<< previous (2:292) next (2:294) >>

p429 [From the French.] * * * The principle of which you speak in the postscript of your letter, is monasticism, where that is sincere. I gave way to it at the beginning of my conversion. I said to myself, If I fast two days, three would be better, seven better still. Then that would not do to go on, but I pursued the system long enough. It led to nothing, except the discovery of one's own powerlessness. I took Romans 6, and wondered at it, but I understood nothing of it. One cannot put the flesh to death, except by killing oneself. It is as dead and risen with Christ that we mortify our members (the apostle will not allow that we live in these things) which are upon the earth; and, in order to do it, we must have not only life, but deliverance by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us - we must be set free. "If ye then be risen. . . mortify therefore," etc. (Col. 3) In Romans 8:3 we have the secret of it; it is that God condemned sin in the flesh, when Christ was a sacrifice for sin. He took the condemnation, but it was in death, so that there is no more condemnation, and we are dead, crucified with Him. We have not only the life (we find that in Rom 7) but the resurrection of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has delivered us. Now this is the order of the realisation of this. In Colossians 3 God declares, "Ye are dead." In Romans 6 it is the effect through faith: "Reckon yourselves to be dead, and alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord." Then in 2 Corinthians 4 we find the thing put into practice: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."

Some of -'s phrases do not perhaps go further than this passage; provided that we can suppose the possession of life already to be recognised, as the passage expressly supposes. But this, and the Holy Spirit, are absolutely necessary, for we bear about in the body death, in order that the life of Jesus may be manifested; therefore it must be there. Thus we find in Romans 8, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin," etc. The difference here is that the death of Christ is the efficacious cause. But to have part in it we must be quickened. The Red Sea is before, Gilgal after the passage of the Jordan. So Romans 6:12 comes after verse 11, as Colossians 3:5 comes after 3:1. But, on the other hand, we must not use the truth that we are dead with Christ and risen with Him, to weaken 2 Corinthians 4, or Colossians 3:5. There is diligence and realisation in us, also God uses tribulations to prove or to produce this realisation. "Death works in us": we mortify, etc., only we must have the life first and count ourselves dead with Christ: "I am crucified with Christ." If we have understood this, we mortify, etc., having the life to be able to do it, and having understood deliverance. What precedes is only Romans 7, useful to find out that we have no strength. We are never called to die to sin, but to hold ourselves for dead because Christ died, and we, believing, are crucified with Him. We are called to mortify our members, but mortifying is the reverse of dying; it is power acting against another object.

Deliverance is not only the blood of Christ, the basis of everything, but death and resurrection. It is not the pardon of that which is produced by the old man, but the enjoyment of the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ; it is to have passed from the old man ("when we were in the flesh") into the second Man, Christ risen ("those who are in Christ Jesus"), where the law of the Spirit of life has made me free, the foundation being that, in the death of Christ, God has condemned sin in the flesh. The element of power is the presence of the Holy Spirit. "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if Christ be in you," etc.

I fear my letter is rather unconnected, for I am very busy, but I am anxious that we should not weaken 2 Corinthians 4, because we know Colossians 3 and Romans 6. Besides, your postscript shews that this ignorance exists. . . .

Dublin, January 5th, 1878.