« AnteriorContinuar »
for our salvation,” that the Lord of glory “came down from heaven,” and suffered death upon
the cross. Let us ask ourselves, What effect has the declaration of the love of Christ in dying for us produced upon our minds? Has it caused any compunction of heart in us, any sorrow for sin ? What grief ought we to feel, when we think that Christ died for our sins; that He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.19 The apostle speaks to the Romans of the love of Christ in this respect with the greatest admiration. When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die ; but God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.
This doctrine of the scriptures is first of all in importance, since the cordial belief of it is necessary to salvation. They who do embrace it with their whole heart, are made wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, 1 and shall be
19 Isaiah liii. 5,
20 Rom. vi. 6–8, 10.
21 2 Tim. iii. 15.
saved everlastingly. For this reason the apostle repeated it over and over again. It was not sufficient that he had preached it, that they had received it, that they continued in the profession of it. It must still again and again be declared to them, that they might keep it in memory; it must still be enforced upon them, that they should not believe it in vain, with a careless or unfruitful profession, but so as to be saved by it. If the ministers of Christ bring forward this subject continually, they only follow the apostolical example. It becomes the hearers of the gospel to have it deeply impressed upon their memory, their minds, and hearts, that they may enjoy the comfort of it day by day, and may partake of the salvation which it will bring hereafter to all who are interested in it by a living faith.
This doctrine being declared first of all, the apostle mentions other important facts connected with it. The next is, And that He was buried. From the burial of Christ we learn that He was really dead; since, in proof of it, His dead body was committed to the tomb. His burial was also a token of the removal of the curse from those whom He redeemed from the curse of the law, when on the cross He was made a curse for us; so that His believing people shall not be visited with it any more; there shall be no more curse to them.
It is further stated, And that He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures; He rose as the victorious Conqueror of death and the grave, who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. He rose again to give His people an assurance of their complete acquittal from all the charges which the accuser of the brethren might bring against them, and from all the penalties which had been incurred by their transgression of His holy law. The resurrection
The resurrection of Christ from the dead was a subject on which the apostles of Christ dwelt with delight. Its importance was great, as affording a proof that all was accomplished which He had come into the world to perform; and an intimation that He was gone into heaven in human nature, as the Forerunner of His people, and as their Advocate and Intercessor before the throne of the Majesty on high.
The apostle enumerates some of the proofs which had been given of the resurrection of Christ, That He was seen of Cephas, or Peter, then of the twelve ; after that He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep; after that He was seen of James, then of all the apostles. Here were numerous credible witnesses of the resurrection of Christ adduced, who had seen Him after He was risen from the dead, at different times before His ascension into heaven; most of whom were living when this epistle was written, though some had departed this life, or
fallen asleep; a beautiful expression used to denote the death of believers in Christ. So it is said, If we believe that Jesus died and rose again ; even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. They sleep in Jesus until the morning of the resurrection, when they shall appear with Him in glory. It is said of the first martyr Stephen, that he fell asleep.
The true Christian need not dread death more than sleep; for he shall rise again to the life immortal, after his body has been laid in the dust of death. This corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality; and then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.25
But the apostle had proof of the truth of the fact of the resurrection of Christ in his own experience. He had himself seen the risen and exalted Saviour. He says, Last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. The risen Saviour was seen by St. Paul in a remarkable manner.
The Lord Jesus stopped the fierce persecutor in the midst of his mad career, and gave him another heart, so that he who before bad persecuted the church of Christ, and wasted it, became a preacher of that faith which he had previously laboured with all his might to destroy. To mark the sense which he
22 1 Thess. iv. 14.
23 Col.iii. 4. 24 Acts vii. 60. 25 1 Cor. xv.54.
entertained of his unworthiness of this favour, he calls himself one born out of due time, or an abortive, a weak contemptible creature; which he explains by adding: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. Thus he speaks of himself with the greatest humility, when he calls to mind that the Lord Jesus had condescended to appear to him. And we find him ever making mention of his conduct before his conversion with the deepest penitence, and the most unfeigned regret; but at the same time connecting with it heartfelt gratitude to his redeeming God and Saviour. He observes to Timothy that he was before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious; but, says he, I obtained mercy for this cause, that in me first, or the chief of sinners, Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting 26 It was to the mercy of God that he was indebted for every blessing he enjoyed.
In the text he ascribes, in like manner, all the blessedness of which he was a partaker, to the grace or free unmerited favour of God. By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I,
26 1 Timothy i. 13, 16, 14.