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TO THE THIRD EDITION,
SINCE the first publication of this volume, I have, as opportunities have occurred, consulted all such additional works, on the subject of the Epistle to the Romans, as have been placed within my reach. . And although I have not felt myself called upon to depart, in any instance, either from the view which I have taken of the general scope of the apostle's argument, or from the interpretation which I have given of particular passages; yet I have selected, from these copious sources, many valuable extracts, tending to illustrate or enforce different portions of the Epistle. And these selections are now published together, in the form of an Appendix.
As several of the extracts are from Calvin's Commentary on this Epistle, I am desirous of saying a few words as to the general character of his biblical labours. In forming our judgment of this eminent Reformer, we are accustomed to refer, either wholly or chiefly, to his · Institutions of the
Christian Religion.' In many parts of that work, Calvin is evidently led, by a regard for the supposed consistency of his system, to give an undue prominence to certain favourite doctrines; and thus to exhibit an unfair and incorrect, because a partial and limited view of scriptural truth. These doctrines, when thus taken out of the context, and curtailed, as it were, of their fair proportions, no longer possess that heavenly lustre, which beams around them in the Bible. And, in this detached form, they open a field, moreover, for bold and dangerous speculations concerning the character and dispensations of the Supreme Being, not only unauthorized by the word of God, but utterly at variance with the representation which that word contains, respecting the nature of his dealings with the children of men.
But when Calvin, in his office of expositor, interprets the several truths of the Bible, according to the relation which they bear to each other in the sacred volume, he writes no longer as a subtle metaphysician, but as a sound, judicious, and practical divine. And, abandoning all the refinements of theoretical reasoning, for the simplicity of Gospel truth, he assigns, to every part of the Scriptures, its due place and proportion, and endeavours to illustrate the glorious harmony of the divine attributes, as exhibited in the work of redemption.
1 See Note 25 in Appendix.
This is a fact, which conveys a word of admonition to us all. For it warns us against the danger of substituting, for the pure word of God, the particular systems and speculations of men. And it proves how necessary it is that we should cultivate a devout and diligent study of the sacred word, combined with a reverential attention to that Catholic Consent, which shews how believers have, at all times and in all places, been knit together, in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of Christ. For in our Creeds, our Liturgy, and our Articles, we may see how all the vital and fundamental truths of the Catholic faith have been kept whole and undefiled since the earliest days of the Christian Church.
Such, then, is the light in which we should always regard the Catholic Church of Christ, viz. as 'a witness and a keeper of holy writ.'? And it is certain that all who really value her, because of the pious care with which she has guarded the Scriptures of truth, and because of her constant and faithful testimony, will, at the same time, deem it their greatest privilege and their richest consolation to repair continually to those Scriptures, for the instruction and advancement of their souls in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.
This devout and diligent study of the word of God was earnestly inculcated by the fathers of the English reformation. For if they considered it to
2 See Article xx.