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which he is the author, and neither a personal attribute of his character nor of that of any human being. It is neither our personal righteousness approved of God, nor his personal righteousness bestowed on us, nor is it the personal righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. These all are intransferrable.
Julia. You only increase my desire and the curiosity of the children to hear you say definitely and precisely what it is, or what you understand it to be.
Alympas. I have read Adam Clark, Taylor, Tholuck, Stuart, Locke, Scott, and scores of other commentators, since and before the days of Theron and Aspasio, Sandeman, Bellamy, Dwight, &c. &c.: but I am not yet satisfied that we have got the simplest and most intelligent view of the subject. I think Stuart comes nearest to my taste and my views. Still I desire something more definite, clear, and satisfactory. I should be much obliged to you for a better view if you can give it. Let us ask the children, perhaps they may have some more simpler views of it than we have. We have all been too much of theorists, and too familiar with the language of the schools. What say you, Susan?
Susan. It is called “the righteousness of faith.” Rom. iv. 13, and x. 6, and in the common version of this verse is called a "righteousness from faith to faith.” I have heard some one say that this phrase, “from faith to faith,” might as well be read, “Of faith to faith;" i. e. “a righteousness of faith in order to faith.?* But I do not fully understand these words.
Olympas. What say you, ,James?
James. Father, you have taught us that there is no more righteousness in faith than in works, and that were a man accounted righteous because of his faith, he might boast before God as much as though he were accounted righteous because o: his works.. For faith is as much our act as our obedience to any precept of the law.
Olympas. And what have you to say on this engrossing theme, Henry?
Henry. The righteousness by which we are accepted is called a “gift," chapter v. 17. "They who receive abundance of grace, even the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.” I would conclude, then, that there is no personal righteousness in his faith, in his works, or in himself. The righteousness revealed in the gospel must then be a righteousness of God's own provision and institution. It is not faith, nor works, nor repentance, nor baptism.
* Stuart and others argue that eis, the preposition here used, ought to be rendered as in our version it is—in order to faith.
SERIES 111.-VOL. VI.
It is of grace; but it comes to us some way by faith. You have told us that the personal righteousness of Christ was as intransferrable as his divinity, and that it could not be placed to our account any more than our sins could be laid to his account.
Olympas. But I never said to you that he could not suffer and die for our sins, or that God could not, because of his suffering, the just for the unjust, take away our guilt, and treat us as though we had never sinned. Punishment may be laid upon an innocent person, with his own consent, and those who deserve it may be freed from it if he please to allow it, and they are pleased to accept it; and this brings us somewhere into the precincts of this great development.
Ephraim. So near it, that methinks I now read it all in Romans iii. 21. But now “a righteousness of God without law," and beyond law, "is exhibited” —"attested, indeed, by the Law and the Prophets,” “a righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ," and we sinners are now "justified freely" or graciously by his favor “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
Clement. Had it not been that I had before a glimpse of this great truth, I would here exclaim, Eureka! Eureka! I have found! I have found! Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! Amen and Amen!
Olympas. We shall dismiss this sentence and question for the present, being obliged to meet with it again and again, and shall now proceed with our present lesson. We may in conclusion say, that we have so far ascertained the great theme of this epistle-that the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation, because in it a righteousness originated and consummated in the bosom of the Father by the obedience unto death of his Son, is graciously presented to our faith, through which we are justified and sanctified, and by the institution of his grace are declared free from sin, ab. solved, and introduced to the enjoyment of sovereign, immutable, and everlasting love. And all this is but the consummation of an ancient oracle—“The just by faith shall live."
It is not very obvious why the 18th verse and the new section of which it is the beginning, commence with the word "for.” The two previous occurrences of this logical connective are very appreciable. Not so the third "for." Commentators do not all notice this, and those that do seem not fully agreed in its import. To me it seems to be another reason why Paul glories in the gospel, and in the preaching of it. Its value and incomparable importange is greatly enhanced from the fact that the wra h of God has always, in all his oracles from heaven, been clearly revealed against all unge 1
ness and unrighteousness of men; and, therefore, without the gospel there must have been an universal and everlasting destruction of our
James, repeat the whole passage from the new version. James. “Now, brethren, I would not have you ignorant, that I often purposed to come to you, though I have, as yet, been hindered; that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among the other Gentiles. I am a debtor, both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and the unwise. Therefore, I am willing, according to my ability, to declare the glad tidings, even to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel; because it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the justification of God by faith is revealed, in order to faith; as it is written, “Now the just by faith shall live.”
Moreover, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all. ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth by unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest among them, for God has manifested it to them: (for his invisible attributes, even his eternal power and divinity, ever since the creation of the world, are very evident by his works:) so that they are inexcusable. Because, since they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, neither gave him thanks; but became foolish by their own reasonings, and their inconsiderate mind was darkened. Professing to be wise men, they became fools; for they changed the glory of the immortal God into the likeness of an image of mortal man, of fowls, of four-footed beasts, and of reptiles.Therefore, also, God, through the lusts of their own hearts, deliver-ed them over to uncleanness, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature, rather than the Creator, who is forever blessed. Amen.
For this, God delivered them over to shameful passions: for even their women changed the natural use into what is contrary to nature. In like manner, also, the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men with men, working out that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And as they did not acknowledge God, God delivered them over to an undiscerning mind, to work those things which are not suitable; being filled with allinjustice, fornication, wickedness, covetousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, whisperers, revilers, haters of God, insolent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil pleasures, disobedient to parents, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Some, who clearly understand the law of God, (that they who practise such things are worthy of death,) not only do these things, but even commend those who practise them.”
Clement. The term "moreover” is here a very apposite connective if we make this a new section, and indicates a continuation of
reasons given why the gospel is the power of God to salvation, and worthy of all acceptation, and why no one should be ashamed of it.
Might I ask Susan what is the difference between ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Susan. All that is offensive to God, and subject to his wrath or indignation, seems to be set forth in our terms by the words impiety and injustice. These are, I believe, equivalent to ungodliness and unrighteousness. The former appears in all the follies of impiety; the latter in all the infractions of the moral law. God himself is by the first robbed of his glory; and man, by the last, is robbed of his rights. And these are the sum of the guilt of the world. Such is the distinction I have frequently heard my father make, and I think the sequel of this chapter sustains it.
Olympas. Brother Ephraim, how do you understand the phrase “hold the truth in unrighteousness”? I do not think it means a mere profession of the truth, but rather hindering its progress by their influence and example. Some of the Greek and Roman philosophers, like the Persian magi, admitted the being and some of the perfections of God by tradition, but by their works denied him. Some of them suppressed from the ears of the vulgar their better views of the existence, the unity, and spirituality of God, and patronized amongst them the popular idolatries and vices of their day. Such, indeed, was the character of the wisest and best of the Pagan philosophers. The disciples of a Plato and a Socrates were just as far from the kingdom of God as the grossest sensualist or the most accomplished Epicurean of the day.
Olympas. When did the Gentiles know God, Henry? It is said here when they kne. God they glorified him not as God.
Henry. All nations had once the knowledge of God. Noah, his sons, and his grand-sons, who were the founders of all the nations of the earth, once enjoyed a knowledge of God and of his will.They got sacrifice, and the Sabbath, and the patriarchal institutions from one common father. But when they knew God, they did not glorify, but dishonored him by their idol representations of him, until their hearts were wholly darkened and alienated from his service. Then comes the long list of immoralities named in this chapter.
Olympas. A long dark catalogue, indeed! They idolized their lusts and their passions, made gods to personate them, and worshipped and served these impersonations of every animal appetite and passion by practices that ought not to be named among us. Not a shade of darkness can be added to the picture which the Apostle gives of the enormities of impiety, injustice, and debauchery of all nations at the coming of the Messiah. They, to cap the climax of every enormity, not only practised these things individually, but delighted in, admired, and sainted or deified those monsters that were the chief inventors and leaders of those monstrous aberrations from reason, religion, and truth.
One question more, Susan, and we shall close the present lesson. What mean you by the "wrath of God revealed from heaven”?
Susan. Not a passion, or a mode of passion, but his just indignation against sin. God's purity and justice in the eyes of sinners appear like passions of furious wrath and vengeance. But in punishing sin God only glorifies his love of purity, righteousness, and truth.
INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
NO. X. We have before us an inquiry into the nature of the influences by which the mind is fitted for the investigation of divine truth. In the prosecution of this inquiry, it is scarcely necessary to consider the influence of a natural aptitude of mind for such a study, since, whatever facility may be given by natural quickness of perception or clearness of judgment, no practical advantage could arise from determining the effects resulting from endowments which it is beyond the power of any one to acquire.
Neither do we desire to consider the advantages which, in this pursuit, may be derived from a liberal education; practical skill in the laws and usages of language; or that refinement of the mental powers which enables them to perceive nice distinctions; trace remote analogies and determine the ultimate relations of things. We prefer, rather, to dwell upon those influences which are general in their character, and upon that aptitude of mind which consists neither in any peculiar organization of the mind itself, nor in any scholastic discipline of its powers, but in its state, frame, or disposition, while actually engaged in sacred studies. The means by which such preparation of mind is effected it is most important to know, in order that we may be properly guided in their employment, and although it would seem not at all difficult to ascertain them, there is perhaps no subject which has given rise to more doubtful disputation.
The reason of this is, probably, that the inquiry has not been corifined to the means necessary, on the part of the biblical student, to