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always in my prayers; 10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith: both of you and me.
The communion of saints was thought that he might impart to them some. of such importance among the early spiritual gift, that they might be estabChristians as to become an article of lished. His faith would comfort them, faith; and where the spirit of it is and theirs would comfort him.-A. preserved, it is a charming part of the Fuller. Christian religion. This passage gives There is none so poor, in the Church us a brief description of it. Paul of Clirist, that he cannot make some longed to see the Roman Christians, addition of importance to our stores.. of whom as yet he had only heard, - Calvin.
13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes. I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might. have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also.
What! Paul a debtor! he who had that must be paid, if he would redeem. said, • Owe no man anything'! Yes, his own soul from the sternest obligawe have his own admission of the fact. tions and the most awful penalties. *I am a debtor.' And he had a great • Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe many creditors, too. “I am a debtor is unto me if I preach not the Gospel!' both to the Greeks,' &c.; i.e., to all (1 Cor. ix. 16).—Anon. races of men, all castes of intellect, all Duty is debt.-Dr. Sibbs. classes of character. And how vast The preacher is, as Paul saith of and manifold his debt! It was, 1. A himself, a debtor both to the wise debt of duties, imposed by the authority
and to the unwise;' he is to prepare of Christ,“ Go ye into all the world,' &c. truths suitable to the degree of his. (Mark xvi. 15.) 2. A debt of gratitude, hearers. To preach truths and notions. -incurred by his having become a above the capacity of the hearers is partaker of the priceless blessings of as if a nurse should feed a child with a Redemption through the Lord Jesus. spoon too big to go into its mouth. 3. A debt of benevolence; for if it be We may, by such preaching, please a law of nature kindly to point out the some of higher attainments; but what road to one who is astray, it must be shall poor ignorant ones do in the so pre-eminently to point out the road meantime? He is the faithful steward to heaven to those who are groping that considers both. Let the wise have after it, and in their error and confu- their portion, and let these be patient sion are taking that which leads to to see the weaker ones in the familj hell. 4. A debt of necessity,
served also.-Gurnall. 16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The Thracians had a very striking and melting it; another upon a rock emblem expressive of the Almighty and melting it; and a third upon a power of God. It was a sun with three dead man, and putting life into him. beams--one shining on a sea of ice, How strictly does this emblem har-.
monize with the apostolic declaration, charge of duty—of solace in trials-of that the Gospel is the power of God triumph in the hour of death; in all unto Salvation'! It melts the hardest these things the Gospel bears away the heart into a uniform obedience to the palm of glory.-Anon. Divine will, and raises those who are Give me a man who is choleric, abudead in trespasses and sins to a life sive in his language, headstrong and of righteousness. This Gospel will do unruly; and with a very few wordsmore to moralize the world in a week, the words of God-he shall be rendered than has been done by all other systems gentle as a lamb. Give me a greedy, from their first publication. Touch avaricious, close-fisted man, and I will the heart with this, and you break presently return him to you a generous every link in the adamantine chain
creature, freely bestowing his money of rebellion. The efficacy of the ancient by handsful. Give me a cruel, bloodsystems was nothing. With all their thirsty wretch, instantly his ferocity divinities, and sacrifices, and charms, shall be transformed into a truly mild and oracles, they were not able to re- and merciful disposition. Give me form a single village. But the Gospel unjust man, a foolish man, a sinful is the power of God to Salvation.' man, and on a sudden he shall become Consider the number of its converts— honest, wise, and virtuous. In one their previous character—the change laver—the laver of Regeneration-all produced upon them--their holy lives. his wickedness shall be washed away. Of all the names that are emblazoned Such are the genuine effects of the in the annals of literature and science, Gospel upon the heart and conduct. where will you find names so illustrious Did any, or could any of the heathen as those of Christians ? When we philosophers accomplish such imporspeak of unbounded philanthropy-of tant purposes as this?—Lactantius. zeal for truth—of conscientious dis
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
* From faith to faith.'—Faith is all but it is all along' from faith to faith,' in all, both in the beginning and pro- as in 2 Cor. iii. 18—' from glory to gress of the Christian life. It is not glory;' it is increasing, continuing, from faith to works, as if faith put us persevering faith; faith pressing forinto a justified state, and then works ward, and getting ground of unbelief. preserved and maintained us in it; -M. Henry.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
The light of nature shines too vigor- can never quite do it; nature is too ously in man for the power of man hard for them: but those principles totally to put it out; yet loathsome that they cannot extinguish, they make actions impair and weaken the actual a shift to lay asleep. Lust is too thoughts and considerations of a Deity, strong for light. A propension to, and are like mist, that darken the light and a resolution of, being wicked, are of the sun, though they cannot extin- for the most part victorious, generally guish it: men's consciences, as a candle- governing in the minds of men, so stick, must hold it, though their un- that the truths they hold, they hold in righteousness obscure it.-Charnock. unrighteousness. Howe. There are certain principles of na
And this is that which is the comtural religion in the minds of all; mon character of those that finally which, though some take a great deal perish; they are contentions against of pains totally to eradicate, yet they that Truth which should have governed
them; and when it should have been as on a throne in their souls, it is shut up as in a prison. They held it in unrighteousness, and fettered it in chains, and pent it up, and confined it only to the notion of the mind, let it hover only in dark ineffectual notions, and never admitted it to walk forth into their lives and practices, and have that power there which it ought to have had.-Ibid.
As a candle pent up close in a dark lantern wastes away apace, so doth light shut up in the conscience, and not suffered to come forth in the conversation. When the heathen are charged by the Apostle for holding the truth in unrighteousness,' the next news you hear of them is that they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened' (v. 21).—Gurnali.
0, it is sad indeed when men's tenets and principles in their understandings do clash, and fight with the principles of their hearts and affections! When men have orthodox judgments and heterodox hearts, there must needs be little love to Truth, because the judgment and will are so unequally yoked ; Truth in the conscience reproving lust in the heart, and that again controlling Truth in the conscience. Thus, like a scolding couple, they may awhile dwell together, but taking no content in one another, the wretch is easily persuaded to give Truth a bill of divorce at last, and send her away, as Ahasuerus did Vashti, that he may espouse other principles which will agree better with his corrupt heart. This, I am persuaded, parts many from Truth in these licentious days. They cannot sin peaceably while they keep their judgments sound; Truth ever and anon will be chiding them; and therefore, to match their judgments with their hearts, they have adopted principles suited to their lusts.-Ibid.
An orthodox judgment with an unholy heart and ungodly life is as uncomely as a man's head would be on a beast's shoulders. That man hath little cause to boast that what he holds is Truth, if what he doth be wicked. Poor wretch, if thou art a slave to the
devil, it matters not to what part thy chain is fastened, whether head or foot ; he holds thee as sure to him by thy foot, in thy practice, as he would by thy head, if thou wert heretical or blasphemous; yea, thou art worse,
in some respects, than they who are like themselves all over.
Thy wickedness is greater, because committed in the face of truth.-Ibid.
The sincere Christian is uniform; all the powers and faculties of the soul join forces, and are in sweet accord. When the Understanding makes discovery of a truth, then Conscience improves her utmost authority on the Will, commanding it, in the name of God, whose officer it is, to entertain it; the Will, as soon as Conscience knocks, opens and lets it in; the Affections, like dutiful handmaids, seeing it a guest welcome to the Will, their mistress, express their readiness to wait on it as becomes them in their places. But in the hypocrite it is not so; in him one faculty fights against another; never are they all found to conspire and meet in a friendly vote; when there is light in the understanding, the man knows this truth and that duty; then often Conscience is bribed for executing its office, it doth not so much as check him for the neglect of it; Truth stands, as it were, before the soul, and Conscience will not befriend it so much as to knock, and rouse up the soul to let it in; if Conscience be overcome to plead its cause, and show some activity in pressing for entertainment, it is sure either to have a churlish denial, with a frown for its pains, for bringing such an unwelcome guest with it; as the froward wife treats her husband, when he brings home with him one she doth not like; or else & feigned entertainment, the more subtilly to hide his secret enmity.-Ibid.
Ministers are guilty of holding the Truth in unrighteousness' when they refrain from preaching on such topics as would condemn themselves. But it is far better to judge ourselves than to incur the sin of being traitors to the Truth. Better, in the language of Bunyan, like Samson, to bow ourselves with all our might to condemn sin
wherever we find it, though we die with the Philistines, than to bring such heinous guilt upon our consciences
by dealing deceitfully with the Word of God.'-L.
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
God never wrought a miracle to con- so stupid as not to say to himself, vince Atheism, because His ordinary • This had a wise and good Creator'! works convince it.-Bacon.
The true philosophy of Nature is a To undertake to prove God's exist- religious philosophy--that is, a philoence seems to be almost as unnecessary sophy binding us to God. Nature, as to go about to prove our own. The rightly studied, must disclose the CreScriptures at their outset take it for ator, but the sights which we see are granted; and he that calls it in ques- according to the spirit that we bring tion is not so much to be reasoned to the investigation. Standing within with as to be reproved. His error a cathedral, and looking through its belongs to the heart rather than to the stained and figured windows towards understanding. His doubts are either the light, we behold the forms and affected, or arise from a wish to free colours by the light. Standing outside, himself from the idea of accountable- and gazing at the same windows, we ness. The things that are seen in the see nothing but a blurred and invisible creation contain so clear a mani- distinct enamelling. Thus the soul, festation of the things that are not standing within the great cathedral of seen, even of His eternal power and God's material world, and looking Godhead, as to leave atheists and idol. through it upward to the light, beholds aters without excuse.'-A. Fuller. the meaning of its forms and colours;
See here,' says Mr. Robinson, 'I hold but standing without, and studying Naa Bible in my hand, and you see the ture in detail, not with reference to the cover, the leaves, the letters, the
light pouring through it from God, but words; but you do not see the writers for itself alone, there is nothing better or the printers, the letter-founders, seen than the mere material enamelthe ink-maker, the paper-maker, or ling. The meaning of a transparency the binder. You never did see them; can be seen only by looking at the light, you never will see them; and yet there or in the direction of the light which is is not one of you who will think of dis- shining through it; not by looking puting or denying the being of these
upon it from without, in an external men. I go further. I affirm that you or reflected light.-Dr. Cheever. see the souls of these men in see- And yet it must be granted that no ing this book, and you feel yourselves mere creature, not the angels above, obliged to allow that, by the contriv- nor the heaven of heavens, are meet or ance,design, memory, fancy, reason, and able to receive upon them such chaso on, you perceive. In the same man- racters of the Divine excellencies, as ner, if you see a picture, you judge to be a complete, satisfactory reprethere was a painter; if you see a house, sentation of the being and properties you judge there was a builder of it.
of God to us. They are all finite and In this manner examine the world, limited, and so cannot properly repreand pity the man, who, when he sees sent that which is Infinite and Imthe sign of the wheat-sheaf, bath sense mense. And this is the true reason enough to know that there is a joiner, why all religious worship, or religious and somewhere a painter; but who, adoration of them, is idolatry.—Dr. when he sees the wheat-sheaf itself, is Owen.
Nature has perfections, in order to and defects, in order to show that she show that she is the image of God; is only His image.—Pascal.
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
• They glorifieu Him not as God.'- tinguish between our glorifying God, It is better-more honourable to God and our enjoying Him, yet these two -to deny His existence, than to deny things are most manifestly coincident, His perfection. There is no wise man and only notionally distinct. For, in who would not rather have his me- this our fruitive acquiescence of will mory rot, than that he should be ac- in Him consists our highest veneracounted infamous; and who would tion, our most practical, significant not be more obliged to him that should acknowledgment and testimony condeny that ever he had a being in the cerning Him as the highest, the most world, than to have it said that he did absolute perfect good, — in that we indeed live, but that he was a sot, a seek no further, but take up our final debauched person, and a man not to rest in Him. This is to give Him the be trusted.—Charnock.
proper glory of His Godhead—to gloAlthough we are accustomed to dis- rify Him as God.—Howe.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 28 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
It is scarcely credible that the hu- heart which God hath set beneath our man mind originally worshipped in- feet. This is worse than if a queen animate objects directly. It is highly should fall in love with the little image probable that all such objects were at of the prince in the palace, and slight first regarded as peculiar manifesta- the beauty of his person; and as if tions of the real Deity; fitted espe- people should adore the footsteps of a cially to display His attributes to king in the dirt, and turn their backs man, and to make the most forcible
upon his presence !-Charnock. impressions of His agency. In pro
In God all creatures live and move cess of time, however, they began to and have their being. As no man of be considered, especially by the igno- reason will talk to a corpse, nor dwell rant multitude, as being really gods: and converse with any one without and the worship originally addressed respect to the soul that doth animate to a being supposed to be manifested him ; so no man that is spiritually by the symbol, seems ultimately to wise—so far as he is so—will once have been rendered to the symbol it- look upon any creature, much less self. The stock and the stone, in- converse with it, or fall in love with tended at first to bring the real Deity it, barely as a creature separated from before the senses, took at length the God that animates it; for this were place of the Deity, and became in the to fall in love with a carcass. And end the real objects of worship.- herein you have the very difference Blair; Dwight.
between a carnal and a spiritual life. It is intolerable to make that which The carnal man doth see only the caris God's footstool, the earth, to climb cass of the world, and is blind to God; up into His throne; to set that in our but the spiritual man seeth God in