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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS.
THIS epistle was written from Corinth, about the year of our Lord 58, 1 which was the 4th of Nero. The design of it was, to fix on the minds of the Christians at Rome a deep sense of the excellence of the gospel, and to engage them to act in a manner agreeable to their profession of it ; particularly to compromise the differences between the Jewish and Gentile converts, of which this church consisted. After a suitable introduction, the apostle proves the excellence of the gospel, as the means of salvation, by shewing, 1. That the world needed such a dispensation, the Gentiles being fallen into a most abandoned state (Ch. i. 18-) and the Jews being no better, as their own scriptures testify (Ch. ii. )-2. That Abraham and David bought justification in such a way as the gospel recommends, viz. by faith (Ch.iv). -3. That hereby believers are brought into 80 happy a state as renders afflictions the occasions of joy (Ch. v. 1-11).-4. That the evils brought on the sced of the first Adam by his fall, are gloriously repaired by the second Adam, to all who by faith become interested in him (v. 12).-5. That the gospel, far from dissolving, increases our obligations to holiness (Ch. vi).
To take off the Jews from a fond attachment to the Mosaic law, now they were married to Christ, he represents the inefficacy of its motives to obedience, compared with those of the gospel (Ch. vii. viii. 1, 2.) and displays the blessings of grace and glory which it secures (3-39).
It being implied that, as all believing Gentiles would share in these blessings, 80 all unbelieving Jews must be excluded from them, the apostle employs three chapters in discussing this important topic. Having declared his affection to the Jewish nation (Ch. ix. 1-5) he shews, 1. That a part of the seed of Abraham had actually been rejected (v. 6-13).-2. That the sovereign choice of some to peculiar privileges, to which none had any claim, and the appointment of some from among many criminals to exemplary punishment, was consistent both with reason and scripture (v. 14-24).-3. That the reception of the Gentiles when Israel should be rejected, was foretold by Hosea and Isaiah (v.26-).-4. That the gospel salvation is offered both 10 Jews and Gentiles on the same easy terms, though Isracl by a bigotted attachment to their law had rejected it (Ch. x).-5. That the rejection of Israel, though general, as foretold, is not votal (Ch. xi. 1-10).-6. That neither would it be final, but the Jews would at last be brought in a body into the church of Christ (v. 11-31).-7. That in the meam time their obstinacy, and their rejection, are happily over-ruled, so as to display the unsearchable wisdom of God (v. 32).—The remainder of the epistle is taken up in a variety of practical instructions, and exhortations, particularly (Ch. xiv. xv.) to mutual candour between those who did, and those who did not, think themselves obliged in conscience to observe the ceremonies enjoined by the law of Moses.
Paul, in his salutation to the Christians at Rome, asserts his apostolic com
mission. Ch. i. 147.
I D AUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle*, 2 T separated to the gospel of God, which before was promised 3 by his prophets in the holy scriptures of the Old Testament, re
lating to his son Jesus Christ our Lord : who was born of the seed 4 and family of David according to the flesh, but determinately
marked out as the son of God with power, according to the opera
tion of the spirit of holinesst, in the resurrection from the dead : 5 by whom we have received grace and an apostolical mission, that
out of regard to his name, all nations might be brought to the 6 obedience of faith : among whom are ye Romans also now the un called of Jesus Christ : To all in Rome, who are beloved of God,
called and holy ; grace be to you and peace from God our father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
REFLECTIONS. Let us begin the perusal of this excellent, though in many passages obscure and difficult episile, with paying our humble acknowledg. ments to the divine goodness, that we are favoured with so valuable a part of scripture as that contained in the apostolical epistles. How happy are we, who read from the pen of those holy men the sentiments they entertained of Christianity, under the full illumination of the sacred Spirit; and so learn what were the leading affections which prevailed in their minds. By these letters, they open all their hearts to us, amidst thcir labours and sufferings, that we also may have fellowship with them in those important things in which their communion was svith the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.
With particular pleasure let us peruse the writings of Paul, who was, in so peculiar a manner, called to be an apostle, and separated to the
* As the juclaizing teachers disputed Paul's claim to the apostolic office, it is with great propriety that he asserts it, in the entrance of an epistle in which their principles were to be overthrown; and that he introduces the views which the Jewish prophets had given of the gospel, the descent of Christ from David, &c.
fOr the Holy Spirit, to which the production of Christ's body is ascribed. See Luke i. 35.
gospel of God. He gloried in the name of a servant of Christ, and let us emulate it as the greatest honour. Let us be animated to exert ourselves to the utmost under that character ; since God hath been pleased to bring us, though originally sinners of the Gentiles, to the obedience of faith, and to reveal unto us the gospel of his Son ; that glorious gospel predicted by the prophets, and opened by the apostles, yea, by their divine Master.-May our hearts adore the great Emanuel, who though he condescended to be made of the seed of David, according to his fiesh, had a divine nature infinitely superior to it. Let us often reflect on that glorious display of the power of the Holy Ghost, in his resurrection from the dead, by which he was marked out as the son of God; and yielding to the force of such a demonstration, let us confide in him as Jesus our Saviour, and obey him as Christ our Lord. We are called to partake of the privileges of his people ; we belong to the society of those who are eminently beloved of God, and who lie under obligations, as they are called an holy nation, a peculiar people, to be indeed saints, to be holy in all manner of conversation, as being entirely devoted to God and the Redeemer. May such grace be imparted to us from God our Father, and from Jesus Christ our Lord, that we may not dishonour the sacred community to which we belong ; that we may not with millions be cast out at last infamous and abhorred, but may enjoy its most important privileges, in that state of final and everlasting glory in which the kingdom of the Soa of God shall terminate !
The apostle strongly expresses his affection for his Christian friends at
Rome. Ch. i. 8-15.
8 TN the first place, I thank my God through Jesus Christ, for
1 you all, that your faith is celebrated through the whole world. 9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his soá,
is my witness, how incessantly I make mention of you before him: 10 always entreating in my prayers his permission to come unto
you, if by any means now at length I may have a prosperous 11 journey unto you by the will of God. For I desire greatly to sce
you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, that you may 12 be established in your faith, and fortified against temptation, that
is, in other words, I desire that while I am among you, we may
be comforted together by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13 And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often been
proposing to come to you, though I have hitherto been hindered,
that I might have some fruit of my labours among you also, eveni 14 as I have had among the rest of the Gentiles. For I am a debtor
both to the Greeks and the barbarians, both to the learned and the 15 ignorant : therefore according to my abilities, I am ready and very
desirous to preach the gospel to you also that are at Rome, though at the expense of my reputation, my liberty, or life.
REFLECTIONS. Happy is the church of Christ, when its ministers are thus conscious of the excellency of the gospel, and thus earnestly desirous, in the midst of reproach, persecution, and danger, to extend its triumphs ; when they can thus appeal to God, that it is with their spirit that they serve him in the gospel of his Son. This will give them a largeness of heart well becoming their office. Devotion will then flourish in their secret retirements, as well as be maintained by them in public assemblies; and the concerns of the churches, and sometimes of far distant churches, will have a place in their thoughts and prayers at such solemn seasons-May they ever remember that, as the servants of Christ, they are to be the friends of mankind; and that their Master has laid such obligations upon them, that for his sake they are debtors to the whole world, in every office of Christian friendship, and especially as to any spiritual gift which by their ministration they may be instrumental in imparting. The more they exert themselves in such services, the more will their own faith and comfort, as well as that of their people, be confirmed.-But in whatever station we are, let us be forming schemes for the service of God, and good of men; projecting our journeys and visits on that plan, yet always with a becoming sense of our dependance on the smiles of heaven, for prosperity and success; and as dutiful children, referring it to the infinitely superior wisdom of our heavenly Father, to put a negative, at his sacred pleasure, upon those purposes which lie nearest to our hearts, and in which we most sincerely intend his glory.
Paul declares his readiness to fireach the gospel at Rome ; and he shews that
the world greaily needed such a dispensation, from the abandoned state into which the Gentiles were fallen. Ch. i. 1632.
16 THERE is nothing that I more earnestly wish than to preach
1 the gospel at Rome, the capital city of the world ; for, with whatever contempt it is treated, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God for salvation, to every one that
believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, the Gentiles of 17 every nation. For in it the righteousness of God, his appointed
method of becoming righteous, by faith, is revealed to our faith : as 18 it is written ( Hab. ii. 4.) “ The just shall live by faith.” For
the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all impiety and
unrighteousness of men, who restrain the truth in unrighteousness. 19 For what is to be known of God is manifest among them, for God 20 hath shewed it to them by the universal light of nature. For those
things of him which are invisible, are from the creation of the world (being duly attended to clearly seen by the things which
are made, even his eternal power and divinity; so that they are 21 without excuse : because knowing God, they have not glorified
him as God, neither were thankful; but they became vain in their reasonings; and their unintelligent heart was more and more in