Romans 1** The scope or design of the apostle in writing to the Romansappears to have been, to answer the unbelieving, and to teachthe believing Jew; to confirm the Christian and to convert theidolatrous Gentile; and to show the Gentile convert as equalwith the Jewish, in respect of his religious condition, and hisrank in the Divine favour. These several designs are broughtinto on view, by opposing or arguing with the infidel orunbelieving Jew, in favour of the Christian or believingGentile. The way of a sinner's acceptance with God, orjustification in his sight, merely by grace, through faith inthe righteousness of Christ, without distinction of nations, isplainly stated. This doctrine is cleared from the objectionsraised by Judaizing Christians, who were for making terms ofacceptance with God by a mixture of the law and the gospel, andfor shutting out the Gentiles from any share in the blessings ofsalvation brought in by the Messiah. In the conclusion, holinessis further enforced by practical exhortations. * The apostle's commission. (1-7) Prays for the saints at Rome,and expresses his desire to see them. (8-15) The gospel way ofjustification by faith, for Jews and Gentiles. (16,17) The sinsof the Gentiles set forth. (18-32)1-7 The doctrine of which the apostle Paul wrote, set forth thefulfilment of the promises by the prophets. It spoke of the Sonof God, even Jesus the Saviour, the promised Messiah, who camefrom David as to his human nature, but was also declared to bethe Son of God, by the Divine power which raised him from thedead. The Christian profession does not consist in a notionalknowledge or a bare assent, much less in perverse disputings,but in obedience. And all those, and those only, are brought toobedience of the faith, who are effectually called of JesusChrist. Here is, 1. The privilege of Christians; they arebeloved of God, and are members of that body which is beloved.2. The duty of Christians; to be holy, hereunto are they called,called to be saints. These the apostle saluted, by wishing themgrace to sanctify their souls, and peace to comfort theirhearts, as springing from the free mercy of God, the reconciledFather of all believers, and coming to them through the LordJesus Christ. 8-15 We must show love for our friends, not only by praying forthem, but by praising God for them. As in our purposes, so inour desires, we must remember to say, If the Lord will, #Jas4:15|. Our journeys are made prosperous or otherwise, accordingto the will of God. We should readily impart to others what Godhas trusted to us, rejoicing to make others joyful, especiallytaking pleasure in communing with those who believe the samethings with us. If redeemed by the blood, and converted by thegrace of the Lord Jesus, we are altogether his; and for his sakewe are debtors to all men, to do all the good we can. Suchservices are our duty. 16,17 In these verses the apostle opens the design of the wholeepistle, in which he brings forward a charge of sinfulnessagainst all flesh; declares the only method of deliverance fromcondemnation, by faith in the mercy of God, through JesusChrist; and then builds upon it purity of heart, gratefulobedience, and earnest desires to improve in all those Christiangraces and tempers, which nothing but a lively faith in Christcan bring forth. God is a just and holy God, and we are guiltysinners. It is necessary that we have a righteousness to appearin before him: there is such a righteousness brought in by theMessiah, and made known in the gospel; a gracious method ofacceptance, notwithstanding the guilt of our sins. It is therighteousness of Christ, who is God, coming from a satisfactionof infinite value. Faith is all in all, both in the beginningand progress of Christian life. It is not from faith to works,as if faith put us into a justified state, and then works keptus in it; but it is all along from faith to faith; it is faithpressing forward, and gaining the victory over unbelief. 18-25 The apostle begins to show that all mankind need thesalvation of the gospel, because none could obtain the favour ofGod, or escape his wrath by their own works. For no man canplead that he has fulfilled all his obligations to God and tohis neighbour; nor can any truly say that he has fully acted upto the light afforded him. The sinfulness of man is described asungodliness against the laws of the first table, andunrighteousness against those of the second. The cause of thatsinfulness is holding the truth in unrighteousness. All, more orless, do what they know to be wrong, and omit what they know tobe right, so that the plea of ignorance cannot be allowed fromany. Our Creator's invisible power and Godhead are so clearlyshown in the works he has made, that even idolaters and wickedGentiles are left without excuse. They foolishly followedidolatry; and rational creatures changed the worship of theglorious Creator, for that of brutes, reptiles, and senselessimages. They wandered from God, till all traces of true religionmust have been lost, had not the revelation of the gospelprevented it. For whatever may be pretended, as to thesufficiency of man's reason to discover Divine truth and moralobligation, or to govern the practice aright, facts cannot bedenied. And these plainly show that men have dishonoured God bythe most absurd idolatries and superstitions; and have degradedthemselves by the vilest affections and most abominable deeds. 26-32 In the horrid depravity of the heathen, the truth of ourLord's words was shown: "Light was come into the world, but menloved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil;for he that doeth evil hateth the light." The truth was not totheir taste. And we all know how soon a man will contrive,against the strongest evidence, to reason himself out of thebelief of what he dislikes. But a man cannot be brought togreater slavery than to be given up to his own lusts. As theGentiles did not like to keep God in their knowledge, theycommitted crimes wholly against reason and their own welfare.The nature of man, whether pagan or Christian, is still thesame; and the charges of the apostle apply more or less to thestate and character of men at all times, till they are broughtto full submission to the faith of Christ, and renewed by Divinepower. There never yet was a man, who had not reason to lamenthis strong corruptions, and his secret dislike to the will ofGod. Therefore this chapter is a call to self-examination, theend of which should be, a deep conviction of sin, and of thenecessity of deliverance from a state of condemnation.
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