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SER M. And therefore he tells us, verse 16. that how
much soever it was despised by that ignorant and
“ he was not ashamed of the gol.
Jew first, and also to the Greek ;” that is, the doctrine of the gospel sincerely believed and embraced, is a most proper and powerful means, designed by God for the salvation of mankind; no: only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles.
The revelations which God had formerly made, were chiefly restrained to the jewish nation; but this great and last revelation of the gospel, was equally calculated for the benefit and advantage of all mankind. The gospel indeed was first preached to the Jews, and from thence publish'd to the whole world ; and as this doctrine was design’d for the general benefit of mankind, so it was very likely to be effectual to that end, being an instrument equally fitted for the falvation of the whole world, Gentiles as well as Jews; “ it the power of God to salvation to every
one that believes, to the Jew first, and also to the « Greek.”
And to shew the efficacy of it, he instanceth in two things, which render it so powerful and effectual a means for the salvation of mankind.
First, because therein the grace and mercy of GOD in the justification of a sinner, and declaring him righteous is so clearly revealed, ver. 17. “ For therein “ is the righteousness of God revealed, from faith to « faith, as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” This is very obscurely expreft, but the meaning of this text will be very much cleared, by comparing it with another in the iiid chapter of this epistle, ver:
20, 21, 22, &c. where the apostle speaks more fullyS ERM. and expresly of the way of our justification by the faith of Jesus Christ; that is, by the belief of the gospel: He asserts at the 20th verse, “ that by the deeds of “ the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight “ of God.” To this way of justification “ by the “ deeds of the law,” he opposeth “ the righteous“ ness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ, to “ all and upon all them that believe,” which is the gospel way of justification, ver. 21, 22. “ But “ now the righteousness of God without the law is “ manifested, being witnessed by the law and the
prophets, even the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and
upon all them that believe.” “ The righteousness « of God without the law is manifefted :" that is, the way which God hath taken to justify finners, and declare them righteous “ without the deeds of the “ law,” that is, without observing the law of Moses, “ is manifested,” that is, is clearly revealed in the gospel, (which is the same with what the apostle had said before, that “ the righteousness of God is “ revealed in the gospel) being witnessed by the law " and the prophets,” that is, the righteousness of God, or the justification of sinners by Jesus Christ, is clearly revealed in the gospel, being also in a more obscure manner attested or foretold in the old teftament, which he calls the law and “ the prophets;” and this fully explains that difficult phrase of “ the righteousness of God being re“ vealed by the gospel from faith to faith;” that is, by a gradual revelation, being more obscurely foretold in the old testament, and clearly discovered in the new; fo that these two passages are equivaA 3
SER M. lent; “ in the gospel, the righteousness of God is
“ revealed from faith to faith ;” and “the righte-
manifested, being witneffed by the law and the
justification of life,” in opposition to condemnation and death, which very well explains that saying of the prophet, “ the just shall live by faith.” I have been the longer upon this, that I might give some light to a very difficult and obscure text.
Secondly, the other instance whereby the apostle proves the gospel to be so powerful a means for the recovery and salvation of men is, that therein also the severity of God against impenitent sinners, as well as his grace and mercy in the justification of the penitent, is clearly revealed, ver. i 8. “ For the wrath " of God is revealed from heaven, against all
ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold3 ERM.
CXI. " the truth in unrighteousness; because that which
may be known of God is manifested in them, for - God hath fhewn it unto them.” The first, viz. the grace of God in our justification and the remisfion of sins paft, is a most proper and powerful argument to encourage us to obedience for the future; nothing being more likely to reclaim men to their duty, than the assurance of indemnity for past crimes ; and the other is one of the most effectual confiderations in the world to deter men from fin, that “ the “ wrath of God is revealed from heaven againft all
ungodliness and unrighteoufness of men, &c."
From which words I fhall obferve these fix things.
First, the infinite danger that a wicked and sinful course doth plainly expose men to. “ The wrath of - God is here said to be revealed against the impiety " and unrighteousness of men."
Secondly, the clear and undoubted revelation which the gospel hath made of this danger. “ The wrath " of God” against the sins of men, is said to be 56 revealed from heaven."
Thirdly, that every wicked and vicious practice doth expofe men to this great danger. “ The wrath “ of God” is said to be “ revealed against all un“ godlinefs, and unrighteousness of men.”
Fourthly, that it is a very great aggravation of fin, for men to offend against the light of their own minds. The apostle here aggravates the impiety and wickednefs of the heathen world, that they did not live up to the knowledge which they had of God, but contradicted it in their lives, which he calls “ holding 45 che truth in unrighteousness.”
SERM. Fifthly, the natural knowledge which men have off CXI.
God, if they live wickedly, is a clear evidence of their
holding the truth in unrighteousness.” The apostle therefore chargerh them with “ holding the truth “ in unrighteousness,” because' “ that which may “ he known of God is manifested in them, God hav“ing Thewed it to them.”
Sixthly, and lastly, that the clear revelation of the wrath of God in the gospel, against the impiety and wickedness of men, renders it a very powerful and likely means for the recovery and salvation of men. For the apostle proves “ the gospel of Christ to be the “ power of God to falvation,” because “ therein the “ wrath of God is revealed from heaven against allun
godliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the “ truth in unrighteousness;" that is, against all impeni-. tent sinners.
I shall at the present, by God's assistance, speak to the three first of these particulars.
First, the infinite danger that a wicked and sinful course doth plainly expose men to. If there be a God that made the world, and governs it, and takes care of mankind, and hath given them laws and rules to live by, he cannot but be greatly displeased at the violation and transgression of them; and certainly the displeasure of God is the most dreadful thing in the world, and the effects of it the most insupportable. The greatest fear is from the greatest danger, and the greatest danger is from the greatest power offended and enraged, and this is a consideration exceeding full of terror, that by a sinful course we expose ourselves to the utmost displeasure of the great and terrible God; for “ who knows the power
of his wrath ?" and " who may stand before him when once he is angry? according to