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blance between the subjects of this address of John the Baptist to the Jews, and of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans; for the Baptist not only represents the new revelation of the will of God as 'punitory and corrective; but he expressly 'states that the Jews will not escape its 'tremendous consequences, merely as descendants of Abraham ; since, in order to be justified like their great forefather, they must repent and
g forth fruits meet' for repentance. Our Lord also, as He commenced His ministry with the same exhortation to repentance, which had been so sternly inculeated by His forerunner; so does He, in several periods of that ministry, intimate to His countrymen that, unless they receive and obey the Gospel, they would be visited with exemplary punishment. And in one of the very last discourses which He held with the disciples, before He was taken up into heaven, He proclaimed the two-fold end of His mission : " He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he, that believeth 'not, shall be condemned."
Thus it appears, that the design of the Gospel is perfectly conformable to that of the law; (as dispensations proceeding from the same all-powerful and righteous mind would necessarily be ;) and that the character of the Gospel, given by the Apostle, is completely borne out by the declarations of John the Baptist and by our Lord himself. It must not however be for one moment imagined, that St. Paul contented himself with a partial view of this glorious instance of God's love to mankind; or that he de
a Mark xvi. 16.
lighted in contemplating it under an aspect of harshness and severity. On the contrary, he seizes every suitable occasion to set forth in the most attractive colours its features of goodness and mercy; he expatiates with inexpressible warmth upon the treasures of Divine goodness; upon the large and glorious effects of pardoning grace; and upon the extent of benefit derived to the human race by the all-sufficient atonement of our Saviour. - But here it suited the purpose of his argument, both as respected Gentiles and Jews, to describe the revelation newly made in its more terrific character; as an indication of wrath; in order that the Gentiles might be more fully sensible of the great and glorious privileges which they were offered; and that the Jews, if possible, might still be awakened from the hardness of unbelief, and adopt the only means, by which the threatened
punishment could be averted.
From this short view of the design of this celebrated Epistle, and from a comparison of the words of the text with the historical parts of the New Testament, two important inferences may be drawn. One of these has been already intimated to you; in the perfect harmony, which it so far establishes between the language held, and the doctrine taught, by St. Paul and his Divine Master.
The other inference is of no less importance, because it has a direct and powerful bearing upon the use and application of our religion, as the former evidently confirms its truth. The conclusion, to which I would now draw your attention, may appear the more worthy of it, as it probably varies in no slight degree from the tenor of some comments upon this Epistle, which are frequently offered to the attention of Christians at the present day. This conclusion is, the moral tendency and practical benefit of the Gospel. We see that it is solemnly and truly described in the text, as “ a Revelation of God from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men."—Now this is not only a just, but a most salutary, view to take of that religion, which we firmly believe; by which we profess to be guided, and hope to be saved.
The manner, in which this righteous end of God's government was accomplished, and the additional motives which have thenceforth been supplied to the virtuous endeavours of mankind, will more properly become the subject of our consideration, when other parts of this Epistle pass under our review. At present, abstracting ourselves from all fancied doubts or real difficulties; and dismissing from our view all speculative refinements; let us ponder the words of the text. Let us receive them as the declaration of an inspired Apostle to be written even in our hearts ; and in proportion as we are anxious, for ourselves and those most nearly connected with us, to escape « the wrath of God revealed from heaven," let us, with earnest and unceasing care, endeavour to preserve ourselves and them from “all ungodliness and unrighteousness."
THE SCRIPTURAL NOTION OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
ROMANS, v. 1.
THEREFORE BEING JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, WE HAVE PEACE
WITH GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
In the prosecution of that design, which I announced at the commencement of my ministerial labours last year, and which with some occasional intermission has thus far continued to occupy your attention, I take for the subject of my present Discourse, the fifth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans.
And first I shall briefly state the substance of the Apostle's reasoning ; then comment upon some particular passages, which may the better enable us to arrive at the scope and meaning of the Apostolical Epistles. Clearer ideas concerning them may guard against some errors, which have generally prevailed, from the want of observing this great and fundamental rule of sound interpretation; namely, that, as many of the causes, which induced St. Paul to write, were incidental, temporary, and local ; so must a great portion of his expressions be interpreted of those peculiar times, and not considered equally applicable to any other period of Christianity.
The Apostle's arguments then in this chapter are especially directed to the support and comfort of the
Gentile Christians; and to prove that they had at least as much interest in the death of Christ, and as much right to the benefits, which that important event conferred, as the presuming and supercilious Jews. He points out in what manner the death of Christ
produces not only hope from the prospect of future glory, but consolation under present affliction. And that this prospect of future good, which is in itself so delightful, while it supplies patience under tribulation, will assuredly be realized, he argues from the consideration that Christ died for the world, while it was yet in a state of sin; when so few comparatively had shewn any disposition to receive Him. Surely then, Haif the Gentile world were reconciled to God, through the blood of the Saviour, when they were yet sinners ;
-surely they would be finally saved through Him, when they had been justified; when the state of sin had been put off. ' In the variety of arguments, which St. Paul employs to confirm the faith of his Gentile converts, and to enable them to bear up against the opposition of the Jews, who fiercely contested their claim to any privilege of the Gospel, unless they would also submit to the yoke of the law, the following is urged with peculiar force, if we bear in mind the situation of those, whom he was endeavouring to convince. In discussing the promises made to Abraham, upon which the Jews exclusively relied, he had before shewn that the Gentiles might be justly considered followers of that “ faith which he had, being yet uncircumcised ;" so that he “ might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised.” If the Jews objected to this inference, and would not allow the