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