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polity, which He had been pleased to establish among them. The Heathens on the contrary are described as“ without strength," as utterly incompetent to any godly word or work; as “unholy," and as “ sinners.” And to sum up all in one comprehensive term, they are represented as “ enemies to God;" as in a state of direct rebellion against Him and His laws. This state of contumacy, or of hardened opposition to the Divine will, is expressed yet more fully in the Epistle to the Ephesians : “ Ye, being in time past Gentiles,
.. were without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." a
Now, those who are strangers, require to be made known; those, who have been enemies, must first be reconciled, before they can be on a footing of friendship, or can properly expect to receive favour. In this manner, the Gentiles, instead of being any longer strangers, are represented as having being made known, or become acquainted with God; instead of continuing enemies, they became reconciled, or were received into His favour. The means of this great reconciliation was the death of Christ, who offered Himself a willing sacrifice for the sins of the whole world ; in order that this sinful world might be justified, or counted as righteous in the sight of God; and, through faith and repentance with perseverance in a goodly course, be finally saved at the last day. This reconciliation of sinful man to his Maker; this
propitiation of the Almighty through the blood of Christ, and consequent proffer of pardon to those who, by disobedience as well as inheritance, were partakers of the transgression of Adam; this is the meaning that St. Paul intends to convey, when he says, in the words of our text " we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." It corresponds precisely with another expression, which occurs in the eleventh verse," through whom we have received the atonement;” it denotes that blessed effect of the sacrifice of our Saviour, which constituted the expiation of original as well as actual sin, and restored fallen man to the favour of his Creator. 108, 10 --> This notion of peace restored, and of favour rez turned, is still further explained by another passage. " But now in Christ Jesus ye" (that is, ye Gentiles) “who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both” (that is, both Jews and Gentiles) " ore, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition" (that is, the wide distinction which formerly subsisted) 10 between us ;--that He might reconcile both unto God in one body on the crosszpitand came and preached peace to you which were afar off," :(that is, the Gentiles,) “and to them that were nigh,” (meaning the Jews.) 9.5 to sisest 199029Borghui 1 While, with due feelings of awe and reverence, we turn our thoughts to this wonderful act of grace in the Son of God, thus taking oúr nature upon 1 Him, DPD to ou swib vt psf - 14in3 to 9 de
ferito adotib See a note on this text in my Sermons, Vol. II. p. 488. aps by See Ephes. ii. 13; etc. Din 2002 Sat, de 3 bildir
and shedding His innocent blood upon the cross for our redemption, we must not fail to remember that the expressions, here used by St. Paul, were intended to signify the unhappy condition of Gentiles in their unconverted state; as, other expressions of sorrow and, reproach denoted the sinfulness of the Jews and their loss of the Divine favour, at the particular time, when the Apostle wrote, We cannot therefore be too eautious how we misinterpret the language of Holy Writ, and apply to our own cases or to the case of any fellow Claristians, words and phrases, which were expressly levelled against the conduct and condition of Jews or Gentiles, before their conversion to Christianity, We and our forefathers for many generations have happily been received into the church of Christ, and therefore neither we nor they can be considered as without strength,"isFungodly," f sinners," or "enemies," in the sense, in which these expressions were applied by St. Paul to the Gentile converts of his own day. otrzeb dord sitej bar 1. Thus are we provided with a seasonable caution against groundless fear, if at any time, from want of a clear conception of the Apostle's meaning, wè should imagine that such expressions refer to our own spiritual condition ; as also against- presumptuous judgement respecting the state of any other man, to whom we might erroneously apply epithets, which are shewn to belong exclusively to the unregenerate Heathen. And thus does a clear insight into the sense of scripture enable us to draw a line of just distinction between cases, which are really dissimilar; while it proves a safeguard against the misery of despondency on the one hand, and the sin of uncharitableness on the other...
,'1,,,,d phy, 'n But a further caution may be induced from a correct apprehension of the terms employed by the Apostle, and perhaps it is the most necessary caution of all. And that is a caution lest we so interpret St. Paul, as to invalidate in the smallest degree the strength of the foundation, upon which Christian purity and Christian morality rest. If we apply to the case of all Christians at all times the language, which is applied to Heathens upon their first embracing the Gospel; or if we apply even to their final and complete justification what is said of their primary justification, or admission into the kingdom of God and his Son, we shall sanction the worst heresies of the Antinomians'; we shall give a further currency to the mistakes of enthusiasts in our own days, who uphold a distinction between faith and good works, which is as injurious to the salutary effect of the Gospel, as it is opposed to its plainest declarations. Now there is not any clear-sighted man whatsoever, who does not at once perceive that all interpretations, which lead to such consequences, must be at variance with the real intention of the word of God; although there may be many, who, from want of close attention to the different parts of Scripture, which are placed in seeming opposition to each other, may not be able to point out in what the fallacy consists, nor how it may be best refuted.
bat I trust that the observations, made upono i the present chapter, as well as the foregoing parts of the Epistle, will have assisted in clearing up much which
might have been obscure, and in reconciling what might have appeared contradictory. I shall-however endeavour to strengthen such impressions by one or two concluding remarks. 4.6. In the eighth and ninth verses then of the chapter before us, the inspired author of the Epistle makes an evident distinction between the justification which, he says in the text, had been attained by the Gentile Christians, and the final salvation which was to crown all their hopes, and reward all their endurings. * God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” That is; as I understand it: All our former offences are done away by the blood of Christ, and we are admitted into His Church. If we live henceforth according to the law which He has given, we shall then be saved from that)final li and severlasting judgement, which in Scripture is emphatically called "wrath.". Or, to borrow an allusion from those games, of which our Apostle speaks so often and so beautifully,“ We are now permitted to enter as competitors for the prize of eternal life.” : That is justification, “ If we persevere, if we possess the gift of sanctification, we shall obtain the prize.” That is salvation; or, as some Divines call it, our second and final justification.
If this passage should not appear so decisive as I believe it to be, I must direct your attention to the whole of the chapter following this. That splendid
raport for in a See Veneer on the Articles, Vol. I. p. 315.