Monday, May 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible Coke's Commentary
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 6". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tcc/ romans-6.html. 1801-1803.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 6". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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We may not live in sin, for we are dead unto it, as appeareth by our baptism. Nor are we to let sin reign any more, because we have yielded ourselves to the service of righteousness: and death is the wages of sin.
Anno Domini 58.
ST. Paul's design in this and the two following chapters, was to confute the slanderous report mentioned chap. Rom 3:5 namely, that the Apostles ordered their disciples to sin, that grace might abound in their pardon: also to prove, in opposition to the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, that the doctrine of justification by faith without works of law, does not render law useless, but rather establishes it as highly useful, chap. Romans 3:31. His transition to these subjects is elegant. For, in the foregoingchapter, having shewn that all mankind die for the sin of Adam; also having discoursed, chap. Rom 5:20-21 of the superabounding of grace, through Christ, in producing the righteousness of faith, and in rewarding that righteousness with eternal life, he begins this chapter with asking, Whether any one could seriously think that he could be so inconsistent as to order men to sin, that grace might the more abound in their pardon? Romans 6:1.—Persons, said he, who teach as we do, that God has subjected the whole human race to death for the one offence of the first man, never can fancy that God will bestow eternal life the more abundantly on men, because they continue in sin, Romans 6:2.—Next, to shew that the Apostles, who taught the doctrine of justification by faith without works, did not mean thereby to set their disciples free from the obligations of morality, he observed that, in baptism, the rite of initiation into the Christian church, the baptized person is as one put to death withChrist on account of sin, in order that he may be strongly impressed with a sense of the malignity of sin, and excited to hate it as the greatest of evils, Romans 6:3.—Moreover, in the same rite, the baptized person is taught that he shall be raised from the dead with Christ, by the power of the Father, to live with him for ever in heaven, provided he is prepared for that life by true holiness, Romans 6:4-5.—Farther, by their baptism, believers are laid under the strongest obligations to holiness, because it represents their old man, their old corrupt nature, as crucified with Christ, to teach them that their body, which sin claimed as its property, being put to death, was no longer to serve sin as its slave, Romans 6:6.—By calling men's body the body of sin, the Apostle represents sin, or evil desire, as a person who, by overcoming the first man, had made him and all his posterity his slavesbyrightofconquest, and who, as their master, was continually demanding from them,withrigour,theignominious service of wicked actions. And because the Greeks and Romans were well acquainted with the manner in which slaves were acquired, and with the laws by which their lives and services were regulated, he appealed to these known customs, to prove that, by the death of Christ their federal head, the claim which sin has set up to the persons and services of mankind, in consequence of the fall of the first man, is utterly destroyed.
Sin, says the Apostle, claims you as his slaves, in consequence of having subdued your first parents, and taken them captives: but I will shew you by the laws of slavery, that that claim is now cancelled, and that it is both your right and your duty to shake off the yoke of that tyrannical master. Sin having put you to death with Christ, ye are no longer his slaves. For the slave of sin who is dead, is freed from the dominion of sin, even as every slave who is put to death by his master, is freed from the dominion of that master, Romans 6:7.—But though we died with Christ on the cross, we live at present, and shall afterwards, if faithful, live together with him in heaven; and therefore we are now, of right, his servants, Romans 6:8-10.—Farther, that the Romans might rightly understand this argument, the Apostle desired them to conclude, from what he had told them, that at the fall they had been killed, both corporally and spiritually, by the sin of their first parents, but were made alive, both in body and spirit, by Christ, who on that account was become their rightful Lord, Romans 6:11.—Wherefore, it was both their duty and their interest, not to allow sin to rule them any longer, in the life which they had acquired through Christ, but to employ both the members of their body, and the faculties of their mind, in the service of God, as persons, who have been made alive from the death brought on them by sin, ought to do, Romans 6:12-13.
Next, in answer to the calumny, that the Christian teachers encouraged their disciples to sin, by telling them that they were not under law, but under grace, the Apostle affirmed that that doctrine has the direct contrary tendency. Sin shall not lord it over you, for this very reason, that ye are not under law, but under grace: and he had good reason to say so, because he had shewn, Rom 6:11 that under grace, that is, under the new covenant, men are made spiritually alive by God; consequently theyhave sufficient strength communicated to them for conquering evil desires, and for working righteousness; and great encouragement to do so, by the promise of pardon which is made to them in that covenant. Whereas law, by rigorously requiring perfect obedience to all its precepts, and by refusing pardon to sinners, drives them to despair, and hardens them in their sins, Romans 6:14.—These, said the Apostle, being the doctrines which we constantly preach, can you believe that we ever said, Let us sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? Romans 6:15.—In the mean time, I must inform you, that the advantages which you enjoy under grace, though very great, are of such a kind as to leave you still at liberty to give yourselves up, either to holyaffections, or to sinful desires, as you choose; and that, to whomsoever of these masters you yield yourselves slaves, you give him the absolute direction of you, Romans 6:16.—However, I thank God, that ye Romans, though formerly the slaves of sin, have obeyed the form of doctrine into which ye were delivered, as into a mould, Romans 6:17.—and are become the servants of righteousness, Romans 6:18.—Withal, to prevent the Romans from being surprised at the things that he had written, he told them, that, on account of the weakness of their understanding in spiritual matters, he had reasoned from the laws and customs of men respecting slaves, to give them a just idea of the power of men's affections. And therefore, as formerly, through the power of their lusts, they had employed themselves wholly in wickedness, he exhorted them now, by the aid of the Spirit of God, (without whom they could do nothing,) through the influence of holy affections, to employ themselves wholly in working righteousness, Romans 6:19-20.—Then he contrasted the miserable condition and end of the slave of sin, with the happy state and reward of the servant of God: from which it appears, that even under the gracious new covenant, the wages of sin obstinately continued in, is death; but the reward of holiness, is everlasting life, Romans 6:21-23.
Themetaphors in this chapter are extremely bold; yet, being taken from matters well known, they were used with great advantage. For the influence of sinful passions, in constraining wicked men to commit evil actions, could not be better represented to those who were acquainted with the condition of slaves, and with the customs by which their lives and services were regulated, than by the power which a tyrannical lord exercised over his slaves. Neither could any thing more affecting be devised, to shew the miserable condition of a person habitually governed by his lusts, than to liken it to the state of a slave under a severe unprincipled master, who rigorously requires him to spend the whole of his time and strength in his work, who exacts from him things both painful and ignominious, and who, by the severity of the services which he imposes, miserably puts an end to the lives of his slaves.
Romans 6:1.— The Apostle having now proved, by three distinct arguments, that both Gentiles and Jews can be pardoned, and made partakers of the privileges and blessings of the kingdom of God under the Messiah, no otherwise than by the grace of God, through faith alone; he next proceeds, in proper order, to shew the obligations that both Gentiles and Jews were under to a life of holiness in this their new state, and the means and advantages which they enjoyed for that purpose. This he does, not only to instruct the Christians, and to prevent their mistakes, but also to wipe away a calumny industriously spread, as if, in asserting justification by grace without works, he had taught that we are under no obligation to obedience, chap. Romans 3:8. Against this objection, mistake, or calumny, he puts in a caveat, chap. Rom 3:31 and handlesthe point at large. See the introductory notes to this chapter.
Romans 6:2-3. How shall we, that are dead, &c.— The objection which carnal minds are naturally apt to make against justification by God's free grace, through the infinite merit of Christ, is not to be answered by allowing that our own righteousness is to be joined in part with his to justify us; for, on that supposition, there would be no room for the objection, and the assertion would be contrary to the whole analogy of faith. But it is to be answered by shewing, as the Apostle does, the indispensable necessity of personal holiness in them who are justified, and the inseparable connection which is fixed, by the ordination of God in the Gospel, between these things, without blending them together, or confounding one with the other. While therefore we, after the Apostle's example, adhere strictly to the doctrines of grace, and guard in this manner against the abuse of them, we may be satisfied that our doctrine is the same, and fully answers the same objection with his: and while we keep both these points in view, in our dealings with God, and walking in newness of life before him, we need not fear a miscarriage in our way to heaven. The Apostle's answer is, No, by no means: this would be the vilest abuse of this most endearing and comfortable truth, and directly contrary to its holy nature and design. For, though we cannot be justified by any of our own works; yet how can we, who profess and are obliged to die to sin, and who are really mortified in our affections to it, as to the worst of evils, if we be sincere believers; how, I say, in any consistencewith our state and character, and with a sense of duty and gratitude; or with what conscience, hope, or peace, can such as we are, go on any longer in a course of sin, or allow ourselves in the practice of any known iniquity? It is monstrously absurd to suppose it.
Romans 6:4. Buried with him by baptism— As the ordinance of baptism seems plainly to be sometimes represented, by sprinkling or pouring water; as particularly when God is said to save us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Tit 3:5-6): so some have thought that it is here mentioned with an allusion to the laying of a body under water; and yet, according to this mode of reasoning, it more naturally alludes to the throwing of earth upon the dead corpse, in which the body is entirely passive, and not at all active in going down into the grave, than to plunging it into the earth or water. But, after all, I am very much of opinion with Mr. Henry, or his continuator,Dr.Evans,who, in the exposition of this passage, says, "Why this burying in baptism shouldso much as allude to any custom of dipping under water in baptism any more than our baptismal crucifixion and death should have any such reference, I confess I cannot see. It is plain, that it is not the sign, but the thing signified in baptism, that the Apostle here calls being buried with Christ; and the expression of burying alludes to Christ's burial. As Christ was buried, that he might rise to a new and more heavenly life; so we are in baptism buried, that is to say, cut off from the life of sin, that we may rise again to a new life in faith and love." Others have thought, that the reference is onlyto the benefits of spiritual baptism, and that nothing can be concluded about the external mode of baptism from this verse, more than from the next, which speaks of our being therein symbolically planted together in the likeness of Christ's death; or than from the figure of baptism saving us, as represented by the floating of Noah's ark, when the few that were in it were saved by water; 1 Peter 3:20-21. But no mode of baptism can be signified by either of these. As the church at Rome seems to have been planted about the year 43, and this Epistle was written in the year 58, that is, fifteen years after; and yet the Apostle speaks of the converted Romans in general as baptized; it must be supposed that baptism was administered to those whose parents had been Christians at the time of their birth. See Gale's Serm. vol. 2: p. 202.
Romans 6:5. If we have been planted together— Planted does not completely express the Apostle's sentiment. The expression τα συμφυτα, means such plants as grow the one upon and in the other, deriving sap and nourishment from it; as mistletoe upon the oak, or the scion upon the stock intowhich it is grafted. Some commentators have translated the words thus: For if we have been made growers-together with Christ in the likeness of his death [or in that which is like his death], we shall be also growers-together with him in the likeness of [or in that which is like] his resurrection. It appears to be a metaphor, and a very beautiful one, taken from grafting, or making the scion grow together with the new stock. Homberg would render it, If we have been united with him by the image of his death, we shall, &c. See Wells, Beza, and Raphelius.
Romans 6:6. Our old man— Our wicked and corrupt fleshly self, Galatians 5:24.Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:22. Col 2:11. 1 Peter 4:1. The utter destruction of the body of sin in us, is certainly intended in the Gospel; but the particular import of the Greek word καταργηθη, is, to make void, debilitate, enervate, disannul, abolish, or depose. Compare chap. Rom 3:31 Romans 4:14. 1Co 2:6; 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 15:24. Eph 2:15. 2 Timothy 1:10. It will conduce much to the understanding of St. Paul in this and the two following chapters, if it be observed that these phrases, to serve sin,—to be servants of sin,—sin reigning in our mortal bodies,—to obey sin in the lusts of our bodies,—to yield our members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, or servants of uncleanness,—and of iniquity unto iniquity,—to be free from righteousness,—to walk, live, or be after the flesh,—to be carnally-minded, all signify one and the same thing; namely, the giving ourselves up to the conduct of our carnal and sinful appetites; allowing any of them the command over us, and the conduct and prevalency in determining us. On the contrary, the walking after the spirit, or in newness of life,—the crucifixion of the old man,—the destruction of the body of sin, the deliverance from the body of death,—to be freed from sin,—to be dead to sin, and alive unto God,—to yield ourselves unto God, as those who are alive from the dead,—to yield our members servants of righteousness unto holiness, or instruments of righteousness unto God,—to be servants of obedience unto righteousness,— made free from sin,—servants of righteousness,—to be after the Spirit, to be spiritually-minded,—to mortify the deeds of the body,—do all signify a constant steady purpose and sincere endeavour to obey the law and will of God in every thing through grace; these several expressions being used in several places, as best serves the occasion, and illustrates the sense.
Romans 6:7. He that is dead is freed from sin— St. Peter seems to paraphrase this verse, 1 Peter 4:1. He that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin; as if he had said, "The Christian who is so resolute, by the power of the Spirit of God, as to resist all temptation to sin, and chooses rather to suffer any temporal calamities than commit sin, or neglect his duty, is the only man who has done with sin;—who is effectually delivered from the power and condemnation of it." The Greek word δικαιουσθαι, frequently signifies in Scripture to be saved or delivered. See Isaiah 45:25. Jam 2:25 and on ch. Romans 5:16. Mr. Locke paraphrases this passage thus: "For he that is dead is set free from the vassalage of sin, as a slave is from the vassalage of his master." St. Paul makes it his business, in this chapter, not to tell the Jews what they certainly are; but to exhort them to be what they ought and are engaged to be, by becoming Christians; namely, that they ought by the power of grace to emancipate themselves from the vassalage of sin; not that they were so emancipated without any danger of return: for then he could not have said what he does, Romans 6:1; Rom 6:12-13 which supposes it in their power to continue in their obedience to sin, or return to that vassalage if they would.
Romans 6:10. For in that he died, &c.— Dr. Doddridge translates and paraphrases the passage thus: "For whereas he died, he died once for all, as a sacrifice for sin, to atone the injured justice of God, and repair the honours of his violated law: and as he liveth he liveth to God for ever; his immortal life is entirely appropriated and devoted to his service; wherein we ought to make it our constant care to imitate his example." See chap. Romans 8:17. Galatians 2:20. 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 4:1.
Romans 6:11. Likewise, &c.— Thus then reckon ye yourselves, &c. See Colossians 3:3.
Romans 6:12. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body— Sin is here spoken of as a person; a prosopopoeia made use of throughout this and the following chapter; which must be observed if we will understand them right. See 1 Peter 4:1. Dr. Heylin renders this verse, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, so as to obey it by indulging the appetites of the body. Mr. Locke observes, that the preposition εν, in the Apostle's writings, often signifies by; and as here, as well as in the following chapter, Romans 7:18; Rom 7:24 and elsewhere, he places the root of sin in the body, the sense seems to be, "Let not sin reign over you, by the lusts of your mortal body." The force of St. Paul's argument appears to be this: "By your baptism you are engaged to become conformable to Christ's death and resurrection: he once died for sin, so do you count yourselves dead to sin: he rose to life, wherein he lives wholly to God; so must your new life be under the vassalage of sin no more; but you must live entirely to the service of God, to whom you are devoted."
Romans 6:13. Your members as instruments— Sinful lusts, at least those to which the Gentiles were most eminently enslaved, seem so much placed in the body and the members, that they are emphatically called the members. See Colossians 3:5. The word οπλα, rendered instruments, properly signifies weapons; and this sense has a beautiful propriety. See Locke, Doddridge, and Mintert.
Romans 6:14. For sin, &c.— That is, "Sin shall not be your master, to dispose of your members and faculties in its drudgery and service as it pleases: you shall not be under its controul, in subjection to it, unless by your own free choice you enthral yourselves to it, and by a voluntary obedience give it the command over you, and are willing to have it your master." We must bear in mind, that St. Paul here, and in the following chapter, personifies sin, as striving with men for mastery to destroy them. The force of his reasoning here stands thus: "You are obliged, by your taking on you the profession of the Gospel, not to be any longer slaves and vassals to sin, not to be under the sway of your carnal lusts, but to yield yourselves up to God, to be his servants, in a constant and sincere purpose and endeavour to obey him in all things. This if you do, sin shall not be able to procure you death; for you are not now under a law which condemns to death for every the least transgression, though it be but a slip of infirmity; but by your receiving Jesus Christ with genuine faith you are entered into the covenant of grace: and being under grace, God accepts of you, and, if you persevere in that faith which works by love, will give you eternal life through Jesus Christ. But if you, by a willing obedience to your lusts, make yourselves vassals to sin, Sin, as the lord and master to whom you belong, will pay you with death, the only wages he has to give." Compare Romans 6:23. Mr. Locke is of opinion, that by law and grace, the Apostle here means the Jewish and Christian dispensations. See the next chapter. But others observe, that by law is here meant strict rigid law, which was but a part of the Jewish dispensation, threatening death to every transgression; and that bygrace are meant the gracious terms, provisions, and discoveries of the Gospel; and that both are to be understood as they relate to sanctity of life, the subject upon which the Apostle is writing.
Romans 6:16. Obedience— That which he calls here simply obedience, in other places he calls obedience of faith, and obedience of Christ; meaning a reception of the Gospel of Christ. The Apostle explains the obligations of Gentile Christians in their present state, in opposition to the Gentile or heathen state, by the case of slaves, at that time well understood all over the world. A servant or slave was his master's property, a part of his goods, which he might keep for life, sell to another master, or manumit and set free, as he pleased. Consequently the servant must be employed, as the master that he was under was either good or bad; and must fare according as his master happened to be rich or poor, good-natured or churlish, niggardly or liberal: and his being released from a bad master, and put into the hands of a good one, kind and generous, must be a very desirable and happy alteration in his circumstances. See Locke.
Romans 6:17. But God be thanked— Here the Apostle thanks God, that whereas they had been heathens, and so ranked among the servants of sin, they were now become Christians, and consequently ranked among the servants of the Gospel, or such as were obedient to it. This he explains by a metaphor taken from the coining, stamping, or casting of metal in a die or mould. the τυπος, (the form, as we translate it,) that is, the stamp, die, or mould, is the doctrine of the Gospel. Their being put into or under this mould, was their passing out of the heathen into the Christian state. By the counsel of God, who had before determined to take the Gentiles into his Gospel church; by the preaching of the Gospel, whereby they were called into the church; and by their willingly embracing the genuine faith of the Gospel, they were put, or delivered, into or under the die or mould, from which they had received a new impression, or were fashioned into new creatures. And their obeying from their heart the mould, or model of doctrine, refers to their first faith, at their conversion. By this they were put or delivered into the die or mould of the Gospel: and their farther and continued obedience is what the Apostle in this chapter earnestly exhorts them to; namely, that as they had, through the grace of God, the doctrine of the Gospel, and were now put into it, so they would labour to admit a clear, fair, and full impression upon their hearts and lives. The figure upon the die is the image of God in righteousness and true holiness: for the new man (Ephesians 4:24.), or the Gospel state, is created or erected in righteousness and holiness after the image of God. This therefore is the figure upon the stamp or mould: this the image and superscription of God: and the Christian's duty and great work is, to be conformed to this image; to take care that a full and fair representation of it be struck upon all his principles and actions: that in the disposition of his mind, and in every part of his conversation, he may shew the image and superscription of God, bright and perfect, as upon a newly-coined piece of money. See on chap. Romans 5:14. Elsner, and Sykes on Christianity, p. 178.
Romans 6:19. I speak after the manner of men— There was a necessity for some little kind of apology for a figure of speech, which he dwells upon quite to the end of this chapter. This first clause should be read in a parenthesis.
Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death— The wages of sin does not here signify the wages which are paid for sinning, but the wages which sin pays. This is evident not only from the opposition which is here put between the wages of sin, and the gift of God; namely, that sin rewards men with eternal death for their obedience; but that which God freely gives to those, who, believing in Jesus Christ, labour sincerely after righteousness, is life eternal: but it farther appears by the whole tenor of St. Paul's discourse, wherein he speaks of sin as a person and a master, who is served and obeyed. And so the wages of sin, being the wages of a person here, must be what it pays. We may observe, that sin pays death to those who are its obedient vassals: but God rewards the obedience of those to whom he is Lord and Master, by the gift of eternal life. Their utmost endeavours and highest performances can never entitle them to it of right; and so it is to them not wages, but a free gift. See Chap. Rom 4:4 and Locke.
Inferences.—How groundless and injurious are all charges of licentiousness on the doctrine of justification alone by the free grace of God, through the infinite merit of Christ! Though no good works of our own bear any part in our justification before God, yet they stand in a close and necessary connection with it; and nothing can be more detestable than to continue in sin, that grace may the more abound in pardoning it. For how shall we who are by profession and obligation, and, if true believers, are in fact dead to sin, live any longer therein? This would be a flat contradiction to our baptismal engagement, and to all that was signified by it, and is answerable to it; would be absolutely inconsistent with our character, privilege, and duty as members of Christ, who have communion with him in his death and resurrection, and with all realizing views by faith of deliverance from sin and wrath, and of an advancement to eternal glory through him.—How excellent is the effect of regenerating grace! it includes both a mortification of sin, that the old man may be destroyed, and spiritual quickenings to a holy and heavenly life, that we may walk before God with new principles and ends, and according to a new rule in imitation of Christ, and by virtue derived from his death and resurrection to the glory of God. How certainly may we judge whether sin or holiness has the ascendancy in our hearts and lives! Whichever of these we willingly yield ourselves up unto, that is the lord who rules over us. We all once were the servants of iniquity, as appeared by our choosing its works, obeying its dictates, and taking pleasure in violating every bond to holiness: but, blessed be God, true believers are moulded into the spirit of the Gospel, which, under divine influence, has a transforming efficacy upon them; they are set at liberty from the power of sin; they hate and abhor it, and by no means approve of it in any instance whatsoever; and they are become, in their very hearts, servants to God and righteousness. How concerned then should they be to live under a constant sense of what belongs to their state as Christians! They should reckon themselves to be intirely dead to sin, as those who have nothing more to do with it; but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And how great are their inducements and assistances to quit the service of sin for the service of God! Though they are still under the law as a law of life, they are not under it as a severe and impracticable covenant, nor under its curse; but are taken under the covenant of grace, which contains the strongest encouragements against sin's recovering its dominion over them; and they are freed from the dreadful lordship of sin. What fruit has any one ever found worth having, in its ways and works, even while he was employed in them? They are matter of the greatest shame, and their just wages are all miseries unto eternal death. But there is a present pleasure in the ways of holiness; and its happy issue is everlasting life, not indeed as the wages of righteousness, but as the mere gift of God's free grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
REFLECTIONS.—The riches of the grace which he had displayed in the former chapter, the Apostle clearly foresaw would furnish objections against his doctrine, which he therefore states and obviates. What shall we say then? Is this a licentious doctrine? and shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid: the Apostle rejects the thought with abhorrence, as the vilest abuse of this most blessed truth. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? under its power and dominion: how inconsistent would it be with our character; how contrary to the obligations of gratitude and duty lying upon us; and how destructive of our peace and hope! Our very baptism represents our profession, and intimates to us the conversation becoming the name that we bear. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, into the faith of his name, and obedience to his authority, were baptized into his death? that we should resemble him, dying to sin, as he died for it, and corresponding with his great design in suffering, which was to redeem us from all iniquity. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; partaking of the benefits of his death; and, as a corpse laid in the grave, which ceases from the actions of life, so should we shew an abiding deadness to sin; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, by his almighty power, even so we also should walk in newness of life, quickened by virtue derived from him, our head of vital influence; and having received a new nature, new principles, and new hearts from him, we are bound to shew forth to his praise, in all holy conversation and godliness, the real and universal happy change which is passed upon us to the praise of the glory of his grace. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death; engrafted into him, and one with him as the members of his body mystical, sharing in the blessed effects of his death, and experiencing its efficacy in separating our souls from sin, as death separated his body and soul; we shall be also planted in the likeness of his resurrection; quickened by his divine power, and enabled to walk before God in holiness: Knowing this, that our old man, that fallen nature derived from Adam and coeval with our very being, is crucified with him; so that in every genuine believer its condemning guilt is abolished, and its tyrannizing power is at least broken: for we know that Christ died, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; should no longer be the slaves of corruption as before; and that quickly its very being in us might be at an end. For he that is dead is freed from sin: as a man that is dead can have no farther claims laid against him, so if we are crucified with Christ, we are freed from the power and dominion of our former master. Now if we be thus dead with Christ, through an union with this crucified Saviour, and virtue thence derived; we believe and hope that we shall also live with him, quickened to a life of grace here, and shortly to be raised to a life of eternal blessedness and glory to reign with him in heaven.
From these glorious views which the Apostle sets before us of our union and communion with Christ in his death and resurrection, the Apostle proceeds to urge upon the faithful two things: (1.) That they should reckon themselves dead indeed unto sin; not only discharged from its condemning guilt, but delivered from its power and dominion, so as henceforward to have no more fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, ceasing from them as a dead man does from the actions of life. (2.) That they should reckon themselves alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord; quickened by his grace, as the divine principle, to newness of life, and engaged and inclined to live to his glory as their great end.
This being then the great privilege, dignity, and duty of believers, we are most powerfully urged to walk agreeably thereunto. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. We are particularly called upon to deny the cravings of bodily appetite, by which the strongest temptations to sin enter; that, however beset, we may not yield obedience to the former lusts, in which we walked in the days of our ignorance. Neither yield ye your members, neither those of your bodies, nor the faculties of your souls, as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, to war in that hateful cause, under so foul a captain: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God, living henceforward for his glory and employing body, soul, and spirit in his blessed service, and to advance his kingdom and interests in the world, fighting under his banners, and faithful unto death.
But some man might object to this, that if this be the case, and we are no more under the law, we may live as we list. The Apostle prevents and refutes the objection: What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid: this would be to act in opposition to the whole design of the Gospel salvation, and inconsistently, with all our professions as children of grace. For know ye not, that it is a truth obvious and incontestable, to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servant ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? No man can serve two masters utterly contradictory in their commands. The servants of sin, who willingly surrender themselves to this tyrant's will, must infallibly reap eternal death as the wages of their work; while the faithful servants of God are servants of obedience unto righteousness, his interests being thus perseveringly served and advanced, and their end is eternal life. According therefore to the service in which we are employed, we shew what master we serve, and to whom we belong. But God be thanked, that though ye were, in times past, the servants of sin, ye do not continue so; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you; both in heart and conduct now cast into the mould of the glorious Gospel, and bearing all its amiable lineaments, in the most blessed and happy conformity to him who is the great Author of it, Jesus Christ.
Being then made free from sin, by the power of the eternal Spirit through the Gospel effectually operating to destroy the dominion, tyranny, and love of sin, ye became the servants of righteousness; discharged from the hateful servitude of iniquity, and entered into the service of a better Master, which is perfect freedom, the willing subjects of the holy Jesus, your rightful Lord and Sovereign. I speak after the manner of men, representing this matter under the familiar images of masters and servants, because of the infirmity of your flesh, the understanding being still dark, and most easily receiving spiritual ideas, when communicated under the veil of sensible objects. For as, in time past, ye yielded your members, both body and soul, servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, willing slaves to every vile affection, going from evil to worse, and fulfilling all the corrupt desires of the flesh and of the mind; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness; let every member of your body and faculty of your soul be as freely, delightfully, constantly, and universally employed in the service of the blessed Jesus your Master, and in the practice of righteousness and true holiness, as by nature they were before engaged in the service of sin.
And surely the strongest obligations now lie upon you thus to walk in holiness: for when ye were the servants of sin, wholly devoted to its service, ye were free from righteousness; not from the obligations to it, which are immutable and eternal; but ye cast off all restraint, were utterly averse to the rule of righteousness, and boasted of liberty, when the most wretched slaves of corruption. And a moment's reflection will now convince you of the misery of that state in which you lay; for what fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? did not the curse of sin follow you close as your shadow? did not the sting of it at times torment and make you miserable in the midst of your enjoyments? did not the very pursuits in which you were engaged involve you in trouble, disappointment, vexation? and were you not always unsatisfied; and did you not feel an aching void, which nothing that you possessed could fill? and with what shame, horror, and remorse, do you now reflect upon your past conduct! for, careless and thoughtless as you then were, you now know, that the end of those things is death eternal, which must have been your miserable lot, if you had not been plucked through divine grace as brands from the burning. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, since this blessed exchange of matters, ye have your fruit unto holiness, walking in that good conversation and godliness which brings glory to God, and is most comfortable to your own souls and the blessed end and issue of which to the faithful soul will be everlasting life: For the wages of sin, the accursed master whom ye formerly served, is death, including all miseries, both here and hereafter, of soul and body, and that to eternity: but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us then examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, and with deepest self-application consider what the Apostle has here advanced. Our everlasting hopes depend on our experience of these things. We most fatally deceive ourselves, if we talk of grace, and promise ourselves heaven, and live and die the servants of corruption.