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reading was χάρις του Θεού, instead of ευχαριστώ το eộ, "the grace of God," instead of “ I thank God."
.. I believe, however, it will be found, upon a more attentive consideration of the passage, that St. Paul wrote as it stands in our present copies. Only the words, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” should be included in a parenthesis a. For, if we take Dr. Paley's explanation together with his supposition that St. Paul speaks of himself, he asks this question, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" To which the reply is,“ The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But I answer, that St. Paul could not speak of himself as subject to this body of death; nor could he speak of his deliverance through the grace of God as future, because it had already been bestowed.-No one, who prayed in such imploring terms to be so delivered, could speak of himself as St. Paul does in this very Epistle, as having been “justified by faith,” “justified freely.” Let us now see what follows; “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin.” Of whom is this spoken?
No doubt of the same person, that prayed to be delivered from this body of death. If then St. Paul were the person spoken of before, he must be the person intended now. So that, after thanking God for his deliverance through Jesus Christ, he relapses into the former state of ineffectual struggle against sin, and the grace of God has produced no good ef
a See Rosenmuller as well as Wesley.
fect. Surely here is a mass of contradictions, which could not occur in any writer of sound understanding; still less in the inspired productions of an Apostle. There must therefore be a decided error in those interpretations, which fix the wretched contention between conscience and iniquity upon St. Paul himself; and this last verse must bear an unconstrained and natural relation to those, which have preceded. "All this will appear perfectly plain, if, as I before observed, we consider the words, “ I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” as an involuntary exclamation of joy and gratitude, and as an acknowledgment, that he had been himself delivered from the melancholy state he had been describing. The very words of the Apostle therefore, if they be rightly understood, are opposed to the strange supposition that he had been describing himself; for here, in his own person and in a way
that cannot be mistaken, he points out the happy difference of his own spiritual condition from that which he had, in so lively a manner, delineated.--The force of this passage has been so truly felt, and is so well expressed by Wesley, that I cannot refrain from again adopting his words.
“ The Apostle (as his frequent manner is) beautifully interweaves his assertion with thanksgiving : the Hymn of Praise answering in a manner to the voice of sorrow, · Wretched man that I am ! So then'-he here sums up the whole, and concludes what he began, verse seventh. *I myself' or rather that I'(the person whom I am personating) till this deliverance is wroughtserve the law of God with my Mind'-my Reason
and Conscience declare for God but with
flesh the 'law of sin' But my corrupt passions and appetites still rebel.”
From the various considerations which have now passed before us, we shall surely be justified in drawing the following important and practical conclusions.
1st, That Holy Scripture, though sufficiently intelligible in all material points of doctrine and in all points of duty, yet contains a variety of passages, about which many wise and good men have differed.
2dly, That such passages, as are not so essential either for doctrine or duty at the present day, have yet given rise to the greatest part of those controversies, which disturb the repose of the Christian world.
Hence, we derive lessons of becoming distrust in the accuracy of our own interpretations, and of charitable respect for those of other men, when we differ about the exact sense of Scripture.
Lastly, we must remember with gratitude that we too are delivered from that state of miserable ignorance, which the Apostle describes so strongly.We must acknowledge, with the warmest feelings of thankfulness, that instead of encountering the gloom and perils of an unconverted state, we have received the knowledge, and shared the blessings, of the Gospel, as it were, by inheritance. But then these feelings must not lie dormant; nor merely touch the strings of the heart, or give a livelier flow to the imagination.— They must expand into action also, and they must bring forth the fruits of holiness, charity, temperance and industry.-In vain shall we otherwise boast of our Christian profession ; in vain shall we otherwise presume that we have attained to that religion, which alone is pronounced by the Holy Apostle to be pure
ST. PAUL DOES NOT FAVOUR THE DOCTRINE OF
PERSONAL ELECTION OR REPROBATION:
ROMANS IX. 7, 8.
NEITHER BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SEED OF ABRAHAM, ÀRË
THEY ALL CHILDREN: BUT, IN ISAAC SHALL THY SEED BE CALLED. THAT IS, THEY WHICH ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE FLESH, THESE ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD: BUT THE CHILDREN OF THE PROMISE ÁRE COUNTED FOR THE SEED a.
These words contain the substance of the reasoning, which is pursued by the great Apostle of the Gentiles in this and the following chapter. The argument indeed assumes various forms, and branches out into a variety of ramifications. It is often clothed in that peculiar dress, which was suited to the schools of Jewish philosophy; and borrows its illustrations, not merely from the words of antient Scripture, but from a peculiar and traditional acceptation of those words. Moreover the quotations are occasionally introduced with so much suddenness, as to produce no little per
a Some of the topics in this Discourse have been urged in a previous part of this volume; and for others I am indebted to some Commentators upon this Epistle, particularly Mr. Locke. Nevertheless; the mistakes, which have been occasioned by an erroneous view of the subject here treated, have been so serious, that I am anxious to place before my readers what I consider the correct interpretation of a most important part of Scripture.