« PreviousContinue »
3. Though we should suppose the apostles not to have - been thoroughly brought off from such notions, manners and
language of the Jews, till after Christ's ascension ; yet after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of pentecost, or at least, after the calling of the Gentiles, begun in the conversion of Cornelius, they were fully indoctrinated in this matter, and effectually taught no longer to call the Gentiles unclean, as a note of distinction from the Jews, Acts x. 28, which was before any of the apostolic epistles were written.
4. Of all the apostles, none were more perfectly instructed in this matter, and none so abundant in instructing others in it, as Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles. He had abundance to do in this matter : None of the apostles had so much occasion to exert themselves against the forementioned notions and language of the Jews, in opposition to Jewish teachers, and judaizing Christians, that strove to keep up the separation wall between Jews and Gentiles, and to exalt the former, and set the latter at nought.
5. This apostle does especially strive in this matter in his epistle to the Romans, above all his other writings ; exerting himself in a most elaborate manner, and with his utmost skill and power, to bring the Jewish Christians off from every thing of this kind ; endeavoring by all means that there might no longer be in them any remains of these old notions they had been educated in, of such a great distinction between Jews and Gentiles, as were expressed in the names they used to distinguish them by, calling the Jews holy, children of Abraham, friends and children of God; but the Gentiles sin. ners, unclean, enemies, and the like. He makes it almost his whole business, from the beginning of the epistle, to this passage in the 5th chapter, which we are upon, to convince them that there was no ground for any such distinction, and
Jews as a polluted people, and sinners, as the Jews used to baptize proselytes from among the heathen; calling them to repentance as sinners, saying, “ Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father ; for I say unto you, that God is able, of these stones, to raise up children unto Abraham;"> and teaching the Pharisees, that instead of their being a boly generation, and children of God, as they called themselves, they were a generation of vipers,
to prove that in common, both Jews and Gentiles, all were desperately wicked, and none righteous ; no, not one. He tells them, chap. iii. 9, that the Jews were by no means bet. ter than the Gentiles; and (in what follows in that chapter) that there was no difference between Jews and Gentiles; and represents all as without strength, or any sufficiency of their own in the affair of justification and redemption : And in the continuation of the same discourse, in the 4th chapter, teaches that all that were justified by Christ, were in themselves ungodly; and that being the children of Abraham was not pe. culiar to the Jews. In this 5th chapter, still in continuation of the same discourse, on the same subject and argument of justification through Christ, and by faith in him, he speaks of Christ's dying for the ungodly and sinners, and those that were without strength or sufficiency for their own salvation, as he had done all along before. But now, it seems, the apos. tle by sinners and ungodly must not be understood according as he used these words before ; but must be supposed to mean only the Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews; adopting the language of those selfrighteous, selfexalting, disdainful, judaizing teachers, whom he was with all his might opposing ; countenancing the very same thing in them, which he had been from the beginning of the epistle discountenance ing and endeavoring to discourage, and utterly to abolish, with all his art and strength.
One reason why the Jews looked on themselves better than the Gentiles, and called themselves holy, and the Gen. tiles sinners, was, that they had the law of Moses. They made their boast of the law. But the apostle shews them, that this was so far from making them better, that it condemned them, and was an occasion of their being sinners, in a higher de. gree, and more aggravated manner, and more effectually and dreadfully dead in, and by sin, chap. vii. 4...13, agreeable to those words of Christ, John v. 45.
It cannot be justly objected here, that this apostle did in. deed use this language, and call the Gentiles sinners, in contradistinction to the Jews, in what he said to Peter, which he himself gives an account of in Gal. ii. 15, 16. “ We who
are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” It is true that the apostle here refers to this distinction, as what was usually made by the selfrightcous Jews, between themselves and the Gentiles, but not in such a manner as to adopt or favor it ; but on the contrary, so as plainly to shew his disapprobation of it ; q.d. “ Though we were born Jews, and by nature are of that people which are wont to make their boast of the law, expecting to be justi. fied by it, and trust in themselves that they are righteous, despising others, calling the Gentiles sinners, in distinction from themselves; yet we, being now instructed in the gospel of Christ, know 'better. We now know that a man is not justified by the works of the law; that we are all justified only by faith in Christ, in whom there is no difference, no distinction of Greek or Gentile and Jew, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” And this is the very thing he there speaks of, which he blamed Peter for ; that by his withdrawing and separating himself from the Gentiles, refusing to eat with them, &c. he had countenanced this selfexalting, selfdistinguishing, separating spirit and custom of the Jews, whereby they treated the Gentiles, as in a distinguishing manner, sine ners and unclean, and not fit to come near them who were a holy people.
6. The words themselves of the apostle in this place, shew plainly, that he here uses the word sinners, not as signifying Gentiles, in opposition to Jews, but as denoting the morally evil, in opposition to such as are righteous or good : Because this latter opposition or distinction between sinners and righteous is here expressed in plain terms. “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die ; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die ; but God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." By righteous men are doubtless meant the same that are meant by such a phrase, throughout this apostle's writings, and throughout the New Testament, and throughout the Bible. Will any one pretend, that by the righteous man, whom men would scarcely die for, and by the good man, that per. haps some might even dare to die for, is meant a Jew ? Dr. Taylor himself does not explain it so, in his exposition of this epistle, and therefore is not very consistent with himself, in supposing that in the other part of the distinction the apostle means Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews. The apostle himself had been laboring abundantly, in the preced. ing part of the epistle, to prove that the Jews were sinners in this sense, namely, in opposition to righteous ; that all had sinned, that all were under sin, and therefore could not be justified, could not be accepted as righteous by their own righteousness.
7. Another thing which makes it evident that the apostle, when he speaks in this place of the sinners and enemies which Christ died for, does not mean only the Gentiles, is that he includes himself among them, saying, while we were sinners, and when we were enemies.
Our author from time to time says, “ The apostle, though he speaks only of the Gentiles in their Heathen state, yet puts himself with them, because he was the apostle of the Gentiles.” But this is very violent and unreasonable. There is no more sense in it than there would be in a father's ranking himself among his children, when speaking to his children of the benefits they have by being begotten by himself, and saying, We children....or in a physician's ranking himself with his patients, when talking to them of their diseases and cure, saying, We sick folks..... Paul being the apostle of the Gentiles, to save them from their Heathenism, is so far from being a reason for him to reckon himself among the Heathen, that on the contrary, it is the very thing that would render it in a peculiar manner unnatural and absurd for him so to do. Because, as the apostle of the Gentiles, he appears as their healer and deliverer from Heathenism ; and therefore in that capacity does in a peculiar manner appear in his distinction from the Heathen, and in opposition to the state of Heathenism. For it is by the most opposite qualities only, that he is fitted to be an apostle of the Heathen, and recoverer from Heathenism. As the clear light of the sun is the thing which makes iš a proper restorative from
darkness; and therefore the sun's being spoken of as such a remedy, none would suppose to be a good reason why it should be ranked with darkness, or among dark things. And besides (which makes this supposition of Dr. Taylor's appear more violent) the apostle in this epistle, does expressly rank himself with the Jews, when he speaks of them as distinguished from the Gentiles, as in chapter iii. 9. « What then ? Are we better than they ? That is, are we Jews better than the Gentiles ?
It cannot justly be alleged in opposition to this, that the Apostle Peter puts himself with the heathen, 1 Pet. iv. 3. " For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles ; when we walked in lasciviousness, · lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries. For the Apostle Peter, (who by the way was not an apostle of the Gentiles) here does not speak of him. self as one of the Heathen, but as one of the church of Christ in general, made up of those that had been Jews, Proselytes, and Heathens, who were now all one body, of which body he was a member. It is this society therefore, and not the Gentiles, that he refers to in the pronoun us. He is speaking of the wickedness that the members of this body or society had lived in before their conversion ; not that every member had lived in all those vices here mentioned, but some in one, others in another. Very parallel with that of the Apostle Paul to Titus, chap. iii. 3. “ For we ourselves also (i. e. we of the Christian church) were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, (some one lust and pleasure, others another) living in malice, envy, hateful and hating one another," &c. There is nothing in this, but what is very natural. That the apostle, speaking to the Christian church, and of that church, confessing its former sins, should speak of himself as one of that society, and yet mention some sins that he personally had not been guilty of, and among others, Heathenish idolatry, is quite a different thing from what it would have been for the apostle, expressiy distinguishing those of the Christians which had been