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plexity to those, who have not attended to the very remarkable manner, in which the Rabbins were accustomed to argue. This perplexity is not at all relieved by the ardent mind and abrupt style of St. Paul himself-which, in other passages of his Epistles, render him difficult to be understood; and, in this ninth chapter more particularly, have unhappily given rise to a series of errors; which have the effect of at once disfiguring the beauty and invalidating the usefulness of the Christian doctrine, and of introducing discord into the bosom of the Christian Church.

To notice every particular, in which doubt has arisen among the honest, or mistake been propagated by the obstinate; to explain at length every passage in these two chapters, which must be obscure to the mere English reader ; would much exceed the limits, to which I am anxious to confine myself, in the exposition of this celebrated Epistle. But I will place before you, as clearly and succinctly as I can, the main argument, which is kept in view throughout this ninth and the following chapter. In the course of this exposition I shall have occasion to advert more particularly to one or two passages, which demand attention from their importance, or require explanation from their obscurity. In the course of my observations

the Epistle to the Romans, I have felt it my duty to call your attention to the one great cause of the many erroneous interpretations, which have been affixed to this and other parts of the New Testament. That cause has operated with singular force upon this portion of the Epistle; and therefore it is desirable that you should be again reminded of the importance, nay, the indispensable necessity, of separating such expressions, arguments, and directions, as were incidental, local, and temporary, from those which are designed for the instruction and guidance of Christians in all ages; which are universal in their extent, and permanent in their obligation. It is by no means to be wondered that, in the age of the Reformation, when the Scriptures may be said to have been first unlocked for general use, and when Sacred Criticism was yet in its infancy; that such a source of error should have existed, and that its effects should have been extensively prejudicial. Men's minds had been heated by the controversy, which was so long and so warmly carried on with the Church of Rome; and they naturally searched the Scriptures with a particular view to that controversy; to confirm the conviction they had already imbibed of the justice of their cause; and to strengthen themselves with fresh arguments against an adversary so skilful and so unyielding.They were consequently less attentive to points, which might occasion dispute among Protestants themselves ; and they readily acquiesced in that interpretation, which the words of Scripture seemed to present most readily.—But now, that the points in debate between Protestants and the Church of Rome have in great measure been set at rest, and the Scriptures have been searched in the progress of discussion among Protestants themselves ;-now, that Sacred Criticism has been improved by a more exact knowledge of the state of opinion and mode of disputation prevalent in the Apostolic age; by the habit of investigating the train of reasoning pursued by any writer more closely; and by a nicer discrimination of the properties of the language employed by the Sacred penmen ;-it is just matter of surprise, as well as regret, that such errors of interpretation should not have expired with the causes, to which they were mainly attributable. But such unhappily is the nature of error, more especially upon subjects connected with religion. The mind clings to it with a tenacity of prejudice seemingly more strong, in proportion to the want of any just principle of coherence; and it is an effort of no ordinary manliness to suspect even the existence of it in our own minds; still more, to have bold recourse to the more diligent and impartial researches of others, in order to detect its full extent, and assist in its effectual removal. Hence it is that the mistakes, which were propagated at the very dawn of the Reformation, are still enforced as the genuine doctrines of Revelation in this meridian splendour of Protestantism; that the authority of Calvin is quoted more often in support of positions, where he is wrong, than where he is right; and that, in spite of the warning and remonstrance of St. Paul, too many are disposed to give themselves up to “old-wives' fables, rather than exercise themselves unto godliness.” * Hence it is that what is urged in the Epistles in reference to the state either of Jews or Heathens at that particular time, is applied by many, who call themselves expounders of the Gospel, to the condition of mankind at all times. What is urged by way of explaining the dealings of the Almighty towards His once-favoured nation of the Jews, when they became disobedient, is made the foundation of a law for His dealing towards Christians, whether obedient or disobedient. Observations, which bear upon a particular state of things, are construed into general maxims; and the reasoning, which is directed against the opponents with whom St. Paul was especially arguing, is laid hold of in order to supply a rule of faith and of life to those, who are placed in a situation entirely different. How little the greater part of the chapters before us is calculated to strengthen such erroneous conclusions, or rather, how very little is applicable to any times or persons but those of which St. Paul wrote, will appear, when we enlarge upon the purport of his argument.

upon

a I Tim. iv. 7.

The subject then, which is chiefly treated in these two chapters, and which the reasoning pursued throughout them is intended to place in its true light, is the Call of the Gentiles; that is, their admission to the privileges of the Messiah's kingdom, which of itself entitled them to the distinction of being ranked with the peculiar people of God.

It will be observed by an attentive reader that the subject thus proposed is treated here in a different manner from that, in which it has been handled in the foregoing chapters. There the offer of the Gospel is considered“ absolutely, or in itself, as it is the effect of grace, free to all who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, in opposition to the merit of any works, or of conformity to any law, whatever.—This reception

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into the Church is expressed under the name and notion of justification.” *

Here however St. Paul places the subject in a relative point of view. He confines himself to the ad mission of the Gentiles; and views their reception into the kingdom and covenant of God, under the notion of calling or invitation; of election or choice. These, it is clear, are relative terms; for where any are represented as called or invited to partake of a benefit or gratification, it is implied that others are passed over and neglected ; where some are selected or chosen, others are excluded and rejected. It is observable that our Apostle, with that delicacy of sentiment, which we have already noticed, especially when he is arguing against the wishes or interests of his countrymen, leaves the painful part of the alternative rather to be inferred, than expressly stated; and does not explicitly treat the question of rejection, till the beginning of the eleventh chapter. ? Nothing surely can be more affecting ; nothing can more clearly shew the reality of St. Paul's attachment to his countrymen; while, at the same time, nothing can mark more strongly his unalterable conviction of the truth of the religion he had embraced, than the opening of the chapter, from which the text is taken. ' “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”

à See Taylor, p. 325.

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