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THE RUINED STATE OF THE WORLD, AND ITS NEED OF RESTITUTION.
Romass viii. 18–27.
18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
St. Paul, in the preceding sentence, had spoken of sufferings. “If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him.” This leads him to add here; And it is worth while. So I reckon : I calculate. Such is my judgment, and on this judgment I act: my life is directed by it: that the sufferings of this oresent time are not worthy to be compared with the qlory that shall be revealed in us.
And yet if we reflect upon the apostle's life, it was certainly a life of no light suffering. As he himself said concerning it : “If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” " We are little able to conceive justly of this in days like ours, when godliness has so much apparent comfort and reward with it, as to recompense, even now, the sacrifices it demands. Very different was St. Paul's case, as he describes it, (2 Cor. xi. 24.) “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods: once was I stoned : thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep: in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren : in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
1 1 Cor. xv. 19.
And yet he says, I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be rerealed in us. It is that glory, which has long been vaguely expected, and ardently desired; which many prophets and righteous men have aspired after, but have not enjoyed : God having delayed his promises and reserved his blessings, “ that they without us should not be made perfect.” 2
19. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not trillingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23. And not only they, but ourselves also, which hare the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselces, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Here the whole creation is described as restless, unsatisfied, disordered, looking for some better state of things;s such as was represented to Isaiah: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Such as St. Peter had in his thoughts, when he wrote: “Nevertheless, brethren, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” We cannot but allow that the world, both moral and natural, is in a state of disorder, and wants a “restitution of all things:” waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. It was made subject to vanity, to frailty, not willingly, not of its own will or accord, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope: by permission of its Ruler, who has thus subjected it, yet not without hope of regeneration: not without hope of deliverance from a state of bondage and corruption into a purer and nobler state of freedom. Who can deny, that at present the whole creation, in all its parts, groaneth and laboureth together " Such was the effect of the original sentence: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake: thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” The Christian is, indeed, raised above the natural state; taken out of the general bondage and corruption: he has the firstfruits of the Spirit, which gives him a foretaste of heavenly things, and enlivens his present gloom with the prospect of “glory, and honour, and immortality.” Yet is he “not already perfect:” he still carries about him a body of death, and is anxi* This is the ancient interpretation of the passage. More modern commentators prefer understanding traga kraic, as of the whole human race. But this would require a new translation.
* Ileb. xi. 40.
ously waiting for his final adoption amongst God's children, “the saints in light:” for the complete redemption of the body, when there shall be no more sin, or pain, or death; for the “former things shall have passed away.”
Indeed, were it not for the bondage of corruption, to which as long as we remain in this feeble state we must be subjected, our whole circumstances would be changed; salvation would not be future, but present; not something to be expected or trusted to, but now possessed and enjoyed. We know that it is not so.
24. For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for 2
25. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
We are saved by hope. It is not by immediate possession, but by hope, that we have been brought into this state of salvation.” “Now abideth faith, hope, charity:” these are the wings on which the Christian is borne on his way to heaven. But if he already saw his future inheritance, he would not require faith to show it him; and if he already enjoyed his inheritance, he would not need to wait for it in patience. For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for 2 But we do with patience wait for it, on the assurance of hope unto the end; and sustain our present weakness with the promise of the glory that shall be rerealed.
Nay, we have a support beyond ourselves: by which that which is weak in us is strengthened, and that which is wanting to us is supplied.
* Rev. xxi. 4. 9 tow0muev. 1 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Thus the same Spirit, who, as had been before said, witnesses with our own hearts, and assures us of our relationship to God, does also help our infirmities: supplies the imperfection of our prayers: makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, but are accepted of God, that searcheth the heart, and sees that the mind of the Spirit is in unison with the desire of the saints, his faithful people, though they Know not what they should pray for as they ought, and need an intercession more powerful than their own.
So vast is the interest engaged in the salvation of man, in bringing him to the glory that shall be revealed. We must judge of the nature of that glory, not from what man thinks in his low and grovelling nature which “cleaves unto the dust,” but from the agency which Scripture represents as being employed in raising him above it. And so we may better understand the sentiment with which Paul began, I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be rerealed in us. “For the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.”