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11 eous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth,
12 there is none that seeketh after God. They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable;
13 there is none that doeth good, no, not one. * Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used
14 deceit; that poison of asps is under their lips. t Whose
15 mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. § Their feet are
16 swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their
17 ways, And they have not known the way of peace.
18 || The fear of God is not before their eyes. Now we
19 know that whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped,
20 and all the world become guilty before God. Therefore no flesh shall be justified in his sight by the works of the law; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God is manifested without the law, being attested by the law and the prophets,
*Ps. v. 9. fPs. cxl. 3. JPs. x. 7. § Isa. lix. 7, 8. || Ps. xxxvi. 1.
The particulars follow; their dispositions and designs, ver. 11, 13; their discourse, ver. 13, 14; their actions, ver. 16—18.
V. 11. There is none that understandeth—The things of God.
V. is. They have all turned aside—From the good way. They are become uuprofitable—Helpless, impotent, unable to profit either themselves or others.
V. 13. Their throat—Is noisome and dangerous as an open sepulchre. Observe the progress of evil discourse, proceeding out of the heart, through the throat, tongue, lips, till the whole mouth is filled therewith. The poison of asps—Infectious, deadly backbiting, tale-bearing, evil-speaking, is under (for honey is on) their lips. An asp is a venemous kind of serpent.
V. 14. Cursing—Against God: Bitterness—Against their neighbour.
V. 17. Of peace—Which can only spring from righteousness.
V. 18. The fear of God is not before their eyes—Much less is the love of God in their heart.
V. 19. Whatsoever the law—The Old Testament, saith, it saith to them that are under the lam—That is, to those who own its authority ; to the Jews, and not the Gentiles. St. Paul quoted no scripture against them, but pleaded with them only from the light of nature. Every mouth—Full of bitterness, ver. 14, and yet of boasting, ver. 27, may become guilty—May be fully convicted, and apparently liable to most just condemnation. These things were written of old, and were quoted by St. Paul, not to make men criminal, but to prove them so.
V.20. No flesh shall be justified—None shall be forgiven and accepted of God, by the works of the law—On this ground, that he hath kept the law. St. Paul means, chiefly, the moral part of it, (ver. 19, 9; ch. ii. 31, &c. 36,) which alone is not abolished, (ver. 31.) And it is not without reason, that he so often mentions the works of the law, whether ceremonial or moral. For it was on these only the Jews relied, being wholly ignorant of those that spring from faith. For by the law is only the knowledge of sin—But no deliverance either from the guilt or power of it.
V. 21. But now the righteousness of God—That is, the manner of becoming righteous which God hath appointed, without the law—Without that previous obedience which the law requires; without reference to the law, or dependence on it; it manifested—In the gospel; being attested by the law itself, and by the prophets—By all the promises in the Old Testament.
22 Even the righteousness of God, by the faith of Jesus Christ, to all and upon all that believe; for there is no
23 difference: For all have sinned, and are fallen short of
24 the glory of God, And are justified freely by his grace,
25 through the redemption whLh is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth' a propitiation, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness by the remission of past sins, through the forbearance of God:
26 For a demonstration, I sag, of his righteousness in this present time, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what
28 law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. We conclude then, that a myth is justified by faith, without
29 the works of the law. Is God the God of the Jews only,
V. 22. To all—The Jews, and upon all—Gentiles, that believe; for there is no difference—Either as to the need of justification, or the manner of it.
V. 23. For all have sinned —In Adam, and in their own persons; by a sinful nature, sinful tempers, and sinful actions; and are fallen short of the glory of God —The supreme end of man; short of his image on earth, and the enjoyment of him in heaven.
V. 24. And are justified—Pardoned and accepted, freely—Without any merit of their own, by his grace—Not their own righteousness or works, through the redemption—The price Christ has paid. Freely by his grace—One of these expressions might have served to convey the apostle's meaning: but he doubles his assertion, in order to give us the fullest conviction of the truth, and to impress us with a sense of its peculiar importance—It is not possible to find words that should more absolutely exclude all consideration of our own works and obedience; or more emphatically ascribe the whole of our justification, to free, unmerited goodness.
V. 25. Whom God hath set forth-- Before angels and men, a propitiation—To appease an offended God. But if, as some teach, God never was offended, there was no need of this propitiation. And if so, Christ died in vain. To declare his righteousness—To demonstrate not only his clemency, but his justice, even r that vindictive justice, whose essentialcharacter and principal office is, to punish sin: By the remission of past sins—All the sins antecedent to their believing.
V. 26. For a demonstration of his righteousness—Both of his justice and mercy, that he might be just—Shewing his justice on his own Son; and yet the merciful justifier of every one that believeth in Jesus. That he might be just —Might evidence himself to be strictly and inviolably righteous in the administration of his government, even while he is the merciful Justifier of the sinner that believeth in Jesus. The attribute of justice must be preserved inviolate. And inviolate it is preserved, if there was a real infliction of punishment on our Saviour. On this plan, all the attributes harmonize. Every attribute is glorified; and not one superseded. No, nor so much as clouded.
V. 27. Where ir the boasting then of the Jew against the Gentile? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, this would have left room for boasting; but by the law of faith: since this requires all, without distinction, to apply as guilty and helpless sinners, to the free mercy of God in Christ. The law of faith, is that divine constitution which makes faith, not works, the condition of acceptance.
V. 23. We conclude then, that a man is justified by faith—And even by this, not as it is a work, but as it receives Christ, and consequently has something essentially different from all our works whatsoever.
VOL. II. B
and not also of the Gentiles? Surely of the Gentile*
30 also: Seeing it is one God who will justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through the same
31 faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
CHAP. IV.. 1. What shall we say then? That our
2 father Abraham hath found according to the flesh? If Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to
3 glory: but he hath not in the sight of God. For what saith the Scripture? * Abraham believed God, and it
4 was imputed to him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is imputed to him for
* Gen. xv. 6.
V. 29. Surely of the Gentiles also—As both nature and the Scriptures show. V. 30. Seeing it is one God who-- Shews mercy to both, and by the very same means.
V. 31. We establish the law—Both the authority, purity, and the end of it: by defending that which the law attests: by pointing out Christ, the end of it, and by showing how it may be fulfilled, in its purity.
CHAP. IV. Having proved it by argument, he now proves by example, and such example as must have greater weight with the Jews than any other, 1. That justification is by faith; 2. That it is free for the Gentiles.
Ver. 1. That our father Abraham hath found—Acceptance with God; according to the flesh—That is, by works.
V, 3. The meaning is; If Abraham had been justified by works, he would have had room to glory. But he had not room to glory. Therefore he was not justified by works.
V. 3. Abraham believed God— That promise of God concerning the numeroughness of his seed, Gen. xv. 5, 7. But especially the promise concerning Christ, Gen. xii. 3, through whom all nations should be blessed: And it teat imputed to him for righteousness—-God accepted him, as if he had been altogether righteous.
V. 4. Now to him that worketh—All that the law requires, the reward is no favour, but an absolute debt.
These two examples are selected and applied with the utmost judgment and propriety. Abraham was the most illustrious pattern of piety among the Jewish patriarchs. David was the most eminent of their kings. If then neither of these was justified by his own obedience; if they both obtained acceptance with God, not as upright beings who might claim it, but as sinful creatures, who must implore it, the consequence is glaring. It is such as must strike every attentive understanding, and must affect every individual person.
V. 5. But to him that worketh not—It being impossible he should without faith, but believeth—his faith is imputed to him for righteousness—Therefore God's affirming of Abraham, that faith was imputed to him for righteousness, plainly shews, that he worked not; or in other words, that he was not justified by works, but by faith only. Hence we see plainly, how groundless that opinion is, that holiness or sanctification is previous to our justification. For the sinner being first convinced of his sin and danger by the Spirit of God, stands trembling before the awful tribunal of divine justice: and has nothing to plead, but his own guilt and the merits of a Mediator, Christ here inter
6 righteousness. So David also affirmeth the happiness of the man, to whom God imputeth righteousness without
7 works: * Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven,
8 and whose sins are covered; Happy is the man to whom
9 the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this happiness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? For we say, that faith was imputed to Abraham
10 for righteousness. How was it then imputed? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in
11 circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he had in uncircumcision, that he might be the father of all who believe in uncircumcision, that
12 righteousness may be imputed to them also, And the father of the circumcision, to them who not only are of
* Psalm xxxii. 1, 2.
poses. Justice is satisfied: the sin is remitted, and pardon is applied to the soul, by a divine faith wrought by the Holy Ghost, who then begins the great Work of inward sanctification. Thus God justifies the ungodly; and yet remains just, and true to all his attributes! But let none hence presume to continue in sin. For to the impenitent God is a consuming fire. On him that justifieth the ungodly—If a man could possibly be made holy before he was justified, it would entirely set his justification aside; seeing he could not, in the very nature of the thing, be justified, if he were not, at that very time, ungodly.
V. 6. So David also—David is fitly introduced after Abraham, because he also received and delivered down the promise. Affirmeth—A. man is justified by faith alone, and not by works. Without works—That is, without regard to any former good works supposed to have been done by him.
V. 7. Happy are they whose sins are covered—With the veil of divine mercy. If there be indeed such a thing as happiness on earth, it is the portion of that man whose iniquities are forgiven, and who enjoys the manifestation of that pardon. Well may he endure all the afflictions of life with cheerfulness, and look upon death with comfort. O let us not contend against it, but earnestly pray, that this happiness may be ours.
V. 9. This happiness—Mentioned by Abraham and David. On the circum~ tision—Those that are circumcised only. Faith was imputed to Abraham for righteousness—This is fully consistent with our being justified, that is, pardoned and accepted by God upon our believing, for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered. For though this and this alone be the meritorious cause of our acceptance with God, yet faith may be said to be imputed to us for righteousness, as it is the sole condition of our acceptance. We may observe here, forgiveness, not imputing sin, and imputing righteousness, are all one.
V. 10. Not in circumcision—Not after he was circumcised: for he was justified before Ishmael was born, (Gen. xv.) But he was not circumcised till Ishmael was thirteen years old, (Gen. xvii. 25.)
V. 11. And—After he was justified: he received the sign of circumcision— Circumcision, which was a sign or token of his being in covenant with God: a seal—An assurance on God's part, that he accounted him righteous, upon his believing, before he was circumcised. Who believe in uncircumcision— —That is, though they are not circumcised.
V. 12. And the father of the circumcision—Of those who are circumcised
the circumcision, but also walk in the footsteps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had in uncireum
13 cision. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed by the law,
14 but by the righteousness of faith. For if they who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise
15 of no effect. Because the law worketh wrath: for where
16 no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of grace, that the promise might be firm to all the seed; not only to that which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the
17 father of us all, (As it is written, * I have appointed thee a father of many nations,) before God, in whom he believed, as quickening the dead, and calling the things that
18 are not, as though they were: Who against hope believed in hope, that he should be the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, tSo shall thy seed
19 be. And not being weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, being about an hundred years old,
* Gen. xvii. s. f Gen. xv. 5.
and believe as Abraham did. To those who believe not, Abraham is not a father, neither are they his seed.
V. 13. The promise, that he should be the heir of the world—Is the same as, that he should be the father of all nations; namely, of those in all nation! who receive the blessing. The whole world was promised to him and them conjointly. Christ is the heir of the world, and of all things; and so are all Abraham's seed, all that believe in him with the faith of Abraham.
V. 14. If they only who are of the law, who have kept the whole law are heirs, faith is made void; no blessing being to be obtained by it. And so the promise is of no effect, ,
V. 15. Because the law—Considered apart from that grace, which, though it was in fact mingled with it, yet is no part of the legal dispensation, is so difficult, and we so weak and sinful, that instead of bringing us a blessing, it only worketh wrath; it becomes to us an occasion of wrath, and exposes us to punishment as transgressors. Where there is no law—In force, there can be n« transgression of it.
V. 16. Therefore it—The blessing, is of faith that it might be of grace—That it might appear to flow from the free love of God, and that the promise might be firm, sure, and effectual, to all the spiritual seed of Abraham; not onlyJews but Gentiles also, if they follow his faith.
V. 17. Before God—Though before men nothing of this appeared, those nations being then unborn: as quickening the dead—The dead are not dead to him. And even the things that are not, are before God—And calling the thing! that are' not—Summoning them to rise into being, and appear before him. The seed of Abraham did not then exist. Yet Go V said, So shall thy seed be. A man can say to his servant actually existing, Do this; and he doth it. But God saith to the light, while it does not exist, Go forth; and it goeth.
V. is—21. The apostle shews the power and excellence of that faith, to which he ascribes justification. Who against hope—Against all probability, believed and hoped in the promise. The same thing is apprehended both by faith and hope; by faith, as a thing which God has spoken; by hope, as a good thing which God has promised to us. So shall thy teed ie—Both natural aad spiritual, as the stars of heaven for multitude,