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 Romans i. 16, 17, 18. Justification Christ’s righteousness. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” &c. “For herein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” In these verses I would note two things:
First. That here, in the beginning of this discourse of his of the wickedness of the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles, which is continued from this place to the 19th, 20th, and 21st verses of chap. iii. as well as in the conclusion in that part of the 3rd chapter, he manifests his design in it all to be to show that all are guilty, and in a state of condemnation, and therefore cannot be saved by their own righteousness; that it must be by the righteousness of God through Christ received by faith alone. He here in the 17th verse. asserts that it is thus only that men have justification, and then in the 18th verse. enters on the reason why, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” and so goes on setting forth the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men through most of those three first chapters, and then at the end concludes his argument as he began it; that, seeing all are under sin, “Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified in his sight;” but that it is by the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Christ.
Secondly. I observe that, by the righteousness of God, in this place, cannot be meant merely God’s way of justifying sinners, but that hereby is meant the moral, legal righteousness which God had provided for sinners, is evident by two things.
1. It is the righteousness or justice which those that are justified have, by which they are righteous or just; as is evident from the apostle’s selecting that passage of the Old Testament to cite on this occasion, “The just shall live by faith.”
2. It is evident from the antithesis; for here it is most manifest that the righteousness of God, by which God’s people are just, in one verse, is opposed to the unrighteousness of men, by which they in themselves are unjust, as is evident from the argument of the apostle in those verses. It is a righteousness that believers are vested with, as is evident from chap. iii. 22, 23. The same is also manifest from the antithesis in that place. The same is manifest both those ways from Philip. iii. 9. The same is very manifest from Rom. x. 3, 4. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The antithesis here makes it evident that by God’s righteousness, is meant a righteousness, in having which we are righteous. And the 4th verse shows that this righteousness was procured for every believer by Christ, as he was subject to the law; “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness;” the natural meaning of which is, that as to what concerns the elect, or them that believe, the Lawgiver, in making the law and establishing it as a rule for them, had respect to Christ only for its being answered. The law that requires righteousness looks to Christ only to produce that righteousness that it requires; “who, of God, is made to be righteousness,” and who is “the Lord our righteousness.” I can find no instance in the New Testament where the word Greek or Hebrew, here translated end, is any where used in Scripture for final cause, but it seems properly to signify the final term, finishing, or accomplishing; so that the words might be rendered, Christ is the finishing and completing of the law, as to the righteousness it requires, as it respects all them that believe.
There is one place where the same word in the original is used as here, and also speaking of the end of the law, or commandment, that exceedingly confirms this interpretation, viz. 1 Tim. i. 5. “Now the end of the commandment is love;” i. e. the accomplishment or fulfilment of the law; as the same apostle says, “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” in this epistle of Romans xiii. 8, 10. So that it is manifest from this place that that righteousness, which this apostle calls the righteousness of God, consists in Christ’s fulfilling or answering the law; and therefore that it is the same thing with what we call the righteousness of Christ.
This righteousness of God, which the apostle so often speaks of in the matter of our justification, is in Christ. 1 Cor. v. 21. “He was made sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him.” “He was made sin,” i. e. sin was imputed to him; and what sin was it? Why that sin that was in us. So we are made the righteousness of God. But what righteousness of God is it that we are made? Why that which was in Christ our Mediator.
It is not called by the apostle Christ’s righteousness; because the righteousness, by which a believer stands just before God, does but in part consist in that which can properly be called Christ’s righteousness, for it is only the obedience of Christ that is properly his righteousness. But this is not all that by which we stand just before God; for, beside this, his sufferings as our atonement were necessary. Without this we are not righteous, but must appear sinful before God, because our old sins would remain. Those sufferings, abating the obedience that was in them, were not in themselves Christ’s righteousness, and therefore the Scripture does not ordinarily call them so; but calls the whole of the provision made of God as in Christ, for our appearing just, consisting both in his obedience and atonement, God’s righteousness, and the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Christ. Chap. iii. 22. See Note on chap. x. 3.
 Rom. ii. 29, 30. “But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.” That by this last expression, “Whose praise is not of men, but of God,” the apostle has respect to the insufficiency of man, to judge concerning him, whether he be inwardly a Jew or no, and would signify that it belongs to God alone to give a voice in that matter; is confirmed by the same apostle’s use of the like phrase, in 1 Cor. iv. 5. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God.” The apostle in the two foregoing verses says, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self, yet am I not hereby justified, but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” And again, it is further confirmed, because the apostle in this 2d chapter to the Romans., directs himself especially to those that had a high conceit of their own holiness, that made their boast of God, and were confident of their own discerning, and that they knew God’s will, and approved the things that were more excellent, or tried the things that differ, as it is in the margin, verse 18., and were confident that they were guides of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes; and so took upon them to judge others See verse 1, and 17, 18, 19, 20. These things show that for any to take upon themselves, by only a little occasional conversation with others, that are professors of godliness, to judge them as hypocrites, unexperienced and unconverted men, is a great error. The same is confirmed by 1 Cor. ii. 15. “But he that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth] all things, but he himself is judged of no man,” or (as it is in the margin) is discerned of no man.
Every thing in the Christian, that belongs to the spiritual and divine life, is spoken of in Scripture as being hidden, known only to God and to himself. His life is said to be hid with Christ in God, but to appear, and to be made manifest at the day of judgment, when Christ shall appear. Col. iii. 3, 4. Their joy is said to be what others intermeddle not with. Their spiritual food is said to be hidden. Rev. ii. 17. “To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” So Christ told his disciples that he had meat to eat that they knew not of. And their new name, which is the name they have as new creatures, as born again, is said to be what no man knows but he that receives it. Rev. ii. 17. The heart, which is the thing that God looks at, and in which are those spiritual ornaments and graces, by which persons are sincere Christians, is called the hidden man. 1 Peter iii. 4. “But let it be the hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible,” &c.
Again: The same is confirmed from that in the parable of the good seed, and the tares, in the 13th chap. of Matt. 28, 29, 30th verses. “The servants said unto him, Wilt thou that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together, first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” The servants of the householder can be interpreted of nothing better than ministers, who were represented by Abraham’s servant; and by the servants of the householder in the parable of the king, that made a wedding for his son, and sent forth his servants to call guests; and by the servant of the man that made a great supper in the 14th of Luke; and by the servants of the householder, to whom he committed the care of his family when travelling into a far country; and by the servants of the householder that waited for the coming of their lord, in the 12th chapter of Luke.; and by the servant or steward in the same chapter, that gives to every one his portion of meat in due season; and by the servant that beat his fellow-servant; and by the servants of the householder, that dressed, and adorned, and fed the returning prodigal; and by the servants that were sent to receive the fruit of the vineyard, Luke xx. The same that were there to take care of the fruit of the vineyard, are those that in this parable have the care of the fruit of the field. The servants of the householder are oftentimes very apt to conceit themselves sufficient to separate between the wheat and the tares; but the householder says, Stop. He is aware of more danger of their rooting up the wheat with the tares, than they are, and therefore commands that they should let both grow together until the harvest, and signifies that that is the proper time of doing it. This parable shows plainly, that the proper time of judgment in this respect, viz. of judging who of professors are sincere, and who not, is the day of judgment; and that therefore, if any take it upon them to do this now, they do it out of its proper season. And therefore, judging men in this sense, comes under that prohibition forementioned, 1 Cor. iv. 5. “Therefore judge nothing before the time.”
When we are so often forbidden to judge, that we be not judged; without doubt it refers to a judging of men’s state, of their sincerity and hypocrisy, of their good and evil principles, of their hearts in general, as well as of particular actions. For what is meant by that prohibition is doubtless, that men should not take God’s work out of his hands, and anticipate the proper business of the day of judgment. In the place just now mentioned, we are forbidden to judge; in 1 Cor. we are forbidden to judge others upon that account, because it is before the time; and in the 14th of Rom. at the 4th verse., we are forbidden to judge others upon the other account, because we therein go out of our place, and take God’s work into our hands. Rom. xiv. 4. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth;” and James iv. 12. “There is one lawgiver, that is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another?”
These two reasons are given as good reasons in Scripture against judging others, but they are as strong against judging the state of men’s hearts in general, as against judging the state of their hearts with regard to particular actions:
For, 1. It is as much the proper work of God, and his prerogative, to judge the state of men’s hearts in general, to determine what hearts are good, and what not, what hearts are sincere, and what not, as to judge the state of the heart with regard to particular actions. When knowing the hearts of men is so often ascribed to God as his great prerogative, one thing principally intended is his knowing the state of their hearts, whether they are sincerely godly or no, as is evident by what Peter says concerning the conversion of the Gentiles before the council of Jerusalem, Acts xv. 7, 8. “God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe: and God which knoweth the hearts bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us.” It is often challenged by God as one of the most glorious prerogatives to search the heart and try the reins of the children of men. And this is challenged as God’s prerogative, especially as it relates to the trial of the general state of the hearts of professors, in Rev. ii. 22, 23. There Christ threatens to destroy, and finally condemn, certain professors, except they repent; and adds, “And all the churches shall know, that I am he which searcheth the reins and the hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” And again, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. this divine prerogative is asserted, with respect to the judging of the state of the heart in general, and in order to that salvation, or destruction and casting off for ever, that depends on it, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou forsake him he will cast thee off for ever.” So Ps. vii. 9, 10, 11. “O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but do thou establish the just. For the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. My defence is of God which saveth the upright in heart. God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” So, trying the hearts is spoken of as God’s prerogative, as the furnace tries what is gold, and what is dross or base metal. Prov. xvii. 3. “The fining-pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold, but the Lord trieth the hearts.” So the psalmist prays in the 26th Psalm, that God would judge him with respect to his integrity and trusting in God, and that he would examine him, and prove him, and try his reins and his heart, and not gather his soul with sinners, nor his life with bloody men, verse 9. So it was part of Christ’s prerogative to know which of his followers, and professed believers on him, were to be depended on, and which not, John ii. 23, 24, 25. “Many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of men, for he knew what was in man.” It is God’s prerogative to weigh the spirits and ponder the hearts of men, Prov. xvi. 2. and xxi. 2. It belongs to him to weigh men in the balance, and say who is found wanting, Dan. v. 27. This certainly is as much and much more claimed in Scripture, as God’s prerogative, than taking vengeance is; and therefore for any one to take upon him to decide what professors are sincere, and what insincere, and to draw a dividing line between them, is as much and much more invading the divine prerogative, than private revenge is.
2. If that reason why we should not judge men be a good one, that in so doing we shall judge men before the time, because the proper time for this is the day of judgment; then there is a good reason why we should not take upon us to judge professors with respect to their state; for this is one great and principal part of the work of the last judgment, and one special end of the day of judgment, to make an open distinction between the sincere and hypocrites, to separate between sheep and goats, between wheat and tares, between good grain and chaff, between gold and dross, as is manifest by Mal. iii. 2. “But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap;” and Matt. iii. 12. “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Yea, in most of the descriptions we have in Scripture, this is all the work that is mentioned. This is all that is mentioned in the description we have of the day of judgment, in the explication of the parable of the good seed and tares in the 13th chapter of Matthew.; and this is all the business that is mentioned in that famous description that Christ gives of the day of judgment in the 25th chap. of Matthew.; and this is all the business mentioned in that description we have in the 20th chap. of Revelations., which is the most famous of any we have in the Bible, excepting that in the 25th of Matthew.
Yea, judging of persons’ state, and sentencing or damning them, is chiefly intended by Christ when he forbids us to judge them; for this is most properly judging them, or judging and condemning their persons. We may blame a man for many things he does, yet not condemn or sentence the man in doing the part of the Great Judge of men that is chiefly forbidden, which is either to justify them or condemn them as wicked or righteous.
As to that text, Judges xii. 6.“Then said they unto him. Say now Shibboletk; and he said, Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it right; then they took him and slew him at the passages of Jordan;” though that be an undoubted truth, that want of experience has a tendency to cause men to lisp, and greatly to fail and blunder in talking of experimental religion, which may very fitly be compared to the failing of the Ephraimite in pronouncing Shibboleth, yet we cannot infer from it that we are warranted to go as far in judging men’s state by what we think of their rightly expressing themselves in spiritual and experimental language, any more than we can infer that it is committed to us to proceed upon it as far as they did in the wrong pronunciation of Shibboleth. We cannot carry the inference so far, because the thing here principally typified is not the language of false professors, as it sounds in the ears of fellow-professors in this world, but in the ears of their Judge, and of the saints or assessors with him at the passage of the Jordan, i. e. in their passage out of this world into the next, or when they are attempting to pass out of this world into the heavenly Canaan. In Christ’s ears, no man can learn the language of the Canaanites but those that are indeed Canaanites, even as no man can learn the song of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, but only those that are redeemed from the earth. What is wanting, is the heart and the practice, which are the essential part of the song; and it is the language of the heart and practice that are the essential part of the language of a Christian. And these are the things by which we are often told professors of religion shall hereafter be judged, by him that searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, and renders to every man according to his works.
When Christ and his apostles so much warned against judging others, they doubtless had especially respect to judging their hearts. And Christians in those days understood this to be the thing so strictly prohibited, and a practice marked out as so presumptuous; as is confirmed by the manner of the apostle James, introducing what he says in the 2d chap. of his epistle, at the 4th verse.; speaking of their preferring of a man of gay appearance to the man in mean apparel, he says, Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”
The eleven disciples, though they were all true converts, did not know but that Judas was also converted, and always supposed him to be so, though they had such abundant opportunity of conversation with him, and Christ all along treated him as if he had been a true disciple, and even sent him forth to preach the gospel, because he therein acted as minister of the visible church. He did not take it upon him to act as an Omniscient Judge at that time, but as setting an example for his disciples and ministers how to behave themselves in the visible church. The psalmist, though so wise a man, and a man so greatly acquainted with the word of God, and a man of such great experience, did not find out that Achitophel was not a convert, though he had so long been so intimately acquainted with him, but always looked upon him as a saint, and an eminent saint, and delighted in him as such. Psal. lv. 13, 14. “But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance; we took sweet counsel together; we went to the house of God in company.”
And besides, we are nowhere directed to judge of men chiefly by the account they give of their experiences, but chiefly by their works; and it is evident it was not the manner of the apostles to judge of Christians’ sincerity chiefly by the account they gave of the manner of the work in their hearts, but by their behaviour.
And the signification of the word Shibboleth seems to intimate the same thing, which is an ear of corn. This seems to intimate that it is the fruit, or ear, that is the grand characteristic by which the true friends of Jephthah may be known from hypocrites, or the wheat known from tares. It is the fruit that we shall be judged by at last; our fruits shall be weighed in the balance, and, if they are found wanting, we shall be slain in this Jordan, and never suffered to go over into Canaan. It is probable that, according to the dialect of Ephraim, an ear of corn was called Sibboleth, and so that was the name of the fruit of Jephthah’s enemies; but Shibboleth was the name of the fruit of Jephthah’s friends, according to the dialect of Gilead. This, therefore, signifies that if at last our fruit be found to be not the fruit of the friends of Christ, but that of his enemies, we shall be slain.
It seems very probable that the devil, though he sees and hears a great deal more what men do and say than we, and has incomparably more experience, yet does not know who are converted, and who not. Thus he did not know that Peter was converted, and therefore hoped to overthrow him. So he did not know that Job was, as God told him, a perfect and an upright man; he questioned it, though he was so eminent a saint, he doubted whether he would not fail in the trial (unless we may suppose that the devil seeks to overthrow particular Christians, only as he seeks to overthrow the church of God, which he does what he can to destroy, though God has promised that it shall never be destroyed).
 Rom. iv. 3, 4. “What saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” The apostle lays stress upon the word counted, or imputed. If he had had a righteousness, that is, of his own, upon the account of which the reward was of proper debt, it would not have been expressed in this manner, as he evidently argues in the following verses. Abraham’s believing God was not righteousness, but was only imputed for it. It was of God’s mere grace looked upon as supplying the room of righteousness.
 Rom. iv. 12. “And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham,” &c. In the foregoing verse it is set forth how Abraham is the father of those that are uncircumcised, if they have the faith of Abraham. In this verse the apostle declares that he also is the father of the circumcised, who have not only or barely circumcision, but also walk in the steps of the faith of their father Abraham. So that, put both verses together, this is what the apostle declares, that Abraham received circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith, which he had being yet uncircumcised; whereby God sealed to him the promise he made to him, that he should be the father of all such as should believe as he had done, and only to such, whether they were circumcised or not, that he should be the father of the uncircumcised Gentiles, that should believe as he had done, and the father of no more of the circumcised Jews than should believe as he had done.
 Rom. v. 18. “Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.” Seeing the words judgment, and the free gift, are not in the original, I do not see why it would not have been better construing to have translated it thus, “Therefore as by the offence of one, the offence came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, righteousness came upon all men to justification of life;” and so the word that is understood would have been the same with that that is expressed. The placing of the same word in the 16th verse, gives considerable colour for this translation.
 Rom. vi. 8, 9. “Now if we be dead with Christ,” &c. These two verses, with the context, seem irrefragably to prove perseverance.
 Rom. vi. 14. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace.” The law, or covenant of works, is not a proper means to bring the fallen creature to the service of God. It was a very proper means to be used with men in a state of innocency, but it has no tendency to answer this end in our present weak and sinful state; on the contrary, to have been kept under the law would have had a tendency to hinder it, and would have been a bar in the way of it, and that upon two accounts.
1. It would have tended to discourage persons from any attempts to serve God, because under such a constitution it must necessarily have been looked upon as impossible to please him and serve him to his acceptance; and one in despair of this would have been in no capacity to yield a cheerful service to God, but would rather have been far from any manner of endeavours to serve him at all. But to have abandoned himself to wickedness by such a despair, the dominion of sin would have been dreadfully established, and all yielded up to it, as in the damned in hell.
2. God must necessarily have been looked on as an enemy; which would have tended to drive from him and stir up enmity against him. A fallen creature held under the covenant of works cannot look on God as a father and friend, but must necessarily look on him as an enemy; for the least failure of obedience by that constitution, whether past or future, renders him so. But this would greatly establish the dominion of sin or enmity against God in the heart, and indeed it is the law only that makes wicked men hate God. They hate him no otherwise than as they look upon him as acting, either as the giver or judge of the law, and so by the law opposing their sins, and the law tending to establish the hatred of God. Hence it is necessary to be brought from under the dominion of it, in order to a willing serving of God.
Corol. Hence men, when they are convinced of the law, under awakenings, and have God represented to them as a strict lawgiver and judge, before they are convinced of the gospel, have sometimes such sensible exercises of enmity of heart stirred up against God.
But those that are redeemed from the bondage of the law, they have,
1. Great encouragement to serve God, in that their poor and imperfect obedience may be accepted.
2. They have a great deal to incline them to an ingenuous obedience; for God now represents himself as a merciful God, a God ready to pardon past transgressions and future infirmities, and he promises that if we will yield ourselves willingly to serve him as we are able, he will be our friend, and will treat us as a merciful and gracious father.
If a man does perform an external service while under the bondage of the law, it is no real service, it is merely forced by threats and terrors, it is not performed freely and heartily, but is a dead, lifeless obedience. But a being delivered from the law and brought under grace, tends to win men to serve God from love, and with the whole heart; Rom. vii. 6. “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
 Rom. viii. 15. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” That is, ye have not the spirit of slaves and bond-servants, that work by slavish fear, but the spirit of children, so that you are not afraid, but dare cry, Abba, Father; dare, as children, approach God with a holy boldness. The spirits are different; one is the spirit of God, the other is not.
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