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11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no, not
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips :
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness :
eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law : that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become 'guilty before God.
* Or, subject to the judgment of God.
against it,” it is clear that the scriptures either as to the tendencies of their nature, he quotes were designed to establish this or their actual overt acts. The first quofundamental doctrine. The question is, tation, contained in verses 10—12, is from how they do so? To which it may be Psalm xiv., where it is expressly said to replied, that if the passages are to be be a description of “the children of understood as confined to the Jewish na- men;" that is, of all men in their unre. tion, they would only prove that at differ- newed state, until, indeed, they becorne ent periods the evil characters mentioned the children of God. It is, in fact, the were to be found in it; and as vicious per- solemn decision of God upon an inspecsons of the same kind have been found in tion of a fallen race. “The Lord looked all ages and in all places,-orthose disposi- down from heaven upon the children of tions among men which, if not checked by men, to see if there were any that did unexternal circumstances, break outinto open derstand, and seek God. They are all gone wickedness,—it might be infallibly argued aside,” &c. The 13th verse unites quotafrom this, that we cannot account for the tions from Psalm v. 9, and Psalm cxl. 3; in majority of mankind being wicked, without neither of which places are any particular admitting such a taint of human nature as persons spoken of, but wicked men are must necessarily lead all to actual sin, not spoken of generally, as “the foolish,” "the renewed by the grace of God. But though evil man,” “the wicked,” “the violent," this would establish a firmer foundation for &c. The quotation in verse 14 is taken what follows, the apostle must be under- from Psalm x. 7, and there too it refers to stood as speaking more directly. The pas
“the wicked” generally; and to wicksages are quoted from different Psalms, and ed, proud, and oppressive men, not conthe last of them from the prophet Isaiah ; fined to one age or place, and to those but it is clear that they were understood vices, the roots and seeds of which are ia by St. Paul as not only moral descriptions the nature of all. The remainder is taken of the Jews of a particular age, or of a
from Isaiah lix. 7, 8, where it seems upon particular class, but of these persons as the face of the passage, that from commen, wicked and unrenewed, and so plaining of the wickedness of his people, equally descriptive of men in general, the prophet is carried out to expatiate
20 Therefore ' by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
i Gal. ii. 16.
upon the wickedness of human nature, of all men, taught the Jews, to whom or of men in general ; at least so he was this epistle was specially addressed, and evidently understood by the apostle, who through them teaches all, this great and was, independent of his inspiration, a bet- humbling doctrine, but one most necester judge of the Hebrew scriptures than sary to be known, in order that men may some who have attempted to correct his be prepared to receive the gospel,—THAT reasoning on this particular.
THE WHOLE WORLD, comprising both Jews In some good mss., says Bloomfield, all and Gentiles, 18 Guilty before God; and these passages are found together in this it does in order that every mouth may Psalm xiv.
This would strengthen the be stopped, as being consciously guilty, argument, since that
Psalm, as and having no answer or excuse to offer, have seen, expressly, not by implication, but might humbly acknowledge that describes the moral condition of “the guilt which could neither be denied nor children of men :" but whether found palliated, and from the punishment of together or scattered, this is clear, that which there was but one way of escape. St. Paul intended us to consider these To stop the mouth is to silence or take passages just like that of our Lord when away all power of defence ; and to be he speaks of the evils which proceed out of guilty, urooikos, is to be liable to legal the heart of man. Certainly Christ intend- punishment; and these quotations from ed to show what the evils are of which their own scriptures, in which Jews as every man is not only capable, but ac- well as Gentiles are included, seeing that tually guilty ; although an overt act of they speak of men universally in their every kind might not take place in each fallen state, tended strongly to produce individual. So here. Some of these evils the effect for which St. Paul adduces are chargeable upon every one ; and there them,—to silence entirely any delusive is none of which, under certain circum- attempt to which the Jews resorted to stances, man's lapsed nature does not ren- palliate or excuse their sins, as though der him capable : St. Paul presents a list of they were not reckoned to them as such, moral offences, some of the mindand heart, and to awaken them to a due sense of others more conspicuous in act; of some their great danger, as equally with the of which he tells us, on the authority of Gentiles exposed to the wrath of God. the scriptures, every man is guilty; and In the earnestness of St. Paul to produce so he establishes the conclusion which this conviction, we must not only regard follows. This conclusion is thus solemnly him as a theologian endeavouring to clear introduced, Now we know that whatsoever the way for an important argument, but the law says,—using the term law in its ge- as a minister pitying the blind delusions neral sense for the whole scriptures, of his people, and resorting to various through which, in fact, the moral law of modes of conviction to touch their conthe Jews was diffused,-it saith, it speaks, sciences and to arouse them to a just to them who are under the law, for consideration of their state. their information and instruction. The Verse 20. Therefore by the deeds of the apostle neither says nor means that it law, &c.— If, taking Slot, in the sense of speaks of or concerning them that are because, we connect these words with the under the law, as though the passages preceding, they serve to heighten the quoted related to the Jews only, which view there given of the miserable condiwould fall short of the apostle's design; tion of Jews and Gentiles, by showing Lut the meaning is, that the law in these that the law against which they have singeneral declarations as to the sinfulness ned can make no provision for their impunity, and that this its inexorable cha- as a touch-stone detects fal.e metal, or as racter cuts them off, therefore, from all light makes darkness manifest; and the hope. This, indeed, in any way that the more perfect, therefore, our knowledge connexion of the words with the scope of of the law is, the more fully must it exthe apostle can be considered, must be clude all hope of a meritorious justificathe effect of the doctrine so clearly laid tion; since the extent, the evil, and the down; but dloti may probably be more aggravation of our offences are more persatisfactorily taken as a particle of fectly set forth by its searching light, the transition to another, but still, in the ge- nearer we approach it. And all hope for neral argument of the apostle, a closely the future is cut off, as well as for the allied subject. For, having established past, by the same rule. For, although the fact that all men are under condem- indeed men often fancy that future obenation, he now proceeds to speak of their dience may avail them, yet, as soon as the possible justification. He first lays down true nature of law is apprehended, every a general and most important axiom, one will be convinced that his former sins that none can be justified by the deeds of still lie, in their penalty, against him; that the law; and, therefore, if justification be to make an act of obedience a compenattained, it must come through some sation for an act of disobedience, would other institution or appointment of God. be so irregular and imperfect a system of This negative view is a most important law, that no perfect moral government branch of his subject, although he em- could stand upon it; that, in fact, it ploys but few words to establish it. By would be legislating for imperfect and the law he means the law of God in its not perfect obedience, and unsettling the manifestation whether to Jews or Gen- obligation of the latter by declaring it tiles. This, perhaps, is indicated by the unnecessary, and that the universe could absence of the article, et epyWv vouov, by be well enough regulated without it works of law ; but the sense obliges us to Still further, all sin is the result of moral this general interpretation ; for, as Bishop pravity, arising from the lapsed and fallen Middleton observes, “it is his purpose to condition of man, so that what he calls show, that no man whatever can be jus- his future obedience is itself imperfect, tified by the works either of the Jewish insufficient, and therefore sinful, either law or of any other: πασα σαρξ, like ο κοσμος from defect or some other vitiating prinin the preceding verse, cannot but be un- ciple. Now that shadowy virtue in derstood universally; and what follows, which men are apt to trust, God's pure for by the law is the knowledge of sin, is and perfect law, which requires truth in plainly a universal proposition.” He the inward parts, supreme love to God, had shown that the divine law, or will of and absolutely perfect obedience, detects, God, existed among the Gentiles as well and exposes its true character, so that it as the Jews; that both had sinned against convicts us still of sin, notwithstanding it; and that, as to both alike, by what he all our efforts, and, as far as moral law is calls works of law, they were excluded concerned, leaves every sinner without from justification ; that is, from being hope of being justified, that is, of being declared and treated as righteous persons. treated as a righteous man, and exempted For since, in the reason of the thing, the from punishment. law of God declares and treats no man as Some have thought that St. Paul 17righteous but him who perfectly and with cludes here also in deeds of law, ceremoout intermission obeys all its commands, nial observances, and excludes their also and both Jews and Gentiles were con- from the office of justifying. The whole victed of sin, all hope founded upon in- context shows that he speaks of works nocence was for ever gone. Hence the of moral law, and not of any religious Apostle adds, For by law is the know- observances, except as they may be preledge of sin; it manifests every offence, as scribed by moral law, such as the wora straight rule shows every obliquity, or ship of God, and the sabbath, which were
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
appointed for man in innocence. As to
the Jews, opposes
“the righteousness of sacrificial and propitiatory ceremonies, he God” to that “righteousness of their does not and could not notice them dis
own,” which they were endeavouring to tinctly. For before Christ, when ac
establish; plainly meaning by the latter, ceptable to God, they were acts of faith their own method of seeking justification in the promised Christ, and so supposed in opposition to that which God had apthat very doctrine of justification by pointed. The righteousness of God, in faith of which he is about to speak, this verse, then, signifies God's method but on which he has not yet entered; of constituting men righteous, though in and when not acts of faith in a promised fact they are criminal, and obnoxious to Redeemer, they lost their character as punishment. This is said to be manifestacts of faith, were regarded as morally ed without the law, or, literally, without meritorious, and therefore stood upon LAW. For there is but one class of beings the same false ground as all other acts whom pure law can declare and treat as of imperfect moral obedience, by which righteous, and these are the absolutely men often vainly hoped to merit some- sinless; whereas, under the method here thing at the hands of God.
said to be manifested, not the sinLESS, Verse 21. But now the righteousness of but the sinful, are declared and treated God without the law.—Here the apostle, as righteous persons. This procedure having not only proved all men sinners, must therefore be without Law, whose but cut off all hope of justification by sole office it is to justify the innocent the law, breaks forth into a full enume- and condemn the guilty. It necessarily ration of that glorious subject, for which proceeds from an entirely distinct instihe had been preparing the way, and to tution and appointment. But though which he had referred in the introduc- now manifested, that is, clearly and pertion of the epistle,—the justification even fectly brought from under the veil of of the guilty, by God the righteous Go. types, and the symbolical language of vernor of the world, and that in a man- prophecy, this method of affording hope ner consistent with his own most right to the human race, this grand branch of eous and holy character. This is the the divine administration, was not a subject on which he expatiates as far as novelty, but had all along been witnessed Verse 26 inclusive.
by the law and the prophets. The law and The whole passage requires the deepest the prophets comprehend the whole Old attention. By the righteousness of God, Testament ; for, from the beginning, sincannot be understood, as in verse 5, the ful men had been taught to hope for salpunitive justice of God; because this vation through the great Redeemer righteousness is said to be without law, promised to our first parents, and to seek which punitive justice never is, but es- it by faith; whilst the grand example of sentially connected with it. Nor does it Abraham's gratuitous justification by here mean the righteousness which God faith in the promised Christ, of which cirpossesses, that is, his rectitude and holi- cumcision was the standing testIMONY, ness ; for that is not manifested without and the types of the ceremonial law, and the law, but has its most illustrious exhi- the promises contained in the writings of bition in it. Nor does righteousness here the prophets, all gave witness to the fact, mean mercy, as some would have it; for that a method of justifying guilty men, in this sense the word never occurs in quite independent of moral law, had been the New Testament. The import is the introduced by divine appointment, and same as that of the same phrase in acted upon in God's administration from chap. x. 3, where the apostle, speaking of the beginning.
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus :
Verses 22, 23. Even the righteousness of the forgiveness of sins is bestowed God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, 8c. through faith in the appointed Redeemer. -The righteousness of God being said And come short of the glory of God.to be by faith to all that believe, fur- This has been interpreted of failing of ther
proves that the phrase means some- the praise and approbation of God; and, thing done or appointed by God, which by others, of failing of the glory and passes over to man, and thus confirms blessedness of heaven. But a more prothe exposition of it above given, the me- bable sense is, that by sin all men have thod by which men are justified, or are failed to glorify God their Maker, Preaccepted as righteous, as revealed in the server, and Governor, to which they were gospel. This justification is, by faith, bound by the most indisputable obligaδια πιστεως; δια Inarking the INSTRUMENTAL tions, and the most powerful motives. cause, FAITH ; and the object of this faith Verse 24. Being justified freely by his is Christ Jesus, the meritorious or pro- grace,&c.—That adorable display of divine curing cause of this grace and salvation ; wisdom and love by which those who for there seems no reason for making a are guilty are justified, is now more fully distinction between faith of Jesus Christ, opened. 1. They are JUSTIFIED, that is, and faith in Jesus Christ. In Philippians pardoned; for this appears from the next iii. 9, the apostle also uses the genitive, verse, where the same act is called the where he could mean nothing else but remission of sins: yet not simply parfaith of which Christ was the object : doned; for the terms to justify, and justi“the righteousness which is through the fication, when applied to a guilty person, faith of Christ,” through believing in import, not the being made morally just, him. What follows, unto all and upon all, which is indeed a separate though conεις παντας και επι παντας, them that believe, comitant act of the grace of God, but has somewhat perplexed interpreters; just or righteous with reference to law some drawing various distinctions from and the Lawgiver, that is, placed in the the prepositions; others cancelling the condition of persons who have not latter clause, but without authority; broken the law, both with reference to others regarding it as a repetition of the exemption from punishment, and the same thought for the sake of emphasis. favour and kindness of God the GoverThe meaning seems to be, that this justi- and Judge. 2. They are justified FREELY, fication by faith, is OFFERED to, and δωρεαν, κατα being understood. This is comes ACTUALLY into the experience and opposed to MERITORIOUSLY or DESERVEDenjoyment of, all them that believe. For LY; it is of FREE GIFT, not of Rigur; and there is no difference, no distinction be- hence it is added, by his grace, not his tween Jew or Greek. As all are capable justice, to which the appeal for justificaof believing, so all may equally attain the tion might have been made with confirighteousness which is by faith ; and as dence had we been innocent, or could all have sinned, they are involved in a we ourselves have done anything which common condemnation, are equally cut would have legally cancelled our transoff from the hope of justification by law, gressions. Those who deny the doctrine and are all therefore equally the subjects of atonement argue, that to be justified of that gracious constitution, by which freely is to be freely forgiven from God's