صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

teachers, for it was agreeable to the circumstances the church was then in, a lille flock in the midst of a dark, blind world, and agreeable to that design of God, of a swift propagation and dispersion of the gospel over great part of the world, that great numbers of the first Christians should be teachers, but those being constantly employed in this work, it was necessary that they should be maintained by the substance of others; and there being so many of them was another thing that made it needful that they should have all things common.

3. The state that this church was in, in the midst of an enemy's country, liable to be sorely persecuted, and driveu to and fro, made this requisite, on several accounts:

First. It was needful that their possessions should be turned into that which was portable, so that when persecuted in one city they might fly to another.

Secondly. Their being subject to such great and continual persecutions, made it needsul that they should not be entangled in the world, or encumbered with worldly cares about their estates. This made it needful that they should do as a man that is going a journey, about to remove to some other country, sell what he has, and carry the effects with him. A man in his journey has no care but only to use what he carries with him, to lay out his money to support him from hand to mouth; or as a man that goes into the wars, he has no care about any thing but fighting, and receiving his food daily from a common stock.

Thirdly. This made them less liable to the rage of their persecutors. A people that are supported one by another, by what they have among them in common, are not so liable to be deprived of all support, as he that has nothing but a possession of his own to depend on; for when things are in common, if they took one, and took from him what he had about him, yel there remained others to help him. A portable estate, consisting in money, is also more easily concealed, and kept out of the way of persecutors, than a real estate.

[387] Acts xvii. 26, 27. “ And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him:" i. e. God hath so ordered the state of the world of mankind, though scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, that provision should be made in providence at all times, that the nations of the world, if their heart had been well disposed to seek after the truth, might have had some means to have led them in their sincere and diligent inquiries to the knowledge of the true God, and his ways; partly by making them all of one

blood, and partly by an adjustment of the particular places and limits of the habitation of the people that had the knowledge of the true religion, and might hold forth light to others, and to the Gentiles that had it not; and the different times, changes, and circumstances of the world of mankind, that ihe bounds of their habitations, and the state of the times might be so adapted one with the other, that the Gentile world might always be under a capacity of receiving light from the Jews. The world had great advantage to obtain the knowledge of the true God, by their being all made of one blood; by this means the knowledge of the true religion was for some time kept up in the world by tradition, and there were soon great corruptions and apostacies crept in, and inuch darkness overwhelmed great part of the world, yet there was so much light remained till Moses' time, that tradition and the memory of things past, would have afforded means sufficient to an honest, sincere, and faithful inquirer to have come to the knowledge of the true religion; at least that, together with what there was here and there of revelation among those that still hold the true religion; the bounds and limits of whose habitation was appointed and fixed to that end. And afterwards, even till Christ's time, there remained by tradition many scraps of truth among the heathen, that would greatly have served with well-disposed inquirers, as a clue in their search after truth.

About Moses' time, when truth, that had been upheld by tradition, was very much lost, and former things became much out of sight by being far off, and the professors of the true religion, except in the posterity of Jacob, very much ceased in the world, God took care that there might be something new, which should be very public, and of great fame, and much taken notice of abroad in the world, that might be sufficient to lead sincere inquirers to the true God, and those were the great things God wrought in Egypt, and at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, for the children of Israel.

These things were very publicly wrought. Egypt, where many of them were wrought, was one of the most noted heathen nations in the world; and we ofien read how that those great miracles that God wrought were actually taken notice of by the heathen nations round about; and probably most, if not all the heathen nations heard of them. See Exod. ix. 16. “ And in very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” For then the bounds of their habitations were so apprinted that they did not live near so much dispersed abroad as afterwards they did; see Gen. xli. 56, 57. They were probably almost all within hearing of these great things, which it is likely became yet more public, and were carried further abroad in the world, together with other great things that God did in Canaan when the sun stood still, (which was a miracle done in the presence of the whole world,) and Joshua had conquered ibat land, and multitudes of the inhabitants were driven out, and went some to Africa, to Cartliage, and other parts of Africa, and to the isles of the sea, to many parts of Europe as well as Asia, to carry the tidings of those ibings, and to interpret ihe miracle of the sun's standing still. So that, in a manner, the whole world heard of these great things. See Deut. ii. 25. “ This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of thee.” And the memory of these things was kept up a great while among the nations, as appears by the accounts we have of the occasional mention which the neighbouring nations from time to time make of them, till about David's time, when the memory of those things began to be lost among them. And then God did new things to make his people Israel, who had the true religion, laken notice of among the heathen, viz. bis subduing all the nations from the Euphrates to Egypt under David, and setting Israel at the head of the greatest empire in the world, in his days and the days of his son Solomon. This there is respect to in many such passages in the Psalms, as that Ps. xcviij. 2, though there be also a prophetic respect to what should be in gospel days : and the great wisdom and prosperity of Solomon, and the great things that were done by him, the fame of which filled the world to the utmost bounds of it, though by that time God had enlarged the bounds of their habitation. That one design of Providence in these things was, that the heathen nations might hear the fame of the God of Israel, and so bave opportunity to come to the knowledge of him, is confirmed by i Kings viii. 41, 42, 43. The memory of these things kept up the faine of that nation and of their God for several bundred years. They were remembered until the Jews were carried captive into Babylon, as appears by the mention that the enemies of the Jews make of them in their letter to Artaxerxes, and by Artaxerxes: answer in the iv. chap. of Ezra. But then when the memory of these things was decaying, and the bounds of the habitation of the heathen nations was enlarged, God altered the place of the habitation of his people, and carried them to Babylon, the mistress of the world, where some of them, especially Daniel and luis three companions, raised the fame of the true God, and caused it to go from thence through the world by the great things he wrought by and for them, and also by what he wrought for Daniel in Persia. After this, the appointed bounds of the Jews' habitation were not the limits or any one land, but they were dispersed all over the world, as they

were very much in Esther's time, when they were a people very famous through the world by what was done respecting them in her time, and afterwarås were much more dispersed abroad in the world, and so remained till Christ's time; so that the heathen world had opportunity by thein to have come to the knowledge of the true God.

God appointed the particular place of the habitation of the Jews to be as it were in the midst of the earth, between Asia, Africa, and Europe; and in the great contests there were between the great empires of the world, they were always in the way; and before the days of the gospel, the bounds of the world of mankind seem not to have been near so extensive as since; and particularly it is probable that America has been wholly peopled since. See Isai. xlv. 19. Ezek. v. 5.

[318] Romans i. 16, 17, 18. Justification-Christ's right. eousness. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," &c.- " For herein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” In these verses I would note two things :

First. That here, in the beyinning of this discourse of his of the wickedness of the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles, which is continued from this place to the 19th 20th, and 21st verses of chap. iii., as well as in the conclusion in that part of the iii. chapter, he manifests his design in it all to be to show that all are guilty, and in a state of condemnation, and therefore cannot be saved by thrir own righteousness; that it must be by the righteousness of God through Christ received by faith alone. He here in the 17th verse asserts that it is thus only that men have justification, and then in the 18th verse enters on the reason why, - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness;" and so goes on setting forth the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men through most of those three first chapters, and then at the end concludes bis argument as he began it; that, seeing all are under sin, “ Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified in bis sight;" but that it is by the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Christ.

Secondly. I observe that, by the righteousness of God, in this place, cannot be meant merely God's way of justifying sinners, but that hereby is meant the moral, legal righteousness which God hud provided for sinners, is evident by two things :

1. It is the righteousness or justice which those that are justified have, by which they are righteous or just; as is evident from


[ocr errors]

the apostle's selecting that passage of the Old Testament to cite on this occasion, “ The Just shall live by faith."

2. It is evident from the antithesis ; for here it is most manifest that the righteousness of God, by which God's people are just ju one verse, is opposed to the unrighteousness of men, by which they in themselves are unjust, as is evident from the argument of the apostle in those verses. It is a righteousness that believers are vested with, as is evident from chap. jii. 22, 23. The same is also manifest from the antithesis in that place. The same is manifest both those ways from Philip. iii. 9. The same is very manifest from Rom. X. 3, 4. “ For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own rigliteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The antithesis here makes it evident that by God's righteousness, is meant a righteousness, in having which we are righteous. And the 4th verse shows that this righteousness was procured for every believer by Christ, as he was subject to the law ; Christ is the end of the law for righteousness;" the natural meaning of which is, that as to what concerns the elect, or them that believe, the Lawgiver, in making the law and establishing it as a rule for them, had respect to Christ only for its being answered. The law that requires righteousness looks to Christ only to produce that righteousness that it requires; “who, of God, is made to be righteousness," and who is " the Lord, our righteousness." I can find no instance in the New Testament where the word tehos, here translated end, is any where used in scripture for final cause, but it seems properly to signify the final term, finishing, or accomplishing ; so that the words might be rendered, Christ is the finishing and completing of the law, as to the righteousness it requires, as it respects all them that believe.

There is one place where the same word in the original is used as here, and also speaking of the end of the law, or commandment, that exceedingly confirms this interpretation, viz. 1 Tim. i. 5. “ Now the end of the commandments is love;" j. e. the accomplishment or fulfillment of the law; as the same apostle says, “ Love is the fulfilling of the law,” in this epistle of Romans xiii. 8. 10. So that it is manifest from this place that that righteousness, which this apostle calls the righteousness of God, consists in Christ's fulfilling or answering the law; and therefore that it is the same thing with what we call the righteousness of Christ.

This righteousness of God, which the apostle so osten speaks or in the matter of our justification is in Christ. 2 Cor. v. 21. “ He was made sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him." "He was made sin," i. e. sin was imputed to

« السابقةمتابعة »