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more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."6
6 Rev. xxi. 1—5.
ROMANS XII. 1.
I BESEECH YOU, THEREFORE, BRETHREN, BY THE MERCIES OF GOD, THAT YE PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE TO GOD, WHICH IS YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE.
THE apostle, in the preceding part of this epistle, had been unfolding all the great truths of the Christian scheme; and now, according to his usual plan, proceeds to enforce the duties of the Christian life. Not that he had altogether passed them over; for the 6th chapter takes up incidentally the point of the Christian's obligations. But he reserves the full consideration of them for this place, as it would have been utterly impossible to enlarge upon them, without having first laid the foundations deeply of divine truth; for Christian practice must be based upon Christian faith, and we must first understand in what manner we are to "receive Christ Jesus the Lord," before we can be instructed how to "walk in him."1 And as there can be no instruction for
'Col. ii. 6.
Christian conduct, which does not rest upon the knowledge of Christian truth; so, in like manner, all instruction as to divine truth, which does not include Christian practice, must be imperfect and insufficient. It might be supposed that the converted man would have sufficient inward light to direct him, yet the apostle does not leave him without external rules; nay, he carries them into the most minute points, explaining most accurately "how we ought to walk and please God."2 It might likewise be supposed that the doctrines of grace would render it unnecessary to warn, to exhort, and to admonish; but we observe directly the contrary in the practice of the apostle. He does not hesitate to declare the fulness, the certainty, and the greatness of the believer's interest in Christ; while, at the same time, he applies to them every argument, and urges every plea, to lead them to adorn the doctrine, and show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.3
The passage in the text contains such an appeal. It calls upon the believer to dedicate himself to God, under a figure borrowed from the sacrifices required by the law. These were of two kinds, expiatory and eucharistical. The former derived their efficacy from the great sacrifice of which they were the type, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." But when he, who was the substance, appeared, all such sacrifices, which were only the
21 Thess. iv. 1.
31 Pet. ii. 9.
4 Rev. xiii. 8.
shadows of him, were discontinued. This is clearly laid down in the 10th of Hebrews, where we read that "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all," that Jesus offered "one sacrifice for sins," and then "for ever sat down on the right hand of God," and that "by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;" which truth, in opposition to the perversions of the church of Rome, is stated in our communion service, in the following words: that Jesus Christ suffered death upon the cross for our redemption, and made there by his one oblation of himself, once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.' Christ then having "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," it is evident that in this sense "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin," and that the calling upon the Christian to offer himself as a sacrifice to God, can have no reference whatever to the idea of a propitiatory or expiatory sacrifice. It is obvious therefore that the apostle must in this place allude to the latter: both because it is utterly impossible that the former could be offered, and because the very words of the appeal declare this to be a thank-offering, grounded on mercies already received. Not indeed the actual thank-offering of the law; for that, together with the whole Jewish ritual, is laid aside;
5 Heb. x. 10.
6 Ver. 12.
7 Ver. 14. 9 Heb. x. 26.
but an offering which is according to the spirit of it, and adapted to the altered circumstances in which the Christian is placed. Of this offering, as well as of the other, one of the chief features was, that it was presented by the person himself. The priest indeed slew it; for, as we shall afterwards see, it was brought alive; but the offering was one of the individual's own choice, and was altogether voluntary. Another feature which was common to both offerings was this, that they were wholly given up. In some of the sacrifices, as in the whole burnt-offerings, the entire was consumed; while in others a part only, a portion being reserved for those who ministered at the altar, and as God's servants had to live of the altar, but nothing reverted to the offerer; in either case it was entirely and totally resigned. Now these two form the chief feature in the thank-offering of ourselves that we are here called upon to offer to God. The apostle calls on them to present themselves, and next to offer themselves without any reservation, soul and body, unto God.
May God of his infinite mercy, who alone can put into the heart good desires, enable us to see, and incline us to receive, "the mercies" which are freely given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, and dispose us to "present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, (through Jesus Christ,) which is our reasonable service."
It is my intention to consider the words nearly in