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Dissertation of the 7th Chapter of Romans: Chapter 12 - The Ancient Fathers

By Jacobus Arminius


      The apostle gives two appellations to the man--his person and his mind. (Strom. lib. 3, fol. 194.) TERTULLIAN "BUT," says the apostle, "though our outward man be destroyed," that is, the flesh, by the force of persecutions, "yet the inward man is renewed day by day," that is, the mind, by the hope of the promises. (Against the Gnostics, cap. 15.) Having, therefore, obtained the two men mentioned by the apostle--the inward man, that is, the mind, and the outward man, that is, the flesh--the heretics have in fact adjudged salvation to the mind, that is, to the inward man, but destruction to the flesh, that is, to the outward man; because it is recorded 2 Corinthians iv. 16, "for though our outward man perish," &c. (On the resurrection of the Body, cap. 40.) From without, wars that overcome the body; inwardly, fear that afflicts the mind. So, "though our outward man perish," perishing will not be understood as losing our resurrection, but as sustaining vexation; and this, not without the inward man. Thus it will be the part of both of them to be glorified together, as well as to be fellow-sufferers. (lbid.) For though the apostle calls the flesh "an earthen vessel," which he commands to be honourably treated; yet it is also called, by the same apostle, "the outward man," that is, the clay which was first impressed and engraved under the title of man, not of a cup, of a sword, or of any small vessel; for it was called "a vessel" on account of its capacity, which holds and contains the mind. But this flesh is called "man," from community of nature, which renders it not an instrument in operations, but a minister or assistant, (Ibid. cap. 16.) AMBROSE. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." he says that his mind delights in those things which are delivered by the law; and thus it is the inward man. (On Rom. vii. 22.) "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." The flesh perishes or wastes away by afflictions, stripes, famine, thirst, cold and nakedness; but the mind is renewed by the hope of a future reward, because it is purified by incessant tribulations. For the mind is profited in afflictions, and does not perish; so that when additional temptations occur, it makes daily advances in worthiness; because this "perishing" is profitable also to the body for its immortality through the excellence of the mind. (On 2 Corinthians iv. 16.) "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Our inward man is that which was made after the image and likeness of God; the outward man is that which was formed and shaped from clay. As therefore there are two men, there is likewise a two-fold course of conduct--one is that of the inward man, the other that of the outward man. And, indeed, most of the acts of the inward man extend to the outward man. As the chasteness of the inward man also passes to the chastity of the body. For he who is ignorant of the adultery of the heart, is likewise unacquainted with the adultery of the body, &c. It is, therefore, the circumcision of the inward man; for he who is circumcised has stripped off the enticements of his whole flesh, as his foreskin, that he may be in the Spirit, and not in the flesh; and that in the Spirit he may mortify the deeds of his body, &c., &c. When our inward man is in the flesh, he is in the foreskin. (Letter 77th, to Constantius.) BASIL THE GREAT "Let us make man according to our image." He means the inward man, when he says, "Let us make man," &c., &c. Listen to the apostle, who says, "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." How do I know the two men? One of them is apparent; the other is hidden in him who appears, it is the invisible, the inward man. We have then a man within us; and we are twofold; and what is said is very true, that we are inward. (Homily 10th, on the six days of Creation.) "Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me." God made the inward man, and fashioned the outward man. For "the fashioning" belongs to clay; but "the making" appertains to that which is after his own image. Wherefore the thing which was fashioned is the flesh, but that which was made is the mind. (Ibid. Homily 11.) Since there are, indeed, two men, as the apostle declares, the one outward and the other inward, we must also, in like manner, receive the age in both, according to him whom we behold, and according to him whom we understand in secret. (Discourse on the beginning of the Proverbs of Solomon.) CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA "But though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." If any one, therefore, says that our inward man dwells in the outward man, he repeats an important truth; yet he will not on this account seem to divide the unity of man. (On the incarnation, of the only begotten Son, cap. 12.) MACARIUS The true death consists in the heart, and is hidden, when our inward man is dead. If therefore any one has passed over from death to the hidden life, he in reality lives forever, and dies no more, &c., &c. Sin acts secretly upon the inward man and the mind, and commences a conflict with the thoughts. (Homily 15.) The members of the soul are many: such as the mind, the conscience, the will, the thoughts which accuse or else defend. But all these have been collected together into one reason; yet they are the members of the soul. But the soul is single, that is, the inward man. (Homily 7.) "The inward man" and "the soul" are taken for the same thing, in his 27th Homily. CHRYSOSTOM "But though our outward man perish," &c. How does it perish? While it is beaten with stripes, is driven away, and endures innumerable evils. "Yet the inward man is renewed day by day." How is it renewed? By faith, hope and alacrity, that it may have the courage to oppose itself to evils. For, the more the evils which the body endures, the greater is the hope which the inward man entertains, and the more bright and resplendent does it become, as gold which is examined or tested by much fire. (On 2 Corinthians iv. 16.) Let us now see what is said by one who stands higher than many: AUGUSTINE But who, except the greatest mad man, will say that in the body we are, or shall afterwards be, like God, That likeness, therefore, exists in the inward man, "which is renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of him that created him." (Tom. 2, Epist. 6.) By this grace, righteousness is written in the inward man, when renewed, which transgression had destroyed. (On the Spirit and the Letter, cap. 27.) As he called him the inward man when coming into this world, because the outward man is corporeal as this world is. (On the Demerits and Remission of Sin, lib.1, cap. 25; Tom. 7.) As the eyes of the body derive no aid from the light, that they may depart from it with eyelids closed and turned in another direction, but in order to see, they are assisted by the light, (nor can this be done at all, unless the light lends its aid,) so God, who is the light of the inward man, assists the drowsiness of our mind, that we may perform something that is good, not according to our righteousness, but according to his own. (Ibid. lib. 2, cap. 5.) If, in the mind itself, which is "the inward man," perfect newness were formed in baptism, the apostle would not declare, "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (Ibid. cap. 7.) As that tree of life was placed in the corporeal Paradise, so this wisdom is in the spiritual Paradise, the former of them affording vital vigour to the senses of the outward man, the latter to those of the inward man, without any change of time for the worse. (Ibid. cap. 21.) Behold, then, of how many things are we ignorant--not only such as are past, but also of those which are present, concerning our nature, and not only in reference to the body, but likewise I, reference to the inward man; yet we are not compared to the beasts. (Tom. 7. 0n the Soul and its Origin, lib. 4, cap. 8.) Because the thing is either the foot itself, the body, or the man, who hobbles along with a lame foot; yet the man cannot avoid a lame foot, unless he have it healed. This can also be done in the inward man, but it must be by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. (On Perfection against Caelestius, fol. I, letter f.) Thus also the mind is the thing of the inward man, robbery is an act, avarice is a vice, that is, a quality, according to which the mind is evil, even when it does nothing by which it can render any service to avarice or robbery. (Ibid.) Beside the inward and the outward man, I do not indeed perceive that the apostle makes another inward of the inward man, that is, the innermost of the whole man. (On the Mind and its Origins, lib. 4, cap. 4.) He confesses in the same passage, that the mind is the inward man to the body, but he denies that the spirit is the inward man to the mind. Some persons have also made this supposition, that now the inward man was made, but the body of the man afterwards, when the Scripture says, "And God formed man of the dust of the ground." (Tom. 3. On Genesis according to the letter, l. 3, c. 22.) The apostle Paul wishes "the inward man" to be understood by the spirit of the mind, "the outward man" in the body and this mortal life. Yet it is sometimes read in his epistles, that he has not called both of these together "two men," but one entire man whom God made, that is, both that which is the inward man, and that which is the outward. But he does not make him after his own image, except with regard to that which is inward, not only what is incorporeal, but also what is rational, and which is not within beasts. (Tom. 6. Against Faustus the Manichee, lib. 24, cap. 1.) Behold God is likewise proclaimed, by the same apostle, as former of the outward man. "But now hath God set the members every one in the body as it hath pleased him."(Ibid.) The apostle says that "the old man" is nothing more than the old [course of] life, which is in sin, and in which men live according to the first Adam, concerning whom he declares, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Therefore, the whole of that man, both in his outward and inward part; has become old on account of sin, and is sentenced to the punishment of mortality, &c. (Ibid.) And therefore, by such a cross, the body of sin is emptied, that we may "not now yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin;" because this inward man also, if he be really renewed day by day, is certainly old before he is renewed. For that is an inward act of which the apostle speaks thus: "Put off the old man, and put on the new man." (Tom. 3. On the Trinity, lib. 4, cap. 3.) But now the death of the flesh of our Lord belongs to the example of the death of our outward man, &c. And the resurrection of the body of the Lord is found to appertain to the example of the resurrection of our outward man." (Ibid.) Come now, let us see where is that which bears some resemblance to the confines of the man, both the outward and the inward; for, whatever we have in the mind in common with the beasts, is correctly said still to belong to the outward man; For not only will the body be accounted as "the outward man," but likewise certain things united to its life, by which the joints of the body and all the senses flourish and grow, and with which it is furnished for entering upon outward things. When the images of these perceptions, infixed in the memory, are revisited by recollection, the matter is still a transaction which belongs to the outward man. And in all these things we are at no great distance from the cattle, except that in the shape of our bodies we are not bending downwards, but erect. (On the Trinity, lib. 12, cap. 1.) While ascending, therefore, inwardly by certain degrees of consideration through the parts of the mind, another thing begins from this to occur to us, which is not common to us with the beasts; thence reason has its commencement, that the inward man may not be known. (Ibid. cap. 8.) Both believers and unbelievers are well acquainted with the nature of man, whose outward part, that is, the body, they have learned the lights of the body; but they have learned the inward part, that is, the mind, within themselves. (Ibid. lib. 13, cap. 1.) Besides, the Scriptures thus attest it to us in this that, when these two things also are joined together and the man lives, and when likewise they bestow on each of them the appellation of man, calling the mind "the inward man," but the body "the outward man," as though they were two men, while both of them together are only one man. (Tom. 5. On the City of God, lib. 13, cap. 24. See also lib. 11, cap. 27 & 3.) As this outward and visible world nourishes and contains the outward man, so that invisible world contains the inward man. (Tom. 8. On the First Psalm.) He who believes in Him, eats and is invisibly fattened, because he is also invisibly born again. The infant is within, the new man is within; where young and tender vines are planted, there are they filled and satiated. (On John, Tract 26.) THEOPHYLACT Moreover, "the outward man," that is, the body, "perishes." How is this? While it is beaten with stripes, while it is driven about. "But the inward man," that is, the spirit and the mind, "is renewed." By what means? When it hopes well, and freely acts, as though suffering and rejoicing on account of God. (On 2 Corinthians iv. 16.) VIGILIUS Let us spiritually advert to the spiritual expressions of the apostle, by which he testifies, that he has seen and handled the word of God, not with his bodily eyes and hands, but with the members of the inner man. (Against Eutychus, lib. 4.) PROCOPIUS OF GAZA The substance of man, if you consider his inward man, is this image of God; if you take his outward man into consideration, his substance will be the earth, or the dust of the ground. Yet one and the same is the man in the composition which is completed from both of them. (0n Genesis, cap. 1.) BERNARD As the outward man is recognized by his countenance, so is the inward man pointed out by his will. (Sermon 3, On Ascension Day.) LEO THE GREAT When the outward man is slightly afflicted, let the inward man be refreshed; and withdrawing corporeal fullness from the flesh, let the mind be strengthened by spiritual delights. (Sermon 4, On Quadragesima Sunday.) GREGORY NAZIANZEN But in this, our nature, every care is towards the inward man of the heart, and every desire is directed to it. (Apology for his flight.) GREGORY NYSSEN Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. God speaks thus respecting the inward man. "But," you will say, "you are giving a dissertation upon reason. Shew us man after the image of God. Is reason the man?" Listen to the apostle: Though your outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. By what means? I own that man is two-fold, one who is seen, another who is hidden, and whom he that is seen does not perceive. We have, therefore, an inward man, and in some degree are two-fold. For I am that man who is inward; but I am not those things which are outward; but they are mine. Neither am I the hand, but I am the reason which is in the mind; but the hand is a part of the outward man. (On Genesis, i, 26.) Thus, when the inward man, whom God denominates the heart, has wiped off the rusty filth which, on account of his depraved thirst, had grown up with his form; he will once more recover the likeness [of God] with his original and principal form, when he will become good. (On the Beatitudes.) (3.) MODERN DIVINES Let us now see the opinions of certain divines of our own age and religious profession, on the inward man. CALVIN Though the reprobate do not proceed so far with the children of God, as, after the casting down of the flesh, to be renewed in the inner man, and to flourish again. (Instit. lib. 2, cap. 7, sect. 9.) But the reprobate are terrified, not because their inward mind is moved or affected, but because, as by a bridle cast upon them, they refrain less from outward work, and inwardly curb their own depravity, which they would otherwise have shed abroad. (Ibid. sect. 10.) Besides, since we have already laid down a two-fold regimen in man, and as we have, in another place, said enough about the other, which is placed in the mind, or the inward man, and which has reference to life eternal, &c. (Ibid. lib. 4, cap. 20, sect. 1.) Though the glory of God shines forth in the outward man, yet the proper seat of it is undoubtedly in the mind. (Ibid. lib. I, cap. 15, sect. 3.) Some persons perversely and unskillfully confound the outward man with the old man. For the old man, about whom the apostle treats in Romans vi. 6, is something far different. In the reprobate, also, the outward man perishes, but without any counterbalancing compensation. (On 2 Corinthians iv. 16.) BEZA - Is renewed, that is, acquires fresh strength, lest the outward man, who is sustained by the strength of the inward man, should be broken when assaulted with fresh evils, for which reason, the apostle said, in the 12th verse, "So, then, death worketh in us." (On 2 Corinthians iv. 16.) BUCER In holy persons, likewise, there are two men, an inward and an outward one. St. Paul says, "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." As, therefore, man is two-fold, so, likewise, are his judgment and his will two-fold--a fact which our Lord himself was not ashamed to confess, when he said to his Father, "nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." By saying this, "not what I will, but what thou willest, be done," he undoubtedly shewed that he willed what the Father willed; and yet, at the same time, he acknowledges that this was his will: "Remove this cup from me." Our Lord, therefore, acknowledges the existence within himself of two wills, one of which was apparently at variance with the other. (On Romans 5. Fol. 261.) FRANCIS JUNIUS The outward man hears the word of God outwardly, but the inward man hears it inwardly. (On the Three Verities, lib. 3, cap. 2. fol. 182.) But then, as in ecclesiastical administration, not only the inward man is informed in the knowledge of God, but as aids and services are also sought by the outward man, so far as the external signs of the communion of saints are required to feed and promote the inward communion, in this cause, likewise, we acknowledge that God has delegated his authority to the magistrate. (On Ecclesiast. lib. 3, cap. 5.) PISCATOR The outward man, that is, the body, as he had previously called it. The inward man, that is, the soul or mind. (On 2 Corinthians iv. 16.) THE CHURCH OF HOLLAND When, indeed, from the depraved heart, and from the inward man, evil fruits do proceed, a necessary consequence of this is that he who is desirous of boasting that he is pure, must demonstrate the truth of his assertion by a spontaneous approval of the commands of Christ, and by a willing obedience to them. (A pamphlet, in which they give a reason for the excommunication of Koolhaes. Fol. 93.) JOHN DRIEDO The inward man is the rational mind unfolded in its powers, which never perishes. But the body, adorned with its senses, is called "the outward man," or "our man who is outward and corruptible," as the apostle says in 2 Corinthians iv. 16," though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." Again, he says, in Romans vii. 22, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." (On Grace and Free Will. Fol. 262.) The apostle Paul frequently does not understand the same thing by "the old man" and by "the outward man," nor has he signified the same thing by "the new man" and by "the inward man;" but in the inward man are found both the old and the new man. For, in the mind, oldness of this kind is formed at the same time as newness. In it, the likeness is either heavenly or earthly, that is, either a carnal will, living according to the exciting feel of Sin, or a Spiritual will, living according to the Spirit of God. (Ibid.) I AM aware that the divines of our profession frequently take "the inward man" for the regenerate and this new man; but then they do not consider "the inward man," except with a certain quality infused into it by the Holy and Regenerating Spirit, with which quality, when the inward man is considered, he is then correctly called regenerate and a new man. If any one urges that the very designation of "the inward man" possesses, of itself, as great a value with those divines as do the titles of "the regenerate" and "the new man," I shall desire him to demonstrate, by sure and stable arguments, that the meaning adopted by those divines is conformable to truth.

      4. Let us now approach to the other foundation, which is that this man, to whom it is attributed that "he delights in the law of God," is regenerate; and that this attribute can agree with no other than a regenerate person. That we may be able to clear up this matter in a satisfactory manner, we must see what is meant by this phrase, "to delight in the law of God;" or "to feel a joint delight with the law of God," as it appears the Greek text is capable of being rendered, and as an ancient version has it; for the verb, sunhdomai seems to signify the mutual pleasure which subsists between this man and the law, and by which not only this man feels a joint delight in the law, but the law also feels a similar delight in him. "I feel a joint delight with the law of God," that is, I delight with the law: the same things are pleasing to me as are pleasing to the law. This interpretation may be illustrated and confirmed by a comparison of similar phrases, which frequently occur in other passages of the New Testament; Sunagwnisasqai moi "that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me"--Sunanapauswmai umin "that I may with you be refreshed, (Rom. xv. 30,32) -- Sunhqlhsan moi "those women who laboured with me in the gospel," (Phil. iv. 3) -- Summarturei tw pneumati umwn "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God," (Rom. viii. 16,) from which St. Chrysostom not inappropriately explains, "I feel a joint delight with the law," by this paraphrase, "I assent to the law that it is well applied, as the law, also, in return, assents to me, that it is a good thing for a man to will to do it." He takes this explanation of the phrase from the text itself, which kind of interpretation not only may obtain, but likewise ought to be employed, in this passage, since there is no other in the whole of the Scriptures in which this same phrase is used. If any one wishes to attach the same meaning to the phrase as to that which is used in Psalm i. 2, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord;" let him who says this, know that it is incumbent on him to produce proof for his assertion. This is not unreasonably required of him, because the antecedents and the consequences which are attributed to the man who is denoted in the first Psalm and described as being blessed, are not only vastly different from those things which are attributed to the man on whom we are now treating, but are likewise quite contrary to them. Conceding, however, this for the sake of argument, but by no means absolutely granting it, (which I am far from doing,) we must observe, that this man [in Romans vii. 22] is said, not simply "to delight in the law of God," or "to feel a joint delight with the law of God," but he does so with restriction and relatively, that is "according to the inward man." This restriction intimates that "the inward man" has not obtained the pre-eminence in this man, but that it is weaker than the flesh; as the latter is that which hinders it from being able, in operation and reality, to perform the law, to which it consents, and in which it delights. He who will compare the following verse with this will perceive that the cause of that restriction is the one which we have here assigned. For in the subsequent verse, (the 23rd,) it is not said, "But I see another law in my members, according to which I do not delight in the law of God," such as the opposition ought to have been, it, by that restriction, the apostle wished only to ascribe this "delighting" to the man according to one part of him, and to take it away according to the other part of him. But since the apostle not only takes this "delighting" from the other part of him, but likewise attributes it to the power of warring against that inward man and overcoming him, it is evident that the restriction has been added on this account - - to shew that, in the man who is now the subject of discussion, "the inward man" has not the dominion, but is, in fact, the inferior. Let him who is desirous to contradict these remarks, shew us, in any passage in which regenerate persons are made the subject of investigation, a similar restriction employed, and adduced for another purpose. From these observations, therefore, it appears that the proposition is most deservedly denied. Let us now attend to the assumption.

      5. l say that the assumption is proposed in a mutilated form, as it was previously in the argument produced from the eighteenth verse. For with it, the apostle joins the following verse, in such a manner that the twenty-third verse may be the principal part of a compound and discrete axiom, employed for the purpose of proving what the apostle intended. But that which is now placed in the assumption, is a less principal part, conducing to the illustration of the other by separation. From this, it follows that the conclusion cannot be deduced From the premises, because the proposition is destitute of truth, the assumption mutilated, and the conclusion itself, beyond the purpose of the apostle and contrary to his design.

      6. Let us see whether any thing further can be brought from the twenty-third verse for the demonstration of the contrary opinion. The man who has within him, beside the law of his members, the law of his mind, which is contrary to the other, is a regenerate man. Such a man is the one mentioned in this passage; Therefore, he is a regenerate man. (1.) The defenders of the contrary opinion believe the proposition in this syllogism to be true, because "the law of the mind" is opposed to "the law of the members," as it consents to the law of God--a quality which they suppose to belong only to the regenerate. This, they think, is confirmed from the circumstance that the same apostle expressly calls a certain mind, in Col. ii. 18, "a fleshly mind," which he likewise calls in Romans viii. 7, "the carnal mind." But the proposition cannot be supported by these passages; for it is simply false, and those arguments which are produced in proof of it are inappropriate. For to some of the regenerate also, (that is, to those who are under the law, who have some knowledge of the law, who have thoughts accusing or else excusing them, and who know that concupiscence is sin,) belongs something beside "the law of the members," "a fleshly mind," and one that is "carnal," which is opposite and repugnant to these: And this is "the work of the law written in their hearts;" which is neither "the law of the members," "a fleshly mind," nor one that is "carnal," but it contends with them. For a conscience or consciousness of good and evil, which compels a man, though in vain, to good, and deters him from evil, is directly opposed to "the law of the members" impelling to evil, and "to the carnal affections which cannot be subject to the law of God." For this conscience consents to the law of God, and is the instrument of the same law even in an unregenerate man to accuse and convict him. We may, therefore, be permitted to deny that proposition, and to demand stronger proofs for it. (2.) With regard to the assumption, we may say the same as we did about the assumption in the previous syllogism--that it is not fully proposed, as it ought to have been, and it omits those things which were joined together in the text of the apostle. But those things are of such a description, as, when added to the assumption, will easily point out the falsity of the proposition; that is, such is the opposition in this man between this law of the members and that of the mind, that the former not only "wars against" the latter, but likewise obtains the conquest in the fight; that is, "it brings man into captivity under the law of sin." From these observations also it is evident, that no good consequence can ensue from the assumption.

      7. But let us now try, whether something cannot be deduced from these two verses for the establishment of our opinion. It appeals indeed to me, that I can from them deduce an invincible argument for the refutation of the contrary opinion, and for the confirmation of my own. (1.) The argument in refutation of the contrary opinion may be stated in the following manner: The law of the mind which wars against the law of the members, is conquered by the law of the members, so that the man "is brought into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members;" (as it occurs in this very passage; ) But the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, when warring against the law of the members, overcomes the latter; so that it liberates the man, who had been brought into captivity under the law of sin, from the law of sin and death: (Rom. viii. 2.) Therefore, the law of the Spirit is not the law of the mind; neither is the law of the mind, the law of the Spirit. This is evident from simple inversion, and from this very syllogism, the premises being so transposed, as for the assumption to take the place of the proposition, and vice versa: and, therefore, the word "mind" is not used in this passage for "the Spirit." This argument is irrefragable. Let him who is desirous of proving the contrary, make the experiment, and he will find this to be the result. But its peculiar force will be more correctly understood towards the close of this investigation, in which is more fully explained the whole of the matter about which the apostle is here treating. (2.) For the confirmation of my own opinion, I deduce the following argument from these verses: That man, who delights indeed in the law of God after the inward man, but who, with the law of his mind warring against the law of his members, not only cannot prevail against the latter, but is also conquered by it and brought into captivity under the law of sin, while the law of his mind fruitlessly contends against it, is an unregenerate man, and placed, not under grace, but under the law; But though this man delights in the law of God after the inward man, and though with the law of his mind he wars against the law of His members; yet not only is he unable to prevail against the law of his members, but he is likewise brought into captivity under the law of sin by the law of his members, the law of his mind maintaining a strong but useless contest; Therefore, the man [described] in this passage is unregenerate, and placed, not under grace, but under the law; Or, to state the argument in a shorter form, omitting whatever it is possible to omit--That man in whom the law of the members so wages war against the law of the mind, as, when the latter is overcome, or at least while it offers a vain resistance, to bring the man himself into captivity under the law of sin, is unregenerate, and placed under the law; But in this man, about whom the apostle is treating, the law of the members so wages war with the law of the mind, as, when the latter is overcome, or at least while it offers a vain resistance, to bring the man himself into captivity under the law of sin; Therefore, this man is unregenerate and placed under the law. (3.) The truth of the proposition rests on these three reasons: I. Because a regenerate man not only with the law of his mind wages war against the law of his members, but he does this principally with the law of the Spirit, that is, by the strength and power of the Holy Spirit; for it is said in Gal. v. 17: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." II. Because far different is the result of that contest which, by the strength and power of the Spirit, or by "the law of the Spirit," a regenerate man maintains against the law of the members and against the flesh. For the law of the Spirit always obtains the victory, except when the man ceases from employing it in the battle, and from defending himself with it against the invading temptations of the flesh, Satan, and the world. III. Because it is not an attribute of a regenerate man, of one who is placed under grace, to be brought into captivity under the law of sin; but that, rather, is his which is ascribed to him in the second verse of the following chapter--"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." For when he was formerly placed under the law, he was in captivity under the strength and power of sin. I will now confirm these reasons against the objections which are, or which can be, made against them. Against the first it may be objected--"Since the law of the mind,' and the law of the Spirit,' are one, they are in this argument unskillfully distinguished; both because no one lights against the law of the members except by the law of the Spirit, or by the strength and power of the Holy Spirit; and therefore the law of the mind is the law of the Spirit." To this I reply, it has already been proved, that the law of the mind, and the law of the Spirit, are not the same, and that the conscience also wages war against the law of the members in those men who are under the law. Against the Second reason it may be objected, "Even the regenerate themselves offend in many things.' (James iii. 2.) There is on earth no man that sinneth not.' (1 Kings viii. 46.) The regenerate cannot say with truth that they have no sin.' (1 John i. 8.)" With other objections similar in their import. To these, I reply, that I heartily acknowledge all these things, but that I do not perceive how by means of them the second reason can be weakened. For these expressions are not repugnant to each other--"In many things the regenerate offend," and "The regenerate most generally gain the victory in the contest against sin," that is, when they use the arms with which they are furnished by the Holy Spirit. (4.), any one says, "In this contest, the regenerate are more frequently the conquered than the conquerors," I shall request him to explain how then it can be declared concerning the regenerate, "that they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;" for, "to be the conquered" is "to fulfill the desires of the flesh;" and he who usually does this, "walks after the flesh." But many passages of Scripture teach that this contest, which the regenerate maintain against sin by the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, has generally a felicitous and successful termination; "for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth Jesus to be the Son of God," (1 John v. 4,5.) "Submit yourselves therefore to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James iv. 7.) Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John iv. 4.) "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand." (Ephes. vi. 11,13.) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil. iv. 13.) "All things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark ix. 23.) This truth also is proved, by various examples, through the whole of Hebrews 11. "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory," &c. (Ephes. iii. 20,21.) "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling," "and to present you, faultless, before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our saviour, be glory," &c. (Jude 24, 25.) "They that are after the Spirit, do mind the things of the Spirit. If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." (Rom. viii. 5,13,37.) By many other passages of Scripture, this may also be proved. GALATIANS v, 16-1

      8. But let us now consider Gal. v. 16-18, and let us compare it with Romans vii. 22,23, the passage at present under investigation, that it may also clearly appear, from such consideration and comparison, that the result of the contest between the Spirit and the flesh is generally this: the Spirit departs from the combat the conqueror of the flesh, especially as, in this seventh chapter to the Romans, we perceive an entirely contrary issue or result is described and deplored. The passage may be thus rendered: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit and fulfill not that after which the flesh lusteth," or "ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law? The exhortation of the apostle occurs in the sixteenth verse; and, on account of the ambiguity of the Greek word, it may be read in two different ways, "fulfill not," or "ye shall not fulfill." If the former rendering be adopted, then the exhortation consists of two parts, of which the one teaches what must be done, and the other what must be omitted; that is, we must walk in the Spirit, and the desires of the flesh must not be fulfilled." But if the clause be rendered in the second manner, then the sixteenth verse contains an exhortation in these words: "Walk in the Spirit;" and a consectary subjoined to the exhortation in these words: "And ye shall not fulfill the desires or lusts of the flesh." The latter mode of reading the passage seems to be more agreeable to the mind of the apostle; for he had previously, in the thirteenth verse, exhorted the Galatians not to abuse their Christian liberty for carnal licentiousness and lasciviousness. But now, in the sixteenth verse, he produces a remedy, by which they will be able to restrain and curb the assaults and the power of the flesh, and which is, if they walk in the Spirit, it shall then come to pass, that they shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. In the seventeenth verse a reason is added, that is deduced from the contrariety or contest which subsists between the flesh and the Spirit, and from either the end or the result of this contest. (1.) The contrariety or contest is described in these words: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." From which is manifest the necessity both of the exhortation, not to abuse their Christian liberty to carnal licentiousness, and not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh; and of the remedy, by which alone the lusts of the flesh can be curbed and restrained, and which is this: "if they walk in the Spirit, that lusteth against the flesh." For it is from this enmity and contrariety which subsists between the flesh and the Spirit that the conclusion is drawn, "If ye walk in the Spirit, ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." From this it is also manifest, that this latter mode of rendering is better adapted to the meaning of the apostle. (2.) The end or result of this contest is described in these words: "And these are contrary the one to the other, that ye may not do the things that ye would." I have said that the end or the issue of the contest is here described; because some persons suppose that its issue, and not its end, is pointed out in this passage. (i.)But the particle, ina "that," which is used by the apostle, signifies the end or intention, and not the result or issue; and this interpretation is entirely agreeable to the mind of the apostle. "For the Spirit lusteth against the flesh" for this purpose, "that we may not do those things" which we lust according to the flesh, and "which we would," the consequence of which is, "if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh." And, on the contrary, since "the flesh also lusteth against the Spirit" for this purpose, "that we may not do those things which we lust according to the Spirit," it follows that if we walk in the flesh or according to the flesh, we shall not fulfill the desires of the Spirit. But this rendering is agreeable to the scope or design of the apostle, "that ye may not do what things soever ye would according to the flesh." (ii.) If we assert that the result or issue is here signified, then the meaning will likewise be two-fold. For it will be possible for it to be as follows: "The flesh and the Spirit are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do those things which according to the Spirit ye would." It may likewise be this: "So that ye cannot do these things which, according to the flesh ye would." That is, this contest obtains the following result, "that ye cannot do those things which, according to the Spirit, ye would;" or, "that ye cannot do those things, which, according to the flesh, ye would." But let us see which of these two meanings is the more suitable: Truly, the latter of them is. It is not only more suitable, but likewise necessary, if the apostle is here treating about the issue or result. This will be still more apparent from the absurdity of the admonition, if the passage be explained in the other sense: The apostle admonishes the Galatians, "to walk in the Spirit, and not to fulfill the desires of the flesh;" (for we will now retain this rendering of the latter clause, as that which is more consentaneous with the meaning that explains the passage concerning this issue or result;) and the persuasion to this will then be: "For the flesh and the Spirit are contrary the one to the other, by this result, that ye cannot do those things which, according to the Spirit, ye would." This indeed is not to exhort, but to dissuade and dehort by a forewarning of the unhappy result. Besides, reason itself requires, according to [logical] scientific usage, that what has been proposed be drawn out in the conclusion; otherwise the parts of connection will be broken. But the proposition was either this--"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh," or it was this: "Walk in the Spirit, and fulfill not the lusts of the flesh." I am desirous to have it demonstrated to me, by what means this proposition can be concluded from the eighteenth verse understood about the issue or result, by which the flesh hinders the Galatians from doing that which, according to the Spirit, they would. But it has been already shown, that each of these propositions may be fairly concluded from the passage, when understood as relating to the end or intention of the conflict, nay, when also understood as referring to the issue or result when the Spirit is the conqueror. It is apparent, therefore, not only that this is the end or design of the contest which is here mentioned from the lusting of the Spirit, but that this is likewise its issue or result from the strength and power of the Spirit--that, when the flesh is subdued, the Spirit comes off as the conqueror; and that the man who, by the Spirit, wages war against the flesh, and who walks in the Spirit, does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. From these is inferred a consectary in the eighteenth verse: "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law;" that is, if ye walk in the Spirit, if under the guidance of the Spirit ye contend against the lusts of the flesh, and contend so as not to fulfill them, from these circumstances you may assuredly conclude that ye are not under the law. In this consectary, we see, that the phrases, "to be under the law," and "not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh," are opposed to each other; for the latter of them is descriptive of the proper effect of the guidance of the Spirit. Wherefore, the phrases, "to be under the law," and "to fulfill the lusts of the flesh," are consentaneous and of the same import. But this is the very thing which is asserted in Romans vi. 14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." From this, it is apparent, that the dominion of sin, which is the cause why the lusts of the flesh are fulfilled, prevails in those persons who are under the law. But since the dominion of sin does not obtain in those who are under grace, (and, in fact, on this account, because they are under grace,) it is therefore evident that these phrases, "to be under grace," and "to be led by the Spirit," are consentaneous, nay, that they are exactly the same. For the effect of each of them is one and alike, and that is, to prevent sin from having dominion over a man, and to hinder man from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, which is also explained at great length in Romans 8, in a manner agreeable to that which is briefly laid down in this seventeenth verse, that is, "The Spirit is contrary to the flesh for this purpose--that men may not do those things which, according to the flesh, they would." But, from Romans 7 it is very plain, that the result of that contest is different from the one upon which the apostle is here treating: For, in that chapter, the man does that which, after the flesh, he would, and does not what he is said to will after the inward man; the law of God, the law of the mind, and the inward man, vainly attempting to restrain the power of sin and to hinder the lusts of the flesh, because all these [strive as they may] are debilitated through the flesh.

      9. If any one urge this as an objection, "It likewise befalls the best of the regenerate, that they do not the things which, according to the Spirit, they would, but that they fulfill the lusts of the flesh;" I perfectly assent to the truth of this, if the small addition be made, that "this sometimes happens to the regenerate." For if such be their general practice, they do not now walk in the Spirit; though this is a property of the regenerate. I say, that Romans 7 does not describe what sometimes befalls the pious, and that it contains a description of the state of that man about whom the apostle is there treating, that is, of a man who is under the law, before he is led by the guidance of grace, and is governed by the motions of the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by the passage in Gal. v. 16-18. Then I reply, such a case as this does not occur from the circumstance of the Spirit, who has for a long time maintained a strenuous contest with the desires of the flesh, being at length conquered, and yielding on account of impotence or weakness: But it happens, because the man is either overtaken with temptation and overcome, before he begins to oppose to it the arms of the Spirit and of grace; or, in the progress of the conflict, he throws out of his hands those arms which, at the commencement, he began to use; or he uses them no longer, having begun the battle in the Spirit, but ending in the flesh. In no other way than in this can it happen, that the flesh, the world and Satan can overcome us; because "greater is He who is in us, than he that is in the world "as has already been pointed out in several passages. Without manifest ignominy and contumely poured on divine grace and on the Spirit of Christ, no other cause can be assigned why the pious, and those who are placed under grace, should sometimes be conquered by the flesh, the world and Satan; for either the Spirit that is in us is not the stronger of the two; or, while lusting and fighting against the flesh, He overcomes. And how can it possibly come to pass, that He who has conquered the flesh while it was still in its full strength, and has thus subjected us to Himself, should not be able to gain the victory over the flesh when it is crucified and dead in the body of Christ?

      10. To the Third reason it is objected, "Even the regenerate may in some degree and relatively be said to be captives under sin, that is, so far as they are not yet fully regenerated, and still feel within themselves the motions of the flesh lusting against the Spirit, from which they are not completely delivered while they continue in this mortal body." I grant the antecedent, but I deny the consequence; for so far are the scriptures from ascribing the detention of the regenerate as captives under sin, to the imperfection of regeneration and to the remains of the flesh, that they are said with respect to this very regeneration to be freed from the yoke and slavery of sin and from the tyranny of the devil. "The remains of sin survive in the regenerate," and, "The regenerate are detained as captives by the remains of sin," are contradictory affirmations: For the former of the two is a token of sin conquered and overcome; the latter attributes victory and triumph to sin. After the Holy Spirit has commenced the mortification and death of sin, what is the act of the same Spirit respecting sin? Undoubtedly it is the persecution of the remains of sin, that He may subdue and extinguish them until they no longer exist; "and when their place is sought after, it is no more to be found," as St. Augustine has elegantly observed, when treating on this matter in a passage of his works. But the cause why such an opinion as this is entertained, is because "deliverance from sin" and "slavery under its tyrannical power," "a being loosed from the chains of Satan" and "captivity under his tyranny," are so accounted as if they can concur together, as the phrase is, in remiss degrees, and meet together in one subject, in much the same manner as the colour of white and that of black meet together in green, and heat and cold meet together in lukewarmness. Yet this matter stands in a situation vastly different; for liberty cannot consist with even the smallest portion of servitude or captivity; though it may labour under great difficulties in resisting its assaulting foes, and though it may occasionally come out of the conflict with something like a defeat. But if the matter stood in the relation of similes which have been adduced, yet even then it could not be said, "This man is partly free from sin, and partly its slave and captive;" but a necessity would then arise for the existence of a third thing from these two, which might obtain the name of "a medium between the extremes," belonging neither to this nor to that. But I am desirous to see some passage of Scripture adduced, where that is said about the regenerate, and about those who are placed under grace, which is ascribed to the man about whom the apostle is treating, or what is equivalent to it. ISAIAH LXIV, 6

      11. But a passage is produced from the prophet Isaiah to prove that pious persons, and those who are placed under grace are, by the law of their members, brought into captivity under the law of sin. The degree of correctness with such an affirmation is made, will be very manifest from a comparison of the two passages. That in Isaiah (lxiv, 6) says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." The passage in Romans, (vii, 23,) now under investigation, is this. "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." Let us now approach and institute a comparison. The subject of the first of these passages is, the captivity by which the children of Israel were led away into exile on account of their sins; the subject of the latter is, captivity under sin; therefore, this is to pass over to a different genus, contrary to the method observed in every approved discussion. In the former of these passages, the subject is the punishments which that people deservedly suffered on account of the actual sins which they had committed against God; but, in the latter, the subject is the cause whence it arises that the man who consents to the law of God, and who, with the law of his mind, wages war against the law of his members, is conquered and overcome, so that he actually commits sin, to which he is instigated and impelled by sin which dwelleth in him. Wherefore, the latter passage treats upon the CAUSE of actual sin, and the former upon the PUNISHMENTS of actual sins. For this phrase, "We all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away," does not signify that those men were impelled to some kind of sin through the depraved lusts of the flesh, as by a vehement wind, or that they melted away, as it were, into sins; but it signifies, that, on account of actual sins, which are distinguished by the appellation of "our iniquities," they are driven away into banishment as by a wind, and were scattered about as leaves. Let this passage be compared with the first Psalm, in which similar declarations are made concerning the wicked. Consult our interpreters of holy writ, such as Calvin, Musculus, Gualther, &c., and it will be evident, even with respect to the things which precede it, that the whole of this passage is unaptly cited by many persons to prove what they are desirous to establish. For the plainer and more obvious explanation of this matter we must observe, that there is a two-fold captivity under the tyranny of sin--the one, that of our primeval origin from Adam, according to which we are all born "children of wrath" and the servants of sin--the other, that of our own particular act, when, by actual transgressions, we subject and bind ourselves still more to sin, and engage in its service. Some persons will have this two-fold servitude to have been allegorically typified by the Egyptian and Babylonian captivities. For the Israelites, in their parents, entered into Egypt; and while there, after a lapse of years, they began to be oppressed and to be regarded as servants. The same people, on account of their sins, were led away, by the violence of their enemies, into captivity in Babylon. But the captivity about which the apostle is here treating, is posterior to the first of these two kinds; for the law of the members, which we have from our primeval origin, waging war with the law of the mind, when the latter is overcome, brings a man who is under the law into captivity to the law of sin, that very man who was formerly conceived in sin and born in iniquity. And, to express the whole in one word, he who was born in sin and originally under captivity to it, is brought into captivity under the law of sin by means of actual sins. From these observations, therefore, it is apparent, that the proposition of our syllogism is true, and stands unshaken against all these objections. The assumption stands in the very text of the apostle, from which the conclusion follows, that the man about whom the apostle treats in this passage, is an unregenerate man, and not placed under grace, but under the law.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The Thesis to be Proved
   Chapter 2 - The Connection Between the 6th & 7th Chapter
   Chapter 3 - Proposition of the Apostle
   Chapter 4 - Romans 7:14
   Chapter 5 - Romans 7:15
   Chapter 6 - Romans 7:16
   Chapter 7 - Romans 7:17
   Chapter 8 - Romans 7:18, 19
   Chapter 9 - Romans 7:20
   Chapter 10 - Romans 7:21
   Chapter 11 - Romans 7:22, 23
   Chapter 12 - The Ancient Fathers
   Chapter 13 - Romans 7:24
   Chapter 14 - Romans 7:25
   Chapter 15 - Under the Law
   Chapter 16 - The Grace of God
   Chapter 17 - The Connection Between the 7th & 8th Chapters
   Chapter 18 - The Opinion Corroborated by Testimonies
   Chapter 19 - Christian Fathers Approve of our Interpretation
   Chapter 20 - The Opinion of St. Augustine
   Chapter 21 - Writers from the Middle Ages Support our Opinion
   Chapter 22 - Favorable Testimonies of Recent Divines
   Chapter 23 - This Opinion Isn't Heretical
   Chapter 24 - Our Opinion is Opposed to the Pelagian Heresy
   Chapter 25 - Ancient Church Doctors Didn't Approve the Opposite Opinion
   Chapter 26 - The Opposite Opinion is Hurtful to Grace & Good Morals
   Chapter 27 - Common Interpretation Answered


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