CHAPTER 1. - PART I.
ROMANS. I. 1 - 15.
THIS chapter consists of three parts. In the first fifteen
verses, which form a general preface to the whole Epistle, Paul, after
announcing his office and commission, declares the majesty and power of Him by
whom he was appointed, who is at once the Author and Subject of the Gospel.
He then characterises those to whom he writes, and states his longing desire to visit them, for the purpose of confirming their faith. The second part of the chapter, comprising only the 16th and 17th verses, embraces the substance of the grand truths which were about to be discussed.
In the remainder of the chapter, the Apostle, at once entering on the doctrine thus briefly but strikingly asserted, shows that the Gentiles were immersed in corruption and guilt, and consequently subjected to condemnation.
Ver. 1. - Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God. Conformably to the practice of antiquity, Paul commences his Epistle by prefixing his name, title, and designation. He had, as was usual among his countrymen, two names: by the first, as a Jew, he was known in his own land; by the second, among the Gentiles. Formerly his name was SAUL, but after the occurrence related of him, Acts xiii. 9, he was called PAUL. Paul was of unmingled Jewish descent, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but educated at Jerusalem; a Pharisee by profession, and distinguished among the disciples of Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated teachers of his age and nation. Before his conversion, he was an ardent and bigoted supporter of the traditions of his fathers, violently opposed to the humbling doctrines of Christianity, and a cruel persecutor of the Church.
From the period of his miraculous conversion - from the hour when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus - down to the moment when he sealed his testimony with his blood, his eventful life was devoted to the promulgation of the faith which once he destroyed. Throughout the whole of his long and arduous course, he experienced a continual alternation of trials and graces, of afflictions and benedictions; always borne down by the hand of man, always sustained by the hand of God. The multiplied persecutions he endured, furnish a remarkable example of that just retribution which even believers seldom fail to experience in this world. When scourged in the synagogues of the Jews - when persecuted from city to city, or suffering from cold and hunger in the dungeons of Nero - with what feelings must he have remembered the time when, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, he punished them oft in every synagogue, and, being exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them even unto strange cities; or, when he was stoned at Lystra, and cast out of the city as dead, how must he have reflected on the prominent part he bore in the stoning of Stephen?
A servant of Jesus Christ. - Paul, who once verily thought that be ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, now subscribes himself His servant - literally, slave. This is an expression both of humility and of dignity - of humility, to signify that he was not his own, but belonged to Jesus Christ; of dignity, to show that he was accounted worthy to be His minister, as Moses and Joshua are called the servants of God. In the first sense, it is an appellation common to believers, all of whom are the slaves, or exclusive property of Jesus Christ, who has purchased them for Himself by the right of redemption, and retains them by the power of His word and Holy Spirit. In the second view, it denotes that Jesus Christ had honoured Paul by employing him in His Church, and making use of his services in extending the interests of His kingdom. He assumes this title to distinguish himself from the ministers or servants of men, and in order to command respect for his instructions, since he writes in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ.
Called to be an Apostle, or a called Apostle. - Paul adds this second title to explain more particularly the first, and to show the rank to which he had been raised, and the employment with which he was intrusted. He was called to it by Jesus Christ Himself; for no man could bestow the office of an Apostle, or receive it from the hand of man, like the other offices in the church. Called, too, not merely externally as Judas, but internally and efficaciously; and called with a vocation which conferred on him all the qualities necessary to discharge the duties of the office he was appointed to; for the Divine calling is in this respect different from that which is merely human, inasmuch as the latter supposes those qualities to exist in the person called, while the former actually confers them. The state of Paul before his calling, and that in which his calling placed him, were directly opposite to each other. The office to which Paul was called was that of an Apostle, which signifies one that is sent by another. The word in the original is sometimes translated messenger, but is specially appropriated in Scripture to those who were sent forth by Jesus Christ to preach His Gospel to the ends of the earth; and this appellation was given to the twelve by Himself, Luke vi. 13, and has, as to them, a more specific signification than that of being sent, or being messengers. This office was the highest in the church, distinct from all others, in which, both from its nature and authority, the manner of its appointment, and the qualifications necessary for its discharge, those on whom it was conferred could have no successors.
The whole system of the man of sin is built on the false assumption that he occupies the place of one of the Apostles. On this ground he usurps a claim to infallibility, as well as the power of working miracles, and in so far he is more consistent than others who, classing themselves with those first ministers of the word, advance no such pretensions. As the Apostles were appointed to be the witnesses of the Lord, it was indispensably necessary that they should have seen Him after His resurrection. The keys of the kingdom of heaven were committed to them exclusively. They were to promulgate its laws, which bind in heaven and on earth, proclaiming that word by which all men shall be judged at the last day. When Jesus Christ said to them, As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you, He pledged Himself for the truth of their doctrine; just as when the voice from the excellent glory proclaimed, This is My beloved Son, bear Him, the Father set His seal to whatever His Son taught.
In preaching the Divine word, though not in their personal conduct, the Apostles were fully ipspired; and the Holy Scriptures, as indited or sanctioned by them, are not the words of man, but the words of the Holy Ghost. The most awful anathema is accordingly annexed to the prohibition either to add to or take from the sacred record. Thus the Lord, who had appointed the Apostles not to a ministry limited or attached to a particular flock, but to one which extended generally through all places, to preach the Gospel in all the world, and to regulate the churches, endowed them with an infallible Spirit which led them into all truth. They were also invested with the gift of working miracles on every necessary occasion, and of exclusively communicating that gift to others by the laying on of their hands.
From all this it followed that they were perfectly qualified to preach the everlasting Gospel, and possessed full authority in the churches to deliver to them those immutable and permanent laws to which thenceforth to the end of time they were to be subject; The names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are accordingly inscribed in the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem; and all His people are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Every qualification of an Apostle centred in Paul, as he shows in various places. He had seen the Lord after His resurrection, 1 Cor. ix. 1. He had received his commission directly from Jesus Christ and God the Father, Gal. i. 1. He possessed the signs of an Apostle, 2 Cor. xii. 12. He had received the knowledge of the Gospel, not through any man, or by any external means, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, Gal. 1. 11, 12; and although he was as one born out of due time, yet, by the grace vouchsafed to him, he laboured more abundantly than all the rest.
When he here designates himself a called Apostle, he seems to refer to the insinuations of his enemies, who, from his not having been appointed during the ministry of our Lord, considered him as inferior to the other Apostles. The object of nearly the whole of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is to establish his apostolic authority; in the third chapter especially, he exhibits the superiority of the ministration committed to the Apostles, over that entrusted to Moses. Thus the designation of servant, the first of the titles here assumed, denotes his general character; the second, of Apostle, his particular office; and the term Apostle being placed at the beginning of this Epistle, impresses the stamp of Divine authority on all that it contains.
Separated unto the Gospel of God. - This may regard either Gods eternal purpose concerning Paul, or His pre-ordination of him to be a preacher of the Gospel, to which he was separated from his mothers womb, as it was said to Jeremiah, i. 5, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee ; and before thou camest forth out of the womb sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations; or rather it refers to the time when God revealed His Son in him, that he might preach Him among the heathen, Gal. i. 16. The term separated, here used, appears to allude to his having been a Pharisee before his conversion, which signifies one separated or set apart. Now, however, he was separated in a far different manner; for then it was by human pride, now it was by Divine grace. Formerly he was set apart to uphold the inventions and traditions of men, but now to preach the Gospel of God. The Gospel of God, to which Paul was separated, signifies the glad tidings of salvation which God has proclaimed. It is the supernatural revelation which He has given, distinguished from the revelation of the works of nature. It denotes that revelation of mercy and salvation, which excels in glory, as distinguished from the law, which was the revelation of condemnation. It is the Gospel of God, inasmuch as God is its author, its interpreter, its subject: its author, as He has purposed it in His eternal decrees; its interpreter, as He Himself hath declared it to men ; its subject, because in the Gospel His sovereign perfections and purposes towards men are manifested. For the same reasons it is also called the Gospel of the grace of God, the Gospel of peace, the Gospel of the kingdom, the Gospel of salvation, the everlasting Gospel, the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. This Gospel is the glad tidings from God of the accomplishment of the promise of salvation that had been made to Adam. That promise had been typically represented by the institution of sacrifice, and transmitted by oral tradition. It had been solemnly proclaimed by Enoch and by Noah before the flood; it had been more particularly announced to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; by Moses, it was exhibited in those typical representations contained in the law, which had a shadow of good things to come. Its fulfilment was the spirit and object of the whole prophetic testimony, in the predictions concerning a new covenant, and in all that was foretold respecting the advent of the Messiah.
Ver. 2. - Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures. By declaring that the Gospel had been before promised, Paul tacitly repels the accusation that it was a novel doctrine. At the same time, he states its Divine origin as a reason why nothing new is to be admitted in religion. He further shows in what respect the Old and New Testaments differ - not as containing two religions essentially dissimilar, but as exhibiting the same grand truth - predicted, prefigured, and fulfilled. The Old Testament is the promise of the New, and the New the accomplishment of the Old. The Gospel had been promised by all the prophecies which foretold a new covenant, - by those which predicted the coming of the Messiah, - by all the observances, under the law, that contained in themselves the promise of the things they prefigured, - by the whole of the legal economy, that preceded the Gospel, in which was displayed the strictness of Divine justice, which in itself would have been a ministration only of condemnation, had it not been accompanied by all the revelations of grace and mercy, which were in substance and embryo the Gospel itself, and consequently foretold and prepared the way for a more perfect development.
By His Prophets. - P aul here also repels another accusation of the Jews, iiamely, that the Apostles were opposed to Moses and the Prophets; and intimates their complete agreement. He thus endeavours to secure attention and submission to his doctrine, by removing the prejudices entertained against it, and by showing that none could reject it without rejecting the Prophets. In addition to this, he establishes the authority of the Prophets by intimating that it was God Himself who spoke by them, and consequently that their words must be received as a revelation from heaven. In the Holy Scriptures. - Here he establishes the inspiration of the Scriptures, by pronouncing them holy, and asserting that it was God Himself who spoke in them; and shows whence we are now to take the true word of God and of His Prophets, - not from oral tradition, which must be uncertain and fluctuating, but from the written word, which is certain and permanent. He teaches that we ought always to resort. to the Scriptures; for that, in religion, whatever they do not contain is really novel, although it may have passed current for ages; while all that is found there is really ancient, although it may have been lost sight of for a long period.
Ver. 3. - Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. The Gospel of God concerns His Son. The whole of it is comprised in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; so that whoever departs one step from Him, departs from the Gospel. For as Jesus Christ is the Divine image of the Father, He is set before us as the real object of our faith. It is of Him that the Gospel of God, promised by the Prophets, treats; so that He is not simply a legislator or interpreter of the Divine will, like Moses, and the Prophets, and the Apostles. Had the law and the Gospel been given by others than Moses and the Apostles, the essential characteristics of these two economies would have remained the same. But it is altogether different respecting Jesus Christ, who is exclusively the Alpha and Omega of the Gospel, its proper object, its beginning and its end. For it is He who founded it in His blood, and who has communicated to it all its virtue. On this account He Himself says, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me. He is the Son of God, His own Son, the Only-begotten of the Father ; which proves that He is truly and exclusively His Son, of the same nature, and equal with the Father, and not figuratively, or in a secondary sense, as angels or men, as Israel or believers.
Jesus Christ. - He was called Jesus, the Greek name of the Hebrew Joshua, signifying Jehovah that saveth; and so called by the angel before He was born. Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins, Matt. i. 21. The title Christ - that is, Messiah, or Anointed - being so often added in designation of His office, at length came into use as a part of His name. Our Lord. - This follows from His being the Son of God. The word translated Lord, comprehends the different names or titles which the Hebrews gave to God, but most usually corresponds with that of Jehovah. Where it is used as the name of God, it designates essentially the three persons of the Godhead; but it is also applied to any one of the Divine persons. In the Acts of the Apostles, and Epistles, it generally refers to Christ; and in these Divine writings this appellation is applied to Him in innumerable instances. He is called the Lord of glory; the Lord both of the dead and living; the Lord of all. The name Jesus refers to His saving His people; the designation flrist, to His being anointed for that purpose; and that of Lord, to His sovereign authority.
On whatever subject Paul treats, he constantly introduces the mystery of Christ. In writing to the Corinthians, he says, I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This is a declaration that the doctrine concerning Christ is the whole of religion, in which all besides- is comprehended. In delivering his instructions to the saints at Corinth respecting the incestuous person, he points out to them Jesus Christ as the Lamb that was sacrificed. If his subject respects the promises he has made, or the engagements he has entered into, he draws our attention to the promises of God, which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. When he treats of the precepts to be obeyed, he regards them as connected with the knowledge of Christ. All duties are considered in relation to Him, as the only Saviour from whom we can derive power to fulfil them, the only altar on which they can be accepted, that model according to which they are to be performed, and the motive by which those who perform them are to be actuated. He is the head that gives life to the members, the root which renders the branches fruitful. Believers are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Jesus Christ is the end and object of their obedience, in order that the name of the Father may be glorified in the Son, and that the name of the Son may be glorified in them.
Accordingly, the Scriptures speak of the commencement and the continuation of the life of believers as being derived from Christ; of their being planted together with Him; buried and risen with Him; walking in Him; living and dying with Him. The principal motives to holiness, in general, or to any particular duty, are drawn from some special view of the work of redemption, fitted to excite to the fulfilment of such obligations. The love of God in Christ is set before us, in a multitude of passages, as the most powerful motive we can have to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. When we are exhorted to look not to our own things only, but also to those of others, it is because we ought to have the sime mind in us that was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, humbled Himself to do such wonderful things for us. The duty of almsgiving is enforced by the consideration that He who was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. Forbearance to weak brethren has for its motive the death of Christ for them. If we are exhorted to forgive the offences of others, it is because God, for Christs sake, hath forgiven us. The reciprocal duties of husband and wife are enforced by the consideration of the love of Christ, and the relation in which He stands to His Church. The motive to chastity is, that we are members of Christs body, and temples of the Holy Ghost. In one word, the various exhortations to the particular duties of a holy life, and the motives which correspond to each of them, are all taken from different views of one grand and important object, the mystery of redemption. He His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods.
Having referred to Jesus Christ under the title of the Son of God, the Apostle immediately subjoins a declaration concerning His person as God and man. Which was made of the seed of David. - The wisdom of God was displayed in the whole of the dispensation that related to the Messiah, who, iu His human uature, was, conformably to many express predictions, to descend from David king of Israel. He was born of a virgin of the family of David; and the first promise, containing His earliest name, the seed of the woman, indicated that He was in this supernatural manner to come into the world; as also that He was to be equally related to Jews and to gentiles. To Abraham it was afterwards promised, that the Messiah should spring from him. In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. But as this promise was still very general, it was next limited to the tribe of Judah. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come. And to David the Lord had sworn, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
Thus, as the period of His birth approached, the promises concerning Him were more particular and more restricted. The wisdom of God was pleased in this manner to designate the family in which the Messiah, as to His human nature, was to be born, that it might be one of the characteristics which should distinguish and make Him known, as well as to confound the unbelief of those who should reject Him, and deny His advent. For, if He has not yet come, it was to no purpose that the prophets foretold that He should descend from a certain family, since all the genealogies of the Jews are now lost. It must therefore be admitted either that these predictions, thus restricted, were given in vain, or that the Messiah must have appeared while the distinction of Jewish families still subsisted, and the royal house of David could still be recognised.
This declaration of the Apostle was calculated to have great weight with all, both Jews and Gentiles, who reverenced the Old Testament Scriptures, in convincing them that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah, the hope of Israel. God has also seen it good to exhibit, in the birth of Jesus Christ, that union of majesty and dignity on the one hand, and weakness and abasement on the other, which reigns through the whole of His economy on earth. For what family had there been in the world more glorious than that of David, the great king of Israel, most honoured and beloved of God, both as a prophet and a king? And what family was more reduced or obscure when Jesus Christ was born? This is the reason why He is represented by the prophet Isaiah as the rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch growing out of his roots, which marks a family reduced, as if nothing more remained but the roots, which scarcely appeared above ground. And by the same prophet it is also said, He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.
According to the flesh. - The prophets had abundantly testified that the Messiah was to be truly man, as well as truly God, which was necessary in order to accomplish the purpose of His advent. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh, and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death. The Apostle John declares that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This expression could not be employed respecting any mere man, as no one who was only a man could come except in the flesh. Since, then, Jesus Christ might have come in some other manner, these words affirm His humanity, while at the same time they prove His pre-existence.
Ver. 4. - And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Declared to be the Son of God. - The word here translated declared, imports, according to the sense of the original as well as the connection, defined or proved. The term properly signifies, to point out, or to limit, as when bounds are set to a field to regulate its measurement. Jesus Christ was made or became the Son of David; but He did not become, but was declared, defined, or demonstrated to be the Son of God. That Jesus Christ is not called in this place the Son of God with reference to His incarnation or resurrection merely, is evident from the fact that His nature as the Son of God is here distinguished from His descent from David. This expression, the Son of God, definitely imports Deity, as applied to Jesus Christ. It as properly denotes participation of the Divine nature, as the contrasted expression, Son of Man, denotes participation of the human nature. As Jesus Christ is called the Son of Man in the proper sense to assert His humanity, so, when in contrast with this He is called the Son of God, the phrase must be understood in its proper sense as asserting His Deity.
The words, indeed, are capable of a figurative application, of which there are many examples in Scripture. But one part of the contrast is not to be taken as literal, and the other as figurative; and if the fact of a phrase being capable of figurative acceptatiOn incapacitates it from expressing its proper meaning, or renders its meaning inexplicably uncertain, no word or phrase could ever be definite. A word or phrase is never to be taken in a figurative sense, where its proper sense is suitable; for language would be unintelligible if it might be arbitrarily explained away as figurative. This appellation, Son of God, was indeed frequently ascribed to pious men; but if this circumstance disqualified the phrase from bearing a literal and definite meaning, there is not a word or phrase in language that is capable of a definite meaning in its proper signification. The Apostle John says, But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, by which he means to say who Christ is. Paul, after his conversion, preached Christ in the synagogues. And what did he preach concerning Him ? - That He was the Son of God. The great burden of Pauls doctrine was, to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. That term, then, must definitely import His Divine nature. It is not only used definitely, but as expressing the most important article in the Christian faith; it is used as an epitome of the whole creed. When the eunuch desired to be baptized, Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The belief, then, of the import of this term is the substance of Christianity.
Faith. in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, overcometh the world. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that JESUS is the Son of God? In the confession of Peter, Matt. xvi. 16, this phrase is employed as an epitome of the Christian faith. To the question, Whom say ye that I am? Peter replies, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. We have here the very essence of Christianity. It is asked; Who is Christ? The reply, then, must answer this question; it must inform us who Christ is, both as to His person, His office, and nature. Thou art the Christ, is the answer to the question, so far as it respects His person and office ; Thou art the Son of the living God, is the answer as to His nature. The parable in which the king makes a marriage for his son, speaks the same doctrine, Matt. xxii. 2. Christ is there represented to be the Son of God, in the same sense in which a royal heir is the son of the king his father. If, then, the kings son partake of the nature of his father, so must Jesus Christ, the Son of God, partake of the nature of His Father; if the kings son be a son in the perfect sense - the term, and not a son figuratively, in like manner the Son of God is God's Son in the proper sense.
The question put to the Pharisees by Jesus, Matt. xxii. 42, proves that the phrase Son of God means sonship by nature. What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? This question evidently refers to proper, not figurative sonship. When we ask whose son such a person is, it is palpably evident that we mean real, not figurative sonship. Though the question might have reference to our Lords human nature, and the inquiry relate to His father after the flesh, as the Pharisees understood, still it clearly denotes the natural relation; but that Christ did not intend it exclusively of His father as to the flesh, is evident from His next question: If David, then, call Him Lord, how is He his Son? Jesus Christ could not mean to deny that He was the Son of David; but He intimates that, though He was the Son of David as to the flesh, He must be the Son of God in the same sense in which He was Davids Son. He asks, Who is the father of the Messiah? and from something affirmed of Him, intimates that there is a sense in which He is not Davids Son. The answer He received was true, but not full; the supply of the deficiency is the Son of God. The question, then, and the proper answer, imports that Jesus was the Son of God in the literal sense of the words. Besides, David could not call Him Lord as to His human nature; nor was He Davids Lord in any sense but that in which He was God.
The condemnation, also, of unbelievers rests on the foundation of the Saviours dignity as the Son of God. He that believeth not is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. They are condemned not merely for rejecting His message, but for not believing in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Faith, then, respects not His doctrine only, but Himself, especially as exhibited in His doctrine. Such sonship implies Deity. In this Epistle, ch. viii., Paul argues that God will deny nothing to those for whom He has given His Son. But this argument would be ill founded, if Jesus be only figuratively His Son. He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? This supposes that the gift of Christ is greater than the gift of all other things besides, and that in such a disproportion as to bear no comparison. If so, can He be anything else than truly Divine? Had He been the highest of created beings, it would not follow as a self-evident consequence that such a gift of Him implied the gift of all things else.
The epithets attached to this phrase, Son of God, show it to import proper sonship. Jesus is called Gods own Son, - the beloved - the well- beloved Son, - the begotten - the only-begotten Son of God. This sonship, then, is a sonship not only in a more eminent degree, but in a sense in which it is not true of any other in the lowest degree. God has other sons, but He has no other son in the sense in which Jesus is His Son. He has no other son who enjoys the community of His nature. Therefore this Son is called His begotten, or His only-begotten Son. A begotten son is a son by nature; and Jesus must be designedly so designated, to distinguish His natural sonship from that which is figurative. The phrase is rendered still more definite by the addition of the word only. Jesus is the only-begotten Son, because He is the only Son of God in the proper sense of the term. Other sons are figuratively sons, but He is the begotten Son, and the only-begotten Son. The phrase own Son imports the truth of the sonship by another term, and is thbrefore an additional source of evidence. Own Son is a son by nature, in opposition to the son of another, to a son by law, and to all figurative sons.
Christ, then, is Gods own Son, because He is His Son by nature, because He is not His Son by adoption in the view of the law, and because He is His Son in opposition to figurative sonships. That the words, I and My Father are one, John x. 30, mean unity of nature, and not unity of design, is clear from our Lords account of the charge of the Jews: they charged Him with blasphemy for calling Himself the Son of God. Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? Now the words used were not, I am the Son of God. The words I and My Father are one must therefore be the same in import as I am the Son of God; but if the expression, I and My Father are one, is the same in import as, I am the Son of God, the former cannot mean, I am one in design with My Father. Jesus, in the 36th verse, represents the Jews as charging Him with blasphemy, not for saying that He was God, but for saying that He was the Son of God. This incontrovertibly proves that the Jews understood the phrase, Son of God, as importing Deity. The phrase is blasphemous when applied to a mere creature in noother sense than as importing Deity. That the Lord Jesus Christ, in his eternal equality with the Father, and not merely as God manifested in the flesh, is called the Son of God, flows directly from the fact that, wherever the first person of the adorable Trinity is personally distinguished in Scripture, it is under the title, the co-relative title, of the Father.
And what is the objection to this doctrine of our Lords eternal sonship? It is simply that it differs from all our ordinary notions of the filial relation, to represent the Son as co-eternal with the Father; or that begotten must necessarily mean derived, and that to grant derivation is to surrender Deity. In regard to the last form of the objection, it is only necessary to remark, that the doctrine of Scripture is not to be held chargeable with the vain and unprofitable speculations about derived personality, on which some of its upholders have adventured. And in regard to the first, it is not difficult to see that it is destitute of force, except on the impious assumption that we are not bound to receive any declaration about the Divine nature, about the deepest mysteries which are veiled from our reason, and revealed only to our faith, unless we can fully comprehend it. To demand that the distinction of persons in the undivided essence of the Godhead, and the mode of their eternal subsistence, shall be made plain to us; or to repugn against the doctrine of the eternal notions of sonship, - what is this but the very summit of unthinking. arrogance? What is it but to say that we will make our own narrow minds the measure of all things, - that we will accept nothing from pure respect to the authority of God, - ..that we will give the Faithful One only the credit which we allow to a suspected witness, receiving His evidence, where it harmonises with our own apprehensions, - and that, while to our feeble minds every insect is a mystery, there must be no arcana in the nature of Him who dwelleth in the light that is inaccessible?
With power. - Some explain the meaning of this to be, that by His resurrection Jesus Christ was powerfully declared to be the Son of God. But He was not merely powerfully declared - which would intimate the high degree of the evidence - but, according to the Apostle, He was absolutely declared to be the Son of God. Some, again, suppose that He was declared to be the Son of God by the power of the Father who raised Him up. If this had been intended, it would not, it appears, have simply been said, with power, but by the power and glory of the Father, as in Horn. vi. 4, and 2 Cor. xiii. 4. The expression, with power, is to be construed with that of the Son of God which immediately precedes it, not with the word declared, and signifies invested with power. All power was inherent in Him, as God blessed for ever; but it was given to Him as Mediator, as He Himself declares, Matt. xxviii. 18, John xvii. 2, and clearly manifested by His resurrection. He then appeared possessed Of eternal, sovereign, and universal power., and that in opposition to the semblance of weakness in which He had appeared on earth.
The dignity of His person having remained for some time concealed under the veil of weakness, His resurrection gloriously displayed His ineffable power, as the Conqueror of death, and by His power also evinced His dignity as the Son of God. The power which was given to our Lord when He rose from the dead, was eminently displayed by His sending out the Holy Spirit, when He returned to the Father. Before His resurrection, if only the veil of infirmity with which, in His birth, he had been covered, was contemplated, He appeared merely as a man. But after His resurrection, if we turn our eyes to His sending forth the Holy Spirit, we behold Him as the Son of God invested with all power. For He who thus sends forth this glorious Spirit must be possessed of sovereign and infinite power, and consequently must be the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, too, whom Jesus Christ communicates, marks His divinity by other characters besides that of power, namely, by that of holiness, by that of majesty, by that of eternity, and that of infinity, proving that He only who bestows the Holy Spirit can be the eternal God, sovereignly holy, and sovereignly glorious. The Apostle has, however, chosen the characteristic of power for two reasons, - the one is to oppose it to the flesh, denoting weakness; and the other, because He has overcome the world, which is an act of ineffable power. To destroy the empire of Satan, to subdue the hearts of men, to change the face of the universe, displays a power which is truly Divine.
According to the Spirit of Holiness. - There are various interpretations of these terms, but the proper antithesis can only be preserved by referring them to Christs Divine nature. If the words are capable of this application, we need not hesitate to adopt it in this place; and though the phrase is unusual, there can be no doubt that it is capable of this meaning. It is- equally unusual in whatever sense it may be applied. This circumstance, then, cannot prevent it from referring to the Deity of Jesus Christ, in direct contrast to His humanity. Spirit of goliness may be used here rather than the phrase Holy Spirit, because the latter is usually assigned to the third person of the Trinity. Though the exact expression does not occur elsewhere in the Scriptures, other passages corroborate this meaning, as the Lord (that is, Christ) is that Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 17. He is called a quickening Spirit, 1 Cor. xv. 45, which character belonged to Him in a particular manner after.His resurrection, when He appeared as the spiritual Head of His Church, communicating spirit and life to all His members. The unusual expression, Spirit of Holiness, appears, then, here to denote His Deity, in contrast with His humanity, characterizing Him as God, who is a Spirit essentially holy. In the verse before us, connected with the preceding, we see that it is upon the foundation of the union of the Divine and human natures, in the person of the Messiah, that Paul proceeds to establish all the great and important truths which he sets forth in this Epistle. In another passage, he afterwards explicitly asserts this union: Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Rom. ix. 5. In the same manner Matthew commences his Gospel. He traces the genealogy of the human nature of Jesus Christ, and afterwards declares His Divine nature, Matt. i. 18, 21, 23. Mark begins by proclaiming Him to be the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord (of Jehovah), make His paths (for our God) straight, Isa. xl. 3; Mal. iii. 1. Luke introduces his Gospel by asserting His Divine nature. In speaking of the coming of John the Baptist, he says, And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God; and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias; and then he declares His genealogy according to His human nature, Luke i. 16, and us. 23. John commences his Gospel by saying, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and afterwards, The Word was made flesh, John i. 1 - 14.
Nearly in the same verse he commences and closes his first Epistle. The leading truth which the Apostles taught when they preached to the Jews at Jerusalem was, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah Promised, who had been crucified, and who was raised from the dead, and exalted to the right hand of the Father; and the same great truth was declared to Cornelius, when the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles. The foundation of all that the Apostle advances in the Epistle to the Hebrews, respecting the superiority of the new over the old covenant, is established upon the union of t.he Divine and human natures of Jesus Christ.
Having announced that He is the Son of God, he determines the import of that title, by quoting a passage which ascribes to Him the name, the throne, the kingdom, the righteousness, and the eternity of God. Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. The Apostle Peter begins his first Epistle by referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ,, and his second, by designating Him as our God and Saviour. And as in the last prophetical book of the Old Testament the Messiah is called Jehovah, so the prophetical book which terminates the New Testament. opens with announcing Him to be Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the: Almighty, and closes in a similar manner, I am Alpha and Omega,: the .beginning and the end, the first and the last, which signifies the self-existent eternal Jehovah. By the resurrection from the dead. - His resurrection defined or determined Jesus Christ to be the person spoken of by the Prophets as the Son of God, and was the authentic and solemn judgment of God pronouncing Him to be His Son. As it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art My Son; this day .have I begotten Thee, Acts xiii. 33.
In Scripture, things are often said to be done, when they are publicly declared and manifested. When the Son of God was raised from the dead, His eternal dignity, which was before concealed, was brought to light. His Divine power, being infinite and unchangeable, could receive ito augmentation of dignity or majesty. But, having chosen to appear among men enveloped as in a cloud of sufferings and apparent weakness, His glorification consisted in His emerging from that cloud, leaving the: veil of infirmities in the tomb, without any of them adhering to Him, when, as the sun breaks forth in his splendour, He was gloriously manifested as the Son of God. By His resurrection, God proclaimed to the universe that Christ was His only - begotten Son.
The Apostle having in the foregoing verse called Jesus Christ the Son of God, here adds that He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. His resurrection, then, did not constitute Him the Son of God; it only evinced that He: was truly so. Jesus Christ had declared Himself to be the Son of God; and on this account the Jews charged Him with blasphemy, and asserted that He was a deceiver. By His resurrection, the clear manifestation of the character He had assumed, gloriously and for ever terminated the controversy which had been maintained during the whole of His ministry- on earth. In raising Him from the dead, God decided the contest. He declared Him to be His Son, and showed that He had accepted His death in satisfaction for the sins of His people, and consequently that He had suffered not for Himself, but for them, which none could have done but the Son of God. On this great fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul rests the truth of the Christian religion, without which the testimony of the Apostles would be false, and the faith of Gods people vain.
The name Jehovah, derived from a root which signifies to be, is expressive of the moat perfect and independent existence, It represents God as the Author of all being. Where the word LORD is printed in the Old Testament in capitals, in the original it is Jehovah.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. His resurrection is a sure pledge that they who sleep in Jesus, God at His second appearance will bring with Him. As He triumphed in His resurrection over all His enemies, so His people shall arise to victory and blessedness. Then they shall know the power of the resurrection of Jesus, the grandeur of that event, and their interest in it through eternity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proved His sonship, because He had claimed that character during His life, and had appealed in proof of it to His rising froni the dead, John ii. 19. Had this testimony been untrue, it could not have taken place. And it not only proved His own eternal power and Godhead, but also manifested His oneness and union in all the perfections and distinguishing characters which constitute Godhead, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, each of these glorious persons concurring in that act, as we learn from other Scriptures.
Professor Stuart, in his Commentary, asks in this place, How could the resurrection declare, in any special manner, that Christ was the Son of God? Was not Lazarus raised from the dead? Were not others raised from the dead by Christ, by the Apostles, by Elijah, and by the bones of Elisha? And yet was their resurrection proof that they were the sons of God? God did indeed prepare the way for universal dominion to be given to Christ by raising Him from the dead. To the like purpose is the Apostles assertion in Acts xvii. 31. But how an event common to Him, to Lazarus, and to many others, could of itself demonstrate Him to be the Son of God, - remains yet to be shown. This is feeble reasoning. It shows that Mr. Stuart is entirely mistaken as to the manner in which the resurrection of Christ bears testimony to His character. Jesus Christ came into the world professing to be the Son of God, and was put to death for that profession. His resurrection, then, was Gods seal to the truth of this claim. In itself; it did not testify whether He was God or only man, but it fully established the truth of everything He taught; and as He taught His own Godhead, His resurrection is proof of His Deity. But how could it ever be supposed that the resurrection of Lazarus would prove as much for him as for Christ? Lazarus did not, before his death, profess to be the Son of God, and Mediator. He never predicted his resurrection as an event which was to decide the justice of his pretensions; and had he done so, he would not have been raised to confirm a falsehood. Professor Stuarts argument concludes as strongly against the proof of sonship, in any sense, from the resurrection of Christ, as against proper sonship. The mere fact of being raised from the dead is not evidence of being even a good man. But in whatever sense Jesus is the Son of God, His resurrection is here stated by the Apostle to be the grand proof. Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that when the Comforter came He should convince the world of righteousness, because, said He, I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more.
In raising Him from the dead, and receiving Him up into glory, God declared that the everlasting righteousness which the Messiah came to bring in was accomplished. His honourable reception by His Father who sent Him, furnished the most complete proof that He had faithfully fulfilled the purposes of His mission. For if, says Archbishop Usher, He had broken prison and made an escape, the payment of the debt which, as our surety, He took upon Himself; being not yet satisfied, He should have been seen here again; Heaven would not have held Him more than Paradise did Adam, after He had fallen into Gods debt. To the same purpose says Bates, If He had remained in the grave, it had been reasonable to believe Him an ordinary person, and that His death had been the punishment of His presumption; but His resurrection was the most illustrious and convincing evidence that He was what He declared Himself to be. For it is not conceivable that God should put forth an almighty power to raise Him, and thereby authorize His resurrection, if by robbery He had assumed that glorious title of the Son of God. If, indeed, a single sin which had been laid on Him had been left unexpiated, He must have remained for ever in the grave: death would in that case have detained Him as its prisoner; for the wages of sin is death.
By His incarnation, Jesus Christ received in His human nature the fulness of His Spirit; but He received it covered with the veil of His flesh. By His death He merited the Spirit to sanctify His people; but still this was only a right which He had acquired, without its execution. By His resurrection He entered into the full exercise of this right; He received the full dispensation of the Spirit, to communicate it to them; and it was then He was declared to be the Son of God with power.
Ver.5 - By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name. One of the first acts of the power of Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, was to bestow His Spirit and His grace on those who were chosen by Him, to qualify them to be His witnesses and the heralds of His Gospel. Paul was among that number, although appointed at a later period than the rest. We have received - He here speaks of himself in the plural number. He does not appear to use this style that he may include the other Apostles: what is true of him will, however, as to everything essential, apply to all the others. He distinguishes these two things, Grace and Apostleship. The first, which he had experienced in his conversion, and in every subsequent part of his course, he had received from Jesus Christ; and by Him also he was appointed to the office of an Apostle, to the discharge of which that grace was indispensably necessary. To the obedience of faith. - Paul, as an Apostle, was commissioned to preach the Gospel in order to the obedience of faith. Some understand this of the obedience which faith produces; but the usual import of the expression, as well as the connection in this place, determines it to apply to the belief of the Gospel. Obedience is no doubt an effect produced by that belief; but the office of an Apostle was, in the first place, to persuade men to believe the Gospel This is the grand object, which includes the other. The Gospel reforms those who believe it; but it would be presenting an imperfect view of the subject to say that it was given to reform the world. It was given that men might believe and be saved.
The obedience, then, here referred to, signifies submission to the doctrine of the Gospel. This is quite in accordance with those passages in which the expression is elsewhere found, as in Acts vi. 7; Rorn. vi. 17, xvi. 26; Gal. iii. 1; 2 Thess. i. 8; 1 Pet. i. 22; and in Horn. x. 3; where the Israelites are charged with not submitting to the righteousness of God; and especially in the 16th verse of that chapter it is said, But they have not all obeyed the Gospel; for Esaias saith, Lord, who bath believed our report? This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, 1 John iii. 23.
The object, then, of faith, is not only a promise, but a promise accompanied with a command to accept it. For since it is God who promises, His majesty and authority accompany His promise. In respect to the promise, that which on our part corresponds to it is called faith; but in regard to the commandment which enjoins us to receive the promise, the act on our part is obedience. On this account, unbelief is rebellion against God. Faith, on the other hand, is an act of submission, or the surrender of ourselves to God, contrary to the natural opposition of our minds, in order that He may possess and conduct us, and make us whatever He pleases. When, therefore, that opposition is overcome by the weapons with which the Apostles were armed, namely, the word of truth, our submission is called the obedience of faith. This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. The obedience of faith which His people render to Jesus Christ is an adoration which supposes His Deity; for when reason entirely submits and is swallowed up in His authority, it is a real adoration. Faith, says Calvin on this passage, is adorned with the title of obedience, because the Lord calls us by His Gospel, and by faith we answer when He calls us; as, on the contrary, unbelief is the height of all rebellion against God.
Among all nations. - Paul here assigns the reason why he preaches to Gentiles, namely, that it is the destination of his office or apostleship, and not solely his own choice, Gal. ii. 7. In past ages, God had suffered all nations, with the exception of the Jews, to walk in their own ways, although He had not left Himself without witness in the works of creation and providence. Both in the universal deluge, and also upon other occasions, He had manifested His wrath on account of sin, and His determination to punish it. But after the establishment of the nation of Israel in Canaan, after the institution of His public worship among them, and after He had given to them His written revelation; He did not generally interpose His authority in a visible manner to turn the nations from the ways they had chosen.
Although, therefore, the times of this ignorance God winked at, He now commanded all men to repent. For thus it is written, that when Christ suffered and rose from the dead, repentence and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, Luke xxiv. 47. And accordingly Paul closes this Epistle by declaring that it was by the commandment of the everlasting God that the mystery, which had been kept secret from ages and generations, should be made known to all nations, in order to the obedience of faith. This was in conformity to the commission given by the Lord Himself to His eleven Apostles, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature; and likewise to the particular command afterwards received by Paul respecting the Gentiles,
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Thus the Gospel of the un-circumcision was in a special manner committed to Paul, to which in the verse before us he refers. For His name. - The Gospel is preached among all nations for the obedience of faith, but paramount to this is the glory of the name of Jesus Christ. The name, the glory, and the authority of God have the same signification. The world was created for Gods glory, and His glory is the chief end of the restoration of sinners. The acts of His goodness to His people are declared to be done for His own names sake; and for the same end His judgments also are executed on sinners, for His own name, Rom. ix. 17.
Men are very unwilling to admit that God should have any end with respect to them greater than their happiness. But His own glory is everywhere in the Scriptures represented as the chief end of mans existence, and of the existence of all things. It is in the name of Jesus that His people are taught to pray; and we are baptized into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as into one name. This affords unanswerable proof of the divinity of Christ. Paul was a chosen vessel to bear His name before the Gentiles, Acts ix. 15. This verse concludes the general introduction to the Epistle; the easy transition to the particular address should not pass unnoticed.
Ver. 6. - Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ. Those to whom Paul wrote, were included among the nations to whom his commission extended. He mentions this, that it might not appear strange that he addresses them for the purpose of instructing them, but that, on the contrary, they should receive what he wrote with due confidence and respect. He was unknown to them by sight; he was far distant from them. They might say, What interest had he in them? He assures them that his apostleship regarded and comprehended them, and that he did nothing beyond his calling when he desired to increase their knuwledge, and confirm their faith. They were the called of Jesus Christ. Thus he had a double right, and was laid under a double obligation to address them, both as belonging to the nations to whom his commission extended, and also as having already become obedient to the faith.
The apostolic commission consisted of two parts: first, to make disciples, and then to teach them to observe all things that Jesus had commanded. Thus Paul had a measure that reached even to those to whom he now wrote, as he had to the Church at Corinth, 2 Cor. x. 13. Of Jesus Christ. - Not only called to Jesus, but called by Him; for He is not only that glorious person to whom we ought to go, but who Himself says, Come unto Me. The believers at Home were called both with an external calling by the Gospel, and also with an internal calling by the Holy Spirit. Both these callings are ascribed to the Father, and also, as in this passage, to Jesus Christ, because the Son, as Mediator, is the minister of the Father, and executes all things for Him. As the High Priest of His people, He has done for them all that is required for establishing the New Covenant; but as the Prophet and King of His Church, He converts them and leads them to the Father. This expression "the called of Jesus Christ", imports that they belonged to Him, as in Isa. xlviii. 12, Israel, my called, that is, who are mine by the right of calling.
Ver. 7. - To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called, saints: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. To all. - The Apostle here addresses all the saints at Rome without distinction, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, bond or free. He does not distinguish the pastors from the people, but addresses himself to them all in common - what he writes being equally intended for their common instruction and edification. He addresses them by three designations, Beloved of God, Called, Saints. They were saints because they were called, and they were called because they were beloved of God. Their character as saints, then, was not the cause, but the effect, of their being beloved of God.
Beloved of God. - In opposition to the rest of mankind, whom God hath left in unbelief and the corruption of the world. Here, then, is the electing love of God placed first in order. It is that love wherewith He loved them when they were dead in sins, Eph. ii. 5. It is the greatest love that God can show to man, being everlasting love, which originates with Himself. It is purely gratuitous, and does not spring from the foresight of anything worthy in those who are its objects; but, on the contrary, goes before all that is good in the creature, and brings with it infinite blessings. It has for its primary object Jesus Christ, the beloved of the Father; and those whom He beholds in Christ, although in themselves children of wrath, are beloved for His sake. This love is unvarying from eternity and through eternity, although Gods dealings towards His people may vary, as it is declared in the 99th Psalm, Thou takest vengeance on their inventions. He may thus be displeased with them, as it is said, The thing that David did displeased the Lord, but His love to them remains the same, like the love of a father to a child, even when he chastens him for his disobedience.
Called. - The first outward effect of election, or of the love of God to His people, is His calling them, not merely by the word, which is common to many, but by the Holy Spirit, which is limited to few, Matt. xxii. 14. I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee, Jer. xxxi. 3. The election, then, of believers is to be traced through their calling, 2 Pet. i. 10, and their callag to the everlasting love of God.
Saints...The end of the Divine calling is to convert Sinners into saints or holy persons. Their sanctification is not an external or figurative consecration, as that of Israel was, but a real consecration by which they are made to give themselves to God. It arises from union with Jesus Christ which . . . is the source of the sanctification of His people; and it consists in internal purity of heart, for God purifies the heart by faith. It supposes a real change of heart and disposition, a new creation, for if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. They were not then saints by natural birth, nor did they make themselves saints - either in whole or in part; but they were made so altogether by sovereign grace resulting from sovereign love. All believers are sainst and in one sense all of them are equally sanctified. They are equall, separated or consecrated to God, and equally justified, but they are no all equally holy. The work of sanctification in them is progressive There are babes, and young men, and fathers in Christ. Some are we in faith, and some are strong; but none of them are yet perfect, neither have they attained to that measure of holiness at which it is their duty constantly to aim, Phil. iii. 12. They are therefore to forget those thing which are behind, and to reach forth unto those things which are before, and are commanded to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The path of the just is as the shining high that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Certainly, accordin to Paul, says Calvin on this place, the praise of our salvation does not depend upon our own power, but is derived entirely from the fountain of Gods love to us. What other cause but His own goodness can, moreover, be assigned for His love? On this also depends His calling, by which, in His own time, He seals the adoption in those who were first gratuitously chosen by Him. From these premises the conclusion follows that none truly associate themselves with the faithful who do not place certain degree of confidence in the Lords kindness to them: although undeserving and wretched sinners, being called by His goodness, they aspire to holiness. For He hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.
Grace to you, and peace. - In this way the Apostles usually commence their Epistles to the churches. In those addressed to individuals, mercy is generally added to grace and peace. Grace is uniformly placed first in order, because it is the source whence peace and all the blessings of salvation flow. Grace is the free unmerited favour of God to sinners in the plan of salvation. Grace and peace are joined together, because the two are inseparable. God communicates all blessings to those to whom He gives grace, and to none besides; for whatever does not proceed from grace is not a blessing. It is to the praise of His grace that God exercises mercy, and brings those who were His enemies into a state of peace with Him. Grace differs from mercy, as it regards the unworthiness while mercy regards the sufferings, of its objects.
Grace or favour is spoken of in Scripture in three points of view: either as the unmerited favour of God towards men, as existing in Himself; or as manifested in the Gospel, which is called the Gospel of the grace of God; or in its operation in men. Every part of redemption proceeds on the footing of grace. It originates in the grace of God, and flows, in, its first manifestations and in all its after acts, from the same unceasing fountain, in calling, adopting, regenerating, justifying, sanctifying, strengthening, confirming grace, - in one word, it is all of grace.
On this account Peter calls God the God of all grace, which teaches that God is in Himself towards His people grace - grace in His very nature, - that He knows what each of them needs, and lays it up for them, and communicates it to them. The whole of the salvation of man, from the counsels of God from eternity, is planned and executed to the praise of the glory of His grace, Eph. i. 6; who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Tim. i. 9. In the operation of grace in the soul, men are not simply passive, nor can it be said that God does a part and they do the rest; but God produces all, and they act all. God is the sole author and source of their acts, but they themselves properly are the agents. In some respects they are wholly passive, and in others wholly active. In the Scriptures, the same things are spoken of as coming from God, and as coming from men. It is said that God purifies the hearts of believers, Acts xv. 9, and that they purify themselves, 1 John iii. 3. They are commanded to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who worketh in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure, Phil. ii. 12.
It is not the Holy Spirit, but themselves, by virtue of His power, who love God and their neighbour, who fear the Lord, who confide in Him, and trust in His promises. Paul designates as fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. The origin of them all is the Holy Spirit - it is from Him they are derived; but in their exercise or development they properly belong to believers. If any one falsely infers from the doctrine of grace that there remains nothing for man to do, because it is the grace of God that leads him to act, he understands neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms. He might with the same reason conclude that, as God is the Author of our existence, of our souls, and of all our faculties, therefore we can neither think, nor reason, nor love. Grace is in our hearts a living principle, implanted by God, and at His sovereign disposal. To exercise this principle, is as much our duty as to preserve our life and health; and as the care which these require demand attention and certain acts of the will, in the same manner the exercise of grace in the soul supposes corresponding dispositions and acts. But it is not thus with grace as manifested, which is an object of choice, received or rejected, according as grace has operated in us or not. In this manner, grace, as the principle of renovation, by the sole operation of the Holy Spirit, stands in opposition to every notion of independent power in man, by which it might be supposed he could regenerate himself; while, on the other hand, considered in its exercise, it supposes the efforts of man.
Peace includes everything that belongs to the idea of tranquillity in its largest extent. But the foundation of all must be peace with God. Without this, the Christian can have no peace, though he should be on good terms with all mankind; but, possessing this, God will either give him peace with his enemies, or He will give him peace along with their enmity. The Christian may not only have peace, but joy, in the midst of persecution and external affliction. Peace with God is the substance of happiness, because without it there can be no happiness, and with it there is happiness, whatever else is wanting.
This salutation, grace to you and peace, may be considered either as a prayer or a benediction. In the latter sense, it bears the character of apostolic authority.
From God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. - God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of all who are in Him. Paul here speaks of God as both his Father and the Father of all those whom he addressed, and so constituting one family, whether Jews or Gentiles. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, are the source of all grace I and peace, and can alone communicate these blessings, which are the gracious effects that flow from the covenant of love and favour of the Triune Jehovah. Here again we see an incontrovertible proof of the deity of Jesus Christ; for, if He were not God, He could not without impiety be thus joined with, or invoked along with, the Father to impart blessings, of which God alone is the author.
Ver. 8. - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. First, I thank my God - This is a first in order, as if Paul had said, I commence my Epistle by giving thanks to God. It proceeds from that feeling of piety which ought to pervade all our actions; at the same time he bestows on those whom he addresses the praise which they deserved. It is also a first in importance, as if he said, Above all, I render thanks to God for you. He shows that their state was a matter of great joy to him, arising both from his zeal for the glory of God, and from the interest he took in those whom he addressed. My God. - Paul calls God his God, indicating a lively and ardent feeling of love to Him, of confidence in Him, and of liberty of access, which includes a persuasion that his thanksgivings will be agreeable to God. It is also a confession of his duty, and of the obligations he is under to render thanks to God, because He is his God. It is, besides, an intimation of his own character, as walking in communion with God. This is an example of the working of the Spirit of adoption, and of a believer taking to himself, in particular, the blessing of having God for his God, and of being a partaker of all the blessings of the New Covenant, flowing from that most gracious declaration, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Of such appropriation there are numerous instances recorded in the Book of Psalms. I will love Thee, 0 Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower, Ps. xviii. 1. Job says, I know that my Redeemer liveth. I live, says Paul, by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Such language it is the privilege of every believer to use, and he will do so in proportion as the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto him.
The Christian can thus address God as his own God, and often he should do so even in his public declarations. This displeases the world, because it condemns the world. They affect to consider it as presumption, but it is only a proper expression of our belief of Gods testimony with regard to His Son. Studiously to avoid such expressions on proper occasions, is not to show humility, but to be ashamed of the truth. Paul thanked God, through Jesus Christ, who is our Great High Priest, and presents the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar before the throne. It is through Him alone that all our worship and all our works in the service of God are acceptable. Thus, not only must our petitions ascend to the Father through the Son, but our thanksgivings also, accordingto the precept, By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name, Heb. xiii. 15. We can have no intercourse with God, but through the one Mediator between God and man, John xiv. 6; and except through Him, we are not permitted even to return thanksgivings to God. Paul thanks God for all to whom he writes. He had addressed them all as saints, making no exception. It is to such exclusively that the apostolic Epistles are written, whether as churches or individuals, - as being all united to Christ, children of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, - who should first suffer and afterwards reign with Him.
In the first churches, in which everything was regulated by the Apostles according to the will of God, there may have been hypocrites or self-deceivers; but as far as man could judge, they were all believers; or if any among them appeared not to be such, the churches were told it was to their shame. If any were discovered who had crept in unawares, or were convicted of unbecoming conduct, or who had a form of godliness, but denied its power, from such they were commanded to turn away. They were not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers; wherefore it is said, Come out from among them, and be ye separate. It was in the confidence that they obeyed such commands, that the Apostles addressed them all, as in the passage before us, as the children of God. In the same manner, in writing to the church at Philippi, Paul, after thanking God for their fellowship in the Gospel, and declaring that he was confident that He who had begun a good work in them would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ, adds, Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace.
This mode of address runs through the whole of the apostolic Epistles. The Apostles generally commence their Epistles with the most encouraging views of the present state and future prospects of those to whom they write, and on these considerations are founded the succeeding exhortations. They first remind those who are addressed of the rich grace of God towards them in Jesus Christ, and the spiritual blessings of which they are made partakers, for their strong consolation, and then they exhort them to a holy conversation becoming such privileges. Of this we have a striking example in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which, although Paul had so many faults to reprehend in them, he commences by declaring that they were sanctified in Christ Jesus - that he thanked God always for the grace given unto them by Jesus Christ, who would also confirm them to the end, that they might be blameless in the day of His coming, reminding them that God was faithful, by whom they were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
The number of times, no fewer than ten, in which, in the first ten verses of that Epistle, Paul introduces the name of Jesus Christ, should be remarked. In these Epistles we find no exhortations to Unbelievers. This ought to be particularly observed, as being a key to them, without which theil cannot be understood. This is no reason, however, for supposing that exhortations to believe the Gospel ought not to be addressed to those who are still in unbelief. The Gospel is to be preached to every creature and all should be enjoined, first to believe it, and then to do all that God requires. In the Book of Acts, when the Apostles preached to the unconverted, their subject was repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. But in the Epistles, where they address believers they also admonish and exhort them to the practice of every duty -There is no exhortation to the performance of any duty which does not imply that it is to be performed in faith. Without faith it is impossibe to please God. - Believers are taught to regulate all their conduct according to the great things which the Gospel reveals, which are freely given to them of God; to be imitators of God, and to live not to themselves but to Him as being not their own, but bought with a price, and therefore bound to glorify God in their bodies and in their spirits, which are His.
Their obedience, as described in the Scriptures, is as much distinguished by its motives and its foundation from the morality of the unbelieving world, and it is elevated above it in its nature and effects. It is in all respects of life of faith, subject to the authority of God, and is practised under the influence and direction of motives inculcated in the Gospel, of which the light of nature gives no knowledge. Those who have not this faith regard it as a barren speculation; but they who possess it know that it is the sole and powerful source of all their works that are acceptable to God, which are opposed to dead works, Heb. ix. 14; and that no works are really good, however excellent they may appear, and however much esteemed among men, or useful in society, which do not proceed from faith.
That your faith is spoken of - It is not the piety of the saints at Rome, but their faith, that is here noticed. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord; but it is faith in Christ that is the distinguishing mark of the Christian. Paul thanks God that the faith of those to whom he writes was spoken of. He thus acknowledges God as the author of the Gospel, not only on account of His causing it to be preached to them, but because He had actually given them grace to believe; for if God is thanked for the distinguished faith of Christians, then not only their faith is His gift~ but also its measure and advancement. That faith is the gift of God, is a truth frequently declared, as in Matt. xvi. 17; Luke xvii. 5; Acts xi. 21, xiii. 48, xvi. 14; Rom. xii. 3; Phil. i. 29.
This is also acknowledged in all the thanksgivings of the Apostles for those to whom they write, and is according to the whole of the doctrine of the Scriptures. It is from God that every good and every perfect gift descendeth, and a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. For all things, therefore, we are commanded to give thanks. Paul thanks God for his own prayers, 2 Tim. i. 3. Here, as in other places, Paul commences with thanksgiving, thus reminding us that every blessing is from the kindness of God. If we should observe this in blessings of small importance, we ought to do it much more with respect to faith, which is neither an ordinary nor a common blessing of God throughout the whole world. - That is to say, throughout the whole Roman empire, of which Rome being the capital, all that took place there was circulated throughout the whole civilised world. Their faith was proclaimed by the voice of all believers, who alone could form a proper opinion regarding it; for the reference is evidently to their approbation. Unbelievers, who hated both the people of God and their faith, could give no proper testimony concerning it. The commendation of the servants of God was all that the Apostle valued. Thus the faith of the believers whom God had assembled at Rome was held up as an example; and the Apostle here declares, not only for their encouragement, but also to excite them more and more to the performance of their duty, that the eyes of all the servants of God throughout the world were upon them. He says, their faith was spoken of, not that he rests in this circuinstance, or that he wishes them to rest in their reputation, as if he would flatter them. Reputation in itself is nothing. If it be unmerited, it only convinces the conscience of imposture; and when it is real, it is not our chief joy. Paul regards it with reference to the believers at Rome, as a mark of the reality of their faith; and it is on this reality that he grounds his thanksgiving. It was a reason for thanksgiving that they were thus letting their light shine before men, and so glorifying their Father in heaven. The glory of all that is good in His people belongs to God, and all comes through Jesus Christ.
Ver. 9. - For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. God is my witness. - This is substantially an oath; and refutes the erroneous and mischievous notion of some who maintain, from a misapprehension of what is said by our Lord and the Apostle James, that all oaths are unlawful. Pauls affection for those to whom he wrote was such, that, in making his appeal to God, he desires to expose it to His judgment in respect to its truth and sincerity. Whom I serve with my spirit. - All the service of God is of this kind; but it is here expressed for the sake of energy, and to distinguish the true servants of God, who serve in the Gospel with their heart in the work, from hirelings, whose labours are formal and only external. It expresses the sincerity and ardour of the service that Paul rendered to God, as if he had said, with all his heart and all the faculties of his soul. It also imports the nature of the service in which he was employed, namely, a spiritual service, in opposition to the service of the priests and Levites in the tabernacle, which was in a great measure a bodily service. On this account he adds, in the Gospel of His Son: that is to say, in the ministry of the Gospel in which he laboured for the unfolding of the Divine mysteries to make them known.
Thus Paul shows, from the character of his ministry, that his obedience was not in pretence only, but in sincerity. Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. - Some place these last words, always in my prayers, in the beginning of the next verse, as in the Vulgate and the French versions; but the difference is not material. This is a striking proof of the frequency of Pauls prayers, in which he interceded for those whom he was addressing -
without ceasing - always. In like manner, in writing to the Philipians, he says, Always, in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy. We thus learn the duty of Christians to pray for o another, and that those who believe the Gospel are as much bound to pray for its success, and the prosperity of the churches, as to labour the work. Both prayer and labour ought to go together. To pray without labouring is to mock God: to labour without prayer is to rob God of His glory. Until these are conjoined, the Gospel will not be extensively successful. From many other parts of Pauls writings, we learn how assiduous he was in the duty of prayer, which he so earnestly inculcates on all believers. In everything giving thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you, 1 Thess. v. 18. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thank giving, let your requests be made known unto God, Phil. iv. 6. How precious is the promise connected with this admonition And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts an minds through Christ Jesus.
But since all events are fixed, even from eternity, in the counsels and wisdom of God, of what avail, it may be said, are these prayers? Can they change His eternal counsels, and the settled order of events? Certainly not. But God commands us to pray, and even the prayers of people are included in His decrees; and what God has resolved to do, He often gives to their prayers. Instead, then, of being vain, they are among the means through which God executes His decrees. If, indeed, - things happened by a blind chance, or a fatal necessity, prayers in that case could be of no moral efficacy, and of no use; but since they regulated by the direction of Divine wisdom, prayers have a place in the order of events. After many gracious promises, it is added, Ezek. xxxvi 37, Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them. In this verse Paul shows his zeal for God and his love for believers, which ought never to be separated. We should love our brethren because we love God. These two things corresponded in Paul to the two favours he had received, which he marked in the 5th verse, namely, Grace and Apostleship. God, as if he said, has given me grace, and on my part I serve Him with my spirit; He has given me Apostleship, and I have you continually in remembrance.
Ver. 10. - Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you. Making request. - Pauls affection for those to whom he wrote impelled him, not once or twice with a passing wish, but at all times, to desire to be present with them, notwithstanding the inconveniences of so long and perilous a journey. He asks of God that, by some means now at length, he might be permitted to visit them. Thus Christian love searches out new objects on which to exercise itself, and extends itself even to those who are personally unknown. I might have a prosperous journry, by the will of God. - This teaches us that God, by His providence, regulates all that takes place. There is nothing with which Christians should be more habitually impressed, than that God is the disposer of all events. They should look to His will in the smallest concerns of life, as well as in affairs of the greatest moment. Even a prosperous journey is from the Lord. In this way they glorify God by acknowledging His providence in all things, and have the greatest confidence and happiness in walking before Him. Here we also learn that, while the will of God concerning any event is not ascertained, we have liberty to desire and pray for what we wish, provided our prayers and desires are conformed to His holiness.
But will our prayers be agreeable to God if they be contrary to His decrees? Yes, provided they be offered in submission to Him, and not opposed to any known command; for it is the revealed, and not the secret will of God that must be the rule of our prayers. We also learn in this place, that since all events depend on the will of God, we ought to acquiesce in them, however contrary they may be to our wishes; and likewise, than in those things in which the will of God is not apparent, we should always accompany our prayers and our desires with this condition, if it be pleasing to God, and be ready to renounce our desires as soon as they appear not to be conformed to His will. 0 how sweet a thing, as one has well observed, were it for us to learn to make our burthens light, by framing our hearts to the burthen, and making our Lords will a law
Ver. 11. - For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gjft, to the end ye may be established. Paul greatly desired to see the believers at Rome, to impart to them some spiritual gift. The opinion of Augustine, that this means the love of ones neighbour, in which he supposes the church at Rome was deficient, has no foundation. It was not a new degree of the Spirit of sanctification that he desired to communicate, for this Paul had it not in his power to bestow, 1 Cor. iii. 6. He appears to refer to some of the extraordinary gifts conferred by the Apostles, by which they might be more established in their most holy faith.
That is. - This does not mean that what follows is intended as an explanation of what he had just said, for to those whom Paul addressed it must have been sufficiently clear; but is a modification of it respecting his purpose, lest he should appear to consider them as not well instructed or established in their faith. For although he always acted faithfully, no one, as is evident from his writings, was ever more cautious to avoid unnecessary offence. He therefore joins himself with those to whom he wrote, and refers to the advantage which he also expected reciprocally to derive from them. It is no valid objection to understanding it to be a miraculous gift which he desired to communicate, that he hoped for mutual advantage and comfort with those whom he was about to visit. his comfort or confirmation which he looked for, was not from a Spiritual gift to be bestowed by them, but would be the effect of their Confirmation, by the gift they received through him. The gift, too, bestowed by him, would be a new proof of the power of God in him, and, of His approbation in enabling him to exert such power. He would be comforted and strengthened in witnessing their faith in respect to his; own labours in his ministry, by seeing the kingdom of God advancing more and more, and with respect to his numerous afflictions to which he was on all hands subjected, and also in contrasting the coldness and weakness of many of which he often complains, when he observed the increasing power of Divine grace in the saints at Rome.
On the other hand, they would derive from Pauls presence the greatest consolation - from his instructions in the mysteries of salvation, from his exhortations,: which must contribute much to their edification, as well as from his example, his counsels, and his prayers. It is thus the duty of Christians-; to confirm each other in the faith; and their mutual intercourse makes known the faith that each possesses. They see that their experience answers as face answers to face in a glass; and by beholding the strength of faith in their brethren, Christians are edified and confirmed.
Ver. 13. - Now, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (but was let hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. - Pauls zeal and affection for those to whom he wrote, were not of recent origin; they had long been cherished in his heart. Of this he did not wish them to be ignorant. It is of importance that believers should know the love entertained for them by the servants of God. It is a testimony of the love of God Himself. Paul wished to see some fruit of his ministry among them. This was his great desire everywhere in the service of Christ. I have chosen you and ordained you, said Jesus to His Apostles, that ye should go and bring forth fruit; and Paul, ardently longed to see the fulfilment of this gracious promise among - those to whom he wrote, for believers were his joy and crown. - among other Gentiles.
The apostleship of Paul had not been unfruitful, ch. xv. 17. He had travelled through a great part of Syria, of Asia, and of Greece, and everywhere he had either been the means of converting sinners or edifying believers. This was a source of much joy to him; but after so many labours, he did not wish for repose. He desired to go to Rome to obtain fruit there also. He had been let, or hindered, hitherto. Our desires are always pleasing to God when their object is to promote His glory; but sometimes He does not see good to give them effect. It was good that it was in Davids heart, although he was not permitted, to build the house of God. The times and the ways of Gods providence are often unknown to us, and therefore our desires and designs in His service ought always to be cherished in submission to His Divine wisdom.
Paul had been hindered till now from going to Rome. This may have happened in different ways, and through what are called second causes. It may have been occasioned by the services he found it indispensable to perform in other churches before leaving i them; or it may have arisen from the machinations of Satan, the god of this world, exciting disturbances and opposition in these churches, 1 Thess. ii. 18; or he may have been prevented by the Spirit of God, His being hindered, by whatever means, from going to Rome, when he intended it, shows that the Apostles were sometimes thwarted in their purposes, and were not always under the guidance of Divine inspiration in their plans.
This, however, has nothing to do with the subject of their inspiration as it respects the Scriptures, or as it regards their doctrine. Those who raise any objection to the inspiration of the Scriptures, from the disappointments or misconduct of the Apostles, confound things that entirely and essentially differ.
Ver. 14. I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise. Paul was their debtor, not by any right that either Greeks or Barbarians had acquired over him, but by the destination which God had given to his ministry towards them. He does not, however, hesitate to recognise the debt or obligation, because, when God called him to their service, he was in effect their servant, as he says in another place, Ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. The foundation of this duty was not in those whom he desired to serve, but in God, and the force of this obligation was so much the stronger as it was Divine; it was a law imposed by sovereign authority, and consequently an inviolable law. With regard to Paul, it included, on the one hand, all the duties of the apostolic offiqe, and, on the other, the dangers and persecutions to which that office exposed him, without even excepting martyrdom, when he should be called to that last trial. All this is similar to what every Christian owes in the service of God, as far as his abilities, of whatever kind they are, and his opportunities, extended. - As the Greeks - under which term all civilised nations were included - were the source of the arts and sciences, of knowledge and civiisation, it might be said that the Apostle should attach himself solely to them, and that he owed nothing to the Barbarians. On the contrary, it might be alleged that he was debtor only to the Barbarians, as the Greeks were already so enlightened. But in whatever way these distinctions were viewed, he declares that both the one and the other were equal to him: he was debtor to them all, - to the Greeks, because their light was only the darkness of error or of idle speculation - to the Barbarians, for he ought to have compassion on their ignorance.
He was debtor to the wise, that is to say, the philosophers, as they were called among the Greeks; and to the unwise, or those who made no profession of philosophy. He knew that both stood equally in need of the Gospel, and that for them all it was equally adapted. This is the case with the learned and the unlearned, who are both altogether ignorant of the way o salvation, till it be revealed to them by the Gospel, to which everything, by the command of God, the wisdom as well as the folly of the world, in one word, all things besides must yield subjection.
So,as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you That Paul was always zealous to do his duty; at the same time, he always acknowledged his dependence on God. This is an example which Christians ought to imitate on all occasions, never to deviate from th path of duty, but to leave events in the hands of God. The contrary to this is generally the case. Christians are often more anxious and perplexed about their success, than with respect to their duty. They for what regards themselves, and wish to meddle with what does not belong to them but to God. To you also. He does not inquire or decide wheth they ought to be reckoned among the Barbarians or the Greeks, the wise - or unwise; he was ready to preach the Gospel to them all.
Here terminates the preface to the Epistle. The first five verses include the general introduotion, the last ten embrace the parting address to those to whom it is written. The introduction contains the name, the character, and the office of the writer; his vindication of the Gospel against the cavils of the Jews, proving that it was not a novel doctrine, and that the Apostles were not opposed to the Prophets authenticates the whole of the Jewish canon, and attests its inspiration. It undermines the errors of the Jews respecting tradition, and directs them to the Scriptures alone. It next announces the Messiah as the subject of the Gospel, His glorious person as God and man, His birth and resurrection, His abasement and exaltation, and His almighty power. It finally asserts the communication of grace to the Apostle, his appointment to the office he sustained, the purpose for which it was conferred along with a commission, of which he states the grounds, to all nations under heaven.
Where else shall be found so much matter compressed in so little space? where so much brevity connected with much fulness? In the latter part, in which Paul addresses those to whom his Epistle was directed, he introduces many things well calculated to rivet the attention and engage their affections, while at the same time he conveys very grave and salutary instructions. What must have been the feeling of the Roman converts, when they saw the intense interest with which they were regarded by this great Apostle; when they considered the grandeur and value of the Gospel, to which he was about to call the attention in his Epistle; and when they were cheered by the hope shortly seeing in the midst of them one whose heart glowed with such love to God, and such benevolence to them! All this must have tend to produce a reciprocal regard and reverential feeling towards the Apostle - an ardent desire to profit by his instructions, together with much gratitude to God, and many prayers to hasten his voyage to come among them.
Paul did arrive at Rome, but, in the providence of God, in very different manner, and in circumstances very different, from what he appears to have expected when he prayed for a prosperous journey'. He went there a prisoner in bonds, was shipwrecked on his voyage, and kept in confinement after his arrival. But although he was bound, the word of God was not bound; and all fell out, in the adorable providence of God, for the furtherance of the Gospel. The circumstances, however in which he was placed were not in the meantime joyous, but grievous. Yet now that he stands before the throne, now that he has received the crown of righteousness, and is numbered among the spirits of just men made perfect, what regret can he experience that, during the few a days he spent on earth, he was conducted to Rome through persecututions imprisonments, storms, and shipwreck, an outcast among men, but approved and accepted of God?
END OF PART 1 of Chapter One
* Oil was the instituted emblem of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which was given to the Lord Jesus Christ without measure; and anointing oil was the outward vuible sign of the Spirits inward and spiritual graces. We meet with the institution, Ex. xxx. 22, to the end. The holy ointment was to be used in consecrating the tabernacle and all its vessels, and in setting apart certain persons for some great offices. It was unlawful to use it upon any other occasion; whosoever did so was to be cut off from the people. This consecrating unction was used on the.tabernacle, which was a type of the body of Christ, and on all the vessels of the tabemacle, to show that Christ, and everything respecting Him, was under the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit ; and it was used to set apart the prophets, the priests, and the kings, because He was to sustain these offices.
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