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opinion is entertained by some critics, as Prof. Stuart. But we have the following objections to this opinion. It does not give the preposition enl, its proper force, which with the dative denotes motion, or rest consequent upon implied motion; and is better employed to express design or motive. It separates words by position joined together, and which the mind can hardly fail to connect. It renders it necessary to throw the words not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected the same, into a parenthesis, and thereby breaks up the natural flow and ease of the passage.
It moreover leaves a member of considerable length, the whole of the 21st verse, to hang loosely and heavily upon the rest, and makes the whole passage lame and disjointed. We therefore predicate the hope or expectation here intimated, of God, as the Creator, who, with this hope or expectation and under the influence of it, chose thus to subject man to vanity.
The succeeding verse declares what is the nature or object of this hope, “that the creature also should be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God."
oti xai aúty ý xulois, that even the very creature. Notwithstanding the apparently strong fetters and bonds which bind man to misery, and frailty, and sin, a deliverance is practicable; for this was the very design and expectation of God in subjecting him to vanity. Such, we conceive, is the nature of the emphasis given by και αυτή, από της δουλείας της φθοράς, from the bondage of corruption. By corruption we understand here moral corruption, sin. Such is a common meaning of the word. Comp. 2 Pet. 1:4., 2: 12, 19. Such is the meaning which the antithesis in the expression requires; the “bondage of corruption" being obviously the opposite state from that of "the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” Such too is the meaning which the whole passage requires. The notion of mere physical weakness and frailty, liability to misery and destruction seems abhorrent to the design of the writer. It also represents God the Creator in a repulsive aspect; as having subjected man to vanity for the simple purpose of delivering him again; a design unworthy of his infinite goodness and wisdom. This objection, indeed, does not hold against Prof. Stuart's interpretation, as it is obviated by predicating the expectation of deliverance, of the creature and not of the Creator. But we have already presented our objections to that exposition.
This then is the interpretation which, it appears to us, must be put on the whole passage,—that the spirit of man was subjected to the state of vanity and corruption, contrary to all its native
tendencies and sensibilities, by the will of its Creator, in the benevolent expectation, that it would, by passing through this state, be delivered from the bondage of sin and established forever in the free and glorious service of God.
Lest this interpretation should fail to find favor with any of our readers from the seeming novelty of the truth which it makes the passage teach,* we will now, as proposed, endeavor to sustain it by referring to the analogy of scripture as well as some considerations derived from fact and reason.
We may cite for this purpose a passage in the second epistle to the Corinthians, 5th chap. and 5th verse. 6 Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God.” The connection in which this passage stands is obviously similar to that of the passage in Romans. Paul is affording consolation to the Corinthian christians, burdened with the weight of the misery and corruption brought upon them through their body of flesh. “For we,” he says, "that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” What is this self-same thing for which believers had been wrought? Is it not "that mortality might be swallowed up of life?" To refer it back to the desire spoken of in the second verse seems to us unnatural, forced, and in violation of the most common laws of interpretation. But what is the force of “wrought” nategy aguusvos? Some have considered it as of the same import as xtioas, created. Rosenmüller ad loc. But this, we conceive is stretching the signification of the word beyond its lawful use. It appears to us
* The doctrine is by no means a novel one in fact. We find, in our notebook, the following extract from the works of Gelasius the Cyzican, bishop of Cesarea, in Palestine, in the latter part of the fifth century:
i. The world was made imperfect because of foreknowledge, for God foresaw that man would sin." So Origen clearly held and maintained the same doctrine, although unfortunately he connected with it his Platonic notions respecting the pre-existence of the soul. In paraphrase of this very passage, he says: The erring creatures sent down to earth or to the stars, are subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected them in hope that they would purge
themselves and become again vessels of honor prepared unto glory,” Princip. II. c. 9. 2, as quoted in Bib. Repos. vol. 4, p. 198.
So again : " But when many of these spirits, created at first alike and equal, had fallen, his object in creating the risible universe, was to afford suitable places for the punishment and purgation of these lapsed beings, as various in condition as the endless variety of character assumed by them.' Id. p. 200.
In like manner, Chrysostom, in commenting on 2 Cor. 5:5., says: “But he did not form him (Adam) for this end, that he should die; but that he should even work out for himself immortality"
to be precisely the word which the apostle would have used, had he intended to convey the idea, that God had taken the spirit, after its creation, and so wrought upon it, by placing it under the conditions of a fleshly existence, as to secure the great result expressed in the language, “swallowed up of life.” That this is the precise shade of meaning belonging to the word in its proper ordinary use, cannot be questioned. Why should we depart from its lawful signification ? Certainly the context does not require such a departure. On the contrary, it seems to demand the signification naturally belonging to the word. The apostle had been speaking of “the earthly house of this tabernacle.” He dwells on the condition of man in the present life, and its relations to the future. He derives consolation, under the miseries incident to that state of existence, from these relations. The mind of the reader is all prepared to receive light and instruction on the design of the Creator in instituting these relations. From the nature and character of that design, as its source, it is roused to expect, that the sought-for consolation will flow. It falls back disappointed, unless it finds this design here set forth.
We feel ourselves fully authorized, therefore, to cite this passage in confirmation of the interpretation which we have given to the passage in Romans.
We will now turn from this more express and direct annunciation of the design of God in subjecting the spirit of man to the frailty, weakness and evil of a fleshly existence, to more general declarations of this design. As these declarations are scattered throughout the scriptures, we shall content ourselves with referring to a single passage, which will serve as an illustration of the general tenor of scriptural instruction on this point. The pious Elihu, (Job xxxiii.) when rebuking Job for his complaints under his afflictions, endeavors to show him the wickedness of such murmurs, by representing to him the grand design and aim of God in all he does respecting man. He enumerates particulars of his operations as illustrative of all. Thus he tells him, God sends a constant influence upon the soul of man,-never intermitted, not even in his slumberings on his bed, for even “then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction;" he likewise saves their “lives from perishing." He, too, layeth them upon beds of pain and weakness, and with wasting disease consumes away their flesh. He sends the faithful instructor to teach them the way of knowledge, and brings upon them, to influence them, the mighty power of example. And - all these things,” he declares, God worketh with man" for one single purpose, “to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living."
Now it is plain, that the particular things here spoken of are designed to represent the general operations of God; and the passage teaches, that all are done of God with a single aim and intent, which is, the exaltation of man to the ways of holy obedience. It is obvious, also, that these things enter into the constitution of man, and that this same design must have been in the mind of God in giving man his peculiarity of constitution. If, for example, God seeketh to seal instruction on the hearts of men “in dreams and visions of the night," and "to bring back their souls from the pit" by the powerful influence of pain and disease, then this end must have been in view when he formed man and made him susceptible of those conditions of being, repose and sleep, disease and languishing; and these are conditions which mark and distinguish a fleshly constitution,-a purely spiritual existence being an existence of untiring activity, and not subject to corruption. We conclude, then, from the representations in the word of God of the design and aim of all his particular acts in reference to man, that God has subjected the spirit of man to the present temporary condition of weakness and corruption, for the purpose of affording a medium through which he could raise it to holiness and secure it in blessedness.
Again, we alledge the adaptedness of man's peculiar nature to the great end contemplated in redemption, the recovery of sinning souls, and their confirmation in holiness.
We begin in the consideration of this argument with the accredited truth before our minds, that no purely spiritual existences, who have fallen, have been reclaimed ; and with the strong probability, indeed with the full certainty, so far as certainty can be reached in such a case, that this reclaiming act of God is confined to beings constituted, like ourselves, of body and spirit. Although we would not too hastily leap to the conclusion, that therefore no state but such a complex one as this can be fitted to a system of reclaiming grace, we are warranted in the inference, that such a complex state of being is peculiarly adapted to this end. A close examination of this state of being will show us clearly the fact of its admirable suitableness to such a design. In the first place, the spirit is, to a great degree, hidden from its own view. Even by the most energetic and persevering efforts at direct examination of its own nature and condition, it can learn but very little of itself; while in point of fact, so continually is its attention called off and interrupted by the
cares which the body brings upon it, and by the weakness and feebleness of the body itself, the organ of all its investigations, that, however successful might be its endeavors to pry directly into the mysteries of its own existence, from the necessary interruptions to which it is subject, it could collect but a small amount of self-knowledge. Hence it perceives but little of its odiousness and loathsomeness, as sinful, as in rebellion against God. It knows and can know but little of the odious quality of sin, its power, its corrupting and debasing character. The difficulties that lie in the way of eradicating its power and correcting its corrupting influence, are of course but feebly apprehended. Return therefore to God appears not so formidable a task. Although some perception of the nature of sin, of its odiousness and degrading character, may be necessary in order to repentance, yet a full apprehension of its deadly nature might, and probably would, drive the sinner to utter despair of deliverance. The veil thrown over the spirit by the body, obscures also its view of God,—his spotless purity, his perfect holiness, his infinite benevolence. At best, with all possible exertion, the glory of God can be brought to shine, before the eye of faith, but with faint and diminished effulgence. Hence, the fearful opposition, the infinite repugnance between its own polluted character and the perfect character of God, are but dimly seen. The difficulties of effecting a reconciliation and producing a similarity in characters so opposite to each other, is therefore not felt to be so great, as to drive to despair, which might be the case were there a full and unobscured perception of the glory of the divine character, and of the degradation of the sinful soul. Could the spotless excellence of God shine forth in unclouded splendor upon the eye of the spirit, and could its own blackness and deformity appear in full view, is it going too far to assert, that the declarations of eternal truth itself, proclaimed in the tones of infinite love and pity, might hardly avail to break up the fell despair that would stretch its icy bonds over the soul ?
In consequence of this connection of the spirit with a material body, moreover, sin is made to take a form and a course of development, that does not bring the will of man in incessantly fretting and perceptible collision with the will of God. A sinful spirit, laid bare to itself, and perceiving the will of God obstructing its way at every turn, when seeking its own, rather than the pleasure of its sovereign, and thus always brought in direct contact and opposition with him, would feel its malignity ever stirred up and incensed by this continual galling and opposition; and every step forward in its rebellion would be adding fuel to