« הקודםהמשך »
8 iquity of any kind, why am I called into judgment as a sinner? And
why may I not say (as we are calumniated, and some affirm that we maintain) let us do evil, that good may come? Whose condem
nation is most apparently just.—But to return to the question : 9 What then? have we Jews the advantage of the Gentiles? 80 as
to claim justification by our obedience ? Not at all ; for we have be10 fore proved that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin ; as it is writ11 ten*, “ There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that
understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God. They are 12 all declined; they are altogether become useless; there is none 13 that practiseth good, not so much as one. Their throat is an open
sepulchre ; with their tongues they have used deceit ; the venom 14 of asps is under their lips : Whose mouth is full of cursing and 15 bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and misery 17 are in their ways : and the way of peace they have not known. 19 The fear of God is not before their eyes."-Now we know that
what the law + saith, in such passages as these, it saith to those, that were under the law; God's professing people : so that every mouth must be stopped, and the whole world stand convicted before God.
REFLECTIONS. · Who can read this melancholy picture of human nature, copied by the hand of an apostle from the lines first drawn by inspired prophets, without deep humility and lamentation ? To this was it sunk, that there was none righteous, no not one ; none disposed to seek after God, or to cultivate his fear. And from this bitter root, the apostasy of our nature from God, what detestable fruit proceeds! The throat which is like an open sepulchre, the deceitful tongue, the envenomed lips, the malicious heart, the murderous hand! And who can wonder, that such rebels to their heavenly Father should sometimes prove ruffians to their brethren -Let us bless God that we have been preserved from falling into such enormities, and from falling by them. His grace has restrained us from sinning against him in such an ag. gravated manner; his providence has guarded us from those whose feet are swift to shed blood, and in whose paths there is destruction and misery. Let us remember the view in which these instances were brought; even to evince this deplorable, but undeniable truth, that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. The purpose of conviction therefore being answered on our hearts, let us humble ourselves before God, as those that stand guilty in his presence, and obnoxious to his judgment. Thankfully let us own the inestimable goodness of God in having faroured us with his sacred oracles, and endeavour to improve in the knowledge of them. Thus instructed, let us be careful to form the most honourable notion of God, as the worthy and universal Judge, who will never fail to do right; and may these views of him produce an abhorrence of every thing evil which must necessarily be
* Ps. xiv. 1-3. lii. 1-3. cxl. 3. x. 7. Prov. i. 16, 18, &c.
displeasing to him. Nor let us ever allow ourselves to be brought under the influence of those fallacious and pernicious maxims which would persuade us, that the goodness of the intention sanctifies the badness of the action ; or that the pretended benevolence of the end will justify irregularities in the means. God's judgment and decision is final; and an inspired apostle's authority is an answer to a thousand subtilties, which might attempt to turn us from the strictest rules of that immutable rectitude on which it always proceeds.
From the guilt and misery of mankind, the apostle deduces the necessity of seeking justification by the gospel, and the excellency of that dispensation, C. iii. 20, 8c.
20 THEREFORE, since it has been proved that all mankind are
1 guilty before God, it is evident no flesh shall be justified be
fore him by works of the law. For by the law is only the knowl21 edge of sin. But the righteousness of God, his method of becom
ing righteous, without that perfect obedience which the law reguires,
is now made manifest, being attested by the whole tenor of the law · 22 and the prophets: even the righteousness of God by the faith of
Jesus Christ, to all, and upon all them that believe; for there is 23 no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory 34 of God; and all are justified freely by his grace by virtue of that 25 redemption which is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath proposed in
the gospel as a propitiation by faith in his blood, for a demonstration
of his righteousness in the remission of sins which are past, ac26 cording to the forbearance of God; for a demonstration, I say, of
his righteousness in this present time; that he might be and an
pear just and yet the justifier of him, whosoever he be, who is of 27 the faith of Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded.
By what law? By the law of works.? No: but by the law of faith. 28: We therefore are come to a conclusion, that a man is justified by 29 faith without the works of the law. And now does any one ask, Is
God the God of the Jews only, and not also of the Gentiles? 30 Surely he is the God of the Gentiles too : so that it is one God,
the same unchangeable Jehovah, that will justify the circumcision
(viz. the Jews) by faith, and the Gentiles or uncircumcision 31 through the same faith. But do we set aside the law by faith?
God forbid : nay, we more firmly establish the law.
REFLECTIONS.. Let our whole souls: rejoice in this glorious display of the divine mercy, in so beautiful an harmony with divine justice, in our redemption by Christ! to which the apostle in this section bears so noble a testimony. We are all become guilty before God; so that if he should mark iniquity, no flesh living could be justified before him : let us therefore with all reverence and esteem, and with all joy, embrace the righteousness of God, as now attested by the law and prophets, by Christ and his apostles ; which shall be upon all believers without any difference: humbling ourselves deeply in the presence of God, as those who have sinned, and come short of his glory: and seeking to be justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. To him let us continually look, as the great propitiation ; exercising faith in his blood, and rejoicing that those which seemed to our feeble apprehensions the most jarring attributes, are now reconciled and glorified. Let us readily acknowledge that boasting is excluded ; and in the grateful overflowings of our souls, fall down before that throne whence pardons are dispensed, and confess “that this act of grace is our only plea ;” and that we must remain humble before God for ever, in a sense of the demerit of our sins and the abundance of his mercy -Let Jews and Gentiles unite in thanksgivings to God, and in love to each other, as having been all involved in the same condemnation, and all partakers of the same compassion. And let Christians remember, that God intended by this illustrious display of grace, not to supersede, but to establish his law. May we therefore make it our concern, that not only the actions of our lives, but the sentiments of our hearts, be directed and determined by it; as it is now enforced by more powerful motives than when it appeared in its unallayed terrors.
The apostle shews that Abraham and David sought justification in the gospel
way, viz. by faith. Ch. iv, 1-12.
POR the illustration of this doctrine of justification, let us consider T the instance of the holy patriarch. What then shall we say that Abraham our father according to the flesh hath found effectual 2 in this respect ? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath
something in which he may glory : but yet he hath not' any thing ' 3 10 boast in the sight of God. For what saith the scripture ? “ A.
braham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteous4 ness.” (Gen. xv. 6.) Now to him who worketh all that was re
quired, the reward is not charged to account, as of grace, but of 5 debt. But to him, who, in this sense, worketh not, but believeth
on him who justifieth the ungodly, that repent and return, his 6 faith is imputed to him for righteousness.-And this is agreeable
to what we read elsewhere; as in Psal. xxxii. where David descri.
beth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth right. 7 eousness without works. « Blessed are they whose iniquities are 8 pardoned, and whose sins are covered : blessed is the man to whom 9 the Lord imputeth no sin.” Now this blessedness, doth it come
upon the circumcision only, or also on the uncircuncision ? For
when we say that faith was imputed to Abraham for righteousness; 10 how and when was it thus imputed ? When he was in circumci
sion or in uncircumcision ? Truly not in circumcision, but in un11 circumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, the
seal of the righteousness of that faith, which he had in uncircumcision : that so he might be the father of all those who believe in the
state of uncircumcision, that righteousness may also be imputed 12 unto them. And he received this rite, that he might also be the
father of the circumcision to those who were not only brought under this external ceremony of circumcision, but who also walk in the foot-steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had in uncircumcision.
REFLECTIONS. If there be indeed such a thing as happiness to be enjoyed by mortal man, it is the portion of that man of whom David speaks, even of him whose iniquity is pardoned, and whose sin is covered, and who enjoys the manifestation of that pardon. Well may he endure the greatest afflictions of life with cheerfulness, and look forward to death with comfort; when the sting of all these evils is taken out, and the returning tokens of the divine favour convert them into blessings. O let us earnestly pray that this happiness may be ours: that the great and glorious Being whom by our sins we have offended, and in whom alone the right and power of pardon resides, would spread the vail of his mercy over our provocations, and blot them out of the book of his remembrance! Let us, on the one hand, fix it in our mind, that it is the character of that man to whom this blessedness belongs, that in his spirit there is no guile; and on the other', let us often reflect, that it is in consequence of a righteousness which God imputes, and which faith receives and embraces. We are saved by a scheme that allows us not to mention any works of our own, as if we had whereof to glory before God, but teaches us to ascribe our salvation to believing on him who justifieth the ungodly. Nor need we be ashamed of flying to such a method to which Abraham the father of the faithful had recourse himself, and on which he built bis eternal hope. May we share his disposition of mind, that we may inherit the same promises ; walking in the footsteps of our father Abraham. So shall we also be called the friends and children of God, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in his heavenly kingdom. .
Believing God's promises was an illustrious act of faith in the great patriarch
Abraham, in which he was an example to us. Ch. iv. 13, &c.
13 I HAVE spoken of Abraham as the Father of uncircumcised believ
Ters, as well as those of the circumcision : For the promise to
not by the law, being prior to it; but by the righteousness of faith. 14 Now if they only who are of the law, are heirs, faith is made usc15 less, and the promise made to it is, in effect, abrogated. For the
law itself, worketh only wrath : for where there is no law, there is 16 no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of
grace; that the promise might be secure to all the believing seed ; • Vol. II.
not only to that part of his posterity which was of the Jewish law, but to that which is his spiritual seed, by virtue of the faith of
Abraham, who is in this view the father of us all, of every nation 17 (as it is written, “I have made thee a father of many nations,"
Gen xvii. 16.) even like God himself, the father of all good men, in whom he believed, as reanimating those who are dead, and call
ing things that are not as those that are*. Let me speak a lille 18 furiher on the faith of this great Patriarch, Who against hope, be
lieved with hope, that he should be a father of many nations ac
cording to that which was spoken 10 him (Gen. xv. 5.) “ So shall 19 thy seed be.” And not being fceble in faith he considered not his
own body now dead, as to the probability of issue, being about an 20 hundred years old ; nor the deadness of Sarah's womb. He ob
jected not to the promise of God through unbelief, but was 21 strengthened by faith, giving glory to God ; and was persuaded 22 that what he had promised, he was able to perform. And there
fore, so acceptable was this faith to God, that it was imputed to 23 him for righteousness. Neither was it written with regard to him 24 only, or 10 do him honour, that it was imputed to him ; but also
for our sales, to whom it shall also be imputed, if we believe, with the like faith, in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead ; who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for. our justification.
REFLECTIONS. Let us continually bear in our mind the great and venerable example of our father Abraham ; labour to the utmost to trace his steps; and have faith in God, who at his pleasure quickeneth the dead and calleth things which are not as if they were. If sense were to judge, it would pronounce many of these difficulties invincible, which lie in the way of the accomplishment of his promises ; but they shall all be fulfilled in their season. Let us therefore be strong in faith, remembering that thus it becomes us to glorify that God who condescends so far as to engage the honour of his word for the support of our souls. He who hath promised is able to perform, for with him all things are possible. Already hath le done that for us which he had much less reason to expect, than we now have to. hope for any thing that remains. He delivered his son Jesus for our offences, to redeem us by his blood from final and everlasting ruin.-Let it be our daily joy that he was raised again for our justification; and let his resurrection be continually considered as a noble argument to establish our faith in him who performed this illustrious work of power and mercy. So shall it be imputed to us likewise for righteousness : yea, so shall the righteousness of our Redeemer be reckoned as ours, to all the purposes of our justification and acceptance with God. And though, by our transgression of the law, we can never inherit by any claim from that, which only worketh wrath and condemnation, in consequence of our breach of it; yet shall we, by believing and obeying the gospel, find the promise sure to lis, as
* i.e. as Elsner has proved, summoning them, as it were, to risc into being, and appear before him..