Imágenes de páginas

of a much resisted Christianity, be an overplus of advantage. And why should we be restrained now from the work by a calculation, which did not restrain the missionaries of two thousand years ago— when they made their first entrance on a world of nearly unbroken and unalleviated heathenism? Shall we, with our pigmy reach of anticipation, cast off the authority of precept issued by Him who seeth the end from the beginning; and who can both bless the day of small things with a superiority of the good over the evil, and make it the dawn of such a glory as will far exceed the brightest visions in which a philanthropist can indulge? The direction at all events is imperative, and of standing obligation. It is Go and preach the gospel to every creature, and Go and preach unto all nations; and you want one of the features of Him who standeth perfect and complete in the whole will of God-you are lacking in that complete image of what a Christian ought to be-if, without desire and without effort in behalf of that great process by which the whole world is at length to be called out from the darkness and the repose of its present alienation, you neither assist it with your substance nor remember it in your prayers.

fancy the magnificent results, which a la- | the gospel message were many, yet still, bouring and progressive Christianity will on the principles of the apostolic reckon. then land in-who would shrink froin the ing, there may even during the first years work of hastening it forward, because of a spectre conjured up from the abyss of human ignorance? Even did the evil now predominate over the good, still is a missionary enterprise like a magnanimous daring for a great moral and spiritual achievement, which will at length reward the perseverance of its devoted labourers. It is like a triumph for the whole species, purchased at the expense, not of those who shared in the toils of the undertaking, but of those who met with their unconcern or contempt, the benevolence which laboured to convert them. There are collateral evils attendant on the progress of Christianity. At one time it brings a sword instead of peace, and at another it stirs up a variance in families, and at all times does it deepen the guilt of those who resist the overtures which it makes to them. But these are only the perils of a voyage that is richly laden with the moral wealth of many future generations. These are but the hazards of a battle which terminates in the proudest and most productive of all victories-and, if the liberty of a great empire be an adequate return for the loss of the lives of its defenders, then is the glorious liberty of the children of God, which will at length be extended over the face of a still enslaved and alienated world, more than an adequate return for the spiritual loss that is sustained by those, who, instead of fighting for the cause, have resisted and reviled it.

We now conclude with a few practical remarks.

First. It is with argument such as this, that we would meet the anti-missionary spirit, which, though a good deal softened and silenced of late years, still breaks forth occasionally into active opposition; or, when it forbears to be aggressive, still binds up the great body of professing Christians, in a sort of lethargic indifference to one of the worthiest of causes. The time is not far distant from us, when a christianizing enterprise was traduced as a kind of invasion on the safety and innocence of Paganism-when it was the burden of an eloquent and well-told regret, that the simplicity of Hindoo manners should so be violated-when something like the charm of the golden age was associated with these regions of primeval idolatry-and it was affirmed, that, though idolatry is blind, yet it were better not to awaken its worshippers, than to drag them forth by instruction to the hazards and the exposures of a more fearful responsibility. We trust you perceive from our text, that, even though the convarts were few and the guilty scorners of

But secondly. If man is to be kept in ignorance because every addition of light brings along with it an addition of responsibility-then ought the species to be arrested at home as well as abroad in its progress towards a more exalted state of humanity; and such evils as may attend the transition to moral and religious knowledge, should deter us from every attempt to rescue our own countrymen from any given amount of darkness by which they may now be encompassed.*

But lastly. However safe it is to commit the oracles of God into the hands of others, yet, considering ourselves in the light of those to whom these oracles are committed, it is a matter of urgent concern, whether, to us personally, the gain or the loss will predominate. It is even of present advantage to the nation at large, that the word of God circulates in such freedom and with such frequency among its numerous families. But this only-because the good rendered to some prevails over the evil of that additional guilt which is incurred by many. And still it resolves itself, with every separate individual, into the question of his secured

• We forbear to expatiate over again upon this partie ular argument, as we have already brought it forward is the 15th Sermon of our Commercial Discourses-at 374, Vol. VI. of the Series.


heaven, or his more aggravated hell-world that is soon to pass away; and, livwhether he be of the some who turn the ing as we list, kept by our guilty indiffermessage of God into an instrument of ence to offers so full of tenderness, to conversion; or of the many who, by neg- prospects of glory so bright and so allect and unconcern, render it the instru- luring. ment of their sorer condemnation. But let us hope better things of you and may be more tolerable for Sodom and things tnat accompany salvation though Gomorrah than for him in the day of we thus speak. Let us call upon you to judgment. To have been so approached follow in the train of those Old Testament from Heaven with the overtures of salva- worthies, who, though few in number, so tion, as every man is who has the Bible redeemed the loss incurred by the general within his reach-to have had such invi- perverseness of their countrymen, as to tations at your door as you may have had make it on the whole for the advantage for the mere reading of them-to have of their nation that to them were commitbeen in the way of such a circular from ted the oracles of God. Be followers of God to our guilty species, which though them who through faith and patience are expressly addressed to no one individual, now inheriting those promises, which, yet, by the wide sweep of a "whosoever when in the flesh, they saw afar off, and will," makes it as pointed a message to were persuaded of them, and embraced all and to any, as if the proprietor of each them, and confessed that they were bible had received it under cover with the strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Deinscription of his name and surname from clare plainly by your life that you seek the upper sanctuary-that God should another country; that you have no desire thus pledge Himself to the offer of a free for a world where all is changing and pardon through the blood of Jesus, and breaking up around you-where sin is the profess His readiness to pour out His Spi- native element, and death walking in its rit upon all who turn to Him that they may train rifles the places of our dearest relive for Him to have brought Himself so membrance, of all those sweets of friendnear in the way of entreaty; and to have ship and society which wont to gladden committed, in the face of many high and them. Let the sad memorial of this heavenly witnesses who are looking on, world's frailty, and the cheering revelato have committed His truth to the posi- tions of another, shut you up unto the tion, that none who venture themselves on faith-Let them so place the alternative the revealed propitiation of the gospel, between time and eternity before you, as and submit to the guidance of Him who to resolve for you which of them is far is the author of it, shall fail of an entrance better. And with such a remedy for guilt into life everlasting-Thus to have placed as the blood of an all-prevailing atonea blissful eternity within the step of crea- ment, defer no longer the work of recontures so utterly polluted and undone, is ciliation with the God whom you have indeed a wondrous approximation. But offended and receive not His grace in O how tremendously will it turn the reck- vain; and turn to the study and perusal oning against us, should it be found that of those oracles which He hath granted though God thus willed our salvation, yet to enlighten you-knowing that they are we would not; and refusing to walk in indeed able to make you wise unto salvathe way which He with such a mighty tion, through the faith that is in Christ cost of expiation had prepared for us, Jesus. cleaved in preference to the dust of a


ROMANS iii, 1-9.

"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (1 speak as a man,) God forbid for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? and not rather, (as we be slander asly reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come-whose damnation is just? What then are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin."

You will recollect that by the argument after having demonstrated the universality of the foregoing chapter, our apostle, of Gentile guilt in the sight of God, at

tempts the same demonstration in reference to the Jews. He proves, that, with the possession of all that which distinguished them outwardly from other nations, they might fully participate in that condemnation to which sin has rendered us all liable; and even affirms as much as may lead us to understand, that the privileges which belonged to them, when neglected and abused, were in fact so many circumstances of aggravation. It vas very natural, that, at this point of his argument, he should conceive an objection that might arise against it; and, speaking in the person of an adversary, he proposes this objection in the form of a question from him. This question he answers in his own name. And the remonstrance of his imaginary opponent, together with his own reply to it, occupy the first and second verses of the chapter upon which we have entered. Look upon these two verses as the first step and commencement of a dialogue, that is prosecuted onwards to the 9th verse; and you have, in what we have now read, a kind of dramatic interchange of argument, going on between Paul and a hostile reasoner, whom he himself, by an act of imagination, has brought before him. This is a style of argumentation that is quite familiar in controversy. The preacher will sometimes deal with an objection, just in the very terms he would have done, if it were cast in living conversation against him, by one standing before his pulpit; and the writer, when he anticipates a resistance of the same kind to his reasoning will just step forward to encounter it, as he would have done, if an entrance were actually made against him on the lists of authorship. This is the way in which the apostle appears to be engaged in the verses before us; and if you conceive them made up of objections put by an antagonist, and replies to those questions by himself, it will help to clear your understanding of the passage now under our


You have already heard at length all the elucidation which we mean to offer, on the first question and part of the first answer of this dialogue. After the Jew had been so much assimilated in guilt to the Gentile, as he had been by the apostle in the last chapter, the objection suggests itself, Where then is the advantage of having been a Jew? Where is the mighty blessedness which was spoken of by God to the patriarchs, as that which was to signalize their race above all the other descendants of all other families? The reply given to this in the second verse is, that the chief advantage lay in their having committed to them the oracles of God. You will recollect the inference

that we drew from this answer of the apostle's-even, that though the Scriptures laid a heavier responsibility upon those who had them, than upon those who had them not; and though, in virtue of this, the many among the ancient Hebrews were rendered more criminal than they else would have been, and were therefore sunk on that account more deeply into an abyss of condemnation; and though they were only the few who by faith in these Scriptures attained to the heights of celestial blessedness and glory-yet there must have been a clear preponderance of the good that was rendered over the evil that was incurred, seeing it to be affirmed by the inspired author of this argument that there was a clear advantage upon the whole. We will not repeat the applications which we have already made of this apostolic statement, to the object of vindicating a missionary enterprise, by sending the light and education of Christianity abroad-or of vindicating the efforts of diffusing more extensively than heretofore the same education at home. But be assured, that it were just as wrong to abstain from doing this which is in itself good, lest evil should come as it were to do that which is in itself evil, that good may come. Nor, however powerfully they may have operated in retarding the best of causes, is there any thing in the objections to which we there adverted, that ought to keep back our direct and immediate entrance upon the bidden field of "Go and teach all nations"-"Go and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven.”


The apostle we conceive to be still speaking in his own person, throughout the third and fourth verses. It is to be remarked that some' in the original signifies a part of the whole, but not necessarily a small part of it. It may be a very great part and majority of the whole as in that passage of the book of Hebrews, where it is said 'some when they heard provoked-how beit not all that came out of Egypt with Moses.' The truth is, that, as far as we historically know of it, all did provoke God upon that occasion, save Joshua and Caleb, and those younger of the people who were still incapable of bearing arms. And in Timothy we read that 'some shall depart from the faith'-though the apostle is there speaking of that overwhelming apostacy of the middle ages, which left so faint and feeble a remainder of light to Christendom for many centuries. And, in like manner, were they the greater num ber of the Jews, who were only so in the letter, and in the outward circumcision; and were not so in spirit, or in the cir cumcision of the heart. They were greatly

The way in which he sets aside the objection in the 5th verse is, that, if admitted, God would be deprived of His power of judging the world-and the objection in the 7th and 8th verses set aside by the simple affirmation, that if there be any who would do evil that good may come. their condemnation is just.

the more considerable part who did not | which he here supposes to be pled by an believe; and yet, in the face of this heavy unbelieving Jew, was also charged, but deduction from the good actually rendered slanderously charged upon Christians. to the Jews, could the apostle still stand up in the vindication of those promises which God held forth to their ancestors; of a blessing upon those who should come after them-letting us know, that, though they were the many who aggravated their own condemnation, and the few who by inheriting the privileges inherited a blessing, yet the truth of God here called the faith of God, was not unfulfilled-that whatever comes in the shape of promise or of prophecy from Him, will have its verification-that whatever be the deceitfulness of man, God will still retain the attribute given to Him by the apostle elsewhere, even that He cannot lie. So that, should it be questioned whether the family of Israel, in consequence of God's dealing with them, had an advantage over all the other families, it will be found in the holy and faithful men of the old dispensation, few as they were; and it will be found on the great day of manifestation, when all the reverses of Jewish history from the first calling forth of Abraham to their last glorious restoration shall have been accomplished-that He will be justified in every utterance He made respecting them, and that He will overcome when He is judged of it.

'God forbid' is in the original simply 'let it not be.'

In the fifth verse the apostle again brings forward his objector, and puts into his mouth an argument. It is our unrightcousness, says he, which hath made room for God's righteousness in its place, which sets off as it were, and renders it so worthy of acceptation; and if this be the case, might it not be said that it is not righteous in God to inflict wrath for that which hath redounded so much to the credit and the manifestation of His own attributes. This objection is brought forward in another form in the 7th verse. If God's truth have been rendered more illustrious by my lie, or by my sin, and so He has been the more glorified in consequence-why does He find fault with me, and punish me for sins which advance eventually His honour? Should we not rather sin that God's righteousness may be exalted, and do the instrumental evil that the ultimate good may come out of it? The apostle gives two distinct answers to these questions, after giving us a passing intimation in the 5th verse, that he is not speaking in his own person as an apostle when he brings forward these objections, but only speaking as a man whom he supposes to set himself against the whole of his argument; and tells us also in the 7th verse that the maxim of doing evil that good may come,

Before urging these lessons any further let us offer a paraphrase of these verses What is the advantage then possessed by the Jew, it will be said, or what benefit is it to him that he is of the circumcision? We answer that the benefit is great many ways-and chiefly that to that people have been committed the revealed scriptures of God. And even though the greater part did not believe, yet still their unbelief puts no disparagement on the veracity of God. Though all men were liars, this would detract nothing from the glory of God's truth; and, however this objection may be pushed, it will be found in the language of the Psalmist that God will be justified in all his sayings and will overcome when He is judged. But to this it may further be said, if God do not suffer in His glory by our guilt-nay if, out of the materials of human sinfulness, He can rear a ministration by which He and all His attributes may be exalted-why should He deal in anger against those, whom He can thus turn into the instruments of His honour? The unrighteousness of man sets off the righteousness of God; and He gets glory to Himself by our doings; and is it therefore a righteous thing in Him to inflict vengeance on account of them? Such is the sophistry of vice, but it cannot be admitted-else the judgment of God over the world is at an end. And it is further said by those who, in the language of a former chapter, have turned God's truth into a lie that that hath made God's truth to abound the more unto His own glory-that He has so dealt with them as to bring a larger accession of glory to Himself; and where then is the evil of that which finally serves to illustrate and make brighter than before His character? Should I be condemned a sinner, for having done that which glorifies God?—might not I do the instrumental evil, for the sake of the eventual good? Such is the morality that has been charged upon us-but falsely so charged-for it is a morality which ought to be reprobated.'

In this passage the apostle touches, though but slightly and transiently, on a style of scepticism to which he afterwards adverts at a greater length in the 9th chapter of this epistle; and we, in like manner, shall defer the great bulk of our observa.

tions about it, till we have arrived at the things hard to be understood which are found therein. But let us also follow the apostle, in that fainter and more temporary notice which he takes of these things on the present occasion-when before completing his proof that both Jews and Gentiles were under sin, he both affirms that God was glorified upon the former in spite of their unrighteousness; and yet deals with that unrighteousness as if it was an offence to Him-that even out of their disobedience an actual honour accrues to Himself; and yet that the vengeance of His wrath is due to that disobedience that let the worthlessness of man be what it may, the vindication and the victory will be God's; and yet upon this very element of worthlessness, which serves to illustrate the glories of His character, will He lay the burden of a righteous indignation. There was something in the subtlety of the Jewish doctors of that age, which stood nearly allied with the infidel metaphysics of the present; and which would attempt to darken and to overthrow all moral distinctions, and to dethrone God from that eminence, which, as the moral governor of the world, belongs to Him. And it is well that the apostle gives us a specimen of his treatment of this sophistry, that, when exposed to it ourselves, we may know what is the scriptural way of meeting it, and what are .he scriptural grounds on which its influence may be warded away from us.

man will readily take up with, as being among the certainties of the Divine Government; and not till he bewilders himself by attempting to explain the secrecies of the Divine Government, will the impression of these certainties be at all deafened or effaced from the feelings of his moral nature. Now what the apostle appears to be employed about in this passage, is just to defend our moral nature against an invasion upon the authority of its clearest and most powerful suggestions. The antagonists against whom he here sets himself, feel themselves pursued by his allegations of their guilt; and try to make their escape from a reproachful sense of their own sinfulness; and, for this purpose, would they ambitiously lift up the endeavours of their understanding. towards the more high and unsearchable counsels of God. It is very true, that, however sinfully men may conduct themselves, He will get a glory to His own attributes from all His dealings with them. It is very true, that, like as the wrath of man shall be made to praise Him, so shall the worthlessness of man be made to redound to the honour of God's truth and of God's righteousness. Should even all men be liars, the veracity of God will be the more illustrated by its contrast with this surrounding evil, and by the fulfilment upon it of all His denunciations. The Holiness of the Divinity will blazen forth as it were into brighter conspicuousness, on the dark ground of human guilt The truth is, that, in the days of the and human turpitude. God manifests the apostle as well as in our own days, spec- dignity of His character, in His manifestulative difficulties were made use of to ed abhorrence against all unrighteousness darken and confound the clearest moral and ungodliness of men. In the last day principles; and, then as well as now, did the glory of His power will be made the imagination of men travel into a re-known, when the Judge cometh in flaming gion that was beyond them, whence they fetched conceits and suppositions of their own framing, for the purpose of extinguishing the light that was near and round about them. And some there were who took refuge from the conviction of sin, in the mazes of a sophistry, by which they tried to perplex both themselves and others out of the plainest intimations of conscience and common sense. There is no man of a fair and honest understanding, who, if not carried beyond his depth by the subtleties of a science falsely so called, does not yield his immediate consent, and with all the readiness he would do in a first principle, to the position that God is the rightful judge of His own creatures; and that it is altogether for Him to place the authority of a law over them, and to punish their violations; and that it is an unrighteous thing in us to set our will in opposition to His will, and a righteous thing in Him to avenge Himself of this disobedience. These are what any plain

fire to take vengeance on those who disobey Him; and even the very retribution which He deals forth on the heads of the rebellious, will be to Him the trophies of an awful and lofty vindication.

Now the objection reiterated in the various questions of this passage is, that if out of the unrighteousness of man, such a revenue as it were of fame and character shall accrue to the Deity-why should He be offended? Why should He inflict so much severity on the sin, which after all serves to illustrate His own sacredness, and to exalt His own majesty? Why should He lay such a weight of guilt on those, who, it would appear, are to be the instruments of His glory? Is not sin, if not a good thing in itself, at least a good thing in its consequences, when it thus serves to swell the pomp of the Eternal, and throw a brighter radiance around His ways? And might not we then do this evil thing that the final and the resulting good may emerge out of it? And might

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