Christ! Not till we stand before the great white throne, and our names are found written in the Lamb's book of life, shall we fully realize what that means. In Christ! That was Paul's great wish for himself. "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him." In Christ! Yes. Jesus is the Ark, into which we may betake ourselves from the dangers of temptation and destruction. He is the City of Refuge, to which we may flee from death, the avenger of blood. He is the sure Foundation, on which we may build with perfect confidence all our hopes for eternity. He is the Rock, in the clefts of which we may hide ourselves, and feel that all that concerns us is safe. Your pledge of safety at the judgment-day is the character and promise of the Judge himself. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day"' Let it not be said that this confidence leads to carelessness; that because we are delivered from condemnation, therefore it does not matter how we live. The verses which follow the declaration that there is no condemnation are the answer to this suggestion. "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (vers. 3, 4). No true Christian ever thought or acted as if, because he was delivered from condemnation, he was thenceforth free to commit sin. If we are Christ's, we have no longer a guilty fear of death and condemnation, but we have a filial fear that shrinks from offending and grieving our heavenly Father. We are constrained by the love of Christ in our hearts to love what he loves, and to hate what he hates. We are constrained by a feeling of gratitude. We have been bought with a price; therefore we will strive to glorify God in our bodies and spirits, which are his. We have the hope of heaven in our hearts; and therefore we seek to walk worthy of our high calling, to purify ourselves, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. So far from being a motive to carelessness, the Christian's safety in Christ is the grandest motive to holiness and usefulness of life.

II. THE PREPARATION OF THE CHRISTLESS. At the judgment-day there will be just two classes - those whose names are found written in the Lamb's book of life, and those whose names are not there; the Christian and the Christless; those who are in Christ," and those who are not. Many are relying upon their moral life, though it may be utterly worldly and godless, as their hope for eternity. But whatever human expectations may be, God's Word makes it very plain how it will fare on the judgment-day with all who are out of Christ. It is not the fault of God the Father. He so loved the world that he gave his own Son for our salvation. It is not the fault of the Son. Christ says, "I am come that ye might have life." It is not the fault of the Spirit, who is constantly striving with us. If Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, surely it is clear that there is no salvation in any other. "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). - C.H.I.

The perpetual conscience-cry that rings through all the struggles of ch. 7. is, "Condemnation!" But "to them that are in Christ Jesus"? "No condemnation now!" The heavens smile, the earth is glad. All things are made new. Such is the opening note of this eighth chapter; a sweet song of joy in place of the old cry of despair. And we have here following - God's work in Christ; Christ's work in us.

I. GOD'S WORK IN CHRIST. The great work referred to here is the practical condemnation of sin. And it is set forth, in regard to Christ and in regard to ourselves, negatively and positively.

1. Negatively, by contrast with the impotence of mere Law: "What the Law could not do." The Law of God, whether inwardly in conscience, or outwardly as through Moses, sufficiently condemns sin theoretically; but practically? - "weak through the flesh." All this has been emphatically demonstrated in the previous chapter: "I delight in the Law of God after the inward man; but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind," etc. (vers. 22, 23). The flesh dominates, and there is no power to render effectual the better aspirations.

2. Positively, in the holy, loving life of Christ: "God, sending his own Son," etc. He came into the realms of sin, and wearing the nature which sin had weakened and destroyed, but resolutely resisting sin's power, defying sin's assaults. "The flesh in him was like a door constantly open to the temptations both of pleasure and pain; and yet he constantly refused sin any entrance into his will and action. By this persevering and absolute exclusion he declared it evil and unworthy of existing in humanity "(Godet). Yes; God in Christ "condemned sin in the flesh," by practically casting it out from that humanity. Casting it out? nay, it was not suffered to intrude. The history of the temptation, and of the last agony, is the emphatic illustration of these words.

II. CHRIST'S WORK IN US. In Christ, then, there is a practical and immediate con- demnation of sin, by its utter exclusion from his life. But is there not in this a pledge of the like condemnation in those who are joined to him by faith? And is not this pledge fulfilled to those who are in Christ Jesus "When we see the king's son enter the revolted province without opposition, and know that he has come because or the revolt, we are sure that the king is both able and determined to overthrow the rule of the usurper" (Beet). And in us who believe, and who therefore "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," the usurper is dethroned, and "the ordinance of the Law" is "fulfilled."

1. Negatively, or "after the flesh." to "mind the things of the flesh." As above, our state by nature is one of bondage to "the flesh;" the lower impulses master us. And though the aspirations of the spirit may be quickened, yet we sigh vainly for freedom and strength. We do but realize the more bitterly our bondage to sin. How shall the bondage be destroyed? "Through Jesus Christ our Lord." He has broken the condemnation of the past by the offering of himself, once for all; he destroys our present captivity by the incoming of his Spirit, received by faith in that same sacrificial love. Thus the aspirations are realized by this blessed inspiration.

2. Positively. "After the Spirit," to "mind the things of the Spirit:" Christ, who conquered for us, conquers in us. we are joined to him, and "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17). Thus "we are transformed into the same image," and "walk even as he walked." Now, then, we more than realize our first estate; our manhood is redeemed; "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" makes us "free." Our service is the glad, spontaneous service of sonship; we are not commanded to an impossible obedience from without, but animated by the impulse of a boundless love within; and this love, with the free obedience which it begets, is nourished and strengthened evermore by our fellowship with God in Christ. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honourable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report" we "think on these things;" and "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, guards our hearts and our thoughts in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, 8). The one supreme question for us is - Are we in Christ? If so, the determining element of our life is new, all things are new. But if not, we abide in death I And how shall Christ be received? By simplest faith. He offers himself freely, we are to receive him freely. Believe! yes, believe with the heart in all his boundless love, and live by it. - T.F.L.

This is a glorious beginning to a glorious chapter. As in some great musical work, we can tell its character from the opening bars. The apostle, having been treating some of the darkest human problems, delights to emerge into the brightness of the new condition achieved for our fallen humanity by Christ Jesus.

I. HOW CLOSE IS THE UNION BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE! The preposition "in" denotes an altered state, men no longer reckoning themselves according to their genealogy from Adam, but as grafted into the stock of Christ. It is not hearing merely of the gospel, but being vitally united to its Author, deriving life from him, as the branches in the vine are nourished by its sap. Or, as the apostle puts it in ch. 7., we are "married to" Christ, made "members of his flesh, of his body and of his bones." The relationship is effected on God's side by his Spirit, on man's side by repentance and faith. No other religion claims such an intimate association to exist between its founder and its votaries. The union is mystical, but very real. Christ is our City of refuge from the avenger, our Ark of salvation, our Haven of peace. "Abide in me ' is his cheering counsel to all his disciples.

II. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO CONDEMN THOSE WHO ARE THUS UNITED TO HIS SON. This would mean severing himself from the Son of his love. He did conceal his presence from the crucified One, but only for a season. "God hid his face, but held him by the hand" The Saviour said, "Father, into thy hands," etc. The resurrection was the seal of God's approbation of the Messiah's career. And Christ's people, by their faith in the Redeemer, virtually place his Person and work between themselves and the condemnatory Law. Though metaphors are inadequate, we may assert that justice cannot demand a double payment. If Christ our Representative was accepted and glorified, we may triumphantly await the judgment. The very "weakness of the flesh" which made the Law unable to condemn sin was compelled, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin, which tried to seduce him from holiness, and, failing, wounded him unto death. In the flesh was an offering made for sin, demonstrating the guilt of human nature, and yet redeeming it from the deserved penalty. As the "hue and cry," or the preparation of the scaffold for the execution of some sentenced wretch, does not alarm the innocent, so the threatenings of the law of sin and death do not concern or terrify those who have received the law of the Spirit of life. We are not saved by understanding accurately the rationale of the plan of Divine mercy; but to be able, like the apostle, to see the truth grounded on an adequate foundation, is to feel our feet on the granite rock which no wave of wrath's sea can shake.

III. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF LIFE SECURED BY UNION WITH CHRIST RENDERS CONDEMNATION IMPOSSIBLE, The apostle speaks strongly of the requirements of the moral law being "fulfilled" in Christians. They walk no longer "after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Thus the Law sees its end accomplished, its goal reached. The affections are placed on things above, the thoughts are cleansed, the will is submissive to the dictates of God. The most rigid code could not produce holiness. But to love Christ, to learn of him, to walk in him, is to cut up sin at the roots. Christ is not only a Pattern of obedience, but a Power to his associates, enabling them to become like him, "fulfilling all righteousness." The husk of the Law being stript off, the kernel is acknowledged to be "just and good." If the Law ventured to prefer a complaint against the infirmities and failings of Christians, all objection is banished by the assurance of the Master that his scholars shall grow in grace and knowledge till they are not only saints in name, but in character and deed. They shall be presented faultless before the throne of judgment. - S.R.A.

The last chapter, after bringing out the insufficiency of Law to sanctify, ends by declaring the sufficiency of Christ. Through him, as our Deliverer from the body of death, we are enabled to enter upon an experience which has been rightly denominated "Paradise regained." In the first section, which we are now to consider, we have the victory set before us which the Holy Spirit secures over sin and over death.

I. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST ESTABLISHES THE SOUL IN HOLINESS. (Vers. 1-4.) After what has been stated in ch. 7., it is seen that "there is not now any condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." The soul has died to Law in the death of Jesus Christ, and, now risen, is married to another, even the risen Christ. And this better Husband has put the soul under another and better law of life, what is called in this passage "the law of the Spirit of life," and we are enabled by Paul's statements to see how it operates. And here it is well to premise that law and Spirit are not antitheses. The Spirit has, in fact, his law of operation, and it is this we have here set before us.

1. The Spirit emancipates the soul from the law of sin. Law, that is, the Law of Moses, could never do this. It was weak through the flesh, and had not the necessary power. On the other hand, the Spirit takes Christ's life, applies it, and produces the emancipation through it. The grace of God is seen in "sending his own Son," that is, "the Son of himself;" and he made his advent "in the likeness of sinful flesh," that is, he came not as an apparition, but in a real body, yet it differed from other human bodies in that it was not "sinful flesh." And his purpose in assuming sinless flesh was that he might be "an Offering for sin" (Revised Version), and thereby might "condemn sin in the flesh." His whole life in the flesh was, indeed, a condemnation of sin; but the condemnation reached its climax when on the cross Jesus expiated human guilt. As a powerful writer has well stated the truth of the passage, "believers are made 'partakers of the Divine nature.' The nature of the Father through the Son is made known unto them - and as the rays of light which pass through a coloured medium take the hues of the medium through which they come, so the Spirit of God, coming to us through Christ incarnate, is baptized in the humanities of his Person, and hence becomes the Dispenser of the Divine mercy, as that mercy was revealed in the flesh. So that 'what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh [had no sympathetic power to touch the emotional nature], God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the Law [which requires love, but cannot produce it] might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

2. The Spirit enables the soul to fulfil the righteousness of the Law by walking, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. "The righteousness of the Law," in ver. 4, is given in the Revised Version as "the ordinance of the Law" (δικαίωμα, not δικαίοσυνη). But the idea is clear. The perfect life is the ideal of the Spirit. He accordingly comes to inspire as well as to condemn. He prompts us to "walk after the Spirit," in the spiritual path our Saviour trod, and so we find ourselves, through the appreciation of the life of Jesus, becoming progressively holy in character, approximating steadily towards the perfect righteousness which dwelt in him. It is this inspiration to holy living which defeats the law of sin. This is the real victory. Salvation is not so much from the uncomfortableness of hell, as from the greater misfortune of sin. As one has very properly said, "If my religion is to make me comfortable in spite of ill temper, and slipshod ways of business, and words that are not exactly true, - then I say deliberately, better the very fires of hell than that comfort, if they could only burn into me and through and through me a great abhorrence of all that is evil."

II. THROUGH DESTROYING SIN, THE SPIRIT DESTROYS DEATH. (Vers. 5-11.) For as long as we "mind the things of the flesh," that is, are occupied with them to the exclusion or subordination of spiritual things, we are, as "carnally minded," in a state of spiritual death. This "mind of the flesh is death" (so Revised Version). And when we analyze this death of the soul, we find it consists in at least these three things:

(1) Enmity to God (ver. 7);

(2) rebellion against his Law; and

(3) separation from him as those that are not pleasing in his sight (ver. 8). The result of such a state is misery. "Paradise lost" is the true expression for the carnal state. It is into this state of misery, then, that God's Spirit inserts himself, and proposes:

1. To destroy this spiritual death by destroying sin. The moment we become "spiritually minded," we have passed the boundary between "Paradise lost" and "Paradise regained." We find that both "life and peace" result from spiritual-mindedness. "Here," says De Rougemont, "we are in full life and in full peace; there is in some way upon the mountain of God the terrestrial paradise of faith and of hope; there is the sweet sun of Eden, there are its sweet shades, there are its limpid waters which murmur, there is its tree of life whose fruits are the envy of the angels, if they have not similar ones in abundance. No one before Jesus Christ had known the way and passed the portal of this garden of delight. The Son of God descended to the lowest parts of the earth, and taught the existence of it to his disciples. They were suddenly transported there on the Day of Pentecost by the impetuous breath of the Spirit of God."

2. The Spirit also proposes to destroy the mortality of the body by resurrection. Alas! at conversion we do not become immortal. The change of heart has doubtless its good effect on the body, but it does not replace a bad constitution by a good one, nor rehabilitate the body. The body remains dead because of sin, even when the spirit has become life because of righteousness. But the justified and sanctified spirit within man is not going to be perpetually chained to a dying body. The Spirit of God, who has effected the vital change within, is the Spirit who raised up Jesus from the dead. That resurrection of our Lord is the pledge of our bodily resurrection. God is not going to leave his work half-done. Having raised our dead hearts out of the grave of trespass and of sin, he is not going to leave us in a state of physical mortality. The Head having been raised, the members shall be also "resurrected." The cemeteries shall not be left as trophies of the king of terrors. They shall be despoiled of their prey by the quickening power of the Divine Spirit. God means to save his people out and out, body as well as soul. Thus our gospel is that of the Resurrection. The tree of life in the midst of Paradise regained shall prove victorious over our mortality, and we shall have conferred upon us in body as well as soul an immortality like our Master's.

"No longer must the mourners weep,
Nor call departed Christians dead
For death is hallowed into sleep,
And every grave becomes a bed.

Now once more
Eden's door
Open stands to mortal eyes;
For Christ hath risen, and man shall rise!
Now at last,
All things past,

Hope and joy and peace begin;
For Christ hath won, and man shall win!
It is not exile, rest on high;
It is not sadness, peace from strife

To fall asleep is not to die;
To dwell with Christ is better life.
Where our banner leads us
We may safely go

Where our Chief precedes us,
We may face the foe.
His right arm is o'er us,
He will guide us through;
Christ hath gone before us;
Christians! follow you!"

(John Mason Neale.) R.M.E.

Being free from sin in Christ Jesus, we are also free from its results - condemnation and death; or rather - for the result is one - the death, of which condemnation is but one aspect.

I. THE MIND OF THE FLESH. In a state of sin, as in a state of holiness, there is activity, though the activity be abnormal. The "flesh," equally with the "spirit;" has its "mind," i.e. its purpose, its aspiration; an activity which tends to a goal. And what is the dread goal to which the activity of sin must lead? Death! Yes, "the mind of the flesh is death;" this is as surely the result of such a perverse activity of our nature as though it were consciously designed and sought after. What is death, to such a one as man? The complete separation of the soul from God! And how is such death wrought by the "mind of the flesh"? By the reciprocal hostility between sin and God, which must work an utter mutual exclusion.

1. Sin's hostility to God. (Ver. 7.) The very essence of sin is rebellion against the Divine authority. The "flesh," viz. all the lower desires and passions of man's nature, broken loose from their proper governance, together with the more spiritual faculties which have been dragged down by the riotous animal impulses into a kindred perversion and anarchy - the flesh is "enmity against God." And, this being so, man's very sin, by its own action, shuts out God. Oh, what a suicide is here! For, with God, all good must ultimately be gone. The rebel rioters bar every avenue to shut out God; they darken the windows that the light of heaven may not shine; they exclude every breath of life and liberty.

2. God's hostility to sin. (Ver. 8.) But God is not a mere passive influence, whose exclusion from sinful man is determined solely by the express action of man's sin itself. God is a Spirit! Yes, no mere influence, but a living Person; a living Will! And God were no God, if he were not a holy God; and, being holy, ever hostile to all sin. It must be so. And therefore, when man erects his own rebellious will against his Maker, God's presence is not merely shut Out from the soul by sin, but God in grief - yea, and in wrath, in holy wrath - withdraws himself. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." So, then, on these two grounds, "the mind of the flesh is death." Both by the repugnant action of sin to God, and by the repugnant action of God to sin, all the favour and love and life of God are banished from the heart.

II. THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT. But if the inevitable result, and in some sense the conscious choice, of sin is the loss of God, what is the result of the true and right activity of the renewed nature, when the "spirit" is inspired by the Spirit of God, and restored to its proper ascendancy over the "flesh"? "The mind of the spirit is life and peace:" this is the necessary result; this is the result which is consciously sought after and desired. What is this life? The perfect possession and enjoyment of God, and of all good in God. And how is it wrought by the "mind of the spirit"? As in the former case, by the reciprocal action between the renewed spirit and God; though here, not reciprocal enmity, but reciprocal love.

1. The craving for God. "The spirit thirsts for life in God, which is its element, and sacrifices everything to succeed in enjoying it perfectly" (Godet). This is the very essence of the new life, as of all true spiritual life, a desire for God (see the Psalms, passim). And, by the appropriating power of faith, the spirit possesses itself of that which it desires. It hungers, and is fed.

2. The response of God. As above, God is not a mere atmosphere to be breathed, but a living God to give or withhold himself. And just as he withdraws in holy wrath from sinful man, so he imparts himself in gracious love to the humble, believing soul (see John 14:17, passim). So then "the mind of the spirit is life" - life which consists in the full possession of God, and, with him, of peace, joy, strength, and perfect liberty. Yes, "this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Which shall be our portion, our destiny? Life? or death? We answer, practically, by living according to the flesh or the spirit. But this latter is possible only in one way: does the Spirit of God dwell in us? - T.F.L.

Religion may be judged of from within or without - from the character it forms or the actions to which it gives rise. Only the latter can properly come under the survey of our fellows, whilst we may discern the inward effects. Besides ourselves, only God can determine our inner condition. The Searcher of hearts can unlock the private door of the heart. It is well for us, without self-flattery or self-depreciation, to anticipate the disclosures of the last day. No wise man wishes to deceive himself.

I. TWO DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE DISPOSITIONS. We may be spiritually or carnally minded. The "mind" of the Revised Version suggests too much the rational part of our nature; "mindedness" would perhaps be preferable. We are to think of what the Spirit has a mind to, and what the flesh. The "minding" is what a man thinks of, aims at, cares for. The spiritually minded man is one in whom the Spirit is supreme. The Holy Spirit has breathed upon the soul, giving a new impulse from God, so that the spirit of man asserts its rightful position, bringing the lower passions under control. Though not without a struggle, the flesh has to yield. He discerns the excellence of spiritual objects. He recognizes in the Scriptures a message from the Most High. He thinks of God with veneration and affection; he respects the blessings of salvation and of the life to come. Be delights in spiritual exercises, deeming them not a round of duties, but of enjoyments. He flies to them as a refuge from cares and anxieties. Whilst he meditates, the dove of peace broods over the turbulent waters, and there is a great calm. The fleshly man is deaf to the charms of spiritual melody, and blind to the glory of the spiritual sunrise. He turns all the events of life to spiritual purposes. Plants may have the same air and moisture and soil, yet they embody the results according to their separate individuality; as animals from similar food produce hair or wool, or bodies of diverse structure and capability. So two men may witness the same scene or road, the same paragraph; yet how different the emotions! The one loathes wickedness, the other gloats over the garbage. To mind the things of the Spirit is to draw instruction from every event, to turn the mercies of God into praise, and his judgments into matter for humiliation. Temptations make such a man more watchful, afflictions contribute to his advancement, as the flower climbs even by a thorn. We do not deny that worldly minded men occasionally turn their thoughts to the spiritual realm; but this is accidental, and does not accord with their ordinary behaviour, so as to flow spontaneously from the inner life. What makes men doubt the contrariety is that dispositions and actions shade into one another, constituting at times a sort of neutral borderland, where it is difficult to say which is flesh and which Spirit. Yet darkness is not light, nor poverty riches, nor is vice an infinitesimal degree of virtue; there is a radical distinction.

II. THE CERTAIN MISERY OF THE ONE STATE. "The minding of the flesh is death." It overturns all proper order. The lower appetites are ruling; the pyramid is inverted, and a fall is certain. Where the rabble revolt and reign, anarchy leads to dissolution of all prosperity. It fights against Divine Law. "The carnal mind is not subject to the Law of God;" it may prudently regard the Law so as to secure greater indulgence, but it does not voluntarily submit or embrace the Law gladly. All the laws of God are for the good of his creatures; they are for, not against, the spiritual life. Men cannot come into conflict with the laws of their being without harm and loss. Death is the visible effect in all departments. Vice ruins the physical constitution; unjust acts disintegrate civil society; the pursuance of evil blunts the perception of moral good, and deadens the conscience; and even Christians, through sin, may become callous to the spiritual - "having a name to live, and being dead." These are the beginnings, quite sufficient to show the terrible possibility of becoming altogether fleshly, choosing evil deliberately as good. As men long immured in prison may lose all desire for liberty, deeming the light of day painful and fellowship irksome, so does it kill all the rational. longings and stifle the highest faculties of the soul to be continually in bondage to the bodily appetites.

III. THE NECESSARY BLESSEDNESS OF THE OTHER STATE. To be in Christ is to be a new creation, where the thrill of young life fills the being with joyous hope of yet better things to come. There are new desires, new resolves made, new occupations entered upon. The boy that refuses to tell a lie may suffer, yet is glad within; and the victor over temptation knows what it is for the angels to minister to him. There is a happy consciousness that we are on the right path, that there is harmony between us and our Maker. The reality of life is manifested by its fruits, against which there is no law, no sentence of death. This life is accompanied by the tranquil satisfaction of peace, the panacea for daily irritations. Not the deceitful calm of opiate slumber, nor the stagnation of a festering pool; but a flowing stream, gliding by smiling orchards and productive industries. He has "life and peace" whose "conversation is in heaven," for such is not swayed by the customs of the hour, nor ruffled by the accidents of the day. Take from the Christian what you please, you cannot rob him of this holy serenity. Not death can strip him of his comfort; he has "a house not made with hands," his honour stands not in the breath of man, his treasure is not dug out of the bowels of the earth. He receives "a kingdom which cannot be moved." He lives when all the world is dead, is happy when all the fountains of earthly pleasure are dried up. - S.R.A.

Let us resume a little. The "flesh" and the "spirit," as elements of man's complex nature. Latter controlling power, itself God-controlled. There was to be a supreme and established domination of spirit over flesh, according to God's design. But reverse took place; spirit sunk in flesh. But God's Spirit has not forsaken the spirit of man. Cannot reassert its own supremacy, but his help is nigh. For though he cannot enter into fellowship with sinful man, and if man persist in sin must ultimately withdraw altogether, yet now he seeks to save. And so the dualism of man's own nature, which is hopeless, gives way to this higher and better dualism, which is essentially full of hope. God's contact with man is in conscience; man's appropriation of God is in Christ. Hence a true faith in Christ is inevitably followed by the reigning influence of Christ's Spirit in the heart. The true, attractive doctrine of the Spirit: not a something antagonistic to everything that is human, but a sweetly moulding and formative influence towards all that is truly, divinely human, all that is noble and pure and good. A Liberator from bondage - a bondage which all feel - and One who lifts us from the murky mists of self and sin into a tranquil, sunny air. The true sign of true conversion - as we have already seen. But a danger of the mystical fostering of some supposed interior life of ecstasy and transport, to the great detriment of a sober, useful godliness, and even perhaps to the disparagement of a careful, conscientious righteousness. Therefore the text needs to be interpreted in such a way as to check and prevent such perversion. And it may well be. Christ's Spirit was certainly the Informer and Moulder of his human life of humiliation, as it is the effluence now of his Divine-human life of glorification. And as he informed and moulded his human life, in the flesh, so he will inform and mould our human life likewise. Therefore, to know whether we have Christ's Spirit, we have but to inquire whether we reflect Christ's character. And so our Lord's words will have their application, "By their fruits ye shall know them." That character, then, the test. But the manifoldness of that perfect character makes delineation impossible, in detail. Let us content ourselves now with the contemplation of two generic qualities of character, as illustrated in him, which spring from the inspiring Spirit of God. For the rest, we all must make comparison continually. We may consider, then, his intense godliness, and intense humanness.

I. INTENSE GODLINESS. The quarrel of Christianity with the mere ethicists of the day. Depths of man's nature; its heights. The two relationships, towards God and towards man; and shall that higher one be disregarded? Let us look at the elements of Christ's godliness.

1. Conscious contact with God. The "angels ascending and descending;" "the Son of man which is in heaven. The baptism; the Mount of Transfiguration. We want this contact with God. A present God, face to face, heart to heart, breath to breath. This the inspiring power of a godly, righteous, and sober life. And this everywhere, and always. Meetings and means are but to express, and in turn to foster. But the real presence should be a constant factor of our life; everywhere heaven about us.

2. Complete obedience to God. The temptation, and the agony. A spotless life the sequel of the former; a patiently submissive life the precursor of the latter. So, Thy will be done" must be the motto of our life. Not in one narrow sense; for activity as well as passivity. "I do always those things that please him :" shall not we seek to say that?

3. Enthusiastic devotion for God. From "Wist ye not," etc.? (Luke 2:49), to "I have a baptism to be baptized with," etc. (Luke 12:50). So John 4:34. And we must cherish a like devotion. For we have a special life-work to do for God: let the doing of it be our bread of life! Such the godliness.


1. A tremulous, burning sympathy with all that was truly human. Had he been amongst us now, he would have been the Inspiration of all educational, social, and philanthropic enterprise. We must catch this spirit.

(1) Be truly human: sentiments, pleasures, pains, work.

(2) Respect the human: be right, in action - doing justice; in words - speaking truth; in demeanour - showing courtesy.

(3) Love and aid the human.

2. A stern, unsparing hatred of all that was false in man. The Pharisees: "Woe unto you!" So we. No false tenderness. Know how to hate, as well as how to love. And so hate unsparingly all falseness, hypocrisy, badness, in ourselves and in others - but most in ourselves. Some sins too leniently dealt with; and they damning sins! Oh, let the fiery, scorching indignation of Christian society burn them up! Such the humanness. In the light of all this read again, "If any man hath not., etc. Begin beneath the shadow of the cross, advance by drinking daily into his Spirit, and so shall you end by being transformed into his perfect likeness. We all know that Christ died for us; let us be quite as sure that Christ lives in us. - T.F.L.

He has said (ver. 6) that the "mind of the spirit is life." We have seen in what a large, rich sense these words are true. But it might be objected - and our special familiarity with one aspect of the meaning of "life" would lead to this - that after all, we die; that, in Solomon's language, "all things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked." And at first sight this would seem to be a formidable objection. The brand of condemnation is upon us to the last: we die! Of what validity, then, is the justification through Christ? and of what reality the renewal by the Spirit? The objection is answered in these verses, in which are set forth - the persistence of death, the triumph of life.

I. THE PERSISTENCE OF DEATH. It is, indeed, true that, in spite of our justification and renewal, death seems to have dominion over us in our physical relations: "the body is dead." This needs no proving; no human fact can be more patent. We die daily, and at last yield to the final triumph of the foe. How is this reconcilable with the new life? The body is dead "because of sin," viz. the sin of the first man, our federal head. This is the sad heritage which descends to the race on account of the transgression.

1. And one main secret of the persistence of death consists in this, that mankind, in all its natural relations, is one organism. If one member suffer, the other members suffer with it. More especially do ancestral actions, entailing physical consequences, affect the condition of succeeding generations. Therefore, as above (ver. 15 of ch. 5.), "by the trespass of the one the many died." The complex unity of man's natural relations necessitated this permanent consequence to the race.

2. Yes, each one's mortality is linked on to the mortality of the race; man, by necessary natural entailment, is "born to die." But why, it may be asked, does not the individual, volitional agency by which the Christian believer is linked on to a new federation, and made partaker of the power of life, involve of equal necessity the reversal of the original cause? The answer in part is this: that, for reasons which we may or may not partially discern, in the present economy of things there is a permanence of natural causation even in spite of altered spiritual conditions. It is this principle which effectuates the ordained unity of the race, as above set forth; and the same principle involves that, not merely must each member of the race accept at birth his natural heritage, but even his own free spiritual choice and action may not, at least now, effect a change in the sequence of natural causation. This is true of such natural consequences as may have resulted from each one's individual transgressions; it is equally true of the inherited consequences of the first transgression; it is eminently true of the unique entailment of mortality.

3. And one special reason for this permanence of natural causation, in addition to the economic considerations requiring the organic unity of the race, is the necessity that man, under a process of redemptive recovery from sin, should be subjected to the chastening influence which only an experience of the evil of sin's effects can supply. Illustrate by continuance of penalty resulting from individual transgression; as, e.g., drunkenness, dishonesty. So, generally, the continuance of all the ills that flesh is heir to, on account of human sin. In this twofold sense, then, "the body is dead because of sin:" the transgression involved it as a natural consequence; also, in view of redemption, as a remedial discipline.

II. THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE. "But" - oh, what a "but" is this! - "the spirit is life because of righteousness." Observe, not living, as the body is said to be dead, i.e. not merely possessed of an attribute; but life! itself, through the inhabitation of the Spirit of God, a living power, which shall eventually penetrate with its vitality all man's psychical and even bodily nature (see Godet). All this is involved in the peculiar phraseology of the tenth verse, and is plainly set forth in the eleventh.

1. A new organic unity of the race, with its own laws of natural causation, is established in Christ. He is the second Adam, the "greater Man." And as by the "sin" of the former came death, so by the "righteousness" - the justification - which is through the latter comes life.

2. "With its own laws of natural causation:" yes; for, though we may not trace their working, they are at work, and shall eventuate in our triumph, through Christ, over even the mortality to which we now must submit. The case is complex; the two humanities are as yet commingled; the two trains of causation are jointly at work. But of the triumph of life, we have the pledge in that he was raised from the dead; himself submitted to the old law, and rose by the power of the new. "Christ the Firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."

3. "Afterward:" yes, when the remedial discipline shall have done its work, and from a restored world, from a renewed mankind, the curse shall be utterly removed. For this we wait, for this we work; and we do not work and wait in vain. "The Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies." Such, then, is our assurance, such is our hope. But on what is it conditioned? "If Christ be in you;" "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you." Oh, let us hasten to him who is the Source of the new life, the Giver of the living Spirit! - T.F.L.

Awe-struck must Israel have been when the cloud of the Lord rested upon the tabernacle, the sign of the interest of Jehovah in his people and of his intention to dwell amongst them. And when the dedication of the temple of Solomon was completed, and the glory of the Lord filled the house, the nearness and condescension of their God caused the Israelites to bow with their faces to the ground, and to praise the Lord, saying, "For he is good: his mercy endureth for ever." It was much when the angelic messengers appeared to patriarchs and prophets, brightening their homes for a space. But how vast the honour conferred upon the humblest Christian when the Son of God fulfils his promise by not only visiting him, but taking up his abode in his heart! The visit of a sovereign invests the meanest domicile with interest. Look with wonder, therefore, on the man with whom the Deity is a constant Guest.

I. THE INTIMACY OF THE UNION. Jesus employed the figure of a vine to set it forth. He used the same way of speaking as with reference to the union between his Father and himself. "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you." Paul, alluding to his conversion, said, "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me." The heart of man is pictured in Scripture as a house at which the Saviour knocks for admission. Thus is the question answered, that God will "dwell with man upon the earth." Christ is said to abide in us when his words are retained in the memory and acted upon in the life, becoming a source of inspiration for high and holy thoughts and deeds. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you," etc. Christ bestows upon his people the gift of his Spirit, to be his Representative, the living, present Comforter. "Hereby know we that he abideth in us, by his Spirit which he hath given us." To aspire to such a relationship we had never dared of ourselves; the conception is manifestly Divine.


1. It is not intended to nullify all the natural results upon the body of the fall of man. "The body is dead because of sin." The reception of Christ by faith, and the consequent obedience to his teachings, does indeed tend to produce such temperateness, industry, and contentment as are most fitted to preserve the corporeal frame in pure and wholesome condition and to prolong its existence. Nevertheless, the gospel does not avert the operation of physical laws, and longevity is not the Christian's chief aim. The youthful may pass away because of inheriting a weak constitution, and their early decease is not to be regarded as mysterious, and as a scourge from God's hand to the sorrowing relatives. Every death does speak to us of the evil of sin in the race. The forcible wrenching asunder of soul and body can never be beautiful to contemplate. God writes in dreadful character his opinion of sin.

2. It leads to the mortification of wrong desires. As the Messiah drove nut from his Father's house the thieves and law-breakers who polluted the sanctuary, so he cannot enter the temple of the soul without vindicating it against profanation by unholy passions. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh." There is a spiritual death of the body in the sense that the Shechinah of the Divine presence involves a restraint upon corrupt longings, a controlling of rebellion against the laws of God, against unruly will and envious, impure affections. Inclinations contrary to righteousness are not henceforth to have their way, but to be as if dead.

3. It vivifies the spirit of man. As the sap invigorates the branches, so the power of Christ works in us mightily. "The Spirit is life because of righteousness." Man's good purposes and feelings are strengthened, the seed of life fructifies, the dethroned spirit restored to supremacy is aided in the government of the kingdom by the auxiliary forces of the King of kin?. No unrighteous confederacy is permanent; its union is external, not internal; it carries within itself the germs of its own decay. Righteousness alone unites a people in strength, forbidding discord and promoting progress and prosperity. The presence of Jesus conforms us to his image, as friends grow like one another. Having Christ, we have the principle of life, of holiness, of perfection; work it must, until it attains the designed development. The acorn prophesies the oak, and the stainless spirits of heaven are predicted in the saints of this earthly sphere.

4. It promises a quickening of the mortal body. In view of the comparison instituted in ver. 11, it is impossible to restrict the interpretation to a merely spiritual resurrection. The triumph of our Deliverer is not consummated till these frail tenements of clay are freed from corruption and glorified. In what the exact relationship or identity consists, we may not know. "Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain. But God giveth it a body as it pleased him." Look not on the graveyards as charnel-houses of the dead, but as nurseries where seeds of immortal plants are deposited, to bloom with undying vigour in the heavenly garden.

CONCLUSION. It is our connection with Christ which alleviates affliction. Through him does God educe good out of evil, triumphing over opposing threes, and making sin to contribute to righteousness, and death to be the gate of life. But if there be no loving communion between us and Christ, if we stand aloof from him, we cut ourselves off from salvation and glory. It is not sufficient to hear of the Saviour; we must entrust ourselves to him; we must entreat him to "come in and tarry with us," - S.R.A.

The apostle in these verses makes a high claim for believers - the claim of being children of God. In this eighth chapter he unfolds, as in a panoramic view, the whole plan of salvation. He begins with the idea that those who are in Christ Jesus are delivered from condemnation. But salvation is something more than that. It means sonship also. And step by step, verse by verse, the apostle advances, at each step unfolding some fresh view of the Christian's privileges, till at last, as he surveys the whole field of sin and sorrow, of joy and suffering, of trials and temptations, of time and eternity, he grows stronger in the confidence of his sonship, and exclaims, "For! am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


1. God is their Father. They can say that in a special and spiritual sense. In one sense all human beings are the offspring of God. We are all the creatures of his hand, and are dependent continually upon his bountiful care. But sin has come in and separated us from him. It has made us prone to disobey rather than to fulfil our Father's commands. Jesus came into this world that he might bring us back again into the relationship of God's spiritual children. He became a child of humanity that we might become children of God. He became "sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." All who believe on him are born again. They are by creation God's children; now they are his by a spiritual birth. Now they receive "the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father" (ver. 15). Oh, the greatness of our heavenly Father's love! He has not cast us off. He has sent his own Son to bring us back, to restore his image in our hearts, and by-and-by to have us sit down with him in his everlasting kingdom.

2. Jesus Christ is their elder Brother. "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (ver. 17). The inheritance which Christ has we have, if by receiving him we become children of God. It is almost too great a privilege to conceive, but it is plainly revealed to us by God. If we are Christ's, all things are ours; for we are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Christ's own prayer was, "Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." And then there is a family likeness between the children of God by adoption and their elder Brother. If children of some humble rank were adopted into a noble or royal family, there would be a great dissimilarity between them and the children of that family. There would not be community of feeling. It seems a wonderful thing that we, poor, weak, sinful creatures, should be adopted into the family of God, and made the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. How can there be any likeness between us and him? But God has provided for this. Those are remarkable words, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren" (ver. 29). Thus God has provided that as we are to be the brethren of Christ, we shall be like him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is." This likeness to Christ is a gradual growth. It is the development of the Christian character. It is not in the infant lying in the cradle that much likeness to its parent can be detected. But as the body matures, as the features become more marked, as the individuality of character begins to show itself, then we see the likeness, and we say, He is his father's son, She is her mother's daughter. Those beautiful statues of the Louvre or of Florence, which are the admiration of the world, did not spring by magic from the sculptor's hands. He had his ideal. He had his plan. With that ideal before him, he took the rough material, and on it he gradually worked out his plans. He first modelled his figure in clay, and then took the rough, shapeless mass of marble, in which no one could see any traces of the future statue's loveliness or symmetry of form. But the sculptor's love for his work, the skill of his hand, the patience and perseverance of his mind, the hammer and chisel which he wielded, slowly but surely accomplished his purpose, until at last the statue stood forth in all its beauty. So God has his ideal for the Christian - likeness to Christ, the image of his Son. He has his plan, the plan of redemption, of sanctification. With that ideal before him he takes our human nature, and, by the slow and sometimes painful discipline of Christian experience, he develops the Christian character, until at last the believer is found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

3. The Spirit of God is their Helper. There are three ways mentioned by the apostle in which the Spirit helps us.

(1) He shows us the path of duty. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (ver. 14). The Spirit uses the Word of God, and applies it to our conscience and our heart.

(2) He gives us assurance of our sonship. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (ver. 16). How does he give us that assurance? By producing in us the fruit of the Spirit. "Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3). If our delight is in the Law of the Lord, if we are striving, however imperfectly, to walk in his ways, to follow in the footsteps of Christ, then this is the Spirit's testimony to us that we are the children of God.

(3) The Spirit also makes intercession for us in prayer. We are more accustomed to think of Jesus as interceding for us. But the Spirit's work of intercession is here described in very forcible words. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, for he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (vers. 26, 27). Christ intercedes for us in heaven; the Holy Spirit intercedes in us on earth. We know not what we should pray for aright. But the Holy Spirit reveals to us our need. He helps our infirmities. He creates within us high and holy aspirations; and even when we cannot rightly express our wants, be that searcheth the hearts knows what our desires are; for the Spirit expresses them better than we can. Let us avail ourselves more of this threefold help of the Spirit of God, that we may be guided in the path of duty, that we may receive a stronger and clearer assurance of our relationship as children of God, and that we may be assisted in the prayers we offer at the throne of heavenly grace.

4. Heaven is their home. "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" (ver. 18). While enjoying the fellowship of our earthly homes, let us think of the better home on high, the only home that shall never be broken up.

II. THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. They are summed up in the apostle's brief words, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (ver. 12). "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (ver. 13). We are to remember that we are debtors. We are to reflect how much we owe. We are to realize God's claims upon us. We are to think of the claims of that heavenly Father who has condescended to adopt us as his children, and who is constantly caring for us. We are to think of the claims of that loving Saviour who gave himself for us. We are to think of the claims of that Spirit who has quickened us from the dead, who has been enlightening our minds, and who is renewing us after the image of God.

"All that I am, e'en here on earth,
All that I hope to be
When Jesus comes, and glory dawns,
I owe it, Lord, to thee." C.H.I.

Is our desire, is our vocation, life? Then we are bound in honour, hound by the necessity of the case, to live, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. But are we even then sure of the destiny of life? We are walking in a way; whither does the way lead? The answer to this question lies in the prevailing characteristic of the life we live now - a life that is "led by the Spirit of God:" These are sons! Survey the life: only "sons" could live a life like that. And the life, being of God, is to God; "If children, then heirs." We have, then, to consider - sonship, heirship.

I. THE SONSHIP. In ver. 15 he leads them back to the commencement of this new life. What was the change which then passed over them? They were in bondage once - such bondage as he has described in ch. 7. And this bondage might be said to be of God, for it was the transition to liberty. God showed them the infinite claims of his holy Law, and thereby revealed to them their guilt, their helplessness, their doom. Oh, what bondage was theirs then! The whole purport of that period of their spiritual discipline was "unto fear." Nay, not the whole purport; they were but wounded that they might be made whole. God had prepared some better things for them. "In me dwelleth no good thing :" yes, this they learned. But, in Christ, they "received the Spirit of adoption;" in him they saw their sin forgiven, and in the power of God's boundless love they mounted upward as on eagles' wings. Accepted in the Beloved!

1. The adoption. An alienation is here implied from the original sonship. Man's fall; each one's sin and wicked works. The potential adoption of all in Christ Jesus: hold fast to this great fact. But not this alone: each one's individuality respected, and hence the actual adoption only of those who voluntarily attach themselves to the new Headship of Christ Jesus. This the blessed concomitant of pardon; and love working by law (Roman custom), that in this also "he might be just."

2. The witness. Each one who unfeignedly believes in Christ Jesus is adopted into the family of God. But may not this blessed adoption be realized? Thank God, it may: "The Spirit witnesseth with our spirit." "All things are of God" (2 Corinthians 5:18), and so the whole of the great work of salvation is his work, and when every holy confidence towards himself is inspired in the believer's mind, it is his inspiration. But he deals with men in harmony with the laws of their own minds, and guides and inspires them through the processes of their own thought. Hence the expression, "witnesseth with our spirit." Our consciousness of God's forgiveness, our conviction of his love, are produced instrumentally by our apprehension of his purposes and promises in Christ; but in and through the working of our own spirit his Spirit works. We are prompted by our perception of God's love in Christ to cry, "Abba, Father;" but it is also by him that we thus cry. He works the assurance in and through the working of our thought and feeling: "witnesseth with our spirit." And thus is explained the failure, where there is failure, to realize this assurance. God's inspiration is not wanting, but the instrumentality is at fault. Perceptions, tone, temperament - these constitute the hindrance. And remediable by proper means. Such, then, the sonship which is the secret of the new life: adoption, and the realization of that adoption - all of God. His children! His beloved ones! Therefore we love him; therefore we live to him.

II. THE HEIRSHIP. But if sonship be the inspiration of this new life, what must its destiny be? We are heirs - "heirs of God; joint-heirs with Christ."

1. Heirs of God. The idea of fatherhood is the bestowal of all benediction on the child. And "of him every fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named" (Ephesians 3:15). Therefore he himself, and all that he can give, shall constitute our heritage. Now, in this world, God is ours; this is the great possession: his presence, his power, his love. And thus the world itself is transmuted into an inheritance of joy, even sorrows yielding blessing. But we are not yet of age; our manhood then! And oh, the inheritance that shall be! God himself we shall see face to face, knowing even as we are known. And God's creation shall be made - how fair and beautiful to us, who shall say? "In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11). And that "path of life" shall be "shown" us by God.

2. Joint-heirs with Christ. Christ, the Appointed One, the Son of man - God has adopted us in him; God has made us heirs in him! And his appropriation of the heritage is our pledge. His life in the world: the Father, the Father's gifts; yea, even the cross. His risen and ascended life: "the Firstfruits of them that slept;" "whither the Forerunner is for us entered" (1 Corinthians 15:20; Hebrews 6:20). See John 17., where the co-heirship is so set forth. But meanwhile, "if so be that we suffer with him"! The process of recovery to sonship, heirship. We drink of that cup, we bear that cross; but so we shall wear that crown. - T.F.L.

In the previous section we have found "Paradise restored," through the Spirit destroying sin and thereby death within us, first in the soul and then in the body. But this experience of spiritual-mindedness is realized on the line of God's adopting love. The emancipating Spirit is the Spirit of adoption. Let us notice the stages as here presented by the apostle.

I. OUR OBLIGATION IS NOW TO THE SPIRIT, AND NOT TO THE FLESH. (Vers. 12, 13.) The Spirit of Christ has freed us from every condemnation; he has secured a measure of sanctification, and death is defeated in soul and will be in body. Such a work carries clearly obligation with it. We are his debtors. We realize accordingly:

1. That we are not bound to live after the flesh. To do so would only be to court death. It would be to return to our vomit, like the filthy dog; it would be to wallow once more in the mire, like the once-washed swine.

2. We are bound to mortify the deeds of the body, and so live. Mortification of fleshly desires and lusts is the great duty the Christian owes to the Spirit who condescends to dwell within him. It is a painful process, but passes into a painless one. When we earnestly set about it, it abundantly rewards us. And we find that mortification of the deeds of the body is the very secret of life. It is thus evident that the struggle of the latter part of the seventh chapter is also found in the eighth. Christian progress, as we have seen, is through antagonizing our sinful desires and tendencies, and so largely discharging our obligation to the pure Spirit who condescends to dwell within us (cf. Shedd's 'Commentary,' in loc.).

II. SONSHIP IS REALIZED IN THIS SUBMISSION TO THE SPIRIT. (Ver. 14.) God's adopting love is realized within. He can give the family spirit as well as the legal standing as sons. Sonship among men, and especially adoption, may be destitute of the becoming spirit. The children may despise their parents or their foster-parents, and treat them inconsiderately. But in God-given sonship there is as its essence submission to God's Spirit. The adopted soul abandons himself to the Divine inspiration; the right filial attitude is reached; and life becomes the outcome of inspiration. They only are sons of God who are led by his Spirit.

III. ALL GOD'S TRUE CHILDREN PROVE PRAYERFUL. (Ver. 15.) The spirit of bondage which leads souls to fear like stricken slaves before God gets cast out by the Spirit of adoption, and there is within us the divinely prompted cry, "Abba, Father." Just as true children love to have fellowship with their earthly parents, so God's children love to hold fellowship with their heavenly Parent. Prayerfulness is one of the best tests of our relation to God. It is the instinct of an adopted child. In this way the spiritual relationship is realized. Just as fellowship is the essence of family relationship, so is it with the family of God.

IV. THE PRAYERFUL CHILDREN RECEIVE THE SPIRIT'S WITNESS TO THEIR SONSHIP. (Ver. 16.) The witness of the Spirit is something distinct from the testimony of our own consciousness, as the verse implies. The latter concurs with the former. What is it, then? If we consider Jesus in his baptismal prayer, we shall find that he received not only the gift of the opened heaven, that is, all needful revelation, and the gift of the descending dove, that is, the perfect inspiration, but also the audible assurance of his Sonship, when the voice came from heaven to say, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Father assures the Son of his ineffable relation. Now, this passage shows that there is something corresponding to this assurance granted to God's sons. They are enabled to hear the Father's voice, and are reassured thereby. It is not, of course, an audible voice, as when they said, "It thundered;" yet a voice which speaks home to the spirit within. It comes through God's Word. Up to a certain point the Bible is a splendid literary treasure; but the Spirit comes, and the Bible becomes a child's book, with a Father's voice ringing lovingly through it all. These spiritual tones are found to coincide with experience, and we have the witness within. It is thus that we are enabled to examine ourselves through God's Word. We begin to read it as children should to whom a father is faithfully speaking, and we are reassured and comforted thereby.

V. THE PRAYERFUL CHILDREN THROUGH LISTENING TO THE FATHER'S VOICE COME TO REALIZE THAT THEY ARE HEIRS OF GOD, AND JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST. (Ver. 17.) Heirship succeeds the sense of sonship, Now, in earthly inheritances the sad condition now is the parent's death; but it was not so under the ancient law. Then, as in the parable of the prodigal son, the inheritance could be divided in the father's lifetime, and either enjoyed with the father or away from him. Thus the father says to the elder son, "All that I have is thine;" and the promise to God's children is clear, "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). When we realize, therefore, that God is to us "all in all," then have we entered into our inheritance with him. And what adds to its preciousness is the fact that it is a joint-inheritance with Christ. It is through him that it has become ours. What he gets we get. He has raised his brothers and sisters through adoption to the platform of his own inheritance.

VI. FELLOWSHIP IN SUFFERING IS THE SIGN AND PLEDGE OF FELLOWSHIP IN THE COMING GLORY. (Ver. 17.) Now, we must remember that fellowship through suffering is the closest fellowship of all. It is when hearts are together in the fires that they are welded or rather melted into one. Now, life gets sooner or later for the true son of God like Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace, with one like unto the Son of God in the fire along with him. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews 11:6, 7). It is to this fellowship in his sufferings that we are providentially called, that so we may become in due season conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:11). We should reconcile ourselves to our inheritance of suffering, seeing that it is through it we, as a rule, reach our inheritance of wisdom, And as a suffering with Christ is the sign and pledge of being glorified together with him, we should hail it as the birthright mark, and rejoice in hope of the glory. - R.M.E.

Moses displayed a beautiful absence of jealousy when he cried, "Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!" His wish is realized under the Christian dispensation, where "the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." This gift is the fulfilment of Christ's promise that his disciples should not be left "orphans," and our investiture with his Spirit is a testimony to the efficacy of the work of Christ. The Spirit operates silently but powerfully on the heart; though unseen, his presence is most real. Science acquaints us with subtle forces that work on matter. Place a bar of steel in the magnetic meridian with the north end downward, and, if struck with a wooden mallet, the bar will be magnetized. ]No outward difference is perceptible, yet the particles have assumed a uniform direction, have acquired new properties. So does the Spirit impart a new tendency, a new nature, and the whole man is changed. The Spirit works not like the influences of our environment from without inwardly, but from within outwardly.

I. THE LEADING FOR WHICH THAT OF THE SPIRIT IS SUBSTITUTED. It is called "self," or "the flesh," where the inimical power of the great adversary is the chief factor. The aim of the life may not be clear to the man possessed. He may seem to have no definable object of pursuit; led on now by one impulse, now by another, its force and persistency varying in all degrees. Some rely on their own native wisdom for the steerage of their course, others are governed by the maxims and customs of the society in which they move. The "spirit of the age" is a prevalent controlling force. In proportion as any one goal is kept in view, and "reached forth to' perseveringly, is the man esteemed strong and successful. And the Christian is strong according to the heartiness and fidelity with which he surrenders himself to the guidance of the Spirit. He acknowledges that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."

II. THE ROAD TRAVELLED UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT. It is a heavenward journey; the affections are "set on things above." It begins with taking up the cross to follow Christ, and implies self-denial in order to please God. It is a pilgrimage. This world is not our rest, or our final home. It involves a warfare, for many foes beset our path, and there is no turning aside to By-path Meadows for the man under the influence of the Spirit. How the natural life is glorified and transfigured by this conception of the unseen hand impelling us! No man is ever harmed by the Spirit's leading, and if he falls into a snare it is because he has mistaken the Divine indications of his route.

III. ASCERTAINING THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT. We are not led blindfold and irresistibly; the reason is illumined, the emotions are quickened. All that strengthens the spiritual life contributes to the clearness with which we recognize the Spirit's prompting, and to the readiness with which we yield to his gentlest touch. Prayer keeps open the communication with the spiritual realm. Ask for guidance before, not after, commencing an enterprise; nor expect the Holy Spirit to come in as a deus ex machina to rectify your errors. Compare your judgment and conduct with the precepts and principles of Scripture, and with the example of good men, especially of Jesus Christ. We are taught in his school. Like an artist intently studying some work of genius and imbibing its spirit, so meditate on Christ till you catch his enthusiasm for goodness and consecration to the will of God. Make the most of the seasons when you are blessedly conscious that you are "in the Spirit," be it on "the Lord's day" or any other. It is sin that darkens our spiritual perceptions, as some accident to the body may blunt the finer sensations, may dull the hearing and dim the sight.

IV. THE FAMILY LIKENESS WHICH THIS GUIDANCE IMPARTS. The Spirit of God enables us to realize our sonship. Hatred and disobedience and fear are exchanged for glad communion and willing service. We become increasingly like our Father, like our elder Brother Christ, and like the rest of the redeemed children. It is not identical sameness, but similarity, which results. Members of the same home may differ much in exact lineaments, yet the stranger can discern a family likeness. By his Spirit is the Saviour preparing his brethren for their heavenly home, to enter with intelligent zest into its enjoyments, the society of the angels and of the blest, into holier worship and higher service than we can render here. - S.R.A.

If so be that we suffer with him. Then we do suffer? Yes, even as he did. For ours is a redemptive history, and redemption is not without pain. But the future - oh, how the glory eclipses all the momentary trial! So was it with himself. "For the joy that was set before him," he "endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). And so shall it be with us. We may well join the apostle in his triumphant outburst of hope, "For I reckon," etc. Ours is the hope of an immortal glory; nay, the hope is the hope of the world: "the earnest expectation of the creation," etc. So, then, we have for our consideration - the present pains, the future glory.


1. Of the creation. This expression must not be toned down. It refers to all the creation, outside of man himself, with which man has to do; our "world," which is connected by a mysterious solidarity with ourselves, sorrowing in our sorrow, rejoicing in our joy. Once? It was "very good;" all was harmony, beauty, peace. We may not tell what were the joys of the early creation, but it was the garden of the Lord, the paradise of man. The ravages of the storm, the desolations of the wilderness, were then unknown; the creatures preyed not one upon another then; love, liberty, and life were all in all. But man's fall drew a shadow-oh, how dark! - across the beauty; and for love, liberty, and life, there were then strife, bondage, death! "The creation was subjected to vanity;" yes, cursed was the world for man's sake. And now? Look around you: "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together." The earthquake and storm, the arid desert and dreary seas, the inhospitable clime, the unfriendly skies, the blighted harvests - the shadow of the cross! And the ravages of the animal world: destruction, pain, death. And at last? "The fashion of this world passeth away!"

2. Of ourselves. The nature-part of us is likewise "subject to vanity:" we groan. Disease, death - of our own frame and organic life; of our relationships. Oh, how we are mocked: dust, dust, dust!


1. Of ourselves. We are God's children by faith in Christ; his adopted ones. But though the adoption is real, it is not yet manifest to the universe. No, nor to ourselves in its fulness. As though a beggar-child were adopted by a king, but for a while must still appear in beggar-garments. Oh, it shall not be always so! The beggar-garments shall be cast away, and the royal robe assumed; our sonship shall be made manifest to all: we wait "for the redemption of our body." Yes, God's purposes shall be accomplished; in the resurrection of the Son they are pledged to fulfilment; the body of our humiliation shall be made like to the body of his glory, and "then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

2. Of the creation. But if we wait, and wait in hope, so does our creation wait, groan, yearn for the revealing of the sons of God. The ἀποκαραδοκία! The decay and death not intrinsically pertaining to it; no, not if God's world. The vanity to which it was subjected, the mockery of aim, the frustration of purpose, this was all "in hope." And as by man came the curse, by man comes the blessing. Bondage, corruption, through the sin? Yes; and liberty, glory, through the great redemption! Whatever of evil was done, shall be undone; the blot shall be wiped away; the shadow shall pass that the eternal light may shine. And all our relationships with the world, and with one another, these shall be remade then; delivered, glorified! Oh, how the heart has bled - bled because of the frustrations and rendings of this world. Oh, how the heart shall bound - bound with the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ; a gospel, not in word only, but in power, delivering power that shall work its deliverance on man's whole nature, all man's relationships, man's whole world! Shall ours, then, not be the patience - "we wait for it "? Yes for he giveth grace. But shall we not know something of the triumph too? Shall we not grasp the future, and almost live in it as though the present were not? Yes; for ourselves, for our dear ones, for our dear world, "I reckon" etc. - T.F.L.

Paradise regained in this life is not a sorrowless and painless condition. The sons of God are chastened. They know what suffering is. And there is here the great religious evidence. When the world sees men and women composed and even cheerful amid untold tribulation, then it sees a reality in religion. Job, for instance, was an evidence for the reality of religion that, even Satan himself could not gainsay or deny. How is it that the Christian spirit can assert its supremacy amid suffering of the most intense character? It is because it is enabled to keep its eye on the hidden good, and bless God for it. And so in this section we have the spirit of the apostle asserting itself upon this important subject.

I. THERE IS THE CONTRAST BETWEEN PRESENT SUFFERINGS AND THE PERFECTED SANCTIFICATION. (Ver. 18.) God's end in his dispensations is to create a glory in us of an eternal character - the glory of sanctification when it comes in fulness. We may see the price we pay in the stanzas of the poetess.

"Through long days did Anguish,
And sad nights did Pain,
Forge my shield, Endurance,
Bright and free from stain!

"Doubt, in misty caverns,
Mid dark horrors sought,
Till my peerless jewel,
Faith, to me she brought,

"Sorrow that I wearied
Should remain so long,
Wreathed my starry glory
The bright crown of Song.

"Strife that racked my spirit
Without hope or rest,
Left the blooming flower,
Patience, in my breast."

(Miss Procter's 'Legends and Lyrics.') Now, when we look at what is paid and what is bought, we must admit that the bargain is a good one, for the glory of sanctification is weighty and eternal. "The light affliction," says the apostle elsewhere, "which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

II. IN SUFFERING WE ARE IN FELLOWSHIP WITH THE WHOLE CREATION. (Vers. 19-22.) When we look into the Book of Job we see that the man of God is a special sufferer. But God points out in the sequel of the book that the perplexity in Job's experience is matched by the perplexity which pervades all nature. So is it with suffering. We may see it all through nature. Suffering human nature is only in line with suffering nature. And here we have to remark that:

1. The study of nature shows long progress through suffering towards higher forms. This is the lesson of evolution so far as it is a truth. The "struggle for existence" is painful progress towards more perfect forms. It may seem to our philosophic laureate a mystery that nature should be "so careful of the type," and "so careless of the single life;" nay, he goes on to see that she lets "a thousand types" go, and seems to care for nothing. But if we take the great procession as a whole, we may see that it embodies progress through pain to more perfect form. The groaning creation thus sheds light on sanctification through suffering and pain.

2. Out of the present is to be born a new state of things in which nature shall share in the restoration of the sons of God. The very word "nature," which signifies "something about to be born," is a prophecy similar to what the apostle here gives. If Nature, without any moral fault, has been subjected to vanity; if it has, without consent on her part, been made the painful illustration of moral and spiritual truth; then we may expect a just Governor like God to give Nature compensation, and allow her to share in the glorious liberty of his children. It is surely significant that that manly Christian, Frank Buckland, when he was dying, said, "I am going a long journey where I think I shall see a great many curious animals. This journey I must go alone." As animals were saved in the ark with Noah, and in Nineveh with the penitent Ninevites, is it not reasonable to suppose that they shall have some share in the regeneration of all things?

III. MAN AS THE SOUL OF THE WORLD INTERPRETS THE TRAVAIL OF THE CREATION. (Vers. 23-27.) And here we cannot do better than take up the points as St. Paul gives them.

1. Man's aspiration about the body. (Ver. 23.) For the body is to be redeemed, not discarded. It is this "hope" which saves us in our present distresses (ver. 24). If we had not this hope, we should inevitably despair. And along with hope comes patience, so that "the patience of hope" becomes the attitude of all faithful souls. Then:

2. The Holy Spirit endorses our groaning after the better bodies. (Ver. 26.) Prayer is not all articulate. A groan, a sigh, a tear, may have all the elements of prayer addressed to the heart of the Most High. Now, some saints have had such suffering communicated to them as compelled them to groan with desire after a better, because promised condition. These groans, that are too deep to be articulate, are Spirit-prompted. He pressed from tried spirits these unutterable longings.

3. God, the Heart-searcher, responds to these unutterable groans. (Ver. 27.) We have here the whole philosophy of prayer. It is the inspired expression, articulately or otherwise, of what is agreeable to the Divine will, and the Heart-searcher recognizes in the prompted prayer the return to him of his own will, and so can answer it.

IV. THIS IS THE BEST POSSIBLE WORLD FOR ONE WHO LOVES GOD. (Ver. 28.) There is a certain idealism which inspires us all. According to our inward state is our outward world. "'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus." Consequently, if we have learned to love God, we take all things as animated by a Divine purpose of good to us. Suffering may come, but it comes to sanctify. Faith thus becomes optimistic. It lifts up its head, knowing that its redemption draweth nigh. It refuses to be pessimistic. In spite of all drawbacks, the glory of sanctification is on its way. And so those who have been called by a loving God to the exercise of love, find as they look about them that all things are co-operating for God's holy end of making his children holier and fitter for his fellowship. We could not be better situated than we are for sanctification. A poet on the subject "It is well" has thus written Ñ

"So they said, who saw the wonders
Of Messiah's power and love;
So they sing, who see his glory
In the Father's house above:
Ever reading in each record
Of the strangely varied past,
All was well which God appointed,
All has wrought for good at last.'

"And thus, while years are fleeting,
Though our joys are with them gone,
In thy changeless love rejoicing
We shall journey calmly on;
Till at last, all sorrow over,
Each our tale of grace shall tell,
In the heavenly chorus joining:
Lord, thou hast done all things well!'"

(Cf. Randolph's 'Changed Cross, and other Poems,')

V. CONFORMITY TO CHRIST'S GLORIOUS IMAGE IS WHAT GOD HAS IN VIEW FOR THOSE HE CALLS. (Vers. 29, 30.) The gospel is God's plan for securing a multitude of children who shall all become Christ-like. He sent his only Child, "the only begotten Son," into the world to secure many brethren, and be the Firstborn among them. No narrow jealousies here! In the holiest sense it is true regarding God's family that "the more' there are in it, "the merrier" will all be. Now, God's purpose, foreknowledge, and predestination are robbed of every repulsive feature, when we bear in mind that individuals are not predestinated to salvation without regard to their moral state. They are predestinated to become Christ-like. Men may reject the call of God to Christ-likeness, but his purpose is not nullified by such wickedness. His purpose was pure in calling them, even though they reject the call. And so it is in the light of this holy purpose to make men Christ-like that we are to regard the predestination, and the call, and the justification, and the glorification. The glory when reached, the glory of Christ-likeness, sheds its heavenly halo over all. May we all reach that paradise of experience, likeness to our blessed Lord! - R.M.E.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of progress; "forward" is its watchword. That outgoing of the character of God which constitutes his works and laws cannot be other than an advance. For God to retrograde is impossible. In Judaism at its brightest period, the eyes of the noblest men directed their vision to better days to come. The saints "died in faith," not having received the promises, but embracing them afar off. And today the Christian, much as he loves to read of the illustrious sacrifice of himself on earth of the Son of God, regarding the events of that earthly sojourn as the foundation of his hope and religion, yet sighs not for a return of past wonders, but believes in a more glorious unveiling of the plan of God. Times of apparent defeat and humiliation are but valleys to be traversed in ascending to the topmost mountain-peak.

I. THE GOAL OF EXPECTATION. "The revealing of the sons of God." The sons are at present in obscurity. The statue is partially hidden, its proportions are visible, but we shall hereafter discern its lustrous beauty and perfection, complete, unstained. Princes, heirs to the throne, may be for a season in poor habiliments and amid mean surroundings; but they are to be brought forth like Joash, to be crowned as kings and priests unto God. God has given us "the firstfruits of the Spirit." As when a friend despatches his carriage and servants and son to conduct us with all honour to his house, so God has sent his Spirit into the hearts of his children - the earnest of the joys of heaven. Sweet voices whisper a coming state of larger possibilities and nobler felicity. The dawn heralds a cloudless day. We "wait for the redemption of the body," the removal of every trace of sin, the deliverance from every yoke, the complete abolition of death. Here a mean presence may conceal a beautiful personality; there the body shall be the out-flashing glory of the perfected spirit, as at the Transfiguration the soul of Christ in its intensity tinged with splendour the very skirts of his garments.

II. THE WHOLE CREATION IS INTERESTED IN THIS UNVEILING. With uplifted and outstretched head does the "creature" wait to decry the long-desired event. Genesis tells us of the ground cursed for man's sake. Man was formed to rule over the world, but, unable to control himself, his dominion has been broken in upon by disorder. And the beasts have suffered through the degradation of man. If the master deteriorate, so will his household. The howling of the dog, the moaning of the lion, the writhing of the worm, the fluttering of the imprisoned bird, all confirm the assertion of "subjection to vanity unwillingly," The poor brutes at the mercy of rough men may well pant for the redemption of the sons of God. Had man continued upright and grown in true wisdom, doubtless the very character of nature had changed for the better. Then had the glowing language of Isaiah been descriptive of common occurrences: "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and a little child shall lead them." All things in God's universe are linked together. Man was formed out of the dust of the ground, and we must despise nothing.

III. IT IS ALREADY OBSERVABLE THAT THE PREVALENCE OF CHRISTIANITY ALLEVIATES THE HARDEST LOT. Many are the philanthropic agencies which owe their origin to the diffusion of the Spirit of Christ. First deemed quixotic, sentimental, then plausible and possible, and further becoming actual, the contrary has at last come to be thought disgraceful and unnatural. More consideration is shown to the lower animals. Earth yields up her stores to investigation, rejoices in the augmenting power of man to use her forces and bring her marvels to light. That sympathy with nature which modern poetry exhibits was almost unknown to the ancients. We are learning the language of Creation, interpreting her smiles and tears. At the death of Christ, the association with nature's pangs was made visible by the rending of the rocks and the darkening of the sun.

IV. If this tendency to amelioration is even now patent, WHAT SHALL BE THE EFFECT OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF GOD'S PURPOSES! Then shall "earth be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Moses in his song called the "heavens to hear, and the earth to give ear." Our Saviour showed his command of the elements. Winds and waves, trees, sickness, and evil spirits obeyed his word. In the desert the wild beasts hurt him not. In anticipation of the day when men shall be like the Saviour, the psalmist called upon earth to "make a joyful noise before the Lord. Let the floods clap their hands, for he cometh to judge the earth." Isaiah predicted that in Israel's millennium "the mountains and hills shall break forth into singing." And in the Book of Revelation we hear the chorus of redeemed creation: "Every creature which is in heaven and in earth, and under the earth, heard I saying, Blessing... be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever." The cross of Christ is the great rectifier, reconciling all things unto God. If we cannot fathom the deep secrets of God, it is good, howler, for us to meditate on the hints of a widespread redemption. There is something in the prospect which dwarfs our selfish earthly plans, and ennobles all that is linked on to God and his kingdom. It makes the paros and strifes and aches of the world bearable, because "our redemption draweth nigh." Are we doing aught as the sons of God to quicken the approach of the apocalypse? May our awaking be not to shame and everlasting contempt, but to the glorious emancipation of redeemed humanity! - S.R.A.

The Christian, like the rest of the creation, waifs for full redemption, but consciously and aspiringly. He is an heir who has not yet entered into the possession of his inheritance. He is saved from the guilt of sin, and is being released from its power. His sun is veiled under morning clouds, and he shall soon rejoice in cloudless splendour. A state of hope is the condition in which and the instrument by which he works out his complete salvation.

I. HOPE IS EXERCISED ON THE UNSEEN. What we see is here before us; what we hope for is still in the future - the invisible womb of time. Faith and hope are inseparable companions; where the former is, the latter is nigh. Hope is faith in the attitude of looking towards better things to come. It vividly pictures the approaching glory, and is "the present enjoyment of future good." Christian hope is not a mirage that mocks the heart, but is surely grounded on the work of Christ, who has revealed the character of God and his far-reaching purpose of love. Many a man depending on high expectations has found them baseless; the legacy is absent, the coveted post is given to another. When the sceptic talks of a bird in the hand being preferable to two in the bush, we reply that by the very nature of the case Christian anticipation is precluded from being satisfied with the temporal. "We look for new heavens and a new earth."

II. HOPE DRIVES OUT DESPAIR, THE FOE OF PATIENCE. Where despondency grows, there activity ceases. What means that sudden splash, that piercing cry, except that life has been quenched because the light of hope had vanished first? The gospel, by its promise of a free pardon for the penitent sinner, rolls away the burden from the back, enables the criminal to take heart of grace, and to exchange the dungeon of dreary fate for the glad sunlight of a new lease of endeavour after righteousness. There is a danger of succumbing to the weariness of the long Christian journey, but hope grasps the future and draws us thereto. Hopeful, in the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' had much ado to keep his brother's head above the water; but he comforted him saying, "Brother, I see the gate, and men standing by to receive us."

"Hope, like the glimmering taper's light,
Adorns and cheers the way;
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray." We are not as shipwrecked mariners, uncertain if any vessel shall pass near enough to succour us; we know that, if we wait patiently, "he that cometh will come, and will not tarry."

III. HOPE FITS THE SOUL FOR ITS FUTURE ARENA OF GLORY. For every state certain qualifications are requisite, if we would play a proper part therein. Dr. Johnson would like due notice of Burke's visits, that he might prepare himself for the lofty conversation certain to ensue. The young lady prepares herself for the engagements of society, and to acquit herself gracefully on her presentation at court. It is the hope of after-practice that inspires the labour of the student barristers and doctors. The necessary waiting is a beneficial discipline testing perseverance and fidelity. The disciple of Christ can abstain from worldly indulgences because of more cherished longings. He will not barter away his birthright even though faint with hunger. "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself." Hope is the great engine of progress and reformation. Israel under Ezra could ratify a covenant of amendment, because "there was hope for Israel concerning this thing." - S.R.A.

In the previous verses the twofold "groaning" has been set forth - of nature as subjected to vanity, and of redeemed man as still sharing the heritage of vanity in himself and in his relation to the world around. "We hope for that we see not:" and this hope, though it be of the character of patient waiting, is yet also of the character of intense desire. But are our desires merely vague, unauthorized wishes for some fancied good, which God may not be purposed ever to grant? Nay; for what might be otherwise but the vague wishes of our burdened hearts are intensified and authorized by the spiritual life which is in us - are, indeed, the promptings, the groanings, of that very Spirit of God who is the Author and Sustainer of our spiritual life. And as such they are according to God's will, and, being according to his will, are the sure pledge of their own realization. The general truth here set forth is that, in all our times of weakness in this mortal life, when we are ready to faint, the Spirit sustains us; the special application of the truth is that, when "in praying we cannot express to God what the blessing is which would allay the distress of our heart" (Godet), the Spirit of God inspires us with holy aspirations, which are not indeed to be formulated in human words, seeing that they are touched with something of the infinite, but which react in comfort on the heart, as conveying in themselves an assurance that the almost infinite craving shall be infinitely satisfied.


1. In this life of trial, in which evil is so largely mingled with good, and in which, therefore, as regards our perfect redemption, we have to "hope for that which we see not," we are called to exercise both a passive and an active waiting.

(1) Passively, we are to wait until the day dawn and the shadows free away.

(2) Actively, we are to do God's will in this present world, and by so doing to hasten the advent of that day. But how often we prove our "infirmity"! our strength is weakness. How sometimes the heart is well-nigh crushed beneath the load, and we are tempted to say impatiently, "Would that it were morning!" And how dispirited we are then for the work of the kingdom!

2. And this general infirmity manifests itself specially in our inability to pray aright for the good which we confusedly desire. Oh, who has not proved this? The evils and mysteries of life almost daze our spirits; we strive in vain with our vision to pierce the impenetrable darkness. "Who shall show us any good?" So, coming before God, we do not find our accustomed relief: "we know not how to pray as we ought."


1. Amid all our weakness, however manifesting itself, the Spirit helps us. He gives us the patience to wait, and the strength to bear the burden and to do the work. Yes, that which of all things else is hardest, "to labour and to wait," earnestly to pursue our appointed task in spite of the mystery and distress of life, that is made possible by the good Spirit's help. Nay, even more, an inspiration comes from him which makes us zealous for the extension of his kingdom, and we urge our way with strength renewed; for our way is his way, and it tends to the accomplishment of his perfect will.

2. But especially, as these verses teach us, the Spirit helpeth our infirmity when "we know not how to pray as we ought" Oppressed by the mystery of life, torn by its cruel-seeming evils, knowing that these things ought not so to be, that they will not so be in a perfect state, we yet can scarcely realize our own desires, and cannot pray for the things we need. Then comes the inspiration from on high, and our heart goes forth towards God in aspirations prompted, and therefore warranted, by God. And the very desire, so born, gives rest. We may not know its full meaning; we are but partly conscious of our true need as regards that future for which we sigh. And therefore we may certainly not articulate all our desire in syllables of human speech to God: the groanings "cannot be uttered." But they are heard; they are understood; they shall be answered. For the Spirit that is in us is the Spirit who "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10); and he therefore "maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Oh, what a pledge is here of our sure fruition of all good! We do not vainly and wrongly sigh for the perfectness of the new world; God himself sighs in us, with us, for this consummation. There is truly a groaning in nature itself for deliverance; there is a groaning in ourselves for "the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;" and there is a groaning, in and with ours, of God's Spirit likewise, for the doing away of all contradictions such as now are, and the ushering in of the day of God, the perfect day. Here, then, is the law of a spiritual instinct, which, like all true instinct, however vaguely it may be conscious of its exact purport, is yet the pledge of its own realization. Let us, then, not be ashamed to hope, to intensely hope, for that we see not, for the hope is heaven-born. But because of the very divineness of the hope itself, and the consequent certainty of realization, let us with patience wait for it. - T.F.L.

One reason for the lasting power of the Bible is its wide-ranging view of life. It runs through the whole gamut of feeling, touches every state. In this passage the apostle has brought heaven and earth together - has shown that creation is a unity waiting for a glorious consummation. He gives us truth fit to be "the master-light of all our Christian seeing, the guardian light of all our doing."

I. OUR HUMAN WEAKNESS. "Infirmity" suggests not so much the feebleness of the babe from a want of development, as the prostration of illness through the inroad of disease. Sin wastes the constitution, and we perceive our weakness when we proceed to act. This is the first stage of enlightenment, to be made conscious of helplessness. Ours is a condition of sighing. Like the rest of creation, Christians "groan within" themselves. They are subject to vanity, corruption, and sorrow. Afflictions deceive, comforts disappoint. At Marah the waters are bitter, and at Nineveh the gourd of one day withers the next. With what pain is thought exercised! Sin weighs us down; a cloud of passion obscures the Saviour's love; we toil, and "catch nothing." Deliverance is our cry. We stretch the head and crane the neck to hail the day of redemption. "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened." A notable instance of weakness is furnished by our prayers. We are ignorant of the fit requests to make, and the proper manner in which to present them. There is a danger of our asking unwisely, too impetuously, for a hurtful gratification. The most needful object, what "we ought" to supplicate, we are not earnest enough about; we scarce know what it is. We look through eyes of flesh, and our vision is limited. We dislike a burden and all suffering. Like Paul, we have "thrice besought the Lord" to remove what is designed for beneficial discipline. Like sufferers under the surgeon's knife, we long for present ease rather than the removal of the real cause of disorder. Amid the whirl of life "bound to its wheel," we are liable to "mistake its end;" would fain arrest the machinery ere the clay is sufficiently impressed to make a "vessel meet for the Master's use."

II. THE DIVINE PROVISION. Help is afforded us by the Spirit of God. The very sense of dissatisfaction is a sign of the indwelling Spirit. The world wonders at the lamentation so frequent in religious biography. But to be quite content arbores deadness of soul. To deem one's self perfectly wise is a sure token of self-deceit. The Spirit breaks up the deeps of an undisturbed monotony. The Emperor Augustus desired to see the wonderful couch on which a man slept serenely in spite of his heavy indebtedness. The groaning of the Christian is an advance upon that of the natural creation. It is not merely bewailing and murmuring; it is for spiritual reasons. He is made aware of his Divine sonship, and has to reconcile his confidence in the Father with his present irksome bondage. Creation longs for development; the Christian feels his sinfulness and sighs for salvation. His groaning proves a longing for infinitude; that he was made for God, and nothing less can satisfy. Like the hart chased by pursuers, till big tears are rolling from the eyes and the moisture is black upon its sides, so the Christian "thirsts for the living God." For him, to cease to aspire is to die, as the cessation of activity in extreme cold means a fatal rest. The unwilling bondage is an "incipient liberty." This groaning is an intercession of the Spirit, an utterance too big for words, a powerful plea with God. We have the advocacy of Christ without us, and the intercession of the Holy Spirit within. "I will send you another Advocate." Such an advocacy assures us of good. The Spirit is "the Firstfruits," and the golden harvest shall surely follow to the garner. These yearnings are the earnest of the fulfilment of our largest hopes, a pledge that the Father does not mean us always to remain down-trodden and stained and imperfect in knowledge. How great the encouragement to pray! Even though we are uncertain what exactly we want, our vague aspirations are not useless. We are lifted higher by them. Prayer is God's law, though how it acts on God we cannot tell. We know that in the human sphere a father exerts his power of loving aid when his child cries in trouble. And God reads the mind of his own Spirit, urging us to pour out our hearts before his throne of grace. We may pray, then, even though we realize our inability to express our needs. We can interpret the dumb animal's pleading look, or the babe's expression of suffering; we project our spirit to them, and by sympathy understand their wants. And our broken utterances, or the stereotyped phrases of the Liturgy, are multiplied by the Spirit into a mighty intercession on our behalf. Though we fear lest we ask amiss, God will understand aright, nor grant an injurious boon. The direction of the Spirit's longing stimulated within us is ever in accordance with the judgment of the All-wise. - S.R.A.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God. This was a remarkable statement for the Apostle Paul to make, especially when we consider how much he had suffered because of his love to God and his truth. He had been imprisoned, he had been stoned, he had been beaten with stripes; and yet, after all this, he is able to say that "all things work together for good to them that love God." Some might be disposed to doubt such a statement with regard to the experience even of the Christian. Yet many others besides Paul have borne similar testimony. David said, "I have been young, and now am old; yet never have I seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalm 37:25). And again, "Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy Word It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:67, 71).

I. THERE IS GOOD IN ALL THE PROVIDENCES OF GOD. Many persons think there is good only in those things that give pleasure or delight to body or mind. They will admit that there is good in health and prosperity, But they find it hard to see what good there can be in sickness, in adversity, in poverty, or in sorrow. The apostle takes a wider view of life's experiences. He holds that "all things work together for good." He could appreciate the joys of life, but he felt that there was a wise purpose and blessing in life's sorrows and trials also. Our human nature is in itself unholy, alienated from God, easily absorbed by the influences of this present world, and easily led away by temptation and sin. What a proof of the ungodliness of man's nature is afforded by the fact that many are as little affected by the most certain and most important religious truths, which they profess to believe in, as if they did not believe them at all! There are no truths more universally admitted than the existence and moral government of God, the certainty of death and of a future state of rewards and punishments. Yet how many do we see around us whose character and conduct afford almost no evidence that they believe in these truths at all! How, then, are men to be roused from their indifference? How are they to be led to think seriously of their own souls and that eternity that awaits them? Some might be disposed to answer - By what we ordinarily call exhibitions of God's love and goodness. But we are having exhibitions of God's love and goodness supplied to us every day in our daily food, in health and strength, and all the other blessings and comforts which we enjoy. Yet these, instead of making men think of eternity, seem to make them think more of this present world. God's goodness, instead of leading them to repentance, hardens their hearts. The discipline and awakening of suffering and trial are needed. These trials, breaking in upon the routine of our daily business and enjoyments, help to withdraw our desires from the things of this perishing world, and to fix them upon a more enduring substance. They remind us that this is not our rest; that we are entirely dependent upon a power that is above us for all our happiness and comforts; and that there is indeed a God that judgeth in the earth. There is nothing more calculated to show a man his own weakness and his dependence upon a higher Power, and to lead him to reflect seriously upon his future prospects, than to find himself, in the midst of important and perhaps pressing duties, suddenly laid aside, stretched upon a bed of sickness, racked, it may be, with pain, and unable to do anything for himself. In such circumstances we must feel that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." There are many Christians everywhere who, with feelings of deep humility and gratitude, are ready to acknowledge that they never had any serious thought of eternity, that they never knew the power of the love of Christ, and that they were never led to seek him as their Saviour, until the day of adversity made them consider; until they were stripped of their dearest possessions; until they were warned by the sudden death of some one who was dear to them; or until they themselves were laid upon a bed of sickness, and brought nigh unto the gates of death. "Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with men, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living" (Job 33:29, 30). And through all the Christian life, how many times we have to thank God for the discipline of trial! Our trials have often proved to be our greatest blessings (see also on Romans 5:3-6).

II. WHO ARE THOSE THAT EXPERIENCE THIS GOOD IN ALL GOD'S PROVIDENCES? "All things work together for good to them that love God. It is not all men, therefore, who are entitled to such a happy way of looking at the events of life. There are many in whose case everything that God gives them seems to be turned into evil. Not merely the trials which harden their hearts, but also his blessings which they abuse and are ungrateful for, and the life he gives them, which they misspend. The more they have prospered, the more they have forgotten God. Those things that might be a blessing if rightly used, become their greatest curse. Love to God is the quality that makes all life happy and blessed. Love to God sweetens every bitter cup, and lightens every heavy burden. For if we love him, we must know him, we must trust him. That is the threefold cord that binds the Christian unto God, and that keeps him safe in all the changes and circumstances of life. In order to love God, we must know him and trust him. This knowledge and this trust can only come by the study of God's Word. This love can only come from a heart that has experienced the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. The natural man is enmity against God. Cultivate the love of God if you would have light for the dark places of life, if you would have strength for its hours of weakness, and comfort for its hours of trial and sorrow. Then you will experience that all things work together for good to them that love God." - C.H.I.

The apostle has indicated the hope of the future glory, in comparison with which all suffering now is as nought. He has also shown how, this hope is no vain imagining of a diseased mind, but the inspiration of God's Spirit. And now he goes on to show that, since this divinely inspired hope corresponds with the great purpose of God concerning us, all things which enter into God's plan for our governance, including apparently evil things which are suffered by him to befall us, must ultimately subserve his purpose and be for the fulfilling of our hope. All this, assuming that we "love God;" thus any carelessness or sin of ours is utterly excluded from the reckoning. It is, indeed, this inward principle of love which transmutes the evil into good, and prepares for the final glorifying. We have, then - the purpose; the process.

I. THE PURPOSE. God's purpose concerning man dates back to the eternal past, for to God's mind all things are ever present. But, objectively, it dates back to the wreck of the primal purpose in man's transgression and death. On the first purpose a second purpose was built; out of the wreck of the old race a new race should be formed.

1. The Firstborn. Since the first man had betrayed his trust, and become the progenitor of a fallen race, there should be a second Man, the Lord from heaven. He should be God's own Son, for the redemption-work was one which needed the powers of Divinity; he should be man's Son also, one in whom the nature of the race might be concentrated, who might therefore redeem men, as God, but through the medium of a true humanity. He should humble himself, be shorn of his splendour, suffer and die, being baptized with blood for the remission of our sins; he should also, "dying, draw the sting of death," and, rising as the Firstfruits of a justified race, pass into the heavens as our Forerunner. Being perfect in all things as Son of man, obedient to the Father, and having performed a perfect work, he should enter perfected into life, glorified with the glory which he had with the Father before the world was.

2. The many brethren. Such was God's purpose in his Son. But, glorifying his Son, he should also "bring many sons unto glory" (Hebrews 2:10); for the Son, "having been made perfect," should become "unto all them that obey him the Author of eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9). For them he suffered, and therefore they also must suffer, "becoming conformed unto his death" (Philippians 3:10); but, just as he passed through death unto life, so they also, dying with him, should with him "attain unto the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:11). "Conformed to the image of his Son:" yes, this was God's purpose in Christ for man, the inward conformation of consummate holiness, and the outward conformation of consummate happiness.

II. THE PROCESS. Those, then, who by their own free choice should become Christ's people - for all others are here left out of account - were foreknown and foreordained by God, "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus," as sharers together with him in the perfect adoption of sons of God. Now, such a purpose, formed by God, and formed m the eternal past - such a purpose concerning believers and faithful ones (for, as above, all possible misuse of freedom on the part of man, whether for rejecting. God's grace, or for casting away a grace received, is here warred, and it is assumed that the purpose formed by God is embraced and adhered to by man) - such a purpose cannot fail of its result, but the process of God's working must issue in its complete accomplishment.

1. Called. The summons in accordance with the purpose. God calls his people, by the outward Word, by the inward Spirit; or, in other words, invites them, summons them, to enter into life. Can his Word be broken? Can his Spirit deceive? He means what he says, and, responding to his call, his people have a guarantee which is more sure than the pillars of the universe (Matthew 24:35).

2. Justified. The virtual instatement in accordance with the purpose. Calling them, he justifies them. There is a Name which destroys all guilt, and acquits for ever, and upon them this Name is named. They are "in Christ Jesus," and "there is therefore now no condemnation." From darkness into light; from death unto life. And the justification is the pledge and beginning of all blessings in Christ that shall tend to the consummation of the life. It carries with it the regeneration of our nature; it supplies the power that shall issue in our complete sanctification; and it points unfalteringly through all the tears and darknesses of the intermediate discipline to "the revealing of the sons of God."

3. Glorified. The actual instatement in accordance with the purpose. This "revealing of the sons of God" is so assured to us, that it is spoken of here as though already an accomplished fact. Yes, all things must be made consistent and harmonious at last; the discord must be done away; the blessedness of the saved spirit must be wedded to the blessedness of a saved world, and so "all things be made new." Such shall be the culmination of the process by which God's purpose shall be fulfilled. The lesson insisted on is this: God will let nothing thwart him. Only love him, throw yourself into the current of his good purpose, and all things shall be made good to you. Opposition there may be, affliction there may be; but God in Christ shall triumph - triumph in you. The very hindrances shall become helps, the enemies unwitting friends. Yes, "we know that all things," etc. - T.F.L.

St. Paul was no narrow dogmatist. He was a man of profound sympathy and charity even for those from whom he differed. Yet there are some strong assertions in his writings. Nowadays it is almost considered a virtue to be in doubt, and a rash presumption to be sure of anything. In the revolt from superstition, men have gone into an unbelief that almost amounts to a superstition in itself. There was no superstition about St. Paul. He was a man of thoughtful mind, of wise judgment. But he did not think it either presumption or dogmatism to be firmly persuaded and convinced of certain things. It is no dogmatism to assert that the sun is shining, when its warm bright rays are flashing down upon us and around us. It is no dogmatism to assert the existence of frost, when the earth grows hard beneath its grasp, and we feel its icy breath upon our faces and in our throats. With all the uncertainties and unrealities of life, there is such a thing as certainty and truth. To St. Paul the love of Christ was such a certainty. He had felt it, not as the frost, but as the warm sunshine in his heart. He had yielded himself to its influence, till it became to him what the steam is to the steam-engine, till he could say, "The love of Christ constraineth me;" or again, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." There are few finer or more complete pictures of that love and its power than this eighth chapter of Romans presents to us. Here St. Paul shows us the Christian, under the influence of that love, gaining the victory over sin and temptation, glorying in tribulation, receiving the Spirit of adoption, standing fearlessly before the judgment-seat in the irresistible conviction that he is a child of God, shielded and strengthened by the love of Christ; and, as he gazes from point to point, from time to eternity, and sees the Christian secure and safe at every point, his conviction, his rapture, increase in intensity till they carry him away in that grand outburst, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?... For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Here are the uncertainties and the certainties of life contrasted.


1. The new year may be a time of prosperity. If it is God's will to give us worldly prosperity and wealth, let us pray for grace and wisdom to use them aright. Prosperity has its dangers. It comes in as a separating barrier between the soul and God. Our Saviour, in one of his parables, speaks of the deceitfulness of riches, and tells us that, along with the cares of this world, it is like thorns that choke the good seed of Divine truth, so that it becomes unfruitful. Let not riches "separate us from the love of Christ."

2. The new year may be a time of trial. St. Paul felt convinced that no trials could separate him from that wondrous love. "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (vers. 35, 37). No trial, or the prospect of it, brings dismay or terror to the apostle's heart.

"Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as I." Conquerors! Yes, and more than conquerors of our trials! We do more than vanquish them. We turn them, or rather the love of Christ turns them for us, into our friends. So Paul found it in his experience. So did many a child of God. Martin Luther was sent to prison in the Wartburg, apparently a heavy blow to himself and his friends, and the cause of the Reformation. But the love of Christ was stronger than the castle walls. They could not keep Christ out. Luther was more than conqueror. He not only endured his imprisonment, but while he was a prisoner he translated the Scriptures into that great German version of his, and wrote besides some of his great commentaries. The walls of Bedford Jail could not separate John Bunyan from the love of Christ, and during his imprisonment for conscience' sake he wrote that matchless allegory, 'The Pilgrim's Progress.' Samuel Rutherford, a prisoner in Aberdeen Castle, wrote his beautiful 'Letters,' of which Richard Baxter said that, after the Bible, such a book the world never saw. All of these were more than conquerors through him that loved them. Whatever trials we may meet with, there is the great certainty of the love of Christ. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (ver. 31). We may lose our earthly friends, but Jesus remains - the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

3. The new year may be to some of us a year of death. Philip Henry, father of Matthew Henry the commentator, used frequently to pray this prayer, "Fit us to leave or to be left." Whatever uncertainty we may feel about the earthly lot that is in store for us, whether our days may be many or few, let us make sure that we are clinging to the cross of Jesus, and then we have a safety and a security which no trials can ever shake.

II. THE CERTAINTIES OF A NEW YEAR. While there is much that is uncertain about each new year, there is much also that we may with confidence expect.

1. The new year will be a time of opportunities. This is as certain as that the sun will shine, and the seasons come, and the ocean ebb and flow. Every day will bring to each of us its opportunities. Opportunities save souls. John Williams, a careless young man, was persuaded by a friend to go one sabbath evening to a place of worship, and there he heard a sermon on the words, "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" That opportunity, availed of, saved his soul and led him to decide for Christ, and he became the famous missionary and martyr of Erromanga. Had he refused that invitation, rejected that opportunity, a similar opportunity might never have returned. Opportunities test character. Some one has said that "opportunities are importunities." Every opportunity appeals to us. It appeals to us to avail ourselves of it, to show what side we are on, to make our choice for time and eternity. Abraham had his opportunity when the call came to him to leave his father's house, and he used it well. It showed him to be a man of faith, a man who would do God's bidding at any cost. Joseph, Joshua, Daniel - each of these had his opportunity, and well he used it. Herod had his opportunity, and seemed to be impressed by the preaching of John the Baptist, for "he did many things, and heard him gladly;" but when the critical and testing opportunity came of making his choice, of choosing good rather than evil, he lost it. So it was with Felix and Agrippa. But let our life be dominated by the constraining influence of the love of Christ, and then the opportunities which the passing hours are sure to bring will only show more and more clearly that we are on the Lord's side.

2. The new year will be a time of duties. It is well to begin the year with a high sense of our obligations and responsibilities. Duties are a certainty which every day brings with it. There are the duties of daffy prayer and daily thanksgiving to God; the duties of parents to their children, of employers to their servants, of all Christians to those who are around them. Here, again, let every duty be discharged in the spirit of love to Christ, and there will be no uncertainty about our faithfulness. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" - C.H.I.

The argument of vers. 28-30, and, indeed, of the entire chapter, is now summed up in a triumphant hymn - the victorious battle-cry with which the conqueror surveys the vacated field (Godet). Vers. 31 and 32 refer to God's call according to purpose; vers. 33 and 34 to the solemn justification of believers by God; and vers. 35-39 to their final glorifying as involved in the justification. Here the reference is to God's great purpose in Christ, and the apostle challenges an answer to his question, "If God is for us, who is against us?" Nay, God's purpose is irrefragable. And what a pledge has he given of his intent to carry out that purpose to the uttermost! "He spared not his own Son." Surely, therefore, in him all things are ours. Let us consider, then, what are the "all things" that we need, and what is our assurance that God will give them.

I. OUR NEED. Ours is a triple need - of guidance, grace, and glory.

1. Guidance. A venture has been made upon a new career. Is it a venture? and may we possibly find ourselves in endless mazes lost? Or are we not sure, rather, of the leading of an unseen hand? "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel."

(1) Belief. As an essential requisite of advancement in salvation, God will give knowledge of his truth. How immense is the potency of ideas! A false idea will sway a world to its destruction; a true idea will impel men with mighty progress in the way of life. So is it in the way of the Christian life: zeal may hasten men to all vigorous endeavour, but zeal without knowledge may make their endeavours futile, or even ruinous. A prejudice, an error, may dwarf, or even vitiate, our Christian character and work; a true belief, a real knowledge, will be our strength and conquest. But how liable we are to prejudice and error! How insufficient is our intellect for grasping truth! We may so easily follow false lights. No; "Thou shall guide me." The God who calls will lead, and he will lead our thought, our knowledge, our belief, if we rightly seek his help. Use of all available means presupposed - self-training, experience, God's Word. A right spirit also - humble, teachable, true. Then not far astray.

(2) Growth. The truth is as food, and our appropriation of it must be followed by true growth of Christian character. But the growth needs to be watched and tended; the application of the truth to our own hearts needs care. Illustrate food and bodily health; but how much more the spiritual! God gives wisdom to use knowledge, and above all he himself guides the upward growth.

(3) Life. As with the character, the hidden man of the heart, so with the life, the outer man. Principles may be formed; but the application of principles in practice yet remains. And how multifarious the applications! how complex! how sometimes conflicting! We need to seek all help that right knowledge affords, a well-informed conscience. But also we need the intuitive perception, the pure intent, which itself is often the surest guide; the right spiritual instinct. In either way the life shall have guidance of the God that leads us.

2. Grace. If we need direction, do we not also need active help? for we are not only fallible, but frail.

(1) The grace of life shall be given. All the power of love which constitutes our spiritual life shall be supplied by him. His Spirit is within us; we are led by himself to himself.

(2) The grace of conquest also. All power, as well negatively towards evil as positively towards good. Whatever oppositions there may be to our spiritual well-being, we shall conquer through his love.

(a) Actively: as pressing our way through temptation;

(b) passively: we learn to suffer and be strong.

3. Glory. While guidance and grace are given to conduct us to the glory, the glory itself is sure.

(1) Perfect purity: all possibility of sin then done away; all fulness of good.

(2) Perfect manhood: our outward and inward nature harmonized.

(3) A perfect world: our habitation and our nature then at one.

II. OUR PLEDGE. But how know we that these things shall be given? The pledge is twofold: God's purpose - "God is for us;" God's gift - "He spared not his own Son."

1. God initiates salvation. Not begged of him by us; not procured by a third. "Of his own will." If he begins to work, he will finish.

2. God gives the supreme Gift. The very life: his Son; himself. Hence all subordinate gifts will be given. "Is not the life more than meat?"

3. God loves with such a love. Beyond our thought. But more than all which the analogue suggests: "his own Son." How then shall he not, etc.? Argue the matter to yourselves. He gave his Son for me! And then -

"All, all he hath for mine I claim;
I dare believe in Jesu's Name!" T.F.L.

We have appreciated the paradise of pardon, of acceptance, of sanctification, into which, in spite of this life's sufferings, believers in Jesus come. And now we are to study that hymn of courageous assurance, into which the apostle rises at the close of the chapter. Nowhere does St. Paul rise into nobler eloquence than here.

I. THE BELIEVER'S SOLILOQUY. (Vers. 31, 32.) In this soliloquy the apostle reviews the whole previous argument. Ch. 1.-5. is God for us - justification by faith; ch. 6.-8., is God in us - sanctification through the Spirit of Christ. What can be said to these things? If God be for us, then we ask naturally and logically:

1. Who can be against us? With God as our Ally, we may safely face the world in arms. Assurance is thus traced to its Divine Source. It is not boastfulness, but humble dependence upon the almighty strength of God. The One is more than a match for all his and our foes.

2. In sparing not his own Son, he has given us the greatest pledge of his good will. In delivering up his Son to the death for us all, God was giving to man his very greatest Gift. It implies that the lesser gifts of the Spirit and of providence shall not be wanting.

"He who his Son, most dear and loved,
Gave up for us to die,
Shall he not all things freely give
That goodness can supply?" It was a similar argument through which Abraham passed, he journeyed to Mount Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. He found there that God had provided a substitute in the ram caught in the thicket, and that, therefore, Isaac could go free. He accordingly called the place "Jehovah-jireh" - the Lord will look after everything, and I shall not want any really good thing from his hands (Genesis 22.). Christ crucified is thus the foundation of the believer's assurance.

II. THE BELIEVER'S CHALLENGE. (Vers. 33-36.) And here we have a challenge:

1. To all who may dispute his right to salvation. (Vers. 33, 34.) For:

(1) Justification is from God. And he has taken every possible charge into account.

(2) The ground of the justification is the death of Jesus Christ.

(3) The guarantee of it is the resurrection, reign, and intercession of Jesus. With a risen Saviour on the throne, making intercession for us, who will dare to dispute, and who will succeed in preventing, our pardon and acceptance? It is thus that the apostle works the great facts of our Saviour's history into the experience of the believer.

2. We have a challenge to all adverse circumstances. (Vers. 35-37.) The believer can defy his environment, as it is now called, as well as his enemies. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, - one and all shall be found to be powerless in separating him from the love of Christ. Jesus, with his loving and almighty arm, can hold his people safe in every trial and difficulty. What have these adverse circumstances been but opportunities for the exercise of preserving power? They are golden opportunities which Christ embraces for exhibiting his power to save. And so here we have the true Christian evidence, that Jesus can preserve his people in spite of all apparently adverse things.

III. THE BELIEVER'S SUPREME PERSUASION. (Vers. 38, 39.) In these verses the apostle exhausts the category and declares his persuasion that not one of the things or persons embraced shall be able to separate the believer from the Divine love. Let us glance at them in order.

1. Death shall be no separating power. So far from this, the believer is enabled to rejoice in the fact that to die shall be gain; absent from the body, present with the Lord. The king of terrors will only usher the emancipated spirit into the near presence of his Lord.

2. Life shall prove no separating power. Even when it is flowing full and free, with all its garish and distracting shows, it will not be allowed to separate us from the love of Christ. Of the two dangers to our union with Christ, life is greater than death, but not so great as to defeat the loving power of Jesus.

3. Angels, principalities, powers, shall prove no separating power. This must refer to the evil angels, to Satan and his hosts; for the good angels are our helpers (Hebrews 1:14). A risen Saviour is more than sufficient to meet and overthrow them all.

4. Things present, appealing to sense, shall also be unable to separate us from Christ's love. They are subtle and powerful foes, yet Christ can vanquish them. He can conquer the inclination to be over-occupied with such things.

5. Things to come, appealing to fear, shall be unable to separate us from Christ. No possible combination of circumstances can perplex him. He is more than a match for all.

6. Height, depth, or any other creature, shall likewise be unable to separate us from the Lord's love. Neither space nor time, things physical or things metaphysical, shall be able to endanger our union with Christ. - R.M.E.

This is one of the most wonderful chapters in all Scripture, for the height to which it soars and the breadth of its conceptions. It is rich in doctrine, in promise, and in consolation. Having climbed, as it were, the mount of God, the apostle reaches the summit, stands bathed in the very light of God.

I. A GLORIOUS AND SOLEMN TRUTH COMMEMORATED. "God spared not his own Son." God has known what it is to be bereaved by the departure and death of his best-beloved. No need now to dwell upon those sufferings of Christ at the crucifixion - the baptism of horror, darkness, and blood in which the Sun of Righteousness set for two days. The God who in his tender mercy steps in and spares offenders taken in arms against him, then seemed deaf to the cries of his only begotten Son. He must drink the bitter cup to its dregs. Hagar in the wilderness turned away that she might not see her child die. She prayed, and Ishmael lived. Yet God beheld his Son prostrate in the garden, and yet yielded him up for us all. What can give such views of the enormity of sin as the sacrifice of Christ! When hard iron laws tempt us to disbelieve the compassion of our Maker, we are reassured by the spectacle of the suffering Christ. There is no lack of wisdom, power, or love, however stern the necessity which compels our anguish. "A man spareth his own son that serveth him" all needless toil, but the grandest service may entail the severest labour. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the Author of eternal salvation."

II. THE ARGUMENT WHICH THIS TRUTH IS USED TO ENFORCE. If God bestows such a gift, what will he withhold?

1. When we were enemies he surrendered his Son on our behalf; how much will he not do for us now we are friends? The mediation of Christ hath restored us to a covenant position.

2. Jesus Christ is the sum of all good gifts, inestimable, unspeakable. Nothing more precious in the eyes of God than his dear Son! It is absurd to suppose that he will refuse us a lesser gift. All good is embodied in Christ; other blessings are fruits of his tree of life. He is the Sun; other brightness is but beams from that Sun.

3. The gift of Christ was for the express purpose of opening a door through which all other good things might pass to us. He is the great Charter of Christian privilege, the Preacher of peace, the Ambassador of reconciliation, the Channel of Divine grace. "All things are yours."

4. As we did nothing to deserve the gift of Christ, so the lesser blessings to enrich our lives are bestowed not according to our deserts, but according to God's free bounty. He gives abundantly "without money and without price."

5. The one condition is to receive Christ. These gifts are to be had "with Christ," or not at all. What is to be said for him who can treat lightly this stupendous boon? If God spared not his own Son, what must the impenitent expect who refuse to obey the will of God, and harden themselves in unbelief? Turn to him in prayer, and employ the persuasive petition, "for Christ's sake." - S.R.A.

He has asked the general question, challenging an answer: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He now proceeds to two special questions, the first of which has reference to the justification of believers by God. In view of that he asks, "Who shall lay anything to their charge? who shall condemn?" And again, amplifying the fact of their justification, he tells of the death, the resurrection, the ascension, the intercession, of Christ Jesus, as the pledge and declaration of their acquittal. We may consider the possible sources of charge against God's people, and their triumphant vindication.

I. THE CHARGE. To them that are in Christ Jesus there is now no condemnation, and yet whispers of condemnation may again and again be heard.

1. The transgressions of the past may come to mind with such force as to destroy our joy in God. Past irreparable, and though first consciousness of free forgiveness of God may almost blot it from our memory for the time, yet there are times when it seems to live again, and so vividly that we can hardly detach the thought of overwhelming guilt as still upon us.

2. The imperfections of the present. How far from the perfectness of the ideal! And how the very growth of earnestness and increase of endeavour seem to make the ideal more distant still! So conscience, the Law, the adversary, and accusing men (see Beet, in loc.) may make us feel condemned.

II. THE VINDICATION. But the condemnation is not real; it exists only in the diseased imagination. Let it be brought face to face with the great facts of the gospel, and it must vanish quite away. What are these facts?

1. The great central fact is that we are God's chosen ones; and who shall dispute God's choice? Not that he ever can act without reason; but, whether we see the reason or not, we are elect, the elect of God, as being his people, and who shall gainsay it?

2. This great election is declared by his justification of the believer, which has gone abroad in the gospel to all the world: "He that believeth is not condemned."

3. And even the reasons of the election of believers are graciously made known, and graciously confirmed: Christ's death, resurrection, exaltation, and intercession.

(1) The death of Christ, as the great Propitiation for the sins of the world, utterly does away all guilt to those who sincerely receive it by faith. As the Son of God, he thus sets forth the infinite love of a God who laid down his life for our sake; as Son of man, making reconciliation for the sins of the people, he appeals on our behalf even to the infinite justice for our acquittal. And though we may still be frail, and sin may cleave to us, yet, if we are sincere in our faith, that atonement avails for all things and for ever.

(2) The resurrection of Christ, following after the expiation, is God's sure setting-forth of the value of the expiation, and the effectiveness of the finished sacrifice. "Raised for [i.e. because of] our justification" (Romans 4:25).

(3) The exaltation, as the resurrection completed, is the completing of the guarantee that we are accepted in him. And he is our Forerunner.

(4) The intercession, as the work of the exalted High Priest, is the continuous application of the atoning work, in itself for ever finished and for ever guaranteed. For returning prodigals, and for us with our frailties who have believed, he "ever liveth to make intercession," and is therefore "able to save unto the uttermost." Oh, then, whether we look to God who has chosen and justified us, or to him whom God hath set forth as a Propitiation, and again declared to be his Son, well-pleasing and beloved, by the raising from the dead; whether we regard God in Christ as the Source of our salvation, as the Effecter of salvation, or as the Manifester of salvation; whether we think of the past, the present, or the future in Christ; - in any case we can take up the triumphant challenge given us by Paul, "It is God that justifieth; Who is he that shall condemn? It is Christ Jesus," etc. - T.F.L.

This second special question which Paul asks has reference to that final glorifying of believers by God, that perfect conformation to the image of his Son, which is the import of his purpose concerning them, the goal of all his working. The "love of Christ," or the "love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," is represented as laying hold of them with a firm grasp, to rescue them from death, and to raise them to perfect newness of life; and the apostle asks, in view of all possible evils which might seem to threaten the accomplishment of such purpose, assuming, of course, their own continued loyalty of heart, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" and, as he recapitulates all actual or imagined perils, the ready answer still breaks forth from his lips, "Nought, nought shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord I" We have, then, here for our consideration - love; love's hindrances; love's triumph.

I. LOVE. The great truth, great beyond all others, fundamental to all others; the truth to which all the revelations were designed to lead, and in which they culminate; the truth set forth so wondrously in the life and death of Christ, is this, that "God is love." This love was manifest in man's creation, and in the rich resources of man's world, furnished for man's sake with such liberal lavishment; it was manifest yet more in man's redemption, and in the rich resources of man's spiritual world, prepared and furnished for man with infinite tenderness. And how has it not been manifest to each of the called ones, laying hold of them, lifting them from the depths, setting them even now in heavenly places, and destining them, as joint-heirs with Christ, to all the blessedness of an immortal future!

II. LOVE'S HINDRANCES. But this love has its seeming hindrances; shall they obstruct the accomplishment of its designs?

1. Death and life.

(1) Death was no fancied evil then; for, as he tells us, it was only too true that "for God's sake they were killed all the day long, accounted as sheep for the slaughter." And in another place he speaks of being, as it were, "appointed to death" (1 Corinthians 4:9). And again (1 Corinthians 15:31) he says, "I die daily." Not mere talk, for we know how in reality this was the seal of their witness-bearing. The Roman Christians, in after-times - in what terrors was not death arrayed to them? As under Nero. And so whenever the beast - the brute power of ungodliness - has made war with the saints (Revelation 13:7). And even now in the forefront of the conflict there is death for Christ's sake; and to all there is the dread dying that sooner or later must end this mortal strife.

(2) But the life itself is filled with jeopardy. Perhaps really more trying test than any martyrdom: latter once for all, and glory round it; former protracted and commonplace.

(a) Positively: dangers and difficulties of circumstance and event; moral difficulties, as world's reproach, and opposing one's self to stream of custom; and difficulties relating to one's own patient continuance in well-doing.

(b) Negatively: the allurements of temptation; repetition of primal fall. Thus life perpetually tries us.

2. Angels and principalities. Ephesians 6. opens our eyes to the tremendous forces arrayed against us. So Bunyan's allegory no fiction. There is a real, objective opposition of "spiritual wickedness" against us, and of what strength and subtlety who shall say? And through the medium of the strength and authority of the "powers" of this world; as Roman emperors.

3. Height and depth. Great exaltation, of this life or of the spiritual life, has its besetting temptations: so Paul himself (2 Corinthians 12.) in danger of being "exalted above measure." Great depression or abasement has likewise its perils: rebellion, or despair.

4. Things present and things to come. Boding fears often worse than actual fightings. So we may "die a thousand deaths in fearing one."

5. Any other creation. The apostle has been hinting at a new creation, when the true Paradise shall be restored. But if the former Paradise was so perilous, and this creation now has so many perils, what may not the new creation bring? Shall that separate us from the love of Christ?

III. LOVE'S TRIUMPH. Shall these things separate us from God's love? Nay, God's love is too strong; and God's gifts, already given, are too great. And, indeed, those things all enter into the working of God's purpose, and therefore cannot break it. Nay, more: if they enter into the working of that purpose, they shall actually subserve it; and so we shall not only conquer, but more than conquer (ver. 28); for that which is against us shall become for us, evil shall be transformed to good, our enemies shall become unwitting friends. "More than conquerors!" Of our entry into life they swell the triumph (illustrate by triumph of Roman generals), and so an entrance is ministered to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom. Let this be our persuasion, our faith; so shall we be strong, and at last we shall realize the victory which is even now assured. - T.F.L.

This chapter is like a stream that gathers strength and volume as it flows. Beginning with the Christian's state as one of freedom from condemnation, it ends by placing him on the summit of victory, radiant with the love of God. It is a chapter full of Christ. Christ in humiliation and triumph; Christ as the Sacrifice in whom sin was condemned, and, as the risen Redeemer, the Firstborn of many brethren; Christ as the present Strength of his people by his indwelling Spirit, and, as seated upon the throne, the perfect Son of God, to whose lineage all the sons are to be conformed. The earnest rhetoric of the apostle leads him to summon all adversaries to the bar, and challenge them to prove their ability to upset his reasonings and destroy the hopes of the followers of Christ. Who or what shall sever the tie that binds them to their Lord?

I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHALLENGE. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" The passage requires us to understand the expression as referring rather to Christ's love for us than to our response to his love. See the parallelism with ver. 37, "through him that loved us." And ver. 39 speaks of "the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." This interpretation loses no shade of meaning, since Christ's affection involves our love in return, as its natural outcome. The expression is, in truth, a description of our religion. To be severed from Christ's love means utter loss.

1. Christianity is founded upon the love of Christ. This looked down pityingly upon our dark and helpless world. It shone through all the symbols of the Law, pointing the worshippers to the coming Saviour. It nerved him to endure his anguish in the garden and on the cross. It has provided for man a day of grace, and the endowment of the Spirit to renew and sanctify.

2. The new life is dependent on the continued manifestation of this love. Remove the sunlight, and the plant sickens and dies. Let the supply of the air above be stopped, and the diver cannot breathe. Without the love of Christ operating on the heart, the sweetest ordinances lose their savour, communion by reading and prayer is eclipsed, no rainbow brightens the tears of penitence. The love of Christ shed abroad is the root of obedience. From it we draw our most influential motives to holiness and service. The lustre of our deeds is marred unless encircled by this golden band.

3. The love of Christ is the love of God herein revealed. Christ is the Horn of plenty by which the Father would pour into the lap of his children all good things. To be sundered from this love must signify, therefore, our estrangement from all that lifts us heavenward. Could this happen, Christianity were stilled into a frozen sea, the ripples and waves remaining in form, but not in motion and might - a waste of desert ice. The query is not merely oratorical. Endeavours to intercept the love of Christ are reiterated and prolonged. The words that follow are not empty terms, not visions of the night, but stern foes, combatants to be encountered by day.

II. THE CONFIDENT REPLY. The apostle answers his own query. Look at the particular things enumerated, and then appreciate the apostolic assurance.

1. The trials of life cannot defeat the purposes, of Christ's love. "Tribulation, anguish, famine, nakedness," though they may becloud our path and awaken a bitter cry, yet, instead of being regarded as indications of abandonment, are rather signs of the providential discipline which perfects sanctification. The good Shepherd is moved to greater compassion at the sight of the wounds of his flock.

2. The hostility of an unbelieving world cannot dissolve this union. "Persecution, peril, and the sword" do but liken the servant to the Master. Piety has thriven most in days of ridicule and torment. Christian heroism cheerfully underwent the loss of goods, stripes, and imprisonment; it converted jails into holy fanes resounding with praise and prayer. "In that he suffered being tempted," he has proved himself "able to succour those that are tempted."

3. The apostle advances in his enumeration. Neither "death," however grim its aspect, nor "life," with its snares and bewitchments, its competitions, its trifles, can succeed in detaching the pilgrim from the protecting love of his Guide. Nor can the ranged battalions of evil win the victory. Christ triumphed over them, and conquers still.

4. So finally the apostle sums up in the emphatic comprehensive assertion that neither the forces of time, "things present and to come," nor the forces of space, "height and depth," bewildering the imagination or depressing the soul, no, "nor any other created thing," above or below, personal or impersonal, animate or inanimate, known or unknown, shall defeat the loving purpose of Christ in the salvation of his people. "Many waters cannot drown his love, nor the floods quench it."


1. The dignity of Christ's Person and the perfection of his character forbid fear. His love falters not, is not fickle; it waxes, but never wanes. He does not undertake what he cannot accomplish, nor begin what is beyond his power to finish. The foes to our salvation were foreseen and measured from the first. To doubt it is to dishonour him.

2. The whole trend of the redemptive scheme is against any supposition of abandonment by Christ. How infinite the price already paid! How steadily and surely the great design of salvation has marched through the ages, developing ever deeper wisdom and unfailing resources! We might wonder that man had not been left to himself in his rebellion and a new race created; but man's elevation having been promised and begun, every indication points to the ultimate fulfilment of our purest and brightest hopes.

3. Innumerable biographies confirm the apostle's declaration. May our life add another testimony! Look at the forces opposed to our steadfastness, and then, like Peter, we lose heart and begin to sink. Fix the gaze upon Christ, and our cheerful courage, our triumphant conviction of his unshakable love, will of itself lend such vigour to our loyalty that every apprehension of disaster shall vanish. - S.R.A.

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