Page images

General observations on


the calling of the Gentiles.

[ocr errors][merged small]

hereafter, for a Gentile, unless he first became a Jew, and selves by wicked works, it is impossible that either should have performed the works of the Mosaical law. By these senti- a right to the privileges of God's church and people, on acments they were led to do all they could to oppose the preach- count of WORKS, or obedience to the law of God, whether ing of the gospel to the Gentiles, and became very bitter natural or revealed. It must be pure mercy, accepted by faith, enemies to Paul, who was the apostle particularly selected through Christ, or a persuasion of that mercy on their part, and commissioned for that purpose. They could not allow which gives that right. All must be indebted to grace. The the Gentiles to have any access to the privileges of God's works of law never gave the Jews themselves a right to the privichurch and people, but tbrough the door of the law; and to leges and promises of the covenant. Even Abraham himintroduce them any other way, was not only to overthrow self, (the head of the nation, who was first taken into God's their law and peculiarity ; but to deceive the Gentiles. covenant, and from whom the Jeres derive all their peculiar Therefore they did all in their power to withstand the apostle; blessings and advantages,) was not justified by works of the and to persuade the Gentiles every where that he was an law. It was free grace, or favour, which at once admitted odious impostor, that his gospel was a forgery, destitute of him and his posterity into the covenant and church of God. divine authority; that he proposed admitting them into the And that the grace of the gospel actually extends to all church and covenant of God in a way which had no founda- mankind, appears from the universality of the resu: rection; tion in the declared will of God. Their law was the only which is the effect of God's grace or favour in a Redeemer; divine establishment, and obedience to it the only means to land is the first and fundamental part of the new dispensaintroduce them into the kingdom of God; and Paul could tion, with regard to the gift of eternal life. For, as all have no commission from Heaven to teach otherwise, what were involved in death, in consequence of Adam's sin, so ever he might pretend, or what miracles soever he might shall all be restored to life at the last day, in consequence of work. Of this sort of Jews the apostle speaks, 1 Thes. ii. Christ's obedience. And therefore, it is certain that all men 14, 15, 16.

actually have a share in the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.Other Jeros there were who believed the gospel, and agreed Thus the apostle argues. that it ought to be preached to the Gentiles. But so that 7. And we ought particularly to observe; how he combats the Gentiles at the same time they accepted the gospel, were the engrossing temper of the Jews, in his arguments. They obliged to submit to the lawo of Moses in every part ; other could not engross all virtue to themselves, for they were as wise they could not be saved or have any interest in the bad as other people ; they could not engross God and his kingdom and covenant of God, Acts xv. 1. These taught favour to themselves, for he was the governor and Creator that the gospel was insufficient without the law. They dif- of Gentiles as well as Jeros; they could not engross Abrafered from the fore-mentioned Jews in that they embraced ham, and the promise made to him, to themselves, for he is the faith of Jesus Christ. But agreed with them in this, that the father of many nations, and the believing Gentiles are the law of Moses was to be in force for ever, and the observ- his seed, as well as the Jews ; they could not engross the reance of all its rituals absolutely necessary to a standing insurrection, the necessary introduction to eternal life to themthe church of God, and the hopes of eternal life. And for selves, because it is known, and allowed, to be common to this reason, they were upon pretty good terms with the un- all mankind. believing Jews; and avoided the persecution, to which those, 8. And he had good reason to be so large and particular in who adhered to the pure and unmixed gospel, were exposed, confuting the mistakes of the infidel Jews. For, had their Gal. vi. 12. These Jews who were for joining law and gospel principles prevailed, the gospel could not have maintained its together, were also great enemies to our apostle. He speaks ground. For, if we must have performed the works of the law, of them, Phil. iii. 2, 3, &c.

before we could have been interested in the blessings of the 6. Now against the mistakes of the infidel Jews, the apostle covenant, then the gospel would have lost its nature and thus argues in the Epistle to the Romans : Jews, as well as force. For then it would not have been a motive to obeGentiles, have corrupted themselves, and are become ob-dience, but the result of obedience; and we could have had noxious to the Divine wrath ; and if they repent not, will no hope towards God, prior to obedience. Therefore, the certainly fall under the wrath of God in the last day. Con- apostle has done a singular and eminent piece of service to sequently, as both are obnoxious to wrath, both must be in the church of God, in asserting and demonstrating the free debted to grace and mercy for any favour shewn them. The grace and covenant of God, as a foundation to stand upon, continuance of the Jews in the church, as well as the ad prior to any obedience of ours, and as the grand spring and mittance of the Gentiles into it, is wholly of gruce ; mere motive of obedience. This sets our interest in the cograce, or favour. Upon which footing, the Gentiles must venant, or promise of God, upon a foundation very clear have as good a right to the blessings of God's covenant, as and solid. the Jews themselves. And why not? Is not God the 9. To understand rightly the Epistle to the Romans, it is Creator and governor of the Gentiles, as well as of the further necessary to observe ; that the apostle considers man. Jews? And, if both Jews and Gentiles have corrupted them- kind as obnoxious to the Divine wrath, and as standing be

General observations on


the calling of the Gentiles.

fore God, the Judge of all. Hence it is, that he uses forensic, | the heathens as were incorporated among them by becoming or law terms, usual in Ježish courts ; such as the LAW, Jews, and observing the whole law of Moses. And the Jews RIGHTEOUSNESS or JUSTIFICATION, being JUSTI- firmly believed it would always continue in the same state. FIED, JUDGMENT to CONDEMNATION, JUSTIFI But when our Lord came, the mystery of God, which had CATION of LIFE, being made SINNERS, and being made been concealed both from Jeres and Gentiles, was revealed; RIGHTEOUS. These I take to be forensic, or court- | namely, that the Gentiles also, even men of all nations, terms ; and the apostle, by using them, naturally leads our should be freely admitted into it. This was an act of great thoughts to suppose a court held, a judgment-seat to be favour, considering the darkness, idolatry, and wickedness, erected by the most high God, in the several cases whence into which the heathen world was then sunk. he draws his arguments. For instance; chap. v. 12—20. he But God mercifully passed over their former sins, and our supposes Adam standing in the court of God, after he had Lord commissioned his apostles, and particularly St. Paul, committed the first transgression; when the judgment passed to promulge a general pardon; and to call, or invite, all who upon him for his offence, came upon all men to condemna- | repented, and accepted of the grace, to all the blessings and tion; and when he and his posterity, by the favour, and in privileges of his kingdom; confirming their interest in those the purpose of God, were again made righteous, or obtained blessings, by pouring out the Holy Ghost upon them, in the justification of life. Again, chap. iv. he supposes Abra- various miraculous gifts, or endowments, above the ordinary ham standing before the bar of the Supreme Judge: when, capacity of men. This was a very evident seal to them, and as an idolater, he might have been condemned; but, through to us too,) of a title to the blessings of God's kingdom and the pure mercy of God, he was justified; pardoned, and covenant, Gal. iii. 2–5. taken into God's covenant, on account of his faith. He also And it had such an effect upon the Christian Jews at Jerusupposes, chap. iii. 19—29. all mankind standing before the salem, that, though they were at first greatly disgusted at universal Judge, when Christ came into the world. At that Peter, for treating the first uncircumcised Gentile converts as time, neither Jew nor Gentile could pretend to justification, members of the kingdom of God, (Acts xi. 2, 3.) yet, when upon the foot of their own works of righteousness; having they heard that the Holy Ghost was fallen upon those conboth corrupted themselves, and come short of the glory of verts, they were much surprised, and glorified God, saying, God. But, at that time, both had righteousness or salvation Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted, (the benefit of,) prepared for them in a Redeemer ; namely, the righteous repentance unto, (eternal,) life; which, before this, they ness which results from the pure mercy or grace of God; } verily believed, could not have been granted unto them with the Lawgiver and Judge. And so both, (instead of being out obedience to the law of Moses, by being circumcised. destroyed,) had admittance into the church and covenant of But the unbelieving Jews paid no regard to this, or any God, by faith, in order to their eternal salvation.

other argument in favour of the uncircumcised Gentiles. 10. But, besides these three instances, in which he supposes The notion of admitting them into the kingdom and congre. a court to be held by the Supreme Judge, there is a fourth to gation of God, only upon faith in Christ, they opposed and which he points, chap. ii. 1-17. and that is the final judg-persecuted every where, with great zeal and bitterness. And ment, or the court which will be held in the day when God it was not long before good impressions wore off, and old prewill judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. And it is with judices revived, among even the believing Jews. Numbers of regard to that future court of judicature, that he argues, them very stiffly, and with much warmth and contention, enchap. ii. 1-17. But in the other cases, whence he draws: deavoured to persuade the Gentile converts, that, except they his arguments, he supposes the courts of judicature to be were circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not already held : and, consequently, argues in relation to the be saved, or admitted to the privileges of the kingdom of economy, constitution, or dispensation of things in this pre-God, and the hope of eternal life, Acts xv. 1, 2. sent world. This is very evident with regard to the court, The Gentiles, even the most learned and wise amongst which he supposes to be held when our Lord came into the them, were wholly ignorant in the affair. They were perfect world, or when the gospel-constitution was erected in its strangers to the gospel scheme: they had no notion or ex. full glory. For, speaking of the justification, which man- pectation of being received into the kingdom and covenant kind then obtained through the grace of God in Christ, he of God; and could have no knowledge of it but what they expressly confines that justification to the present time, received from some or other of the Jews : nor could they chap. iii. 26, To demonstrate, I say, his righteousness, Ev have any objection against it, worth regarding, but what NYN xaipw, at the PRESENT TIME. This plainly dis- came from that quarter. And the Jews had a considerable tinguishes the righteousness, or salvation, which God then influence among them, having synagogues in most, if not all, exhibited, from that righteousness or justification, which he will the great towns in the empire, from the Euphrates, as far as vouchsafe in the day of judgment, to pious and faithful souls. Rome itself; which numbers of the Gentiles frequented,

11. Before the coming of our Lord, the peculiar kingdom of and so had received impressions in favour of the Jewish God was confined to the Jewish nation, and to such only of religion.

General observations on


the calling of the Gentiles.


But had the Jewish notion prevailed, that no part of man- | only opposition that could be made to our title and claim. kind could have any share in the blessings of God's covenant, Give me leave to explain this by an easy comparison.--A the pardon of sin, and the hope of eternal life, but only such person, to me unknown, leaves me at his death a 10001. a as were circumcised, and brought themselves under obliga- year: I myself can have no objection against the noble dotions to the whole law of Moses; had this notion prevailed, native : and the good pleasure of the donor, who had an unthe extensive scheme of the gospel would have been ruined, doubted right to dispose of his own, may silence any of the and the gracious design of freeing the church from the em- cavillers' surmises. But a person claiming, as heir at law, barrassments of the law of Moses, would have been defeated. gives me the greatest uneasiness. He alleges, the estate The gospel, or glad tidings of salvation, must not only have was entailed, and that he has a prior title, which renders the been confined to the narrow limits of the Jewish peculiarity, donation to me invalid. Here I want an able advocate, to and clogged with all the ceremonial observances belonging to prove that his pretensions are ill-grounded, and that my title it, which, to the greatest part of mankind, would have been is perfectly good and firm. St. Paul is that advocate : he either impracticable, or excessively incommodious; but, which argues, and strongly proves, that we, believing Gentiles, have is still worse, must have sunk and fallen with that peculiarity. a just and solid title to all the blessings of God's covenant; Had the gospel been built upon the foundation of the Jewish and effectually establishes us in possession of all the noble polity, it must have been destroyed, when that was demo- i principles, inotives, comfort, hope, and joy of the gospel. lished ; and the whole kingdom of God in the world, would The sum of what he demonstrates is comprehended in 1 Pet. have been overthrown and extinct at the same time ; and so ii. 8, 9, 10. They, the Jews, stumble, and lose their ancient all the noble principles it was intended to inspire, to animate, honours and privileges : but ye, Gentiles, are a chosen geand comfort our hearts, would have been lost; and all the neration, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar light it was calculated to diffuse, throughout the world, people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who has would have been quite extinguished.

called you out of heathenish darkness, into his marvellous It was therefore the apostle's duty to viudicate and assert light. Thus, on the authority of God, we Gentiles have an the truth of the gospel, which he was commissioned to preach indisputable right to all the blessings of the Gospel; and, if to the Gentiles; and of very great consequence to prove, we receive by Christ Jesus, that grace which pardons and that we Gentiles are the chililren of God, interested in his co- cleanses the soul, we shall pass from the church militant, venant ; and all the honours, blessings, and privileges of his into the church triumphant. family and kingdom here upon earth; only by faith in Christ, At the conclusion of my Notes on this very important without coming under any obligations to the law of Moses as Epistle, I feel it necessary to make a few additional remarks. such. Which is the main drift and subject of this Epistle. I have sincerely and conscientiously given that view of the

12. It is worth notice, that there is this difference, in one Apostle's work which I believe to be true and correct. I am respect, between the Gospels and Epistles ; namely, That our well aware that many great and good men have understood Lord, in the Gospels, represents the doctrines and principles this portion of Divine revelation, differently, in many reof the Christian religion, chiefly in an absolute sense; or, as spects, from myself: they have the same right of private they are in themselves. But in the Epistles, those doctrines judgment which I claim; and to publish those opinions which and principles are chiefly considered in a relative view; as they judge to accord best with their views of the gospel.they respect, partly, the foregoing Jewish dispensation, and My business is to give what I think to be the mind of my partly the future corruption of the Christian church; but author; and every where I have laboured to do this without principally, as they respect the different state of Jews and even consulting any pre-established creed. I hope my Readers heathens ; shewing how just, true and necessary, they are will take in good part what is honestly intended. I wish with reference to both ; and directing and exhorting both to to avoid controversy : I give my own views of Divine truth. value them, and to make a right use of them. This was ab- The plan on which I have endeavoured to expound this Epissolutely necessary to a full explication of the gospel, to guard tle, shews it a beautiful, highly important, and consistent it against all objections, and to give it a solid establishment whole: a work which casts the clearest light on the grand in the world.

original designs of God, relative to the diffusion of the And we must not forget, that in the Epistle to the Ro- Gospel, and its blessings over the face of the earth; illusmans, the gospel is presented in this relative view, as adapted trating many apparently dark and unaccountable providento the circumstances of us Gentiles, and obliging us to all ces; fully proving that, though clouds and darkness are often virtue and piety.

round the Supreme Being, yet, righteousness and judgment 13. Further, we can neither duly value this Epistle, nor be are the habitation of his throne. Where this grand view of sensible how much we are indebted to the author of it, unless this Epistle is not taken, the major part of its beauties are we make this sentiment familiar to our thoughts: namely, That lost. God, who is not the God of the Jews only, but also St. Paul is the Patron and Defender of all that is by far the of the Gentiles, shews by his apostle in this admirable most valuable and important to us in the world, against the Epistle, that from the beginning he had purposed to call to

[ocr errors]

Concluding observations relative to


the doctrine of the Romish Church.

the whole Gentile world to that salvation wbich he appeared i dulgences, reliques, Agnus Dei's, jubilees, pilgrimages, crufor a time to restrain to the Jews alone; and which they sades, carnivals, canonizations, abbies, monasteries, cells, i magined should be exclusively theirs for ever. This pre- shrines, privileged altars, auricular confessions, purgatories, judice the apostle overturns; and shews that the Gentiles also masses, prayers for the dead, requiems, placebos, dirges, lamps, had an equal share in the election of grace. We should be processions, holy water, chrisms, baptism of bells, justification careful how we make that partiul and exclusive which shews | by works, penances, transubstantiation, works of supererogathe Fountain of Goodness to be no respecter of persons, or tion, extreme unction, invocation of saints and angels, worship even ultimately of nations : who, like the sun, the faint of images, crossings of the body, rosaries, alb", stoles, &c. nor though brightest image of his glory in this lower world, the endless orders of priests, abbots, monks, friars, nuns, anshines equally upon the just and the unjust. God, with the chorets, hermits, capuchins, &c. &c. Here are no inquisitions, same benevolent design, orders his gospel to be preached to no writs de bæretico comburendo, no auto da fès, no racks, every creature under heaven.

gibbets, tortures, nor death in all variable and horrid forms, The peculiar phraseology of this Epistle I have also en for those who may differ from this Mother church, in any deavoured to explain ; and where this could not be conve part of their religious creed. In vain will the Reader look niently done in the Notes, I have generally stated it at the into this Epistle for any thing that is not consistent with end of the chapters. And, for the explanations of difficult sound sense, iudexible reason, and the justice, purity, and points, or articles which may have böcn but slightly handled endless benevolence, of the Great God, the equal Father of in the Notes, I beg to refer to those concluding observations; the spirits of all flesh. Here, indeed, he will see the total and particularly to those at the end of chapters viii. and ix. fall and degeneracy of all mankind strongly asserted and

But it is necessary to make some remarks on this proved : the utter helplessness of the human race, to rescue Epistle, as an Epistle directed to the Romans; that is, to the itself from this state of corruption; the endless mercy of church of God, founded at Rome. Though the gospel was God, in sending Christ Jesus into the world to die for sinpreached and established there long before either the apostleners ; the doctrine of justification by faith in the blood of had visited this city, or written this Epistle ; yet we may rest the Lamb; regeneration by the energy of the Divine Spirit, assured that the doctrine contained here was the doctrine of producing that holiness without which no man can see God. the church of Rome, and therefore that church was holy and Here, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, takes place of all apostolic. If it do not continue to walk by the same rule, | Jewish sacrifices, and works or sufferings of man, in referand mind the same thing, it is no longer so: in a time then, ence to justification. Here is nothing puerile, nugatory, or when the Roman church that now is, invites the attention of superstitious; no dogma degrading to the understanding; no the Christian world, by making great and bold pretensions ; religious act unworthy, of the spirit and dignity of the Gosassuming to itself the titles of holy, catholic, and apostolic; pel ; nothing that has not the most immediate tendency to representing Rome as the fountain whence pure truth and enlighten the mind, and mend the heart of man: in a word, apostolical authority emanate; it may be useful to examine every thing is suitable to the state of man, and worthy of the whether such pretensions are well founded; and not permit majesty, justice, and benevolence of that God from whom confident assumption, noise and parade, to carry away our this Epistle came.

this Epistle came. llere, indeed, is the model of a pure understandings; and occupy the place of reason, argument, church. What a pity, it is not more closely followed by and truth. This, however, cannot be done to any extent in all, whether Protestant or Popish, that profess the faith of this place; only it may be necessary to state, that, as Christ crucified. Alas! that a church which was once pure and the doctrines, &c. of the Roman church profess to be apostolic, and still retains all the essential doctrines of the Gosapostolic, they must be found in the Epistle to the Romans, pel, should compound them with others, which are not only this being the only apostolic work directed to that church. the commandments and inventions of men, but which so coutIf they are not to be met with here, it would be absurd to look teract the influence of the truths still retained, as to destroy for them any where else. But there is not one distinguishing their eficacy; and no wonder, when this foreign admixture is doctrine, or practice of the Romish church, found in this an assemblage of rites and ceremonies, borrowed partly from Epistle. Here is no Pope, no exclusive churchship, no peter- the Jeres, and partly from the ancient heathens ; rendered puzpence, first-fruits, legatine levies, dispensations, pardons, in- li latable by a small proportion of Christianity.


[blocks in formation]

Instead of Chronological Tables, which the subject of this Epistle neither admits nor requires, for it was probably all written in the course of a few days ; (and I have entered the supposed year at the top of

every page,) I here insert the ancient Roman Calendar, regularly distinguished into all its Calends, Nones and Ides, with the different festivals observed in honour of their gods, goddesses, &c. in each month, and their principal astronomical notes. The modern Roman Calendar I have also introduced, with as many of the festivals, saints' days, &c. as the margin would receive. The Reader will no doubt be struck with the conformity that subsists between ancient and modern Rome on this subject; on which, in this place, I shall make no far

ther remarks.

This Calendar, which was made by Julius Cæsar, in the year of Rome 708, and before Christ 45, is still exceedingly useful, especially for understanding the writers of antiquity, particularly those of the Latin church; as well as for ascertaining the precise dates of bulls, diplomas, and public acts in general.

The Roman month, the Reader will observe, is divided into Calends, Nones and Ides; all of which are reckoned backward. The Calends are the first day of the month; as Calendis Januariis, is the first day of January; Pridie Calendarum, or Calendas, is the 31st of December ; ii. Cal. the 30th; iv. Cal. the 29th ; 7. Cal. the 28th, &c.

The Nones, which are four, follow the Calends ; as ir. Nonas Januarii, is Jan. 2, iii. Nonas Januarii, is Jan. 3, Pridie Nonas Jan. is Jan. 4, and Nonis Januarii, is Jan. 5. But in March, May, July, and October, there are Six Nones.

After these, the Ides in each month are eight; as viii. Id. Jan. (Octavo Idus, or Iduum Januarii,) is January the 6th; rii. Id. Jan. (Septimo Idus, or Iduum Januarii,) is January the 7th; vi. Id. Jan, (sexto Idus, or Iduum Januarii,) is January the 8th; and so on, till you come to the Ides themselves, Idibus Januarii, being January the 13th.

Observe-1. When the accusative case is used, as Nonas, Idus, Calendas, the preposition ante before, which governs this case, is understood; as tertio ante Calendas, the third day before the Calends ; quarto ante

« PreviousContinue »