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STATE OF THE CHURCH AT ROME-CHAP. XIII.
367 Julian PeROM. i. 1-7.
Corinth. riod, 4771. Valgar Æra,
St. Paul affirms his apostolic Power, and shewing the 68.
human Nature of Christ by his Descent from David, and the provinces of Judea, the thougbt docs not seem to have occurred to bim, that the Gospel was to be preached out of Judea to the Gentile nations. For these reasons I tbink we are justified in concluding that though he might have taken refuge in Rome, he did not preach there to the people, nor establish a Church. There certainly appears to be sufficient reason to believe that he went to Rome, but there is no proof whatever that he had at this time, at least, attempted to plant a Church. If he had done so, he would doubtless bave imparted the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as he had already done when he went down to confirm the Samaritans, after the preaching of Philip; but St. Paul tells the Romans, that he longed to see them, that he might impart unto them some spiritual gift. That St. Peter had not planted the Church of Rome, is implied also in Rom. xv. 11; that St. Paul wished to confine his ministry to those places wbich had not been visited by other apostles. He wished, however, to see Rome, and we may conclude therefore that St. Peter bad not established the Church in that city.
The design of this much controverted Epistle is fully laid down in the 16th verse of the first chapter, in which the apostle affirms the perfect efficacy of the Gospel to salvation, both to the Jew and Gentile. At the time the Epistle was written the great controversy of the Church originated from an erroneous interpretation of the promise of God made to Abraham. The Jews supposed obedience to the moral law of Moses, with the atonement and purifications of their ceremonial law, were a sufficient atonement and justification; and, as the chosen seed of Abraham, they considered themselves alone entitled to be heirs of the promises of God, and the benefits of the kingdom of the Messiah. These exclusive claims rendered them unwilling to receive the Gospel which maintained the inefficacy of their own law-admitted the Gentiles to the same privileges with themselves—and declared that faith in the promises of God without circumcision was the condition of salvation. The object of the apostle throughout the Epistle is evidently to confute these deep-rooted prejudices, and to convince the Jews that the Gospel of Christ, and not the law of Moses, was the appointed means of salvation. These contests between the Jews and Christians were carried to such a height at Rome, that the contending parties wero banished in the eleventh year of Claudius from the city. (Acts xviii. 2.) Among these were Aquila and Priscilla, who coming to Corinth about the time that St. Paul first visited that place, and being of the same occupation with him, they received him into their house. There is reason to suppose, therefore, that they made St. Paul acquainted with the disordered state of the Church at Rome, and that he addressed this Epistle to the Romans as soon as the Church was again re-established in that city, during his second visit to Corinth.
The Christians at Rome were divided into three classes. The native Jews who resided there, and in all probability first preached the Gospel to their countrymen, the proselytes to the Jewish religion, and the idolatrous Gentiles, who had been converted to the faith of Christianity.
The unbelieving Romans, who were great admirers of the philosophy of the Greeks, considered the light of nature as a sufficient guide in all matters of religion. Many converted Jews joined the unbelieving Jews in aflirming that the law of Moses
Julian Pe. his Divine Nature by the Resurrection, he declares that Corinth. riod, 4771.
he received his Mission from Christ to preach the Gospel Vulgar Æra, 59.
to the Gentiles, of whom the Church of Rome principally was more efficacious than the Gospel of Christ; while the Gentile converts rejoicing in their freedom from the bondage of tho law, regarded their Jewish brethren as superstitious and bigot. ted: and to these various parties the Epistle seems to be addressed, as well as to the Church itself—to the Jew first, and then the Gentile.
Dr. Paley, with his usual perspicuity, has shewn that the principal object of the argumentative part of the Epistle, is
to place the Gentile convert upon a parity of situation with the Jewish, in respect of his religious condition, and his rank in the Divine favour.” The Epistle supports this point by a variety of arguments, such as that no man of either description was justified by the works of the law, for this plain reason, that no man had performed them; that it became therefore necessary to appoint another medium, or condition of justification, iu which new medium the Jewish peculiarity was merged and lost; that Abraham's own justification was antecedent to the law, and independent of it ; that the Jewish converts were to consider the law as now dead, and themselves as married to another ; that what the law in truth could not do, in that it was weak througla the flesh, God had done by sending bis Son; that God had rejected the unbelieving Jews, and had substituted in their place a society of believers in Christ, collected indifferently from Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, in an Epistle directed to Roman believers, the point to be endeavoured after by St. Paul, was to reconcile the Jewish converts to the opinion that thc Gentiles were admitted by God to a parity of religious situation with themselves; and that, without their being obliged to keep the law of Moses in this Epistle, though directed to the Roman Church in general, it is in truth a Jew writing to Jews. Accordingly, as often as bis argument leads him to say any thing derogatory from the Jewish institution, he constantly follows it by a softening clauso. Having (chap. ii. 28, 29.) pronounced, " that he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, por that circumcision which is outward in the flesh,” he adds immediately, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there in circumcision ? Much every way." Having in the third chapter, verso 28. brought his argument to this formal conclusion, “that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law," be presently subjoins, verse 31.“ Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.”
In the seventh chapter, when, in verse 6, he had advanced the bold assertion, “ that now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held,” in the next verse bo comes in with this healing question, “What shall we say then ? Is the law sin? God forbid! Nay, I had not known sin but by the law.” Having in the following words more than insinuated the inefficacy of the Jewish law, chap. viii. 3. " for what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sivful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh,” after a digression indeed, but that sort of a digression which he could never resist, a rapturous contemplation of his Christian hope, and which occupies the latter part of this chapter: we find in the next, as if sensible that he had said something that would give offence, returning to his Jewish brethren in terms of tbe warmest affection and respect; “I say the truth in Christ Jesus, I lie not; my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heavi.
ST. PAUL'S SALUTATION TO THE ROMAN CHURCH.
consisted, and he has therefore Authority to address Corinth. riod, 4771.
i Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apos-
We must be careful not to contine our views of St. Paul's ar-
Dr. Taylor's system is well described by the present Archbishop of Dublin to be a mere adaptation of Scripture phrases. The general principle of his theory is, that God having rejected the Jews, bas admitted all who believe in Christ into the same relation to bimself which the Israelites once held : and the peculiar terms which he used to describe the condition and privileges of the Jews, were used in the New Testament to describe the state and privileges of the Christian converts : whereas the terms which are used in the Old Testament to describe the privileges of the Jews, are to be interpreted with reference to their peculiar situation as the subjects of the visible theocracy. The same terms, when used in the Gospel, refer to the spiritual advan. tages conserred on Christians by the new covenant. The law was the shadow, or emblem ; the Gospel is the accomplishment of the designs of God: and the same terins, when applied to the VOL. II.
Julian Pe- 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Corinth. riod, 4771. holy scriptures,) Vulgar Era, 58.
3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead :
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ :
7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be
ROM. i. 8—18.
to visit them, that he might establish them by the impart-
In an excellent work by Mr. Mendham, entitled Clavis Apos. tolica, the argument of Dr. Taylor is well analized and refuted. I have not room here to enter into a large variety of curious and difficult matter, arising from the comments of various learned writers on this epistle. The opinions of Bishop Bull on the defect of grace to the Jew under the Mosaic dispensationthe precise ideas which the Jews formed of the effects of their law in procuring or assisting their justification--and many others, require examination, and their more ample discussion would well repay the labour of the theological student. With respect to the analysis of this epistle, which is now submitted to the reader, I may be permitted to say that it is the result of an anxious examination of the labours of my learned and respected tutor, Mr. Young, Doddridge, Scarlet, Dr. Taylor, and his followers, Mr. Belsham, Mr. Scott, and Whitby, and to the works of these writers, as well as to the Quarterly Review of Mr. Belsham on the Epistles, No. 59, I must refer the reader. The commentators, and the various writers on this epistle, have exhausted the language of eulogy on its structure, argument, and language. Nothing need be added to these well deserved praises The epistle is indeed a masterpiece of beautiful reasoning, surpassing all human wisdom-it evidently hears the stamp of divine inspiration-it enforces, in an irresistible manner, all the fundamental doctrines of Chris. tianity, gradually unfolding, from the fall of our first parents, the great mysteries of redemption, and fully displaying ihe wisdom and goodness of God in his dispensations towards man. Every argument that the ingenuity of man could devise against the Gospel system, the apostle himself advances in the person of the unbelieving Jew, and answers in the most satisfactory and convincing manner.-Guided by divine inspiration, he has happily anticipated and removed every doubt and difficulty that can be raised to the trutlıs of Revelation-he has communicated to man the hidden counsels of God-and, by a long and convincing train of argument, has fully demonstrated that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, and that there is no other means under heaven by wbich men can be saved.
THE GOSPEL THE ONLY MEANS OF SALVATION.
Julian Pe- ing of some spiritual Gift, by which proof he and they Corinth. riod, 4771. Vulgarfra,
would be mutually strengthened and comforted in the 58.
Faith of Christ-St. Paul, appointed to preach the Gos-
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you 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 T'hat is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
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.
15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
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.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith : as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
$ 3. ROM, i. 19, to the end.
of God and of his glorious Perfections in the Works of