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He was obliged to meet the objection, “Shall we then continue in sin, that grace may abound * * “We be slanderously reported, and some affirm that we say, Let us do evil that good may come.” It is no argument, therefore, against the scriptural truth of this doctrine, that it lies open to these imputations. Nay, rather, that such imputations are made, is proof that the doctrine is scriptural. Most unquestionably no other doctrine can be elicited from the Epistle which is considered in the present volume. And I think it will be acknowledged by the attentive reader, that Paul speaks “according to the wisdom given unto him,” “ whilst he unfolds the mysterious counsels of God in the salvation of man: and that our Church has no reason to revise her Articles, when she declares it to be “a most wholesome doctrine,” that we are justified by faith only: “that we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by
faith, and not for our own works or deservings.”
Rom. vi. l. iii. 8. 22 Pet. iii. 15.
THE GENERAL EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.1
PAUL'S INTEREST IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AT ROME AND HIS DESIRE TO WISIT IT.
ROMANs i. 1–12.
1. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2. (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3. Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4. And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5. By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6. Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ : 7. To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints : Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was little to be expected, a few years before, that this letter should be written. It was written
* This epistle was written at Corinth, after Paul's second journey through Greece, as he was setting out towards Jerusalem,
A.D. 58, according to the most probable calculations.
by Paul, a serrant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. Yet this man, who had now received grace and apostleship, had once been a persecutor of the apostles: and he who was now preaching the gospel throughout the world, had formerly thought it his duty to oppose and persecute all who believed in that Master, in whose service he was now engaged. For “there is a way which may seem right unto a man,” though “the end thereof are the ways of death.” God had mercifully turned Paul aside from the error of his way, before it became death to him. And if it was strange that Paul should write this letter, so it was equally strange that he should be writing it to Christians at Rome:–strange that there should be men there called of Jesus Christ, belored of God, called to be saints. Some of these had been Jews, brought up in the same way of thinking with the apostle ; proud of the law of Moses, and jealous of everything which seemed to rival it, or set it aside. These were now convinced that Jesus Christ was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power : the Messiah, whom their nation was expecting, to bless all the nations of the earth. Others had been heathens, now belored of God, instead of whom they had been wont to worship idols: now called to be saints, who had hitherto not known the meaning of holiness. These had been “convinced of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment;” and were walking before God as his people, and waiting for the second coming of their Lord.
* Prov. xiv. 12. 3 John xvi. 8.
Such were the persons to whom Paul wishes grace and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. The common salutation of the world had used to be, Life and happiness be with you! That of the apostle is, Grace and peace / and this he looks for, through the only source from which it can be derived: from God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Mediator. He desires that they may be reconciled to God through faith in the gospel of his Son: that grace in an abundant manner may be imparted to them, and their peace may be such as God alone can bestow.
8. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
9. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
10. Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
The purpose of his writing, he now states, is to supply the want of his coming in person to them. This he had long wished to do, but had been let hitherto. It was natural that he should desire to visit the christian church in that city which had become, in the providence of God, the mistress of all nations; but which had now obtained an eminence to which earthly victories could not have raised it, in that its faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. The Christians of Rome, few in comparison with the inhabitants of that great metropolis, and despised in comparison with its orators and conquerors, were still
the possessors of real glory. For that is real glory which remains the longest: and when “the world passeth away and the lust thereof, he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.””
There was indeed great reason to thank God, that in such a city the power of the gospel should have eminently prevailed. But it was not only that he might witness in person this gratifying sight, that Paul was desiring a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto them.
11. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
12. That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
One object was ever uppermost in the apostle's mind: growth of grace in himself and others. Therefore he desired to see them, that he might impart unto them some spiritual gift : that by communicating his own experience he might confirm their faith, and give a fresh impulse to their love. As Barnabas, when he visited Antioch,” and exhorted the newly-converted Christians there to “continue in the grace of God.” The intercourse of ordinary Christians has this effect; they are mutually strengthened and edified, as they “take sweet converse together, and walk in the house of God as friends.” But a visit from the apostle would be a higher privilege, and lead to greater blessings. He could relate to them the “abundance of revelations” which he had enjoyed: he could speak of the personal assurance which he had received, that God was with him, and directed all his ways: he would be like a traveller from a country to which they were
* 1 John ii. 17. * Acts xv. 23. * 2 Cor. xii. 7.