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near me, but to work out what is excellent, I • do not find NEAR ME,' giving no distinct sense, from an affectation of rendering literally. Calvin says, He (Paul) does not mean that he · has nothing but an ineffectual velleity and desire, but he asserts the efficacy of the work does not correspond to the will, because the flesh • hinders him from exactly performing what he • is engaged in executing.'
V. 19.-For the good that I would I do not : but the evil which I would not, that I do.
For the good that I would I do not. This does not imply that he did not attempt, or in some sense perform what he purposed, but that in all he came short. Calvin, in continuation of the last quotation from him, says, 'what fol·lows-to do the evil which he would not, must • also be taken in the same sense, because the ' faithful are not only hindered from running ' speedily by their own flesh, but it also opposes
many obstacles against which they stumble ; 6 and they do not, therefore, perform their duty, ' because they do not engage in it with becoming alacrity. The will, therefore, here men* tioned, is the readiness of faith, while the
Holy Spirit forces the pious to be prepared and zealous in employing their time to perform obedience to God. But Paul, because ' his power is unequal to the task, asserts, that
he does not find what he was wishing to at“ tain—the accomplishment of his good desires.' But the evil which I would not, that I do. So far from being unsuitable to the real character of a regenerate man, every such man must be sensible from his own experience that this charge is true.
V. 20.-Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
This is a confirmation of what was asserted, v. 17., by alleging the reason on which the assertion is founded. It is not reason and conscience that Paul here asserts have no share in the evil; it is the will which he expressly mentions, and whatever metaphysical difficulties it may involve, of the will it must be understood. The conclusion we ought to draw, is not to contradict the Apostle by denying that he speaks of the will, but that in one sense it is true that no sin is involuntary, and that in another sense, what the Apostle here asserts is also an undoubted truth.
V. 21.-I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
The evil propensity of our nature the Apostle calls a law, because of its strength and permanency.
It has the force of a law in corrupt nature. This affords proof that it is of himself as to his present state that the Apostle speaks.
None but the regenerate man is properly sensible of this law. It does not refer to conscience, which in an unregenerate man will smite him when he does that which he knows to be wrong. It refers to the evil principle which counteracts him when he would do that which is right. This law is the greatest grievance to every Christian. It disturbs his happiness and peace more than any other cause. It constantly besets him, and from its influence, his very prayers, instead of being in themselves worthy of God, need forgiveness, and can be accepted only through the mediation of Christ. It is strange that any. Christian should have a doubt about the character in which the Apostle uses this language. It entirely suits the Christian, and in all its parts has not the most distant appearance of suiting any other V. 22.–For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.
In the preceding verse Paul had said, I would do good; here he expresses the same desire after conformity to the holy law more fully. For I delight in the law of God. This is decisive of the character in which the Apostle speaks. None but the regenerate man delights in the law of God. Mr Stuart, after Whitby and Taylor, &c. has referred to a number of passages, in order to lower the import of this term. But not one of them has the smallest
similarity to the present case. They are too numerous to be introduced and discussed in this place; but whoever wishes to examine them may consult Mr Frazer's work on Sanctification, in which they are most satisfactorily proved to be misapplied.
To delight in the law of the Lord is characteristic of the regenerate man.
The unregenerate man hates that law as far as he sees the extent of its demands to be beyond his power of fulfilment. After the inward man. The inward man is a term used only by Paul, and in reference to those who are regenerated. It is the new or spiritual nature, not merely the reason and conscience. Nothing can be more obviously characteristic of the Christian than this. Notwithstanding the evil of his corrupt nature, he is conscious of delighting in the law of God in its full extent.
V. 23.-But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
In the preceding verse, the Apostle had spoken of the law of God in the inward man; here he speaks of another law in his members, warring against the law of his mind. Thus he denominates his new and spiritual nature his “ inward man," and his mind," and his old and carnal nature his “members.” The bent of the Apostle's
mind according to his renewed nature inclined him to delight in the law of God. But he found an opposite bent in his corrupt nature, which he calls a law in his members. This he represents as warring against the others. Is not every Christian sensible of this ? Is there not a constant struggle of the corruptions of the heart against the principle of holiness implanted by the Spirit of God in the new birth ? And bringing me into captivity to the law of sin and death.-Mr Stuart endeavours to aggravate this description in such a manner as to render it unsuitable to the regenerate man. that this represents the person as brought entirely and completely into captivity, which cannot be supposed of a regenerate man.
He refers to captives taken in war, who are entirely in the power of their conquerors, and are reduced to the most abject slavery. This is feeble reasoning. How far this captivity extends cannot be known from the figure. And as a matter of fact, if the evil principle of our nature prevails in exciting one evil thought, it has taken us captive. So far it has conquered, and so far we are defeated and taken prisoners. But this is quite consistent with the supposition that on the whole we may have the victory over sin.
-O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?