« AnteriorContinuar »
'is knocked from under you, by Conversation with 'some Persons of a superior Reputation for Reli 'gion, who assure you, that St. Paul is there giv'ing the Character of an unconverted Person, ttn'der a Conflict between his Corruptions and the 'Alarms of an awakened Conscience; and that all 'thofe Places of Scripture are to be interpreted in * the same Manner, which represent the like Con
'flict in the Soul.' Upon which you desire my
What strange Efforts are of late made sgainst evangelical, vital and experimental Piety! How inconsistent are the Methods used by thofe who are so earnestly labouring in this Undertaking i Is it rot enough to put Mankind into a dangerous Security, by flattering them with a Profpect of Sasety, without any Experience of a Work of Grace in their Hearts, but they must also torment and disquiet the Minds of thofe who have been savoured with thofe blessed Experiences, by persuading them, t'iat remaining disallowed Corruptions and Impersections are inconsistent with a State of Grace, and with theFavour of God !—What do these Men mean? Have they no seeling Perception, no afsecting Sense of the Impersections of their Hearts and Lives? Or do they make it their Practice, and esteem it their Duty, to give their Corruptions a quiet Residence in their Hearts, and to maintain I no Conflict or Struggle with them?
But it is my Business to answer your Demand, 1 and to endeavour to convince you, that the Apostle I in the seventh Chapter to the Romans, is describing I the Conftict, which every true Christian. experiences while he walks with God, and lives near to him.
In order to a sair and clear Decision, it will be proper to take some (very brief) Notice of the general Scope and Design of this Epistle, in the first seven Chapters.—This seems to be summarily
proposed in the first Chapter, ver. 1 J. Therein it the Righteousness of Gid revealed from Faith to Faith, as it is written, The Just shall live by Faith. That is, we are justified before God, only by the Righteousness of Christ received by Faith. We continue in a justified State, by the renewed Exercise of Faith; and the whole Lise of a justified Person is a Lise of Faith in the Son of God, as well as his whole Hope of eternal Lise is through Faith in Christ.—This Doctrine is proved, by a Representation of the atrocious Impiety and Wickedness. of the whole Gentile World; that even they who make the highest Pretences to Innocence, and who) judge and censure others for such horrid Impieties, as are commonly practised among them, are all inexcuseable and self-condemned, on Account of the Wickedness perpetrated and indulged by themselves; being all of them such Violators of the Law .and Light of Nature, as will leave them without Excuse in the Day when God shall judge the Secrets of Men by Jesus Christ.'——This is plainly the Apostle's Argument, from the 18th Verse of the first Chapter to the 17 th Verse of the second Chapter. Whence it follows, that the Gentile World cannot possibly have any Claim to Justification by their own personal Obedienee; nor any other Way, but by the Righteousness of Christ received by Faith.
The Apostle next proceeds to shew, that the Jew has no better Plea to make for his Acceptance with God, on Account of his own personal Righteousness than the Gentile, though he rests in tht Law, and makes his Boast of God, knows his Willt and approves the Things that are most excellent. For he also, in his highest natural Attainments, breaks the Law, dishonours God, and afr the best performs but an external Obedience, ana reaches
lot to the Spirituality which the Law requires.— The Jew has indeed much every Way the Advantage, in Point of external Privilege; but in Point of justifying Righteoufnefs he cannot be said to be letter than the Gentiles; no, in no wife/-•-This is the Argument from the 17th Verse of the fecond, to the 9th Verse of the third Chapter: In which Verse and thofe following, the Apoftle sums up the Argument, in these remarkable Words, which fully justify my Interpretation of his Scope and Design: For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under Sin; as it is written, there is none righteous, no not one, &c—That every Mouth may be slopped, and all the World may become guilty before God.—From these Premises, he draws this Conclusion in the 20th Verse of the third Chapter, &c. Therefore by the Deeds of the Law shall no Flefh living be justified in his Sight. For by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin. Hut now the Righteoufnefs of God, without the Law, is manifested, being witnefed by the Law and the Prophets, even the Righteoufnefs of God, which is by Faith of Jefus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe, for there is no Difference. Being justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Christ Jefus.—Therefore we conclude, that a Man is justified by Faith, without the Deeds cf the Law.-—Which was the Point to be proved.
But here may arise a Queflion.- What Law is it that the Apostle excludes from having any Hand in our Justification? To which it is answered: All the Law, that was obligatory both upon Jews and Gentiles; for they were both obnoxious to Wrath, by their Violation of the respective Laws they were under; had all finned, and come Jborf of theGlory of God.—And God deals with them all alike. He will justify them all by their Faith in Jefun
Christ, Christ, and no otherwise; and thereby mew, that le is not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also.
Having thus concluded his first Argument, and proved from the Guilt and Impotence both of Jem> and Gentile, that no Man can be justified by the Law of Nature, by the Law which was given to the Jems, nor any other Way but by the Righteousness of God, which is by Faith of Jesus Chri t.— The Apostle proceeds to prove the same Thing from Abraham's Faith being imputed to him for Righteousness; and from David's describing the Blesedness of the Man to whom God imputeth Righteousness 'without Works, throughout the fourth Chapter.
He then begin.s the fifth Chapter, by describing the glorious Privileges of thofe, who are thus justified by Faith, and ends it by fhewing in what Manner we partake of the Righteousness of Christ; for our Justification: That it is in the fame Manner, as we are Partakers of the Sin and Guilt of Mam, to our Condemnation.—As Æam's Sin was imputed to all whom he represented, unto their Condemnation, so the Righteousness of Christ is imputed to all whom he represented, and who believe in him, unto Justification of Lise. As by: one Man's Difobedience many were made Sinners, s' by the Obedience os one, many shall be tnade Righteous.
After a solemn Caution unto all, not to turn the G«ce of God into Wantonness, and not to continue in Sin, that Grace may abound; and aster enforcing this Caution from the Obligation we are Older by our Baptism to die unto. Sin, and walk m Newness of Lfo, as Christ died for us, and rose "Jain from the dead, (as in the first Part oi' the Chapter) the Apostle goes on to shew (in the O 2 latter latter Part of that Chapter) what was the privi" ledged happy State of these Romans, to whom he wrote: That Sin had not Dominion over them s for they were not under the Law, but under Grace That they were made free from Sin, and were become the Servants of Righteoufnefs.—And then throughout the whole feventh Chapter, and the Beginning of the eighth, he illustrates this Matter, and shews in what Respect they are not under the Law, and how, or in what Respects, they are made free from Sin.
This, Sir, appears plainly to be the Scope and Connection of the sirst feven Chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, as may be easily observ'd by any one that will impartially look into the Case, without Prejudice in Favour of a Party, or a preconceived Opinion, which he is resolved to maintain.
And thus I am come to a more particular Consideration of this feventh Chapter; which (as was observ'd) is designed to clear up these two Things: How we are made free from the Law, and, How we are made freefrom Sin, and become the Servants of Righteoufnefs.
The first Thing considered by the Apostle in this Chapter is, in what Respects these believing Romans were under Grace, and not under the Law.—But, previous to a direct attendance to this, it will be necessary to remove a Stumbling-block out of the • Way, by considering again, what Law it is that the Apostle resers to, when he declares these Romans not to be under the Law, but under Grace; to be dead to the Law; and to be delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein they were held. Does he herein speak of the Ceremonial Law, or of the Mored lfaw, or of both?