« PreviousContinue »
quickening principle ; others are raised by obey the gospel. Learn thence, That the a quickening principle derived from Christ, great end of the ministry of the word is with respect to which he is called resur- to bring sinners to believe and obey the rection and the life, John xi. -25. that is, gospel of Christ, to persuade them to yield, the principle of quickening life, by which not a professed subjection only, but a real the dead saints are raised. Observe, 3. obedience also, to the gospel of Christ : That the apostle doth not say, Christ was by whom we have received grace and made or constituted the Son of God by apostleship for obedience to the faith his resurrection from the dead, but declared among all nations. Observe, 4. How so to be: Multa tunc fieri dicuntur quan- the apostle puts the Romans in mind of do facta esse manifestantur, according their condition by nature, before the gosto the phrase of scripture; “ Things are pel was revealed to them, and received by then said to be when they conspicuously them : they were then Pagans and Heaappear." Nothing can be more evident thcnish idolaters, but now Christians, or than that Christ was the Son of God before the called of Jesus Christ, among whom his resurrection; yea, before his incarna- (that is, among the Gentile nations) ye arc tion, being the Father of eternity, Isa. ix. also the called of Jesus Christ. Learn 6. But the glory of his divinity was thence, That it is a necessary duty for mimuch clouded, darkened, and eclipsed, by nisters, and a profitable duty for the people, the frailty of his humanity, by the miseries to put, and be often put in mind, of what of his life, and the ignominy of his death. they were and are by nature; it is profitBut by his resurrection God rolled away able both to increase their humiliation, his reproach, and freed him from all the and also lo excite their gratulation. “You aspersions and accusations of his enemies, Romans (as if the apostle had said) who who charged him with blasphemy, for are now the called of Christ Jesus, were affirming that he was the Son of God : once afar off, even amongst the vile and and thus our Jesus, in whom we trust, was cursed Gentiles : let the remembrance of declared to be the Son of God with power, what you once were, keep you continually according to the Spirit of holiness, by humble; and the knowledge of what now the resurrection from the dead.
by grace you are, render you for ever
thankful." 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience 7 To all that be in Rome, beto the faith among all nations, for loved of God, called to be saints : his name : 6 Among whom are ye Grace to you, and peace, from God also the called of Jesus Christ. our Father, and the Lord Jesus
Christ. Observe here, 1. Si. Paul declares the person from whom he received authority Two things are here observable, 1. The io be an apostle, namely, Christ him. general inscription of St. Paul's epistle ; self: By whom he received apostleship; and next, the particular salutations therein that is, by Jesus Christ, mentioned in the given. In the inscription, we have the foregoing verse; who called him imme- persons described to whom the epistle is diately, and furnished him with authority directed ; and that, 1. By their place of and ability for a gospel preacher, even abode and habitation: To all that be at then when he had been a furious and fiery Rome. Thence note, That Rome, though persecutor. Observe, 2. He declares how now a grove of idols, a nest of unclean free and undeserved a favour this was: hc birds, yet was once an habitation of holiacknowledges he had received grace to be ness, a receptacle for the saints and dearly an apostle ; intimating, that to be rightly beloved ones of God. Rome, that is now called to be an apostle, or messenger of the a lewd and impudent strumpel, was once gospel of Jtsus Christ, is a special act and the chaste and holy spouse of Christ. Beinstance of divine grace and favour : By hold, the grace and favour of God is not whom we have received grace and apostle- confined to place or person! The Lord is ship. Observe, 3. What is the special with you while you are with him, and not oflice and duty of an apostle, and the great longer. 2. They are described by their end and design of that honourable function, title: Beloved of God, saints, and called. namely, to call all persons to believe and Where note, The order of their titles ; first
beloved of God, then called and sancti- cxcluded, no mention at all being made of fied: intimating, that the love and grace, him? Answer, He is not excluded, though the favour and free good-will of God, are he be not named, but necessarily implied in the source and spring, the root and ori- the forementioned gifts; because grace and ginal causes, of all blessings and benefits; peace are the fruits of the Spirit, they come namely, of vocation, sanctification, and re- from God the Father, through the mediamission, &c. We love him, because he first tion of the Son, and are wrought in us by lored us, 1 John iv. 10. The love of the operation of the Holy Ghost. Besides, God is the cause of our holiness, and our in other salutations (though not in this) the perseverance in holiness will be the preser- Holy Ghost is expressly mentioned, as in iation of his love, John xv. 10. If ye 2 Cor. xiii. 13, 14. The grace of our keep my commandments, ye shall abide Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, in my love. Question, But how could the and the communion of the Holy Ghost, aposile call the whole church at Rome be with you. saints, when doubtless there were many by pocrites among them? Answer, 1. 8 First, I thank my God through They were all saints by external commu- Jesus Christ for you all, that your nion and visible profession. They were faith is spoken of throughout the called out of the world, that is, separated whole world. from the world, and consecrated to the service of Christ, and so lay under a neces.
Observe here. 1. The great and wonder. sary obligation to be true and real saints. ful success of the gospel; it had produced 2. They were denominated saints from the faith in the hearts, and obedience in the better, and we would hope from the greater lives, of the Romans, which had made part, amongst them. Doubtless there were
them famous throughout the world. Your many, very many of them, that answered faith, says the apostle, is spoken of throughtheir character, who were holy in the ha- out the whole world ; that is, through all bitual frame of their hearts, and in the ge- the Roman empire, which at that time neral course of their lives, and from them ruled over a great part of the known world. the whole received their denomination of The entertaining of the gospel at Rome, saints, or holy. Observc, 2. After the made that place more celebrated and fainscription follows the apostle's salutation,
mous than all the victories and triumphs of Grace to you, and peace from God our
the Roman emperors; faith and holiness Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. make a place and people more renowned Where note, 1. The comprehensiveness of than all outward prosperity and happiness. the salutation : Grace and peace compre- Observe, 2. That this their renowned faith hend all blessings, spiritual and temporal ;
was the ground, yea, the highest and chiefgrace implies and includes both the spring est ground, of the aposile's rejoicing and fountain of all divine favour, and like. First, I thank my God, that your faith wize the several streams which flow from is spoken of throughout the whole world; that fountain, all the effects and fruits of Learn thence, That it is both the duty and grace. And peace, according to the He: the disposition of the faithful ministers of brew manner of speaking, implies all good Jesus Christ, to be highly thankful to God, things for soul and body, for time and above all things, for the powerful success of eternity. Note, 2. The persons from the gospel, in bringing sinners to the faith whom these blessings are derived : from and obedience of Jesus Christ. This is our God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ; rejoicing, nay, this will be our crown of from God as the sovereign and fontal cause; rejoicing in the day of Christ. We value and from Christ as the Mediator of all, our lives only by their usefulness to the without whom we have nothing to do with souls of our beloved people: we live as we any of the divine favours; for both grace
see some of you stand fast in the Lord, we peace come by Jesus Christ. And die as we see others stick fast in their sins. whereas Christ is called Lord, and here joined with the Father, and the same blessings arc said to flow from Christ as
9 For God is my witness, whom from the Father ; we learn, That Christ is
I serve with my spirit in the gospel really and undoubtedly God equal with of his Son, that without ceasing I the Father, and blessed forevermore. make mention of you always in my Question, But why is the Holy Ghost here prayers; 10 Making request, (if by
any means now at length I might 11 For I long to sce you, that I have a prosperous journey by the may impart unto you some spiritual will of God,) to come unto you. gift, to the end ye may be esta
blished : Here we have observable, 1. The apostle's be comforted together with you by
12 That is, that I may solemn protestation of his affectionate love unto, and great care and concern for, these the mutual faith both of you and Roman converts, whom he was now absent from, yea, whose faces he had never as yet seen: Without ceasing, says the apostle,
The apostle having declared in the foreI make mention of you always in my
going verses, how fervently he prayed for prayers. Behold herc, as in a glass, the thein, and how passionately he desired to face of every faithful minister of Christ ; he
come unto them; he now acquaints them continually bears his people upon his heart, with the reason of that desire, namely, For whenever he goes in and out before the the furtherance of his own joy, and their Lord, as Aaron bare the names of the chil- establishment: I long to see you, that you dren of Israel upon his breastplate ; he may be established, and I may be com
Learn hence, 1. That estab. pours his very soul in fervent supplications forted. for them, and can sooner be forgetful of lishment in faith and holiness is that which himself than unmindful of them. Without the holiest and best of christians do stand ceasing I make mention of you always in of the ministers of Christ with and among
in need of.
Learn, 2. That the presence my prayers. Observe, 2. That because the apostle was yet a stranger to them, had their people, as well as their preaching the never seen them, and it was impossible for doctrine of faith to them, is absolutely nethem to know the outgoings of his heart cessary, in order to their establishment; toward them, he solemnly appeals to the God has joined the duties of public preachheart-searching God, calls him to witnessing and private inspection together, and how affectionately he loved them, and how
woe unto us, if by our non-residence, and frequently he prayed for them; God is
not dwelling among our people, or if living
my witness. The words have the force, if not
with them we haughtily refuse or slothfully the form, of an oath, and teach us, that it is neglect personally to converse with them, unquestionably lawful in important affairs
we deny them one special means for their 10 swear, to appeal to God, and call him lastly, That the apostle desired to be per
edification and establishment. Observe to be a witness of what we either say or do. We find St. Paul did it often, and sonally present with the church and saints our Saviour himself did not refuse to answer
at Rome, for his own benefit as well as for upon oath, when solemnly adjured. Ob- their advantage, That I may be comforted. serve, 3. How the apostle swears by God, Learn hence, That the ministers of Christ not by the creatures, which is the swearing do certainly improve and benefit themcondemned by our Saviour and by st. selves, as well as edify and establish their James ; see Matt. v. and James v. Note
people, by their conferring with them; as farther, How St. Paul appeals to that God, iron sharpeneth iron, and the rubbing of whom he served in or with his spirit ; that
one hand warmeth another, so the meanest is, with the apostle's own spirit, with his of Christ's members may contribute to the heart unfeignedly. From whence we may weak servants may strengthen thy strong
advantage of the greatest apostle. God's remark, That no service can be performed acceptably to Almighty God, except the
shoulders. Verily I have sometimes heart and spirit of a christian be engaged gained more knowledge by an hour's conin it. True, the body has its part and ference with a private and crperienced share in divine worship as well as the soul ; Most certainly the ministers of God are
christian, than by half a day's study. but the service of the body is never accepted by God, unless animated and quickened by great losers by being strangers to their an obedient soul. O christian, serve thy
people. God with thy soul and spirit, as well as 13 Now I would not have you with thy tongue and knee! and then thy offering will be more acceptable to God ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I than the most adorned tensples, the most purposed to come unto you, but was pompous cereinonies, and most costly de let hitherto, that I might have some votiong whatever, with the want of these. fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor be discharged, whether the debt be accepted both to the Greeks and to the Bar- or not. barians, both to the wise and to the unwise. 15 So as much as in me
16 For I am not ashamed of the is, I am ready to preach the gospel gospel of Christ : for it is the pow
er of God unto salvation to every one to you that are at Rome also.
that believeth ; to the Jew first, and
also to the Greek. Ilere observe, How the apostle obviates an objection, and prevents a reflection Observe here, 1. The glorious descripupon himself. Some at Rome might be tion which the apostle gives of the gospel : ready to say, If Paul had such a longing It is the power of God unto salvation, desire to see us as he expresses, why did he That is, the preaching of it is attended by not come all this time and preach here, as and accompanied with an alınighty power, he has done at Corinth, and Ephesus, and which renders it effectual to salvation, if elsewhere? He truly tells them therefore, we do not bolt our ears and hearts against that it was not for want of inclination and it. Learn, That the plain and persuasive will, but for want of opportunity; he had preaching of the gospel is the chosen inoften intended it, and attempted it also, strument in God's hand, which he uses and but was providentially hindered. From honours for the conveyance of spiritual life whence I gather, That the ministers of God into the souls of men, though it be despised cannot always dispose of themselves and of and ridiculed by the men of the world. their labours according to their own in- The gospel is powerful, it is the power not clinations and desires, but both their per- of men or angels, but the power of God; sons and ministry are directed and disposed not the essential, but the instrumental power, of by the providence, and according to the of God; it works as an instrument, yet not pleasure, of Almighty God. Observe, 2. as a natural, but as a moral instrument in The great modesty and condescending hu. God's hand, freely, not arbitrarily. The mility of our apostle, in telling the Romans, word gives out to us, as God gives in to that though he desired and intended to that ; the power of the gospel is not from make this long journey to Rome to preach the preachers of the gospel, iherefore do not the gospel to them, yet this was raiher a idolize them; but they are the instruments debi than a gift. lle doth not intimate to in God's hand, their words are the vehicle them, that his coming anjongst them was or organ through which the vital power of an arbitrary favour, for which they should the Spirit is conveyed, therefore do not be indebted to bim, but a bounden duty vilify and think meanly of them. Obwhich he oued to them: I am a debtor serve, 2. The solenn protestation and bold both to Jew and Greck, and ready to profession which the apostle makes of his preach the gospel to you that are at Rome not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ ; also. Here note, That the debt spoken of I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. is the preaching of the gospel; St. Paul Where note, 1. He doth not say I contracted this debt, and laid himself under afraid to preach the gospel, but I am not an obligation to pay it then ; (as every ashamed; because shame hinders our readiminister doth now at his first entering upon ness more than fear. A man may be fit the office of the ministry ;) by virtue of his and ready to preach the gospel, and yet mission, it was his duty to preach the gos- be afraid to undertake it, but he that is pel to all, both to the learned Greeks and ashamed of the work, can never be fit for unlearned barbarians. From whence learn, it. Note, 2. That when the apostle says, That 10 preach the gospel of Christ both he is not ashamed of the gospel, more is infar and near with a laborious diligence, tended than expressed ; I am so far from when regularly called thereunto, is a minis- being ashamed, that I account it my glory. terial debt and duty. We are first indebt- As if the apostle had said, “ Verily I esteemi ed to God that sends us forth ; we are also it the highest honour that God can confer indebted to the people we are sent unto. upon me to preach the gospel at Rome, But O! how many people are there that though it should cost me my life." O how would willingly forgive their ministers this exceeding well doth a bold profession of the debt! but we must tender payment at the gospel become all the ministers and memtime and place appointed, or we can never bers of Jesus Christ ! Let all say with the apostle, We are not ashamed of the gospel; vealed from heaven against all unnone of the ministers of Christ to preach godliness and unrighteousness of it, none of the members of Christ to professmen, who told the truth in unrightand practise it.
eousness : 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to
Our apostle having asserted and laid faith : as it is written, the just shall down a general proposition, that the justifive by faith.
fication of a sinner is only to be expected
by the righteousness of the Mediator in a Here the apostle produces an argument way of faith; he now undertakes the proof to prove that the gospel is the power of and demonstration of it thus; he distriGod unto salvation ;' Because by it the butes the whole world into Gentiles and righteousness of God is revealed from Jews; the former seeking righteousness by faith to faith. That is, the righteousness the dim light of nature, or the law written of the Mediator, called the righteousness in their hearts ; the latter by the works of of God, because it is of his providing, and the law, that is
, by their external conforof liis approving and accepting, and for mity to what the law of Moses exacted and the sake of which, God pardons our un. required of them. Now his present busirighteousness, and receives us graciously. ness is 10 prove distinctly and fully, that This righteousness is by the gospel revealed neither Gentile nor Jew could ever find 10 beget faith in men, even such a faith as what they thus sought. He begins here goes from faith to faith ; that is, groweth with the Gentiles, and shows that indeed and increaseth from one degree and ineasure they had inbred notions of a God imprinted to another; and thus the apostle falls upon in their minds by nature, and also had the his inain proposition, which is the
book the creatures before their eyes, in and design of this epistle, namely, that
which much, very much of God might be there is no possible way for the justification secn; yet these common notices of God, of a sinner, either Jew or Gentile, but by and of good and evil, they did not obey faith in the Mediator. Learn hence, That and put in practice, but rebelled against the righteousness whereby we are justified the light and dictates of their natural conin the sight of God, is discovered to us in sciences; for which cause the wrath of God the gospel to be only by faith in the Lord
was revealed from heaven against them. Jesus Christ, as the appointed Mediator be- Here observe, 1. A dreadful manifestation twixt God and us; The righteousness of of divine wrath : The wrath of God is reGod is revealed from faith to faith. The vealed from heaven. The wrath of God; apostle proves this by a citation out of the that is, the indignation or vengeance of prophet Habakkuk, The just shall live by God. This the sinner shall feel, who doth faith ; that is, as the pious Jews in the time not fear it; for the fears of an incensed of the Babylonian captivity did live and Deity are no bugbears ; nor the effects of find comfort in their troubles, by faith and ignorance and superstition, as the Atheists affiance in God; in the like manner the fancy. This wraih is said to be revealed apostle shows, that he that is evangelically from heaven, that is, discovered and made just or religious, shall live a life of grace on
manifest by the God of heaven ; partly by earth, and glory in heaven, by faith in the light of nature, their own consciences Christ; that is, depending upon the merits giving them notice and warning of it; and and righteousness of the Mediator, in the partly by the exaniples of others
, in the way of holiness and strict obedience to his lashes of a divine severity on the back of commands. Learn hence, That a justified sinners, by the hand of an incensed God : man lives a more holy, useful, and excellent Thus the wrath of God was revealed to life, than other men; his life is from God, the Gentiles from heaven. Observe, 2. The his life is with God, yea, he lives the life object or impulsive cause of his revealed of God himself. 2. That whatever life a and inflicted wrath ; namely, all ungodlijustified man lives, (in a more excellent ress and unrighteousness of men. Unmanner than other men,) be lives that life godliness compriseth all sins against God, or by virtue of his faith, The just shall live neglect of the duties of the first table; by faith.
unrighteousness comprehends all sins against
our neighbour, or the breaches of the second 18 For the wrath of God is re- table. Note here, That the abstract is put