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Christ risen, our Strength against the power of Sin. 169
6, 11.12. Heb. 9,
Hebrews also. But now once, he says, in the end of the ROM. world hath He appeared to put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and 26-28. after that the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. And he also points out the power of the life that is according to God, and also the strength of sin. For with regard to the life according to God, he sheweth that Christ shall die no With regard to sin, that if it brought about the death even of the Sinless, how can it do otherwise than be the ruin of those that are subject to it? And then as he had discoursed about His life; that none might say, What hath that which you have been saying to do with us? he adds,
Ver. 11. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.
He well says, reckon, because there is no setting that, which he is speaking of, before the eyes as yet. And what are we to reckon? one may ask. That we are dead unto sin, but alive unto God. In Jesus Christ our Lord. For he that so liveth will lay hold of every virtue, as having Jesus Himself for his ally. For that is what, in Christ, means, for if He raised them when dead, much more when alive will He be able to keep them so.
Ver. 12. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
He does not say, let not the flesh live or act, but let not sin reign'; for He came not to destroy our nature, but to set our free choice aright. Then to shew that it is not through any force or necessity that we are held down by iniquity, but willingly, he does not say, let it not tyrannize, a word that would imply a necessity, but let it not reign. For it is absurd for those who are being conducted to the kingdom of heaven to have sin empress over them, and for those who are called to reign with Christ to choose to be the captives of sin, as though one should hurl the diadem from off his head, and choose to be the slave of a frantic woman, who came
f In all this there is a design to obviate Manichæan notions concerning matter, and the opinion resulting from
them, that we must be content to live
170 Sin reigns not but by our fault, the members instruments.
HOMIL. begging, and was clothed in rags. Next, since it was a heavy task to get the upper hand of sin, see how he shews it to be even easy, and how he allays the labour by saying, in your mortal body. For this shews that the struggles were but for a time, and would soon bring themselves to a close. At the same time he reminds us of our former evil plight, and of the root of death, as it was from this that, contrary even to its beginning, it became mortal. Yet it is possible even for one with a mortal body not to sin. Do you see the abundancy of Christ's grace? For Adam, though as yet he had not a mortal body, fell. But thou, who hast received one even subject to death; canst be crowned. How then is it that sin reigns? you will say. It is not from any power of its own, but from thy listlessness. Wherefore after saying, let it not reign, he also points out the mode of this reigning, by going on to say, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
1 i. e. to For it is not honour to concede to it1 all things at will, nay, the body it is slavery in the extreme, and the height of dishonour; for
when it doth what it listeth, then is it bereft of all liberties; but when it is put under restraints, then it best keeps its own proper rank.
Ver. 13. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin....but as instruments of righte
The body then is indifferent between vice and virtue, as also instruments are. But either effect is wrought by him that useth it. As if a soldier fighting in his country's behalf, and a robber who was arming against the inhabitants, had the same weapons for defence. For the fault is not laid to the suit of armour, but to those that use it to an ill end. And this one may say of the flesh too, which becomes this or that owing to the mind's decision, not owing to its own nature. For if it be curious after the beauty of another, the eye becomes an instrument of iniquity, not through any agency of its own, (for what is of the eye, is but seeing, not seeing amiss,) but through the fault of the thought which commands it. But if you bridle it, it becomes an instrument of righteousness. Thus with the tongue, thus with the hands, thus with all the other members. And he well calls sin unrighteousness. For by
How we are bound to God's service. Christian warfare. 171
sinning a man deals unrighteously either by himself or by RoM. his neighbour, or rather by himself more than by his neigh- 6, 13. bour. Having then led us away from wickedness, he leads. us to virtue, in these words:
But yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead.
See how by his bare words he exhorts them, on that side naming sin, and on this God. For by shewing what a difference there is between the rulers, he casts out of all excuse the soldier that leaveth God, and desireth to serve under the dominion of sin. But it is not only in this way, but also by the sequel, that he establishes this; by saying, as alive from the dead. For by these he shews the wretchedness of the other, and the greatness of God's gift. For consider, he says, what you were, and what you have been made. What then were ye? Dead, and ruined by a destruction which could not from any quarter be repaired. For neither was there any one who had the power to assist you. And what have ye been made out of those dead ones? Alive with immortal life. And by whom? By the all-powerful God. Ye ought therefore to marshal yourselves under Him with as much cheerful readiness, as men would who had been made alive from being dead.
And your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Hence, the body is not evil, since it may be made an arms of righteousness. But by calling it an arm, he makes it clear that there is a hard warfare at hand for us. And for this reason we need strong armour, and also a noble spirit, and one acquainted too with the ways of this warfare; and above all we need a commander. The Commander however is standing by, ever ready to help us, and abiding unconquerable, and has furnished us with strong arms likewise. Farther, we have need of a purpose of mind to handle them as should be, so that we may both obey our Commander, and take the field for our country. Having then given us this vigorous exhortation, and reminded us of
sra is most usually arms, secondarily any instruments.
172 The Spiritual Race made easier through Christ.
HOMIL. arms, and battle, and wars, see how he encourages the soldier again, and cherishes" his ready spirit.
Ver. 14. For sin shall not' have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
If then sin hath no more dominion over us, why does he lay so great a charge upon them as he does in the words, Let not sin reign in your mortal body, and, yield not ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin? What does that here said mean then? He is sowing a kind of seed in this statement, which he means to develope afterwards, and to cultivate in a powerful argument. What then is this statement? It is this; that our body, before Christ's coming, was an easy prey to the assaults of sin. For along with death a great swarm of passions entered also. And for this cause it was not lightsome for running the race of virtue. For there was John 7, no Spirit present to assist, nor any Baptism of power to 2 Plato mortify. But as some horse that answereth not the rein, Phædr. it ran indeed, but made frequent slips, the Law meanwhile §. 74. announcing what was to be done and what not, yet not conveying into those in the race any thing over and above exhortation by means of words. But when Christ had come, the effort became afterwards more easy, and there3 μείζονα fore we had a more distant goal set us, in that the rà oxáμ-assistance we had given us was greater. Wherefore also Matt. 5, Christ saith, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But this he says more clearly in the sequel. But at present he alludes here briefly to it, to shew that unless we stoop down very low to it, sin will not get the better of us. For it is not the Law only that exhorteth us, but grace too which also remitted our former sins, and secures us against future ones. For it promised them crowns after toils, but this crowned them first, and then led them to the contest. Now it seems to me that he is not signifying here the whole life of a
I all but
4 i, e.
haaugu, anoints. Hannibal, before his victory on the Trebia, sent oil round to his battalions to refresh their limbs. "Ignibus ante tentoria factis, oleoque
per manipulos, ut mollirent artus, misso, et cibo per otium capto," &c. Liv. xxi. 55.
Shame and danger of returning to sin after Baptism. 173
believer, but instituting a comparison between the Baptism Rom. and the Law. And this he says in another passage also; The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. For the Law 2 Cor. convinceth of transgression, but grace undoes transgression. As then the former by convincing establisheth sin, so the latter by forgiving suffereth us not to be under sin. And so thou art in two ways set free from this thraldom; both in thy not being under the Law, and in thy enjoying grace. But after he had by these words given the hearer a breathing time, he again furnishes him a safeguard, by introducing an exhortation in reply to an objection, and by saying as follows.
Ver. 15. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under grace? God forbid.
So he first adopts a form of abjuration, because it was an absurd thing he had named. And then he makes his discourse pass on to exhortation, and shews the great facility of the struggle, in the following words.
Ver. 16. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteous
I do not, he would say, mention hell as yet, nor that great' punishment, but the shame it is in this world, when1 Ms. ye become slaves, and slaves of your own accord too, and long sin's slaves, and when the wages are such as a second death. For if before Baptism, it wrought death of the body, and the wound required so great attendance, that the Lord of all came down to die, and so put a stop to the evil; if after so great a gift, and so great liberty, it seize thee again, while thou bendest down under it willingly, so mar. what is there that it may not do? Do not then run into and 6 such a pit, or willingly give thyself up. For in the case of wars, soldiers are often given up even against their will. But in this case, unless thou desertest of thyself, there is no one who will get the better of thee. Having then tried to shame them by a sense of duty, he alarms them also by the rewards, and lays before them the wages of both; righteousness, and death, and that a death not