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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Romans 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. V.

Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and joy in our hope; that since we were reconciled by his blood, when we were enemies, we shall much more be saved being reconciled. As sin and death came by Adam, so much more righteousness and life by Jesus Christ. Where sin abounded, grace did super-abound.

Anno Domini 58.

TO comfort the Roman brethren under the evils which the profession of the Gospel brought upon them, the Apostle, in the beginning of this chapter, enumerated the privileges which belong to believers in general. And from his account it appears, that the privileges of Abraham's seed, by faith, are far greater than the privileges which belonged to his seed by natural descent, and which are described, Romans 2:17 -

The first privilege of the spiritual seed is, that, being justified by faith, they have peace with God through Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1. This, to the Gentiles, must have appeared an unspeakable blessing, as the Jews had constantly considered them as excluded from the privileges of the true religion, and from eternal life. Their second privilege is, By the command of Christ they are admitted through faith into the covenant made with Abraham, and into the Christian church.—Thirdly, they glory in the hope of beholding the glory of God in heaven;—a privilege far superior to that of beholding the glory of God in the tabernacle, and in the temple on earth, of which the natural seed boasted: for it is the hope of living eternally with God in heaven, Romans 5:2.—Their fourth privilege is, They glory in afflictions, especially those which befal them for the name of Christ: because afflictions improve their graces, and strengthen their hope of eternal life, Romans 5:3-4.—But many, even of the believingJews, denied that the Gentiles had any reason to hope for eternal life, while they did not obey Moses. Wherefore, to shew that the believing Gentiles are heirs of that and of all the blessings promised in the covenant to the seed of Abraham, by faith, equally with the Jews, the Apostle appealed to God's shedding down the Holy Ghost upon them, even as on the Jews, Romans 5:5.—and to Christ's dying for them in their ungodly state, Romans 5:6-8.—and told them, since they were already justified and reconciled, that is, received to pardon and favour by the blood of Christ, they might well hope to be saved in due time from wrath by his obedience unto death in the human nature; since in that nature he exercises the office of Lord and Judge of the world, Romans 5:9-10.—The last privilege belonging to the spiritual seed, mentioned by the Apostle, is, that, being justified, they can glory in the true God as their God, equally with the natural seed, whose relation to God was established by the law of Moses only. And this privilege, he told them, theyhad obtained, like all the rest, through Jesus Christ, by whom they had received the reconciliation.

Having mentioned the reconciliation of the believing Gentiles, the Apostle took occasion, in this place, to discourse of the entrance of sin and death into the world, and of the remedy which God has provided for these evils, and of the extent of that remedy; because it gave him an opportunity, not only of explaining what the reconciliation is, which believers receive through Christ, but also of displaying the justice of granting reconciliation to all mankind who shall believe according to the light of their dispensation, notwithstanding the greatest part of them never heard any thing either of the reconciliation, or of Christ who procured it for them: but still the whole proceeds from mere favour through the alone merit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

And first, to shew the justice of providing a reconciliation through Jesus Christ for all of the human race who truly believe according to the divine light bestowed upon them,notwithstanding many of them are ignorant of Christ as the Saviour, the Apostle reasoned in this manner: As it pleased God, through the disobedience of one man, to subject all mankind to sin and death, notwithstanding the greatest part of them never heard of that man's disobedience; so to render this determination consistent with justice, it pleased God, through the obedience of one man, to make all men capable of righteousness and life, notwithstanding the greatest part of them have no knowledge of the person to whom they are indebted for these great benefits, Romans 5:12.—This second member of the comparison, indeed, the Apostle has not expressed, because he supposed his readers could easily supply it, and because he was afterwards to produce this unfinished comparison in a complete form, by separating it into two parts, and adding to each part the clause of the omitted member which belongs to it. Wherefore, having enunciated the first member of the comparison, instead of adding the second, he proceeds to establish the first, because on it the truth of the second member, which he supposes his reader to have supplied in his own mind, depends. The proposition asserted in the first member is, that all men are subjected to death for Adam's sin. This the Apostle proves by the following argument: no action is punished as a sin, where there is no knowledge of any law forbidding it, Romans 5:13.—Nevertheless from Adam to Moses, death seized infants and ideots, who, being incapable of the knowledge of law, were incapable of transgressing law. Wherefore, having no sin of their own, for which they could be punished with death, they must have suffered for Adam's transgression; which shews clearly, that death is inflictedon mankind, not for their own, but for Adam's sin, who, on that account, may, by contrast, be called the type of him who was to come and restore life to all men, Romans 5:14.

Farther, it was a matter of great importance to prove, that all mankind are punished with death for the sin of the first man, because it shews, that the punishment of our first parents' sin was not forgiven, but only deferred, that the human species might be continued. Accordingly, by God's sentence pronounced after the fall, Genesis 3:15-19.

Adam and Eve were allowed to live and beget children. And as in the same sentence, they were told, that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head, it was an intimation, that on account of what the Seed of the woman was to do, a new trial, under a better covenant than the former, was granted to them and their posterity, that they might have an opportunity of regaining that immortality which they had forfeited. These things the Apostle supposes his readers to know; for he proceeds to compare the evils brought on mankind by Adam, with the advantages procured for them by Christ, that all may understand the gracious nature of the new covenant, under which the human race is placed since the fall.

From what the Apostle has said of the effects of Christ's obedience, compared with the consequences of Adam's disobedience, it appears, that the former are superior to the latter in three respects, The first is, Christ's obedience has more merit to obtain for all mankind a short life on earth, and after death a resurrection to a new life, in which such of them as are capable of it, are to enjoy happiness for ever, than Adam's disobedience had demerit to kill all mankind, Romans 5:15.—The second is, the sentence passed on mankind was for one offence only, committed by their first parents, and it subjected them all to death temporal; but the sentence which bestows the gracious gift of pardon, has for its object the offence of Adam, and all the offences which the faithful saints of God themselves may have committed during their own probation; and issues in their being accounted righteous, and entitled to eternal life, Romans 5:16.—The third is, In the life which they who are pardoned and accounted righteous, and have perseveredintheobedienceoffaith,shallregainthrough Christ, they shall enjoy much greater happiness than they lose by the death to which they are subjected through Adam's offence, Romans 5:17.

Having thus contrasted the benefits procured for mankind by Christ with the evils brought on them by Adam, the Apostle sums up these particulars in two conclusions. The first is: As it was just, on account of one offence committed by Adam, to pass sentence of condemnation on all, by which all have been subjected to death; so it was equally just, on accountof one act of righteousness performed by Christ (his dying on the cross), to pass sentence on all, by which all obtain the justification of life; that is, a short life on earth, and at the last day a resurrection from the dead, Romans 5:18.—The second conclusion is: As it was just, through the offence of one man to constitute all men sinners; that is, through the disobedience of Adam, to convey to all men a corrupted nature, whereby they are made liable to sin, and to eternal death so it was equally just, through the obedience of one man, to constitute all mankind righteous; that is, to put them in a condition of obtaining righteousness here, and eternal life hereafter, Romans 5:19.—For in what manner could all mankind be constituted righteous, unless by granting them a personal trial under a new covenant, in which not immaculate obedience is required, in order to righteousness and life, but the obedience of faith. From these two conclusions, we learn what the condemnation is, whichwas brought on all mankind by Adam, and whatthe reconciliation is, which all mankind receive by Christ. ByAdam mankind were made mortal, and liable to sin. By Christ they are allowed a temporary life on earth, and have a trial appointed them, under a gracious covenant, by which they may attain righteousness and eternal life through faith.

In the two conclusions just now mentioned, the unfinished comparison, with which the Apostle introduced this admirable discourse, is completed. For in the first conclusion, Romans 5:18 the entrance and progress of death through Adam's sin, being described as in Romans 5:12 its remedy is declared, which is there wanting. And in the second conclusion, Romans 5:19 after mentioning the entrance and progress of sin, as in Romans 5:12 its remedy, which is wanting there, is likewise described. This order the Apostle followed, because, though the entrance of sin was prior to that of death, he mentioned the entrance of sin last, that he might have an opportunity of speaking concerning the rule by which Adam and his posterity, now in this conditional or probationary sense, reconciled, were to direct their actions, during the trial appointed them under the new covenant. For after telling us, that as all were constituted sinners by Adam's disobedience, so all shall be constituted righteous through the obedience of Christ, he adds, But law silently entered: that is, after the sentence was passed, Genesis 3:15-19 whereby Adam was allowed to live and beget children, and with his posterity was placed under the new covenant, the law of God written on their hearts silently took place as the rule of their conduct under that covenant. And though the offence of actual transgression thereby abounded, grace has super-abounded, in the resurrection of all who die in infancy and idiocy, to a better life than that which they lose through Adam's disobedience, and by bestowing the same blessing on such adults as fulfil the requisitions of the gracious new covenant, under which they are placed, Romans 5:20.—And thus it has come to pass, that as the sin of the first man has exceedingly tyrannized over the whole species, by introducing actual transgression and death; so also the infinite goodness of God shall reign, by destroying sin and death through a righteousness of faith, which shall be counted to believers, and, producing as its natural fruit a life of holiness and obedience to the end, shall be rewarded with eternal life, and all through Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 5:21.—Thus, according to the doctrine of the Apostle, all mankind are, and ever have been, included in the new covenant. Consequently the advantage which they have received by Christ, is much greater than the loss they have sustained through Adam. And it is reasonable to think it should be so; because the goodness of God more effectually disposes him to bestow blessings on mankind, on account of Christ's obedience, than to inflict evils on them, on account of Adam's disobedience.

Before this subject is dismissed, it may be proper to observe:

1. That in this remarkable passage, we have the true account of the entrance of sin and misery into the world, and of the method in which these evils have been remedied; subjects which none of the philosophers or wise men of antiquity were able by the light of reason to fathom. Sin entered through the disobedience of our first parents, whereby they became liable to immediate death; and if God had executed his threatening, the species would have ended in them. But because, in due season, his Son was to appear on earth in the human nature, and to make atonement for the sin of men, God, in the prospect of that great act of obedience, suffered Adam and Eve to live and propagate their kind, and granted them a new trial under a covenant better suited to their condition than the former; in order that if, through his grace which should be offered to them, they behaved properly during their probation, he might raise them to a better life than that which they had forfeited. In this new covenant the obligation of the law written on their heart was continued; only immaculate obedience to that law was not required in order to life, but the obedience of faith. And although the punishment of their first sin took place so far, that the life granted to them and to their posterity was to be a gradual progress through labour and misery to certain death; yet, being all comprehended in the gracious new covenant, they are all to be raised to life at the last day, that such of them as are found to have given the obedience of faith during their probation, may receive a more happy life than that which was forfeited by the disobedience of their firstparents, and be continued in that happy life for ever. Thus, by the remedy which God has applied, for curing the evils introduced bythe first man's disobedience, the righteous will be raised to a greater degree of happiness, than if these evils had not taken place.

2. According to the view which the Apostle has given us of the ruin and recovery of mankind, the scheme of redemption is not a remedy of an unexpected evil, contrived after that evil took place. Christ's obedience unto death was appointed as the means of our deliverance, at the very time when the resolution permitting the entrance of sin was formed. And therefore, to make mankind sensible of this, the Apostle assures us, (Ephesians 1:4.) that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world: and 2 Timothy 1:9 that we are saved and called according to God's own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ, before the world began: and 1 Peter 1:20 that Christ was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for us.—And as the plan of our redemption was formed along with the divine resolution to permit our fall, so its operation was coeval with the introduction of that evil; and extends to all, so as to place all in a capacity of salvation. Hence Christ is called, Revelation 13:8. The Lamb which was slain from the foundation of the world; and he is said, 2 Corinthians 5:15. To have died for all. And his death is termed, 1 John 2:2. A propitiation for the whole world.

3. From other passages of Scripture we learn, that sin and death were permitted to enter into the world, not only because by the remedy to be applied to these evils, God intended to makethe faithful among mankind more happy than they would have been if these evils had not existed, but even to promote the good of the universe. Accordingly, in the scheme of redemption there is a higher display of the perfections of God to all intelligent beings, than could have been made, had there been no sin nor misery to be remedied. So St. Paul teaches, Ephesians 3:10. That now unto governments and powers in the heavenly regions, the multiform wisdom of God may be made known through the church. Farther, the new display of the perfections of God made in the plan of redemption, by furnishing many powerful motives to holiness and virtue, whose operation is not confined to any one order of rational beings, nor to any particular time, will render God's moral government profitable and delightful to all his holy intelligent creatures for ever. See the Introduction to the New Testament.

4. By the illustrious display of the scheme of redemption, made in this admirable passage, and by showing that it has for its object not a single nation, nor any small portion of the human race, but believers of all nations, the Apostle has condemned the bigotryof the Jews, and of all who, like them, confine salvation to their own church, and exclude others from sharing in the mercy of God through Christ, merely because theyare ignorant of him, not through their own fault, but through thegood pleasure of God, who has denied them that knowledge: or, because they do not hold the same objects of faith with them, althoughthey possess the same spirit of faith, and, through the secret influences of the Spirit of God, live piously and virtuously according to their knowledge. For his whole reasoning on this subject proceeds on the supposition, that if it was consonant to justice, that the demerit of Adam's disobedience should extend to all mankind, notwithstanding the greater part of them never knew any thing either of him or of his disobedience; it must be equally consonant to justice, that the merit of Christ's obedience should extend to all mankind who are capable of being benefited byit, although many of them have had no opportunity of knowing any thing concerning that meritorious obedience. Besides, as the plan of redemption will, no doubt, be fully made known to the pious heathens, after they are admitted into heaven, the glory of God and the honour of Christ will be advanced by the discovery at that period, as effectually as if it had been made to them during their life-time on earth. And with respect to themselves, although the knowledge of Christ and of the method of salvation through him, is not bestowed on them, till they come into heaven, or till the day of judgment, it willthen operate as power fully in making them sensible of the mercy of God, and in laying a foundation for their love and gratitude to Christ through all eternity, as if that knowledge had been communicated to them sooner. If so, to fancy that persons, who, notwithstanding their want of revelation, are through the grace of God actually prepared for heaven, will be excluded from that blessed place, merely because, while on earth, they were denied that knowledge of Christ, which, with equal effect, may be communicated tothem in heaven, is to contradict all the representations given in the Scriptures of the impartiality of God, as the righteous governor of the universe.


Verse 1

Romans 5:1. The Apostle, having proved in the former chapter, that the believing Gentiles are justified in the same way with Abraham, and in fact are his seed, included with him in the promise or covenant, he judged this a proper place (as the Jews built all their glorying upon the Abrahamic covenant) to produce some of those privileges and blessings in whichthe Christian Gentile could glory, in consequence of his justification, or his being pardoned, and taken into the covenant and peculiar kingdom of God by faith. And he chooses to instance in three particulars, which above others were adapted to this purpose; namely, first, the hope of eternal life, in which the law wherein the Jews glorified, ch. Romans 2:17 was defective, Romans 5:2. Secondly, the persecutions and sufferings to which Christians were exposed, Romans 5:3-4 and on account of which the Jew was greatly prejudiced against the Christian profession: and here, having shewn that tribulations have a happy tendency to establish our hearts in the hope of the Gospel, he wisely adds, to alleviate the frightful aspect of tribulation, some weighty reasons to prove, that the glorious hope of the Gospel will certainly be made good to faithful souls in their eternal salvation by Jesus Christ, Romans 5:5-11. Thirdly, an interest in God, as our God and Father; a privilege upon which the Jews valued themselves highly above all other nations. See ch. Romans 2:17. These three are the singular privileges belonging to the Gospel state, wherein we Christians may glory, as really belonging to us, and greatly redounding, if duly understood and improved, to our honour and benefit. See Locke.

We have peace with God That is, we Gentiles, who are not under the law. It is in their names that St. Paul speaks in the last three verses of the foregoing chapter, and so on to Romans 5:11 as is evident from the illation here,—therefore, being justified by faith, we, &c. it being an inference drawn from his having proved in the former chapter, that the promise was not to the Jews alone, but to the Gentiles also; and that justification was not by the law, but by faith, and consequently designed for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. We have peace with God, is thus paraphrased by Dr. Doddridge: "Our guilty fears are silenced, and we are taught to look up to him with sweet serenity of soul, while we no longer conceive of him as an enemy, but under the endearing character of a friend and father."


Verse 2

Romans 5:2. By whom also we have access, &c.— By whom we have been introduced, by means of faith, into that grace, &c. The Greek word προσαγωγη, is often used as a sacerdotal phrase, andsignifies being with great solemnity introduced, as into the more immediate presence of the Deity in his temple; so as by a supposed interpreter, thence called προσαγωγευς, the introducer, to have a kind of conference with such a Deity. St. Paul uses the same word rejoice or glory for the convert Gentiles, which he had used before for the boasting of the Jews; and the same word he applied when he examined what Abraham had found, ch. Romans 4:2, &c.: which plainly shews us that he is here opposing the advantages which the Gentile converts to Christianity have by faith, to those which the Jews gloried in with so much haughtiness and contempt of the Gentiles. See Locke, Raphelius, and on chap. Romans 2:17.


Verse 4

Romans 5:4. Experience Full proof. The Greek word δοκιμη, has this signification, and is a metaphor taken from gold proved by purifying fire. See 1 Peter 1:7. Sirach 2:5 and Saurin's Serm.


Verse 5

Romans 5:5. Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts Is poured out into our hearts. The original word εκκεχυται, is commonly used, as Whitby remarks, when the effusion of the Holy Ghost is spoken of. Wherefore, as the Apostle, in this passage, had in his eye the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on the Gentiles, as proofs of God's love to them, he adds for their comfort and encouragement, that the love of God was poured out into their hearts along with the spiritual gifts.

By the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. The spiritual gifts bestowed on the first Christians were clear proofs, especially in the case of the Gentiles, of the love which God bare to them, and of his will that they should be saved. And therefore, when the Jewish believers, whoreproved Peter for preaching the Gospel to Cornelius and his friends, heard that they had received the Holy Ghost, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life, Acts 11:18. Farther; the ordinary influences of the Spirit, bestowed on believers, by renovating their nature, afford them the fullest assurance of pardon and acceptance through faith: hence they are said to be sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which it the earned of our inheritance, Ephesians 1:13-14 and is said, Romans 8:16, to bear witness with their spirit, that they are the children of God.


Verse 6

Romans 5:6. In due time Christ died, &c.— Christ seasonably died in the stead of the ungodly. See Albert. Observ. Sacr. p. 304 and Raphel. Annot. ex Xenoph. in Romans 5:8 where he has abundantly demonstrated that the phrase υπερ ημων απεθανε, signifies, he died in our room and stead. Nor does it appear, that the phrase αποθανειν υπερ τινος, has ever any other signification than that of rescuing the life of another at the expence of our own. And the very next verse, independent on anyauthority, shews how evidently it bears thatsense here, as one can hardly imagine any one would die for a good man, unless it were to redeem his life by giving up his own.


Verse 7

Romans 5:7. For scarcely for a righteous man, &c.— Now scarcely, &c. for γαρ cannot have the forceof an illative particle here. He may in common speech be called a just or righteous man, who gives to every man what is by law his due; and he a good or benevolent man, who voluntarily abounds in kind and generous actions, to which no human laws can compel him. There may possibly be some allusion here to a rabbinical distribution of mankind into three classes, good men, righteous men, and sinners. See Gonwin's Jewish Antiq. lib. 1:100: 6.


Verse 8

Romans 5:8. But God commendeth his love, &c.— St. Paul gives them here another evidence of the love of God towards them.—The ground they had to glory in the hopes of eternal salvation is the death of Christ for them while they were yet in their unconverted Gentile state, which he describes by calling them, Romans 5:6. ασθενεις, without strength;— ασεβεις, ungodly; αμαρτωλοι, sinners; Romans 5:8.: and εχθροι, enemies; Romans 5:10. These four epithets are given to them as Gentiles, they being used by St. Paul as the proper attributes of the unconverted Heathen world, considered in contradistinction to the Jewish nation. What St. Paul says of the Gentiles in other places will clear this. The helpless condition of the Gentile world, in the state of Gentilism, signified here by ασθενεις, without strength, he terms, Colossians 2:13 dead in sin; a state surely, if any, of utter weakness. And hence he says to the Romans converted to the Lord Jesus Christ; yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and yourselves as instruments of righteousness unto God, ch. Romans 6:13. How he describes ασεβειαν, ungodliness, mentioned ch. Romans 1:18 as the state of the Gentiles in general, we may see Romans 1:21; Romans 1:23. That he thought the title αμαρτωλοι, sinners, belonged peculiarly to the Gentiles, in contradistinction to the Jews, he puts past doubt in these words, We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Galatians 2:15. See also ch. Romans 6:17-22. And as for εχθροι, enemies, you have the Gentiles in general before their conversion to Christianity so called, Colossians 1:21.

If it were remembered that St. Paul, all along through the eleven first chapters of this epistle, speaks nationally of the Jews and Gentiles as it is visible he does, and not personally of single men, there would be less difficulty and fewer mistakes in understanding this epistle. This one place that we are upon, is a sufficient instance of it. For if by these terms here we shall understand him to denote all men personally, Jews as well as Gentiles, before they are savingly ingrafted into Jesus Christ, we shall make his discourse disjointed, and his sense mightily perplexed, if at all consi

That there were same among the Heathen as holy in their lives, and as far from enmity to God as some among the Jews, cannot be questioned. Nay, that many of them were worshippers of the true God, if we could doubt of it, is manifest out of the Acts of the Apostles: but yet St. Paul, in the places above quoted, pronounces them all together, ασεβεις and αθεοι, ungodly and without God (for that by these two terms applied to the same persons, he means the same, that is to say, such as did not acknowledge and worship the true God, seems plain). He therefore uses the terms ungodly and sinners of the Gentiles, as nationally belonging to them in contradistinction to the people of the Jews, who were the people of God, while the other were the provinces of the kingdom of Satan: not but that there were sinners, heinous sinners among the Jews; but the nation, considered as one body and society of men, disowned and declared against and opposed itself to those crimes and impurities which are mentioned by St. Paul, ch. Romans 1:24, &c. as woven into the religious andpoliticconstitutions of the Gentiles. There they had their full scope and swing, had allowance, countenance, and protection. The idolatrous nations had by their religions, laws, and forms of government, made themselves the open votaries and were the professed subjects of devils. So St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 truly calls the gods which they worshipped and paid their homage to. And suitably hereunto, their religious observances, it is well known, were not without great impurities, which were of right charged upon them, when they had a place in their sacred offices, and had the recommendation of religion to give them credit. The rest of the vices in St. Paul's black list, which were not warmed at their altars and fostered in their temples, were yet by the connivance of the law cherished in their private houses, made a part of the uncondemned actions of common life, and had the countenance of custom to authorize them, even in the best regulated and most civilized governments of the Heathens. On the contrary, the frame of the Jewish commonwealth was founded on the acknowledgment and worship of the only true invisible God, and their laws required an extra-ordinary purity of life and strictness of manners.

That the Gentiles were styled εχθροι, enemies, in a political or national sense, is plain from Ephesians 2 where they are called, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant. Abraham, on the other side, was called the friend of God, that is to say, one in covenant with him, and his professed subject who owned God to the world: and so were his posterity, the people of the Jews, while the rest of the world were under revolt, and lived in open rebellion against him, Isaiah 41:8. And here in this epistle St. Paul expressly teaches, that when the nation of the Jews, by rejecting of the Messiah, put themselves out of the peculiar kingdom of God, and were cast off from being any longer the peculiar people of God, they became enemies, and the Gentile world were reconciled. See ch. Romans 11:15. Hence St. Paul, who was the Apostle of the Gentiles, calls his performing that office the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:18. And here in this chapter, Romans 5:1 the privilege which they receive by theaccepting of the covenant of grace in Jesus Christ, he tells them is this, that they have peace with God, that is to say, are no longer incorporated with his enemies, and of the party of the open rebels against him in the kingdom of Satan, being returned to their natural allegiance in their owning the one true supreme God, in submitting to the kingdom that he had set up in his Son, and being received by him as his subjects and children. Suitably hereunto, St. James, speaking of the conversion of the Gentiles, says of it, that God did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. Acts 15:14 and Romans 5:19 he calls the converts, those who from among the Gentiles are turned to God.

Besides what is to be found in other parts of St. Paul's epistles to justify the taking of these words here, as applied nationally to the Gentiles, in contradistinction to the children of Israel, that which St. Paul says, Romans 5:10-11 makes it necessary to understand them so. We, says he, when we were enemies were reconciled to God, and so we now glory in him, as our God. We here must unavoidably be spoken in the name of the Gentiles, as is plain not only by the whole tenor of this epistle, but from this passage of glorying in God, which he mentions as a privilege now of the unbelieving Gentiles, surpassing that of the Jews, whom he had taken notice of before, ch. Romans 2:17 as being forward to glory in God as their peculiar right, though with no great advantage to themselves. But the Gentiles who were reconciled now to God by Christ's death, and taken into covenant with God, as many as received the Gospel, had a new and better title to this glorying than the Jews. Those who now are reconciled, and glory in God as their God, he says, were enemies. The Jews, who had the same corrupt nature common to them with the rest of mankind, are no where that I know called εχθροι, enemies, or ασεβεις, ungodly, while they publicly owned him for their God, and professed to be his people. But the heathens were deemed enemies, for being aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise. There were never but two kingdoms in the world, that of God, and that of the devil; these were opposite, and therefore the subjects of the latter could not but be in the state of enemies, and fall under that denomination. The revolt from God was universal, and the nations of the earth had given themselves up to idolatry, when God called Abraham, and took him into covenant with himself, as he did afterwards the whole nation of the Israelites; whereby they were re-admitted into his kingdom, came under his protection, and were his people and subjects, and no longer enemies; whilst all the rest of the nations remained in the state of rebellion, the professed subjects of other gods, who were usurpers upon God's right, and enemies of his kingdom. And indeed if the epithets given by St. Paul to the heathens, as mentioned above, be not taken as spoken of the Gentile world in this political and trulyevangelical sense, but in the ordinary systematical notion applied to all mankind, as belonging universally to every man personally, whether by profession Gentile, Jew, or Christian, before he be actually regenerated by a saving faith and an effectual thorough conversion, the illative particle wherefore in the beginning of Romans 5:12 will hardly connect it and what follows to the foregoing part of this chapter. But the first eleven verses must be taken for a parenthesis, and then the therefore in the beginning of this 5th chapter, which joins it to the 4th with a very clear connection, will be wholly insignificant, and, after all, the sense of the 12th verse will but ill connect with the end of the 4th chapter, notwithstanding the wherefore which is taken to bring them in as an inference. Whereas these first eleven verses being supposed to be spoken of the Gentiles, makes them not only of a piece with St. Paul's design in the foregoing and following chapters, but the thread of the whole discourse goes on very smooth, and the inferences (ushered in with therefore in the first verse, and with wherefore in the 12th verse) are very easy, clear, and natural, from the immediately preceding verses. That of the first verse may be seen in what we have already said, and that of the 12th verse in short stands thus: "We Gentiles have by Christ received the reconciliation, which we cannot doubt to be intended for us as well as for the Jews, since sin and death entered into the world by Adam, the common father of us all. And as by the disobedience of that one, condemnation of death came upon all; so by the obedience of One, justification to life came upon all."


Verse 9

Romans 5:9. From wrath See on chap. Romans 1:18 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10.


Verse 11

Romans 5:11. And not only so These words join this verse to the third. The Apostle in the second verse says, "We, the Gentiles who believe, glory in thehopes of an eternal, splendid state of bliss." In Romans 5:3 he adds, "And not only so, but our afflictions are to us matter of glorying:" which he proves in the seven following verses; and then, returning to his subject, adds, "And not only so, but we glory in God also as our God, being reconciled to him in Jesus Christ:" and thus he shews that the convert Gentiles had whereof to glory, as well as the Jews, and were not inferior to them, though they had not circumcision and the law, wherein the Jews gloried so much, but with no ground, in comparison of what the Gentiles had to glory in, by faith in Jesus Christ now under the Gospel. The verse may be paraphrased; "It is true, we Gentiles could not formerly glory in God, as our God; that was the privilege of the Jews, who alone, of all the nations, owned him for their King and God, and were his people in covenant with him. All the rest of the kingdoms of the earth had taken other lords, and given themselves up to false gods to serve and worship them; and so were in a state of war with the true God, the God of Israel: but now we being reconciled by Jesus Christ, whom we have received and owned for our Lord, and therebybeing returned into his kingdom, and to our ancient allegiance, we can truly glory in Godas our God; which the Jews cannot do, who have refused to receive Jesus his eternal Son for their Lord, whom God hath appointed Lord over all things." As our translators have rendered the Greek verb καταλλασσω, by reconcile in the foregoing verse and in all other places, and the Greek word καταλλαγη, in all other places, by reconciliation; it should certainly have been so rendered here.


Verse 12

Romans 5:12.— Here the Apostle advances his third and last argument, to prove the extensiveness of the divine grace, or that it reaches to all mankind as well as to the Jews. His argument stands thus: "The consequences of Christ's obedience extend as far as the consequences of Adam's disobedience; but those extend to all mankind; and therefore so do the consequences of Christ's obedience." Now if the Jews will not allow the Gentiles any interest in Abraham, as not being naturally descended from him, yet they must own that the Gentiles are the descendants of Adam, as well as themselves; and being all equally involved in the consequences of his sin, that is to say, temporal death and its concomitants, from which they shall all equally be released at the resurrection, through the free gift of God, respecting the obedience of Christ,—they could not deny the Gentiles a share in all the other blessings included in the same gift. This argument, besides proving the main point, serves to shew, 1st, That the grace of God in the Gospel abounds beyond, or very far exceeds, the mere reversal of the sufferings brought upon mankind by Adam's one offence, as it bestows a vast surplusage of blessings, which have no relation to that offence, but to the many offences that mankind have committed, and to the exuberance of the divine grace. 2nd, To shew how justly the divine grace is founded upon the obedience of Christ, in correspondence to the dispensation that Adam was under, and to the consequences of his disobedience. If his disobedience involved all mankind in death, it was proper that the obedience of Christ should be the reason and foundation, not only of reversing that death to all mankind, but also of any other blessings which God should see fit to bestow upon the world. 3rdly, It serves to explain, or set in a clear view, the difference between the law and grace. It was the law, which for Adam's one transgression subjected him and his posterity, as included in him when he transgressed, to death, without hopes of a revival. It is grace, or the favour of the law-giver, which restores all men to life at the resurrection; and, over and above that, has provided a gracious dispensation for the pardon of their sins; for reducing them to obedience; for guarding them against temptations; for supplying them with strength and comfort; and, if faithful to the grace of God, for advancing them to eternal life. This would give the attentive Jew a just notion of the law which himself was under, and under which he was fond of bringing the Gentiles.

The order in which the Apostle handles the argument is this: First, he affirms, that death passed upon all mankind by Adam's one offence, Romans 5:12. Secondly, He proves this, Romans 5:13-14. Thirdly, He affirms that there is a correspondence between Adam and Christ, or between the offence and the free gift, Romans 5:15. Fourthly, This correspondence, so far as the two opposite parts answer each other, is fully expressed, Romans 5:18-19.; and there we have the main or fundamental position of the Apostle's argument, in relation to the point which he has been arguing from the beginning of the Epistle; namely, the extensiveness of the grace of the Gospel, that it actually reaches to all men, and is not confined to the Jewish peculiarity. Fifthly, But before he lays down this position, it was necessary he should shew that the correspondence between Adam and Christ, or between the offence and the gift, is not to be confined strictly to the bounds specified in the position, as if the gift reached no farther thanthe consequences of the offence, when in reality it extends greatly beyond them, Romans 5:15-17. Sixthly, Having settled these points as previously necessary to clear up hisfundamental position, and fit it to his argument, he then lays down that position in a diversified manner of speech, Romans 5:18-19 just as in 1 Corinthians 15:20-21 and leaves us to conclude from the premises laid down, Romans 5:15-17 that the gift and grace, or favour of God, in its utmost extent, is as free to all mankind who are willing to accept of it, as this particular instance, the resurrection from the dead. Seventhly, Having thus shewn the extensiveness of the divine grace, in opposition to the direful effects of the law, under which Adam was, that the Jew might notoverlook what he intended he should particularly observe, the Apostle puts him in mind, that the law given to Adam, transgress and die, was introduced into the Jewish constitution by the ministry of Moses; and for this end, that the offence, with the penalty of death annexed, might abound, Romans 5:20. But to illustrate the divine grace, by setting it in contrast to the law, he immediately adds, where sin subjecting to death hath abounded,—grace hath much more abounded; that is to say, in blessings bestowed, it has stretched both far beyond Adam's transgression, and the transgressions under the law of Moses; Romans 5:20-21. Upon this argument the two following general remarks may be made: First,

As to the order of time, the Apostle carries his arguments backward, from the time when Christ came into the world (chap. Romans 1:17 to chap. 4:) to the time when the covenant was made with Abraham, chap. 4: and to the time when the judgment of condemnation pronounced upon Adam came upon all men; chap. Romans 5:12 to the end. And thus he gives us a view of the principal dispensations from the beginning of the world. Secondly, In this last case, as well as the two former, he uses law or forensic terms; judgment for condemnation, —justification,—justify,—made righteous; and therefore as he considers both Jews and Gentiles at the coming of Christ, and Abraham when the covenant was made with him, so he considers Adam and all men as standing in the court before the tribunal of God; and this was the clearest and concisest way of representing his arguments.

Wherefore, as by one man, &c.— The sense and connection of this verse seems well kept up, if the και, and, in the second clause be considered as redundant, which it frequently is, 1 Corinthians 14:27. 2 Corinthians 1:6. As by one man sin entered,—so, or even so, death passed upon all men. And thus the positions in each clause aptly, and regularly answer each other. All other interpretations of the verse seem greatly to embarrass the construction and the sense. Wherefore, δια τουτο, frequently signifies in relation to the affair going before, not by way of inference from it, but to denote a farther enlargement upon it, or the advancing of something which enforces or explains it. For that all have sinned, is rendered by some unto which all have sinned; that is, "all are so far involved in the consequences of Adam's first transgression, as by means of it to become obnoxious to death." St. Paul is here evidently speaking of that mortality to which all men became subject in consequence of Adam's transgression. Volumes have been written to prove, that the death inflicted upon all mankind, as a punishment for that transgression, was not only natural, but spiritual and eternal; but after all that has been controverted on the subject, it appears a mere strife of words. That in Adam all die, or become subject to temporal death, is a fact which we too fatally experience: that this death was the consequence of sin is equally certain; and if there be any meaning in the words, sin is certainly the spiritual death of the soul: the spiritual death therefore introduced the natural; and that the sinful soul dying to this life cannot be admitted into the life of glory with God, is a fact equally certain, upon the authority of revelation, with those already advanced. If therefore it be allowed, that byone man sin entered into the world, and natural death by sin, it must be allowed that from the same source proceeds the spiritual and eternal, as well as the natural death. With all this I do not on any account mean to assert, that this death is inflicted upon all mankind as their punishment for Adam's transgression. The plain fact stands only thus:—that we are subject to sin and death, in consequence of sin and death introduced into the world by Adam.


Verse 13

Romans 5:13. For until the law, sin was [counted] in the world] The Apostle's doctrine, that all have received the reconciliation through Christ, being founded on the fact, that all have been subjected to sin and death through Adam, he immediately enters on the proof of that fact, by appealing to the death of infants and others, who, not being capable of actual sin, cannot be thought to die for their own transgression. But to see the argument in its full force we must supply the word counted or imputed in the first clause, which is inserted by the Apostle in the second: sin was counted in the world to all men: that is, all men without exception suffer death, the punishment of sin.

But sin is not imputed, when there is no law By law Mr. Locke understands a revealed positive law threatening death for every offence. But on that supposition, no sin could be punished before the law of Moses was given, contrary to what happened to the antediluvians. And after it was given, none but the sins of the Jews could be punished. Whereas the Apostle affirms, chap. Romans 1:32 that the Gentiles know, that they who sin against the law written on their heart, are worthy of death. I therefore think that the expression, Where there is no law, is general, and means, where no law of God is known; and that the Apostle had in his eye the case of infants and idiots, to whom certainly there is no law, as they are not capable of the knowledge of law; consequently they are not capable of sinning actually like Adam. Wherefore since death reigns over them, equally as over others, it is evident, that, having nosin of their own, they die through Adam's sin alone.


Verse 14

Romans 5:14. Who is the figure of him that was to come Adam is said to be the figure of him who was to come, that is, of Christ the Messiah; for this is one of the marks or names by which the Jews signified the expected Messiah. See Luke 24:21. John 6:14-15; John 11:27. Hebrews 10:37. In the Greek it is τυπος, the type of him that was to come. A type signifies such a mark or impression as is made by a stamp or a seal. It is used, John 20:25 to signify the mark which the nails made in our Saviour's hands when he was nailed to the tree, and it is rendered the print of the nails. See also Acts 7:44. Hebrews 8:5. A type therefore is arelative word, signifying a thing to which another is to answer or agree, as the figure upon the wax answers, is like to, and agrees with, the figure upon the seal; or as the thing which is made, answers to the pattern after which it is made. Hence St. Paul several times applies it to moral action, under the notion of an example, namely, when the behaviour of one man is made the seal or stamp to be impressed upon another man; or when one man's actions are made a pattern to be copied after by another man, as Philippians 3:17. 1 Thessalonians 1:7. 2 Thessalonians 3:9. 1 Timothy 4:12. Titus 2:7. In the place before us, when Adam is said to be a type of him that was to come, no doubt can be made that St. Paul intends thereby to denote, that there was something with reference to Christ which was to bear a correspondence or to answer to something with reference to Adam; or that he draws a comparison between something which Adam did, and the consequencesthereof,and something which Christ did, and the consequences thereof. This comparison he begins at Romans 5:12 and carries on to the end of the chapter; and itconsistsofthreeparts,—twoaffirmativepropositions,and the connection or relation between them, thus:—PROPOSITION I. "By Adam's disobedience death came upon all men." CONNECTION: Adam in this was a type or figure of Christ; or in respect to this, Christ is the counterpart to Adam. PROPOSITION II. "By Christ's obedience life is restored to all men." The attentive reader will observe how methodically the Apostle proceeds in clearing the first proposition and the connection, before he advances to the second proposition. It may be proper just to remark, that this and the preceding verse form an instance of the perspicuous brevity for which St. Paul was remarkable. One shall hardly find in any other author an argument so justly managed, so fully established, attended with such a variety of instructive sentiments, in the compass of thirty words:—for, setting aside the articles, there are no more in the Greek. It is by this unparallelled art that the Apostle has brought such a variety of arguments, instructions, and sentiments, all stated, proved, and sufficiently guarded, explained, and defended, within the limits of this Epistle, as have made it a magazine ofthe most real, extensive, useful, and pleasant knowledge.


Verse 15

Romans 5:15. But not as the offence This evidently shews that the Apostle in this paragraph is running a parallel, or making a comparison between the offence of Adam and its consequence, and the opposite free gift of God and its consequences; and in these three verses he shews, that the comparison will not hold in all respects, because the free gift bestows blessings far beyond the consequences of the offence, and which therefore have no relation to it; and this was necessary, not only to prevent mistakes, concerning the consequence of Adam's offence, and the extent of Gospel grace; but it was also necessary to the Apostle's main design; which was, not only to prove that the grace of the Gospel extends to all men, so far as it takes off the consequence of Adam's offence; but that it likewise extends to all men with respect to the surplusage of blessings, in which it stretches vastly beyond the consequence of Adam's offence; for both the grace which takes off the consequence of Adam's offence, and the grace which abounds beyond it, are included in the same χαρισμα, free gift, which should be well observed; for in this I conceive lies the connection and force of his argument. The free gift, which stands opposed to Adam's offence, and which appears to have been bestowed immediately after his offence (Genesis 3:15.), includes both the grace which answers exactly to the offence, and also that part of the grace which stretches far beyond it. And if the one part of the gift be freely bestowed upon all mankind, as the Jews allow, why not the other? especially considering that the whole gift stands upon a reason and foundation, in excellence and worth vastly surpassing the malignity and demerit of the offence; and consequently capable of producingbenefits vastly beyond the sufferings occasioned by the offence? This is the force of the Apostle's argument; and therefore supposing that in the letter of Romans 5:18-19 he compares the consequences of Adam's offence and Christ's obedience, only so far as the one is commensurate to the other; yet his reasoning, Romans 5:15-17 plainly shews, it is his meaning and intention that we should take into his conclusion the whole of the gift, so far as it can reach to all mankind.

Many be dead—unto many The many died—unto the many. I suppose, says Mr. Locke, that the phrase οι πολλοι, and the other τους πολλους, may stand here for the multitude or collective body of mankind: for the Apostle in express words assures us, 1 Corinthians 15:22 that in Adam all died, and in Christ all shall be made alive; and so here Romans 5:18 all men fell under the condemnation of death, and all men were restored unto justification of life: which all men, in the very next words, Romans 5:19 are called οι πολλοι, the many. So that the many in the former part of this verse, and the many at the end of it, comprehending all mankind, must be equal. The comparison, therefore, and the inequality of the things compared, lie not here between the number of those who died, and the number of those who shall be restored to life; but the comparison lies between the persons by whom this general death and this general restoration to life came;—Adam the type, and Jesus Christ the antitype: and it seem to lie in this, that Adam's lapse came barely for the satisfaction of his own appetite and desire of good to himself; but the restoration was from the exuberant bountyand good-will of Christ towards men; who at thecost of his own painful death purchased life for them. I may add to what Mr. Locke has advanced, that since all mankind were made mortal for Adam's sin, the Apostle by οι πολλοι, the many, certainly means all mankind. Besides, Christ, in speaking of this very subject, used the word in that extensive sense (Matthew 26:28.); This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed ( περι πολλαν ) for many; that is, for the collective body of mankind. And as the many who died, are all mankind; so the many in the end of the verse, to whom the gift by grace is said to have abounded, are all mankind. For the abounding of the gift by grace, as is plain from Romans 5:19 means only that, by the gracious gift of God, all mankind, for the sake of Christ's obedience, are allowed a short life on earth, and a trial under a better covenant than that under which Adam fell; and that all are to be raised from the dead at the last day, to receive according to their deeds. Hence we are told, 1 Corinthians 15:22. As by Adam all die; so by Christ all shall be made alive. See also the following, Romans 5:16 where many offences signifies all offences.

By one man Jesus Christ The Apostle calls the Lord Jesus Christ a man, to shew that in comparing him with Adam, his actions in the human nature chiefly are considered.


Verse 16

Romans 5:16. And not as it was by one that sinned, &c.— The Apostle here manifestly enters upon another respect, in which the gift reaches beyond the offence: και, and, has nearly the same force as also. See on chap. Romans 1:17 and the introduction to the present chapter.


Verse 17

Romans 5:17. Much more they which receive, &c.— The abounding of grace here, is without all doubt the same as the grace of God which hath abounded to many, Romans 5:15 and the gift of righteousness or justification, is the same as the gift by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, Romans 5:15. There, the grace and the gift are considered simply and absolutely,—as free to the many, or to all mankind: here, they are considered as received, or duly improved by some of the many, or some part of mankind, in order to their eternal happiness. Grace is the favour or good-will of the donor; the gift of justification is one of the great benefits that he has bestowed. Instead of reigned by one,—in life by one, we may read through one.


Verse 18-19

Romans 5:18-19. Therefore, as by the offence of one Therefore as through one offence all men fell under condemnation; even so through one righteousness all men are restored unto justification of life. Αρα ουν, therefore, always denotes the grand point the Apostle is aiming at, and which, after having given reasons, distinctions, or explications, he at last lays down as fully cleared or established. See ch. Romans 7:3; Romans 7:25, Romans 8:12, Romans 9:16; Romans 9:18, Romans 14:12; Romans 14:19. And so in this and the following verse he closes his argument, and finishes the comparison which he left incomplete in the 12th verse. It seems as if the comparison in these two verses should be understood onlyso far as the consequences of Christ's obedience are of the same extent with the consequences of Adam's disobedience. The very form of the sentence leads us to this opinion; and this exact comparison is the just and true ground of the Apostle's argument, taken from Adam's offence, for the conviction of the Jew. The stress of the argument evidently lies upon the phrase, all men;and to fix a conviction upon the Jew the restoration of all men to life,—which he owned, and which he must own was the effect of grace,—was the most proper topic to be insisted on. It may be objected, that justification of life, and being made righteous, seem too strong terms for expressing the general resurrection: but consider, first, the Apostle uses law or forensic terms in his two foregoing arguments, and therefore no wonder if he uses them in his third and last argument. Secondly, Justification of life is opposed to condemnation; and being made righteous, is opposed to being made sinners. Now if our common mortality is signified by condemnation, and made sinners, what impropriety is there, in supposing that the resurrection which stands opposed to that mortality is signified by justification of life, and being made righteous? Thirdly, Justification—being justified or made righteous, are terms applicable to any instance of deliverance from suffering. See Judges 5:11. Psalms 4:1; Psalms 22:31; Psalms 31:1. Fourthly, In the two fore-going arguments faith is insisted on as, on our part, the condition of justification; but here St. Paul mentions no condition at all. He does not say, justification of life by faith,—many shall be made righteous by faith;—and consequentlythus directs our thoughts to some unconditional discharge. But, after all, as the sense of Romans 5:15-17 is intended and understood in Romans 5:18-19 and as the drift of the Apostle's conclusion is to shew that the gift, in its utmost extent, is free to all mankind; if any one shall judge that justification of life, and shall be made righteous, do directly denote not only the resurrection, but the free gift in its full latitude, as free to all mankind who receive and improve the grace of God; and that the many shall be made righteous, is to be understood as the grace of God, and the gift hath abounded unto many, Romans 5:15 there is certainly no need to contend; for the difference is not very material, the Apostle's argument being the same either way. See Doddridge and Calmet.


Verse 20

Romans 5:20. Moreover, the law, &c.— But the law, &c. There can be nothing plainer than that St. Paul, in this and the next verse, makes a comparison between the state of the Jews, and that of the Gentiles, as it stands described in the eight preceding verses; to shew wherein they differed or agreed, so far as was necessary to his present purpose, of satisfying the convert Romans, that in reference to their interest in the Gospel, the Jews had no advantage over them by the law. With what reference to those eight verses he wrote this and the following, appears by the very choice of the words. He tells them, Romans 5:12 that death by sin entered ( εισηλθε ) into the world; and here he tells them, that the law, (for sin and death were entered already,) παρεισηλθε, entered a little; a word which set in opposition to εισηλθε, gives a distinguishing idea of the extent of the law, such as it really was; little and narrow as were the people of Israel whom alone it reached in respect of all the other nations of the earth, with whom it had nothing to do; for the law of Moses was given to Israel alone, and not to all mankind. The Vulgate, therefore, rightly translates the word subintravit; it entered, but not far: that is to say, the death which followed upon the account of the Mosaical law, reigned over but a small part of mankind, viz. the children of Israel, who alone were under that law; whereas, by Adam's transgression of the positive law given him in Paradise, death passed upon all men. The Apostle, as we have observed, uses the word law in various senses; sometimes for a rule in general, chap. Romans 3:27.; sometimes for the whole Jewish code, or the Old Testament, chap. Romans 3:19.; sometimes for a rule of action, chap. Romans 3:20.; sometimes for a rule of action with a penalty of death annexed, as here and chap. Romans 6:15, Romans 7:4, &c. Such a law Adam was under;—On the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die: and such a constitution the law of Moses was, subjecting those whowere under it to death for every transgression. For observe, it is the very nature of law, whether divine or human, (for law in its nature and properties is the same, whether enacted by God or man,) never to remit the penalty or forfeiture. The law of England makes felonydeath. The criminal, when convicted, is dead in law; and when executed, should he come to life again, the law slays him again that very moment; and orders him again to execution, and so on for ever. The everlasting language of law to every one that breaks it, and consequently for every breach and transgression of it, is, Thou shalt die, or thou shalt be punished. Law never does, nor can pardon; but all the world knows and allows that it is the prerogative of every law-giver to pardon or remit the penalty, as he sees fit: and therefore the language of law, dying thou shalt die, though it may also be considered as the language of the lawgiver, yet it is not to be understood of the event, as if thethreatening must and would certainly and eventually be executed, but of the demerit of transgression; reserving to the wisdom of the governor liberty to execute, mitigate, or totally remit the penalty, as he shall judge proper. Shall die, in the language of lawgivers enacting laws, must be understood not as the language of private persons, but as implying and including a reserve in favour of the governor's prerogative to mitigate or remit the penalty. Were it not so, all mankind must have perished in Adam, and all the Jews under the law had been lost for ever; and every felon in England must have been actually executed. Now, when the lawgiver or governor mitigates the penalty, or suspends the execution,—granting the sinner the benefit of repentance, and promising pardon and life; this is Gospel; then he is not under law but under grace or favour; not under law, subjecting to death for every transgression, but yet under law as a rule of action which he is as much as ever obliged to obey, though every act of disobedience does not bring him under unpardonable wrath and condemnation. This is the dispensation, in greater or lesser degrees of light, under which all mankind have been, from the time of the promise (Genesis 3:15.) to this day; excepting that the law in its rigour was introduced among the Jews. To us Christians the grace of God is clearly displayed: yet so, that we are at the same time expressly assured, that if it is perseveringly rejected and abused, we must expect no farther efforts of the divine goodness for our salvation; Hebrews 6:4-8; Hebrews 10:26-27. If, despising God's present patience and forbearance, we live after the flesh, the law at the last day will take place, or be executed, and we shall die, chap. Romans 8:13.; for the law is so holy, and good, and just, that it can be relaxed only in favour of the sinner's repentance. But in the case of impenitents and incurables, it must and will take place; that is to say, in other words, it is perfectly right and fitting that they, being the corruption and nuisance of God's creation, should be destroyed as tares and chaff in the fire.

The Apostle says, the law entered that the offence might abound, or rather so that the offence might abound. See chap. Romans 3:19. The meaning is not, that the law was brought in among the Jews to make them more wicked, or guilty of more sins than they were before; but the meaning is, that by the entrance of the law every sin which the Jew committed made him liable to death; and so the offence of the same nature with Adam's was multiplied. Mr. Locke is of opinion, that the last clause of this verse is spoken with special relation to the Jews, and denotes all that surplusage of grace which God vouchsafed to them above the rest of the world. But though this may be true, there is no necessity for excluding the grace which extends to all mankind; and the following verse, as it is the concluding stroke of the Apostle's argument, naturallyleads our thoughts to take in the whole compass of sin, and its effects upon all the world, as well as the whole of God's grace, not only to the Jews, but to all mankind. See Locke, Doddridge, and Whitby.

Inferences.—As the fall of man happened in a higher and very different order of nature from the present, it is not possible for us to have a clear and adequate knowledge of it. But there are numberless degrees between a perfect knowledge and a total ignorance. We are told all that it concerns us to know; and that we should attend to as an important part of our own history. In forming our notion concerning it from the account given in Scripture, we must make due allowance for the imperfection of human language, which cannot express spiritual things otherwise than by figures founded in that analogy which subsists between the visible and the invisible world.

But it may be asked, Whence came evil into the world? This has been deemed a question of great intricacy; but it may be solved by considering only whence moral good proceeds. Does it not arise from the right use which a free agent makes of his liberty, when he chooses that which is proper for him, and rejects the contrary? whether the power so to do, refers to man in his original state of innocence; or to man in his fallen state, unable as of himself to do any thing good, but able to do all things through Christ strengthening him? Evil therefore flows from the abuse of moral liberty; and it is needless to attempt to account for its existence from any other source. Take away moral liberty, that is, the power of choosing what is good, and avoiding what is evil, and there can be no moral good in man.

Adam by the abuse of his free-will pulled down destruction upon himself. He disobeyed his Creator, and he had in part the punishment he deserved. So far, I think, there is no ground for objection. But the consequence of his fall involving all his race, and making infirmity permanent, as Esdras speaks; this is a great offence to many. We are apt to say with him, That it had been better not to have given the earth to Adam; (not to have trusted him with the fate of his posterity;) or else when it was given him, to have restrained him from falling. This sentiment, though a rash one, is very natural to our frailty and ignorance; as is also the exclamation which follows: O Adam, what hast thou done! for though it was thou that sinnedst, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee. Such complaints and such expostulations have been common among men; but it is common to complain without reason; and if we saw the whole plan of Providence with relation to mankind, I am fully persuaded that we should find this complaint very unreasonable, and even most ungrateful to our Redeemer; who has provided an ample remedy for all damages arising from Adam's transgression, by atoning not only for original sin, but also for the many actual offences of penitent sinners, as is shewed at large in the chapter before us.

I would only observe in this place, that the reason why we are so prone to complain and lament ourselves, is, because we now feel the inconveniences of our present state, and are not sufficiently apprised of many of its advantages, nor of the greater disadvantages which other initiating states may be liable to. It is very probable, that every intelligent being has a time of trial or probation. Some of the angels are fallen irreparably. Our father Adam was placed in a lower station than they: his fall consequently was less, and by the mercy of our great Mediator, he and Eve, the companion of his fall, are now fully restored. We find ourselves, not originally by our own fault, at the bottom. But a ray of light reaches down to us, and a way is opened for our ascent. That light and that way is our dear Redeemer, who is ever present with and in the believer, to enlighten, guide, and assist him in his passage.

But why (it may be said) did not God make us happy at once? Why should he suffer his creatures to run any hazard of being miserable? He might have made justice as natural and necessary as respiration; and thereby spared us all the pains which we must now be at before we can be happy upon the terms which he has set us?

To this we might answer in the words of the Apostle: Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him who formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay?—&c. Thus we might answer, and thereby satisfy a pious mind: although these words were spoken only concerning God's electing a peculiar people, called to the distinguished privileges of the Gospel dispensation; and were not intended to be applied, as they have since been, to the bulk of mankind, whose sentence, as well as ours, at the last day, will be according to their works: which I remark here, because this way of arguing, which resolves difficulties by vouching divine supremacy, has been so abused. To those therefore who move this question, "Why did not God make us happy at once, without our passing through any state of probation?" it will be more satisfactory, if we can intelligibly unfold this knot, instead of cutting it by dint of sovereign power.

The objectors would be dispensed from all probationary states; they would take no trouble, and run no hazard: they would have nothing to do, but to enjoy; they would be immutably, eternally, infinitely, happy. They want no more of God; they have no other cares or desires.

Let it now be considered, whether such desires are reasonable. Are they not, on the contrary, most ungenerous and base; arguing a frame of mind quite unworthy of the favour to which it makes pretension? We are all children of the Almighty Father, and consequently under such obligations as that relation infers. Suppose then a son quite averse to giving himself any trouble about pleasing his father,—one who thinks it a hardship to be bid do any thing but what he himself inclines to: who grudges that any service should be required of him; yet wants an inheritance,—wants that his father should do all he can for him. Such are they who make the objection; and God, who bids us not to cast pearls before swine, will not squander his blessings upon such unworthy selfish spirits.

Even in this state of confusion, we think it wrong when a worthless man is possessed of great wealth or, preferment. Though there are, far from being any real good, yet, as men value them, they judge them misplaced in the hands of a fool. In the kingdom of heaven there will be no such preposterous distribution; but excellence shall be the measure of bliss; and none shall be crowned, but those who have conquered.

And this may serve for an answer to those, who are inclined to charge God foolishly, for permitting the influence of the first man's transgression to infect all his race. This infection we commonly call original sin, which has been denied by some, and misrepresented by others, with such gross aggravations, as render it offensive to common sense, and inconsistent with the revealed doctrines, particularly those of this Epistle.

As for those who deny it, I shall not dispute with them; for who would debate with a blind man about darkness? And they must be blind indeed, who perceive not evil in their natures. The truth here is to the felt, and needs no foreign proof.

I shall here just take notice of the account of original sin given in the articles of faith of the church of England: which was made to render us the more sensible of our obligations to the Redeemer, and is expressed in terms which are literally true in a certain sense, yet may easily be mistaken. As where it is said [the IXth article] that original sin is not only the corruption, but the fault of the nature of every man, and deserves condemnation. When we call it a fault, we must remember to distinguish it from our own actual faults, and remark, that the article calls it the fault of our nature. Fault is used here, as we apply it to inanimate beings, and in the same sense, as when we say of a vessel, that it is faulty, that is to say, defective, useless, deserving to be rejected and cast away. However, for the present, it has spoiled us, it makes us abominable: for a fault is a fault, and corruption is corruption, whichever way it came, or whatever use may be made of it. It has happened without our crime, and it may have an issue unspeakably to our advantage. But neither of these are here considered. Regard is had only to the present nature of man in his fallen and unregenerate state, which is notoriously unjust, and as such deserves condemnation, as a dead tree cumbering the ground, if there were no reviving power, if there were no Redeemer. But this is putting a case, which never was, nor could have been. For the Almighty, who inhabiteth eternity, and whose all-seeing eye reaches through the whole extent of it, foreknowing the lapse of the first Adam, had, before the foundation of the world, provided a second head of human nature, through whom to derive his blessings to the whole race, when the first channel was polluted and spoiled. And as by the first channel death came into the world, so resurrection proceeds from the second: for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. And those who have done good, shall come forth to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation.

The present life is our time of trial, during which our gracious Redeemer administers proper assistances to each man particularly according to his capacity. For as he has tasted death for every man; so he is the Saviour of all men, and the light of all men, having written the law in their hearts, and offering grace to fulfil it.

As for us, who have the light of revelation, we have so much more to answer for. Let us not then waste our time in vain complaints, or absurd cavils at the divine dispensation. We see indeed but little of God's ways, yet what we see is sufficient for our conduct, and to silence all reasonable objections; since we are assured that the merits of Christ are co-extended with the demerits of Adam, and that every man at the last day shall be judged only according to his own deeds. Then the mercy, as well as the justice of God, will be exerted in a manner which far transcends all notions that we can now form of them; the clouds, which now cover the ways of Providence, will be dissipated; wisdom will be justified of her children; and even those who shall be then reprobated, will be forced to acknowledge the equity of their condemnation.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The sinner's justification before God through faith being set forth, the blessed effects of it are here described.—Not that faith is the meritorious cause of our justification, but the alone and infinite merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Being now justified,

1. We have peace with God. The dreadful breach which sin had made is repaired, the enmity between God and us is removed, and being restored to a state of favour and reconciliation with him, we have that peace of God in our souls which passeth all understanding, and which none can know or taste till they have, through Jesus Christ our Lord, received the atonement.

2. We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; have freedom and liberty to approach a throne of grace, as in a state of acceptance before God; and are assured that all our requests which are agreeable to his will, shall through our great High-priest be heard and answered.

3. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God, that glory which shall be revealed at the day of the appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and which we can now antedate by faith.

4. Even our severest trials now have in them matter of abundant joy. And we can not only rejoice in the prospect before us, but we glory in tribulations also, in all our afflictions, persecutions, sufferings, and reproaches for Christ, knowing that, however grievous to flesh and blood these things at present may be, in the issue they shall prove that they have been blessings in disguise; while tribulation worketh patience, and gives us an opportunity to exercise God's holy will; and, without repining, cheerfully to resign ourselves into his hands, neither angry at the instruments of our troubles, nor resenting their indignities. And patience brings experience of God's power, grace, and faithfulness, supporting us under our trials, and extricating us out of them; and of our own frailty and fidelity, while we feel how weak we are in ourselves, yet that we can do all things through Christ strengthening us. And experience begets hope; every support which the Lord ministers, every deliverance which he gives, confirms and encourages our hope in him; and hope maketh not ashamed, gives us a holy but humble boldness to approach the throne of grace, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us; and our hope rests not on any goodness or strength in ourselves, but on him whose free and boundless love has, in the most copious streams, poured forth the Holy Ghost into our hearts in the richest manifestations, and produces these blessed and happy effects.

2nd, The Apostle, having mentioned that delightful theme, the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, cannot but expatiate thereon. It is amazing love, if we consider the persons to whom it is shewn, the manner in which it is expressed, and the blessings thence derived. (1.) The persons were ungodly wretches, apostates from God, desperately wicked, sunk in the lowest abyss of misery, sinners in nature and in practice, and exposed to all the terrible wrath of an offended God, without strength to afford themselves the least relief, in order to escape the just and inevitable destruction which was before them; yea, enemies, determinately set on evil, and rebels open and avowed against God's crown and dignity. (2.) In this state of deadly guilt and hopeless misery, in due time, according to the divine appointment, Christ died for the ungodly; an instance of such transcendent grace and love as never had appeared on earth before. Were we to search the world throughout, scarcely could we find a man who, for the most righteous, excellent, and amiable person, would lay down his own life to ransom him: though per-adventure for a good man, whose public usefulness was eminent, or to whom he owed the deepest obligations, one might be found so generous and grateful, as even to dare to die in his stead. And with what astonishment would such an heroic action be heard, and preserved in the records of fame, for the admiration of all succeeding ages. But lo! with infinitely transcending glory does God commend the surpassing excellence of his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, took our nature, stood in our place, endured the curse which we had deserved, and by the ransom of his own blood redeems every believer from his state of guilt, misery, and despair. Hear it, ye angels, with admiration and astonishment! Hear it, ye sinful sons of men, with wonder and love; and henceforth let heaven echo and earth resound with the praises of redeeming love! (3.) Inestimable are the blessings derived to all the faithful through this love of God in Jesus Christ.

1. We are now justified through his blood, and reconciled to God by his death. All the enmity between us is done away, his favour is restored, and we are accepted in the beloved.

2. Much more then may we depend upon it, as a most assured truth, that if we are now justified before God, and cleave to Jesus to the end, (which must be implied according to the whole analogy of faith,) we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being now in a state of reconciliation, and having an advocate in our ascended Jesus, to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth, and cleaving perseveringly to him, shall we be saved by his life.

3. Such a prospect ministers the most enlivening delight to the soul. Not only are we reconciled, and raised superior to all tribulations, but having through Jesus Christ now received the atonement, and being actually made partakers of justification and acceptance, which, by his obedience to the death of the cross, he purchased for us; we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, as our God, our portion, and exceeding great reward. Blessed and happy the people that are in such a case!

3rdly, From the 12th verse to the end of the chapter, the Apostle draws a parallel between the two covenant heads, Adam and Christ; between the guilt and misery derived from the one, and the blessedness obtained by the other: where it appears how men came into the wretched state of sin in which at present they appear, and how rich is that love of God which draws the faithful out of it.

By one man sin entered into the world; one sin opened the flood-gates of ungodliness, and deluged the world, overwhelming it with miseries unutterable; and death by sin, in every tremendous form, seized on the human nature; and so death, the wages of sin, passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Adam was the common parent and covenant-head of mankind, and at that time possessed the whole human nature; so that all his posterity, being in his loins, (Hebrews 7:9-10.) fell with him. So that it appears hereby that Jews as well as Gentiles are in the same state of depravity. For until the law, before the revelation of God's will on mount Sinai was made, sin was in the world, with death and all its attendant miseries; but this supposes some law in force, before that which was given by Moses; for sin is not imputed when there is no law, nor would any punishment have been inflicted where there was no offence committed. But though the law of Moses was not in being, nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, not only over actual transgressors grown up to the knowledge of good and evil, but even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, multitudes of infants suffering in the deluge and in the desolations of Sodom and Gomorrah; and daily their dying groans and agonies testify that sin is in them, because the wages of it is exacted from them, and evidently proves, that they are implicated in the curse inflicted for that one man's disobedience by which sin and death entered into the world; and who is the figure of him that was to come, the type of our second covenant-head and representative, Jesus Christ, who in the fulness of time should become incarnate; that as sin and death are communicated to us by the one, so should righteousness and life be obtained for us by the other. But, though the parallel between them is striking, yet in comparing them the latter far excelleth: for not as the offence, so also is the free gift; the benefit accruing from the infinite merit of Christ's obedience to the death of the cross, does not barely answer the dire effects of the first man's sin; it does much more. For if through the offence of one, many be dead, the dreadful sentence being passed upon them; much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, who has made that perfect atonement, by which the most unsearchable riches of divine grace are procured for his faithful saints, hath abounded unto many, securing to all persevering believers, not merely such a life as Adam had in innocence, but one far surpassing in glory, and eternal in its endurance. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; the dissimilitude is considerable with regard to the efficacious influence of the transactions of the two great covenant-heads: for the judgment was by one sin, of one man, to the condemnation of all his posterity whom he represented; but the free gift of God, through the Redeemer's obedience to death, reaches not to the pardon of one sin, but of many offences unto justification; and it is through faith in him, that all true believers are freely and fully delivered from all condemnation, and accepted as righteous before God. For if by one man's offence, or by one offence, death reigned by one, and set up the pillars of his throne, bringing the whole human race under his mortal power, much more they which receive abundance of grace, even all that fulness which is laid up for them in Jesus Christ, and of the gift of righteousness, living up to the privileges of their high and holy dispensation through grace, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ, triumphant over sin, its guilt and power, quickened to spiritual life here, and looking for that life of glory hereafter, when they shall reign with Jesus in heaven, and see sin and death and hell for ever destroyed. Therefore as by the offence of one, or by one offence, judgment came (or sin entered, as it may be supplied) upon all men to condemnation, and they were exposed to death thereby; even so by the righteousness of one, the second man, the Lord from heaven, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; God taking occasion, even from the creature's vileness, to magnify the more transcendently the riches of his own free mercy, in pardoning, justifying, and saving lost souls, and raising the faithful to higher glory than that which they had lost by the first man's disobedience. So that as sin hath reigned unto death, and, usurping the throne, spreads its dire dominion over the fallen sons of men; even so might victorious grace erect her throne on the ruins of these vanquished foes, and reign through righteousness, by Jesus Christ our Lord, over all the faithful saints of God unto eternal life; rescuing them from the power of sin and death, bringing them into a state of favour with God, which is better than life itself, quickening them to spiritual life here, and to eternal life hereafter. Thou God of all grace, set up this blessed kingdom in my heart, and reign for ever there!

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 5:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/romans-5.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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