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privileges of Divine Revelation to be extended to any but the natural descendants of Abraham, still they could not possibly deny that the Gentiles were descended from Adam. In the present chapter, therefore, St. Paul explains the manner, in which the death of Christ operated to the deliverance of all mankind from the penalty of Adam's transgression" as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men;" " even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” He goes even further than this, for the more effectual persuasion of his Gentile converts; and, contrasting the effects of Christ's righteousness with the sinfulness of Adam, contends that the benefits derived from the one far outweigh the evil entailed by the other. The main argument then of the chapter before us turns upon the efficacy of the death of Christ in the pardon of sin, with a special reference to the case of those, who had been recently converted from idolatry; at the same time, it exhibits a clear and comprehensive view of that astonishing act of Divine benevolence, which is at once calculated to improve the knowledge, confirm the faith, and awaken the gratitude, of every sincere Christian.
II. Having thus pointed out the substance of the Apostle's reasoning in the fifth chapter, I proceed to comment upon some particular expressions, the consideration of which will assist us in arriving more readily at the scope and meaning of the Epistles in general.
“ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle here sums up the reasoning of the preceding chapter; in which he had shewn that Abraham was justified, considered righteous, or received into covenant with God, because of his faith, and not by reason of circumcision. In like manner he argues that the Gentile world might, by reason of faith, and without any reference to the law of Moses, be justified, cleansed from their former imperfections and impurities, and considered worthy of being admitted into that new covenant, which was established through Jesus Christ; who is therefore styled, the Mediator of the New Covenant“; or, as it is more commonly, though with less propriety, called, the New Testament.
_And here I must beg you particularly to attend to the nature and quality of the ideas, which are assembled in the scriptural meaning of the word " covenant.” As in other cases, where the inconceivable greatness and incommunicable perfections of the Almighty are concerned, the Sacred Penmen are under the necessity of using language adapted to our comprehension. And therefore, although, in human transactions, the notion of a covenant, or agreement, between two parties implies something approaching to equality, yet in holy writ, the expression is employed to denote that conduct on the part of man, which is agreeable to the Divine will; and the reward, which the Almighty is graciously pleased to sbestow upon such conduct.
such conduct. The meaning then, sti. See Hebr. viii. 6, sqq. ix. 15. where dubhxn is less properly rendered, “ testament ;" but in xii. 24. again properly, “ Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant."
which we should affix to the New Covenant," is this. If we so believe in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, as to live in conformity with the rules which He has laid down for our guidance, the Almighty is pleased, in such a case, to declare on His part that He will bestow upon us everlasting happiness in the life which is to come. , 2219a t.gidil)
The very notion of a covenant or treaty implies, you see, conditions to be performed, as well as con: cessions to be made. And those conditions are that we " live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”. So that, when the Apostle talks of persons,“ being justified," as in the texts and Tin other places, “ being justified freely by His grace," it means, being admitted to the privileges of the Christian covenant, as that term has been just ex+ plainedow It is clear then that we must approach with caution, as well as reverence, the importants doctrine of Justification by Faith. We should consider that the very different situation, in which the first converts to Christianity were placed, calls upon us to use the expressions most circumspectly, whensoever we enlarge upon the spiritual condition of Christians at the present day, and their prospect of final salvation." None indeed are to be accounted righteous before God for their own works or deservings, but only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour. - Nevertheless, some distinction must be made in applying the words of the text to the respective cases of the primitive Christians and of 'ourselves. Converts from Paganism and even Judaism were said to be “justified by faith "-faith denoting
the acceptance of a new religion, 'in contrast with the old. But when these expressions are applied to such, as are sprung from a long-continued series of Chris tian ancestors, and who have neither held the doctrines, nor been infected with the habits, of any other religion, the proposition must be understood in a different sense, or at least explained in a different manner. The doctrine applicable now is this. We are put into a state to obtain final salvation upon the terms propounded in the Gospel. While we believe all that Christ and His apostles have declared, we must obey all that He has commanded".
at But what is the exact force of the declaration that "we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ??? We shall understand this better, if we take into our consideration at the same time the statement in the 6th verse ;16 For, when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly:"iita vi?
i'. -ri!to 1143 You will observe that St. Paul, at the conclusion Hogu aing bodia T,"
t"0) Jati Upon that Article of our Church, which refers to this
par; ticular doctrine, Bishop Búrnet has justly observed that the word, si faith, in the New Testament stands generally for the complex of Christianity," in opposition to the Law, which stands as generally for the complex of the whole Mosaical disti pensation.” And shortly after he subjoins, “ The believing this revelation, and that great article of it, of Christ's being the Son of God, and the true Messias that came to reveal" His Father's will, and to offer Himself v up to be the sacrifice of this new covenant, is often represented as the great and only condition of the covenant on our part ; but still this faith must include the whole Gospel, the precepts as well as the promises of it, and receive Christ as a Prophet to teach, and a King to rule, as well as a Priest to save us.” Article XI. p. 170. 8vo. Oxford, 1805.
of the last chapter, and throughout the present, identifies himself with those, whom he was addressing, and for whose comfort and instruction principally he composed this Epistle; “ the converted Gentiles.” It bespeaks a delicate consideration for the feelings of those, whom he was bound to advise ; and it softens the effect of the harsh epithets, which he was under the necessity of applying to them before their conversion. In this, and in other Epistles, he is in the habit of describing the Gentiles in their unconverted state, as
without strength," as “ungodly," as “ sinners,” and as “ enemies." These are characters, by which he designates Gentiles in their state of idolatry; before they heard the name of Christ, or were persuaded to accept Him as their Saviour. They are characters, which properly det scribe the total corruption of their hearts and lives, and their deplorable ignorance of every thing relating to the true God. In this respect, they were much more unhappy than the Jews; to whom the perfections and the will of God had been revealed; and who had a just title to be considered the people of God, so long as they obeyed the law, under which they were placed. Being thus selected from the rest of the world to be the depositaries of the Divine will, and favoured in a variety of instances by the interposition of a special Providence, they might be considered, according to the imperfection of human language, upon some terms of friendship with God; while they were confessedly members of that religious
a See Locke's Paraphrase and Note.