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from hell ; “ God having, as they said, Here our apostle comes close and home to pronsised Abraham, that if his children the self-confident Jews, and touches them transgressed, he would remember the odour in the most sensible part. It was the hardof the foreskins, and deliver them for the est saying that could sound in a Jewish merit of circumcision :" but all this was a ear, to affirm, that circumcision which is false and vain-glorious bustle. Our apostle outward in the flesh profiteth nothing; therefore, in the words before us, assures for they so gloried in it, ibat they accountthe Jews, that circumcision without holi- ed it equal to the keeping of all the comness of conversation would never free them mandments of God. Now our apostle from condemnation; that a circumcised here takes away the very foundation of Jew, who walks not in obedience to the this their boasting and glorying, by a plain law of God, is in as bad or worse condition and true distinction. There is, saith he, than any uncircumcised Heathen; yea, a Jew outwardly, that only has a badge the uncircumcision, that is, the uncircum- of circumcision in his flesh. Now he is not cised person, that keeps the law, shall be a Jew in God's account, who is only so by accepted of God, as well as if he had been outward circumcision; neither is that cir. circumcised; and be preferred by God cumcision valuable or available which is before the circumcised Jew that transgresses only outward in the flesh: but then there the law. The sum is, That the obedient is a Jew who is one inwardly; namely, Gentile shall condemn the disobedient Jew, by the purification of his heart from all and be sooner accepted by God, with filthy lusts, evil affections, and sinful diswhom there is no respect of persons, but positions ; and a circumcision of the heart, with respect to their qualifications. That and in the spirit ; that is, a circumcision no church privileges, no external preroga- wrought in us by the Spirit of God, and tives, nor the highest profession of piety not barely by the letter of the law: and and holiness, without an humble, uniform, the praise of this is not of men, who canand sincere obedience, will be any thing not discern the heart, but of God, who is available to salvation. And as then an un- the searcher of the heart, and trier of the circumcised Gentile found better acceptance reins. Learn hence, That although men with God than any circumcised Jews; even are very prone to rest upon church privi50 an unbaptized heathen at the great day leges and external performances, as evidenwill not change place with many baptized
ces of Divine favour, yet they are no teschristians. It is a sad, but a certain truth, timonies nor signs of the truth of grace. that the case of the Pagan world will be What circumcision, sacrifices, and the much easier in the day of judgment, than temple, were to the Jews of old, the same others that live and die disobedient under are baptism, the Lord's supper, and public the gospel of Jesus Christ. The heathens assemblies, to professing christians at this have abused but one talent, the light of na. day. And as the Jews rested in those exture; but we thousands, even as many ternals without eyeing Christ in them, thousands as we have slighted the tenders of without desiring to derive holiness and offered grace. Lord! what a fearful aggra- sanctisication from them; in like manner, vation doth it put upon our sin and misery, multitudes of professors set up their rest in when we fall from the height of mercy into outward duties, and repose a fleshly, carnal the depth of misery! We must certainly be confidence in ordinances, without either accountable to thee at the great day, not desiring of, or endeavouring after, any only for all the light we had, but for all lively communion with Father, Son, and that we might have had in the gospel-day; Holy Spirit, in the exercise of faith and and especially for that light we have sin- love, without any regard to spiritual warmth ned under and rebelled against.
in religious duties, and being by ordinances
rendered more like to the God of the ordi28 For he is not a Jew, which is nances, which are the most desirable things one outwardly; neither is that cir- next to heaven itself. So that I shall concumcision which is outward in the clude the chapter with the same application flesh : 29 But he is a Jew; which to christians now, as the apostle did to the is one inwardly; and circumcision ile, verily profiteth, if thou keep the law;
Jews then : “ Circumcision, saith the aposis that of the heart, in the spirit, but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy and not in the letter ; whose praise circumcision is made uncircumcision : for is not of men, but of God.
he is not a Jew," &c. In like manner say
I. “Baptism verily profiteth, if we perform had this special favour: to them were comthe conditions of that covenant which we mitted the oracles of God; that is, tie entered into by baptisın: but if we do not, writings of Moses and the prophets.
But our baptism is no baptism ; for he is not a we christians have a privilege beyond them, christian, who is one outwardly ; nor is the doctrine of Jesus delivered to us by that baptism which is outward in the flesh, evangelists and apostles ; not like the kill. but he is a christian which is one inwardly; ing letter of the law, but a gospel bringing and baptism is that of the heart, in the life and immortality to light. Observe, 2. spirit, and not in the water only; and such The title which St. Paul gives to the holy shall have praise, if not of men, yet of scriptures : he calls them the oracles of God."
God. St. Stephen calls them the lively
oracles, Acts vii. 38. partly because de. CHAP. III.
livered by a lively voice from God, partly
because they should be to us as oracles : Our apostle in this chapter proceeds in his grand that is, consulted with upon all occasions, design and purpose in writing this epistle: name.
for resolving all doubts, determining all ly, To prove all persons, both Jews and Gen. tiles, to be under siu, and consequently under
controversies. Had the church of Rome an impossibility of being justitied by works, consulted these oracles more, and councils, part of thie chapter, he answers the objections &c. less, she had kept the doctrine of faith of the Jews against what he bad asserted in the much freer from corruption than she has foregoing chapter, and the first objection runs done. Observe, lastly, That the original
word, here rendered oracles, is the same WHAT advantage then hath the which profane wretches made use of for the
dark and doubtful oracles of the devil: Jew? or what profit is there nevertheless, the Holy Ghost doth not of circumcision ? 2 Much every disdain, nor decline, to make use of this way : chiefly, because that unto word, as he doth also several others, though them were committed the oracles of abused to heathenish superstition : which God.
may serve to rectify their inistake, who
scruple to make use of words, much more The sense is this : But you of the Jews of some things, which have been abused to will object, and say, “ If outward circum. superstition. Verily there may be supercision avails nothing, but the inward cir- stition in avoiding superstition ;
and though cumcision is all in all, and if the uncircum- we cannot be too circumspect in our words cised person, keeping the law, is to be rec. and actions, yet we may be too nice and koned as circumcised, what advantage precise in both. Yet note, That though then hath the Jew above the Gentile ? the same word, Xoyla, signifies God's oracles or what profit is there of the circumcision and Satan's, yet these oracles were not deabove uncircumcision." He answers it, livered in the same manner. Satan deliverver. 2. saying, The advantage is much ed his oracles ambiguously and doubtfully, every way ; but chiefly, because unto keeping his dark and blind votaries as much them were committed the oracles of God : as might be in the dark; what he said that is, the holy scriplures contained in the might bear several constructions, that so Old Testament, the sacraments and seals of whatever the event or issue proved to be, the covenant, the prophecies and pro. he, the father of lies, might have the repumises of the Messiah, and the whole reve- tation of speaking truth : but God's oracles lation of the word and will of God, were are plain and clear, free from ambiguity then found with them, and in their hands and darkness; the scriptures are not dark, only. Hence learn, 1. Great is that peo- though some places are difficult, and that ple's privilege and mercy who enjoy the proceeds from the sublimity of the matter, word of God, the audible word in the holy not from the intention of the writer, scriptures, the visible word in the holy sacraments. This enlighteneth the eyes, 3 For what, if some did not berejoiceth the heart, quickeneth the soul. lieve ? shall their unbelief make the This is compared to gold for profit, to honey for sweetness, to milk
for nourishing, to food faith of God without effect ? 4 for strengthening. O how many souls arc God forbid : yea, let God be true, blessing God eternally for the benefit and but every man a liar; as it is writblessing of divine revelation! The Jews ten, That thou mightest be justified
in thy sayings, and mightest over- from him." A child of God, under the come when thou art judged. rod of God, desires nothing more than to
justify him in all his severest dealings with, Here follows a second objection : some and dispensations towards, bim. might say, " True, the Jews had the oracles of God, but some of them never believed 5 But if our unrighteousness comthem, nor gave any credit to the promise of mend the righteousness of God, the Messias contained in them; therefore what shall we say? Is God unthey had no advantage by them.” Be it righteous who taketh vengeance ? so, saith the apostle ; yet shall the unbelief I speak as a man. 6 God forbid : of some make the faith or fidelity of God in his promises of no effect to others ? for then how shall God judge the God forbid that such a thought should world ? enter into our hearts; but on the contrary, A third objection here followeth, namely, let God be acknowledged true and faithful “ That if the unrighteousness of men, that to his word, though all men should prove is, both of Jews and Gentiles, tends so liars. Learn thence, 1. That man's infi- visibly to commend, that is, 10 illustrate delity cannot shake the stability of God's and recommend, the righteousness of God, word, whether we believe the fidelity of namely, his wisdom, grace, and favour, in the promises, or assent to the veracity of appointing this way of justification by faith God in his threatenings, or not; his word in Christ, how can it be right in God to standeth fast for ever. The promise shall punish them for this unrighteousness, which be fulfilled, the threatening executed ; only tends so highly to illustrate the glory of his with this difference, we cannot personally gospel.grace ?" The apostle tells us, that find the comfort of the promise without in making this objection, he spake as a faith, but we shall experimentally feel the man, that is, as natural and carnal men terror of the threatening, whether we be- are ready to think and speak : But, says lieve it or no. Learn, 2. The wonderful, he, God forbid that we should entertain condescending grace of God toward those such a thought, as if God either were or who have any measure of true faith, though could be unrighteous ; for then how skall with great mixtures of unbelief. O how God judge the world for their unrighteousfaithful is God to us (if in truth believers) ness? Learn hence, 1. That although the in the midst of our unfaithfulness to him! unrighteousness and wickedness of men be the unbelief of men shall not make the overruled by God, to subserve the purfidelity or faith of God of no effect. poses of his glory; yet is God just in punLearn, 3. That as God is a God of truth, ishing all unrighteousness and wickedness so all men are false and liars, compared whatsoever. God is never intentionally, with God. As God cannot lie, neither de- but is sometimes accidentally, glorified by ceive, nor be deceived, so every man is the sin of man. There never was such a fallible and false; that is, under possi. hellish wickedness committed as crucifying bility of deceiving and being deceived: Christ; nothing by which God ever reaped Let God be true, but edcry man a liar. greater glory, than by the death of his Son ; Learn, 4. That a good man under afilic- yet is the wrath of God come upon the Jews tions is very careful to justify and clear to the utmost, and that most justly, for their God from dealing unjustly with him in any committing of that wickedness. Learn, of his several dispensations towards him. 2. That the righteous God neither doth nor The apostle here quotes Psalm li. 4. That can do any iniquity or unrighteousness thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, whatsoever? Is God unrighteous ? How and clear when thou art judged. As if then shall God judge the world ? God is David had said, “I know the men of the the judge of all the world, and cannot but do world, when they see me afflicted, will be right; because the universality of his power ready to judge bardly of God for it; there- puts him above all possibility of error in fore, to stop their mouths, to clear the jus. the exercise of his power. The very reason tice of God, that he may overcome, when why God cannot exercise his power beyond he is judged for dealing rigorously with the limits of justice, is because his power is me; I do freely confess my sin unto him, altogether unlimited; he can do whatsoever with all the aggravating circumstances of he will do; and whatsoever he will do, is it; that all the world may justify him, for that reason just: Shall not the Judge how great soever my sufferings may be of all the carth do right?
7 For if the truth of God hath Their damnation is just who thus slandermore abounded through my lie unto ously report and affirm that we say, Let his glory, why yet am I also judged note, That it is a just thing with God to
Whence as a sinner ? 8 And not rather damn those men that raise or spread abroad as we be slanderously reported, and reports of his ministers' doctrine, as giving as some affirm that we say, Let us liberty to licentious practices. Verily, the do evil that good may come ? whose slander of a minister's regular doctrine is damnation is just.
more than ordinary slander. The original
word here rendered slander, signifies blasWe must by no means understand phemy; the word which God makes use these words as spoken by the apostle him- of to set forth his own reproaches by. self in his own name, as if he had told Behold God's resentment of his ministers' lies for upholding of the truth, and that wrongs! the slander and contempt cast the truth of God had abounded to the upon our office and doctrine is esteemed glory of God through his lies ; but he blasphemy in God's account: As we be speaks in the person of a profane objector. slanderously reported or blasphemed; and Thus some man (as if the apostle had said) 118 some affirm that we say, Let us do may possibly plead for his sins : “ The evil, that good may come ; whose damnatruth of God hath gained by my lie, the tion is just. faithfulness of God is made more manifest by the unfaithfulness of men ; therefore
9 What then ? are we better why should I be judged and condemned than they? No, in no wise : for as a sinner, when the glory of God will we have before proved both Jews shine more bright upon the occasion of my and Gentiles, that they are all under sin ? The free grace of God discovered in sin ; the gospel will be manifested, say some, and magnified in the pardoning of our sin :
Here the apostle starts another objection let us therefore sin our fill, that the im- in the name of the Jeu's : some of them measurableness of divine goodness may ap. might say, “ Are we not better than the pear, and the abundance of pardoning Gentiles? Do we not excel them in outmercy may abound." The apostle rejects ward privileges ? Is not the knowledge this doctrine and practice of doing evil that of the law found with us, and the oracles good may come, with the greatest abhor- of God committed to us?" True, says the rence and utter detestation, affirming, That apostle, the Jews are better than the Gentheir damnation is just, who either fasten this tiles in respect of outward dispensations, but doctrine upon the apostles, or affirm it not in respect of inward qualifications. themselves. Learn hence, That no person Jews and Gentiles are alike by natural must adventure to do the least of evils; no, corruption; alike under sin by actual not for the sake of the greatest good. True, transgressions, and so stand in need both Almighty God can bring good out of evil, alike of justification by faith; and the gos. by the same word of his power by which he pel-righteousness is no less necessary for the brought light out of darkness, and some- one than for the other. To prove what he thing out of nothing ; but to do any thing had said, namely, That the whole race of really evil for obtaining the greatest good, mankind, both Jew and Gentile
, were unis dangerous and damnable. Sin, or that der sin, and void of all true righteousness, which is sinful, ought not to be chosen, and goodness, and consequently standing whatever we choose. Learn, 2. That no- in need equally of justification by Christ! thing is more just and righteous than their the apostle produces several texts out of damnation, who will adventure to do evil the Old Testament, and particularly out of that good may come.
A good intention the fourteenth Psalm, which speaks fully of will not excuse, never justify, a bad action the original corruption and universal dein the sight of God; he will condemn evil. pravation of all mankind, in the following doers, though they do evil that good may
words. Learn, 3. That the apostle pronounces their damnation just, who laid
10 As it is written, There is none these slanders to the apostle's charge, as if righteous, no, not one: 11 There their doctrine did allow of this damnable is none that understandeth, there practice, to do evil that good might come: is none that seeketh after God. 12
They are all gone out of the way, vouring the good name of their neighbours, they are together become unprofits and belching out filthy. ill scented, and able ; there is none that doeth unsavoury words, against then.
They good, no, not one.
seek not God in any thing they do, and
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre ; with their before their eyes
. The apostle shuts up
there is no fear of God, no respect of God, tongues they have used deceit; the all with this, because want of the fear of poison of asps is under their lips : God before our eyes, is the fountain from 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing which all other evils do proceed and flow. and bitterness : 15 Their feet are
The fear of God is the bridle and curb swift to shed blood : 16 Destruc- which restrains from sin; where that is tion and misery are in their ways : is present and prevalent, it keeps the soul
wanting, all iniquity abounds; where that 17 And the way of peace have they
close to God, Jer. xxxii. 32. I will put not known: 18 There is no fear of my fear in their hearts, and they shall God before their eyes.
not depart from me. We usually depart
far, yea, run fast from, those we fear ; but Observe here, How the apostle proves his the true fear of God will make us cleave assertion, namely, That both Jew and Gen- close unto him, because love is intermixed tile were under the guilt both of original with it, and renders it a delightful fear. and actual transgression, from the testimony of David, Psal. xiv, where the state of cor
19 Now we know, that what things rupt nature is described, and the natural soever the law saith, it saith to them condition of all men declared, till they are who are under the law; that every either restrained or renewed by the grace of mouth may be stopped, and all the God: There is none righteous, no, not one. world may become guilty before Which words are true in several respects. God. 1. There is none originally righteous, no, not onc; none righteous in their first plan- Observe here, Lest the Jews should think tation in the world, until they are trans- to elude or evade the force of the foregoing planted into the body of Christ, wrought testimonies concerning man's corruption and fashioned by his Holy Spirit. 2. There and depravation as not belonging to them, is none. efficiently righteous, no, not one ; but to the Gentiles only, he tells them, that none have a righteousness of their own what the law, that is, the books of the making, but of God's. The righteousness Old Testament, do thus say, it says to of justification and sanctification both are those that are under the law ; that is, to from Christ, not from ourselves; we arc those that are subjects of it and obliged by his workmanship, not our own. 3. There it; to such as are under the instruction is none meritoriously righteous, no, not one; and direction of it, as the Jews are known none that can deserve or demand any thing to be; and if so, then every mouth must as a due debt at God's hand: but the most be stopped, Jew and Gentile both must righteous and holy saints are but unprofits own themselves before God obnoxious to able servants. 4. There is none perfectly his wrath, without being able to say any and completely righteous, no, not one; but thing for themselves. Learn hence, that inchoatively only. None righteous in a the holy law of God brings such plain strict and legal sense, but in a gospel and evidence and conviction with it, that no qualified sense only. He that doeth right- man can have a word to speak against it. cousness is righteous, in the account of When God spreads before men the purity God; and as such, shall be accepted and of his laws, and the impiety of their own rewarded by him. Observe, 2. How the lives, every man must sit down silent, and apostle proves the corruption of mankind lay his hand upon his mouth, not having in general, by an induction of particulars. one word to object why sentence should He surveys him in all the principal facul- not be executed, because they have all ties of his soul, and members of his body; transgressed. his understanding, will, and affections ; his eye, hand, tongue, and feet, all corrupt. law there shall no Aesh be justified
20 Therefore by the decds of the ed and depraved : their mouth is full of cursing, and bitter speeches; their throat in his sight: For by the law is the is an open sepulchre, gaping after and de knowledge of sin.