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VERSE THE SIXTEENTH.
1. He consents to the law that it is good; a consectary deduced. 2. An objection answered. 3. A second objection. 1. From what has preceded, a consectary or consequence is deduced for the excuse of the law, in the following words: "If then, I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." In this verse nothing is said, which may not, in the best possible manner and without any controversy, agree with one who is under the law. For unless a man under the law yields his assent to it that it is good, he is not at all under the law: For this is the first effect of the law in those whom it will subject to itself—to convince them of its equity and justice; and when this is done, such consent necessarily arises. It is also apparent from the first and second chapters of the epistle to the Romans, and from the tenth chapter, in which "a zeal of God touching the law" is attributed to the Jews, that this consent is not peculiar to a regenerate man, nor is it the proper effect of the regenerating Spirit. 2. If any one say, "The subject in this passage is that assent by which a man assents to the whole law of God, and which cannot be in those who do not understand the whole law, but none among the unregenerate understands the entire law of God," I reply, FIRST, it can never be affirmed with truth, that "none among the unregenerate understands the entire law" while the following passages exclaim against such an assertion: "That servant who knew his Lord’s will and did not according to it, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke xii. 47) "Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing;" (1 Cor. xiii. 2 ) "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth;" (1 Cor. viii. 1) "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." (2 Pet. ii. 21.) Secondly. Neither can this affirmation be truly made in every case: "No man assents to the entire law unless he understands the whole of it;" for he assents to the whole law who knows it to be from God and to be good, though he may not particularly understand all things which are prescribed and forbidden in the law. And where, among the regenerate, is that man to be found who dares to claim for himself such a knowledge of the whole law? Thirdly. That which is appropriately subservient to this purpose, is, a denial that this passage has any reference to that consent by which a man assents to all the precepts Of the law as being specially understood; for neither do the words themselves indicate any such thing, nor does the analogy of the connection permit it. Because it is concluded from the circumstance of his doing what he would not, that he "consents unto the law that it is good "which conclusion cannot be deduced from this deed if it be said, that this expression relates to the consent which arises from a special acquaintance with and an understanding of all the precepts of the law. For that which this man here says that he does, is a particular deed; it is, therefore, prohibited by some special precept of the law, the knowledge and approval of which is the cause why he who does that deed does it with reluctance. Hence, as from a consequent, it is concluded from this deed thus performed, (that Is committed with a mind crying out and striving against it,) that he who commits the deed in this manner, consents to the law that it is good. 3. But some one will perhaps rejoin and say, "This passage does not relate to the consent of general estimation, which may be possessed, and is so, in reality, by many of the unregenerate. But it has reference to the consent of particular approbation, which is the peculiar act of the regenerating Spirit." Such an objector ought to know that those things which are confidently uttered without any attempt at proof, may, with equal freedom, be rejected without offering the smallest reason. The thing itself, however, evinces the contrary; for, to consent to the law that it is good, is not to approve in particular a deed which has been prescribed by the law; for this consent of particular approbation cannot consist with the perpetration of a deed which is particularly disapproved. But the commission of such an act agrees well with the consent about which the apostle here treats.
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