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bound, encouraging them to proceed by what he had seen and known of it. And they, on their part, would make a return to him: as they would be comforted by his faith, so he by theirs: and finding in the midst of the luxury and business which belongs to a crowded city, a multitude of disciples who had separated from their unbelieving brethren, or renounced the vanities of heathen worship, and were living in obedience to the faith, he could not but be comforted. As it proved a few years afterwards, when in the providence of God he did accomplish his wish, and see Rome: and the brethren, hearing of his approach, “came to meet him as far as Appii forum, and the three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage.”
We are reminded here, that faith, though real, may be weak and need to be strengthened. St. Paul was anxious to visit the Roman brethren, to the end that they might be established, although their faith was such as to be spoken of throughout the whole world. But liable as they were to assaults from within and without, they required continued support, that they might “remain stedfast to the end,” and Satan gain no advantage over them.
We see, too, at the same time, the means by which faith does gain fresh strength. Paul's presence among the Roman Christians would have the effect of strengthening them. And so may the discourse and exhortation of any Christian to whom God has given in a high degree the gift of faith, or of exhortation, or of prayer. Another Apollos, “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures;” another Barnabas, “a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith;”.9 may be made the means of imparting spiritual gifts to others: may remove their doubts, allay their fears, awaken their zeal, enlarge their charity. And this should be desired and sought at every opportunity; not as though we “ had already attained, either were already perfect.” The man would have little self-knowledge, who thought himself so established that he could never fall. He is in danger of losing “what he hath,” who does not use every endeavour, and pursue all proper means, that he may daily “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
7 Acts xxviii. 15.
RoMANs i. 13–17.
13. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
14. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
15. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
The Gospel is for “high and low, rich and poor, one with another.” It is full of interest for the wise
* Acts xviii. 24. 9 Acts xi. 24. 1 Phil. iii. 12.
and learned: none such need be ashamed of studying that “which the angels desire to look into.” Yet is it equally “revealed to babes:” so simple, that the most unwise may understand. It might satisfy the reason of the civilised Greeks or Romans. It might convince and edify the uneducated Barbarian. And Paul had been set apart for the preaching of the Gospel both to the one and to the other: he was debtor to both : he owed a duty to both, which he was equally ready to pay to both, in discharge of the office to which he had been called, as the apostle of the Gentiles. So that the majesty of Rome, as mistress of the world; the magnificence of its wealth, the reputation of its philosophers;–none of these would deter him, if only he had opportunity to preach the gospel to them that were at Rome. And he states the grounds of this confidence.
16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
At first we may be surprised at the apostle saying that he was not ashamed of the gospel. A person does not commonly say of that which is beyond measure excellent, that he is not ashamed of it. But he alludes to that which was amongst “the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness:” he alludes to the humbling doctrines of the gospel, appealing to men as sinners before God, and offering salvation through him who died upon the cross. We may well suppose that this doctrine would be scoffed at by the ignorant heathen, or self-righteous Jew. Yet of this doctrine he was not ashamed: and adds his reason: For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Just as we may conceive of the Israelites in the days of Saul, as ashamed of their champion, when they stood around, and beheld David, a stripling and armed with none other than his rustic weapon, advancing to meet the Philistine giant.” But the feeling of shame would soon give way to a juster sentiment, when they saw Goliath fall under the stripling's hand, and the Philistines, struck with panic, fly from their position. And such is here Paul's train of thought. He might be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, if it merely related that he who came into the world as the Son of God, had suffered the death of the vilest sinners among men. But when that was effected by the Gospel which had never otherwise been effected; when it proved “mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds” of sin and Satan;–then he might retort upon themselves the scorn of the Jew or the ridicule of the philosopher: for this gospel, which they despised, was shown to be the power of God unto salvation.
1 1 Pet. i. 12. * See 1 Cor. i. 22.
It was, first, the power of God. The power of God was evidently employed to establish and maintain it. When the cripple at the gate of the temple who asked alms of Peter and John, recovered the use of his limbs at their bidding:" or when Elymas at the word of Paul became blind on the instant, and went about “seeking some one to lead him by
* 1 Sam. xvii. 43. * Acts iii. 7.
the hand:”s here was undoubtedly the power of God. That was done, which could be done by no other power. This, however, though proof of the power of God, was not the power of God unto salvation. That must be exercised, not on the body, but the soul. And the apostle speaks of the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation, because it brought the souls of men into a state of favour and acceptance with Him. The Jewish assembly were not in such a state, when they resolved on the death of Jesus, and forced Pilate, against his will, to “crucify him, crucify him.” Not two months afterwards, Peter accused of this sin another company of Jews, and preached to them the same Jesus, as “the Prince of life.” Such persuasion attended his words, that three thousand received them gladly, and were baptized in the name of Jesus: nay, left their former ways of life, sold their possessions and goods, and formed a company whose sole object it was to serve God, and prepare for a better world. This was the power of God unto salvation : for repentance, and faith, and obedience, and the affections taken from things below, and those things used for the purpose of laying up treasure in heaven —these are the signs that “accompany salvation.” So, when the apostle proceeded to heathen nations, he found them in a state which he describes before the close of this very chapter: he found them filled with all unrighteousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity. It was a state the farthest possible from a state of salvation. He proclaimed the
* Acts xiii. 11. " Acts ii.