ROMANS, ii, 12 - 29.

"For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be jndged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things centained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another,) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor ef the foolish, a teacher ef babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preaehest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God! For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if then be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? and shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: 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."

Verse 12 Without a written law as the Jews had - they shall perish without being judged by that law. There will be another law to judge them - and, whosoever perishes, it will not be the consequence of a condemnation brought to bear upon him by a law which he did not know of. They who have sinned in the law, that is in the written law, are they who have sinned under that law - the Jews who will be judged by it.

Ver. 13.
There is a term which we may often have to recur to - and which we therefore shall explain at present. Some would have it that justification in the New Testament means the making of a man personally just. Conceive a thief, for example, to undergo such a transformation of character as that he henceforward is honest in all his transactions - this would be making him a just person; or, in the sense which some choose to assign to the word, it would be justifying him. We believe it may be made out, in almost every place where it occurs, that this is not the real meaning of the term - that it should be taken, not in a personal, but in what may be called a forensic signification - or, that to justify, instead of meaning to make just by a process of operation upon the character, means to pronounce or to declare just by the sentence of a judicial court. This is called the forensic sense of the term, because a court of justice was anciently called a forum; and it is evident that, here at least, the word must be understood forensically - for the doers of the law do not need to be made just personally. They are already so; and therefore for them to be justified, is to be declared just by the sentence of him who administers the law.

Verse. 15
There seem here to be two distinct proofs of the Gentiles being a law unto themselves. The first is from the fact of there being a conscience individually at work in each bosom, and deponing either to the merit or the demerit of actions. The second from the fact of their accusing or excusing one another, in the reasonings or disputes which took place between man and man. For what is translated thoughts, may be rendered into dialectic reasonings, or disputes which one man has with another, when a question of right or justice is started between them. It proves them to be in possession ot a common rule, or standard of judging, or, in other words, that a law is actually among them. So true is it, even in its application to the Gentile, that there is a light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world.

Verse. 22.
To commit sacrilege, or to take to our private use, that which is consecrated to God. This is what might very readily be brought home to a Jewish conscience - it being matter of frequent complaint against the Jews, that they offered what was lame and defective in sacrifice.

Verse. 24.
This is written for example, in Ezekiel, xxxvi 20, where it is said that the Heathen in mockery said unto the people of Israel when they were carried away captive - "These are the people of the Lord and are gone forth out of his land." This is all that needs to be advanced in the way of exposition - and the following is a paraphrase of this passage. ‘For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish, not by the condemnation of that law, which they had not, but of another which they had; and as many as have sinned who were under the dispensation of the written law, shall by that law be judged. For, as to the Jews, they are not the hearers of the law who are reckoned just before God; but they are the doers of the law only who shall be justified. And, as to the Gentile, they having not the law of Mount Sinai, yet, when by nature they do the things contained in that law, these, though without a written code, have a some thing in its place which to them has all the authority of a law. For they show that the matter of the law is written in their hearts - both from their conscience testifying what is right and wrong in their own conduct, and from their reasonings in which they either accuse or vindicate one another. No man shall be judged by a law known only to others and unknown to himself; but all shall be judged by the light which belonged to them, in that day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, and agreeably to the gospel which I now declare unto you. Behold, thou art called a Jew, and hast a confidence in thy law, and inakest a boast of thy peculiar relationship with God, and thou knowest His will, and canst both distinguish and approve the things which are more excellent - being instructed out of thy law. And, with all this superior advantage, thou lookest upon thyself as a guide of the blind, and as a light of them who are in darkness, and as an instructor of the ignorant, and as a teacher of babes - seeing that thou hast the whole summary of knowledge and truth which is in the law. But it is not he who heareth, or he who knoweth, but he who doeth that shall be justified; and dost thou who teachiest another, teach effectually thyself - thou who proclaimest that a man should not steal, dost thou steal? - thou who sayest that a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery - thou who abhorrest idols, dost thou rob God of His temple offerings - thou who makest thy boast of the law, through the breaking of the law dost thou dishonour God?

For we have it upon record, that through you the name of God has been blasphemed. For your circumcision, and other outward observances which form the great visible distinction between you and the Gentile - these are profitable if you keep the whole law; but if you break the law, the keeping of its external ordinances will not raise you above the level of those who know them not, and practise them not. But, on the other hand, if these latter do by nature the things which by the light of nature they know to be lawful, and so keep righteousness as far as they are informed of it - though they have not practised the literal and outward ordinances, they shall be dealt with as if they had kept them. And what is more, they will even have such a superiority, as to sit in judgment over you, who, notwithstanding your written law and your ordinances, are in fact transgrcssors of the law. For he is not a right Jew who is only one outwardly. Neither is that the circumcision that is regarded by God, which is outwardly in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and the genuine circumcision is that of a heart subject to the spirit of the law, and therefore crucified as to its carnal affections and not that of a mere outward conformity to its visible observations. And the praise of this real circumcision is not of man, who can judge only according to appearances; but of God, who weigheth the secrets of the spirit, and who can alone judge righteously.

Let us now pass onward to a few practical observations, founded on the passage which we have attempted to explain.
You can readily enough perceive, how, both with Jews and Christians, there are materials enough for such an examination, as renders them the fit subjects both of a reckoning and of a sentence on the great day of account. But this is not so immediately seen in regard to rude and uninformed Paganism. To be without the pale of a written revelation, is held by many, as tantamount, to being without the pale of all moral and judicial cognizance. And yet, we have many intimations, that the Heathen will also be brought to the bar of the general judgment - that, though perhaps more gently dealt with, yet they will be dealt with as the responsible subjects of God's moral administration - that there is a principle of judgment which reaches even unto them, and upon which it will be a righteous thing for God to pass upon them a condemnatory sentence - Sodom and Gomorrah, we are informed, being to be sisted before the tribunal of that day; and a punishment awarded them, which will only be more tolerable than the vengeance that awaits those, who have sinned in the face of clearer light, and better opportunities.

Insomuch, that we know not of any age, however far back it may be removed in the darkness of antiquity; nor do we know of any wandering tribe, however secluded from all the communications of light and knowledge with the rest of the species - the men of which will not be called before the great tribunal of humanity, and there, on the review of their doings in this world, will have such a place and such a portion assigned to them in the next, as shall be in fullest harmony with the saying that all the ways of God are in truth and in righteousness.

It were repeating over here what we have already more than once and on various occasions endeavoured to argument, did we again enter upon the question, How this can be? The Heathen will not be judged by the written law of Judaism, neither will they be judged out of the things that are written in the Scriptures of Christianity. God will not, in their case, charge them with the guilt of a sin, for that which they were not taught and could not know to be sinful. It is not their helpless ignorance, and it is not the fatality of their birth, and it is not the thick moral envelopment that has settled itself over the face of their country which will condemn them. It will be their sin, md that coupled with the circumstances of their knowing it to be sin, which will condemn them. And we have already remarked in one lecture, that there do exist, even in the remotest tracts of paganism, such vestiges of light, as, when collected together, form a code or directory of moral conduct - that there are still to be found among them the fragments of a law, which they never follow but with an approving conscience; and never violate but with the check of an opposing remonstrance, that by their own wilfulness and their own obstinacy is overborne - in other words, that they are a law unto themselves, and that their own conscience vests it with an authority, by bearing witness to the rightness and obligation of its requirements - So that, among the secret things which will be brought to light in the great day of which a Heathen shall be made to suffer, was sin revelation, will it be seen, that all the sin for committed in the face of an inward monitor, which warned him through time, and will condemn him at his outset upon eternity.

In another lecture we observed, that what brought the conscience of Paganism palpably out from its hiding-place, was the undeniable fact of the charges and the recriminations and the defences of which the most unenlightened Pagans were capable in their controversies with each other. This capacity of accusing and of excusing proved a sense and a standard of morality to be amongst them. With the feeling of provocation after injury, was there mixed the judgment of a difference between the right and the wrong - and even in the rude outcry of savage resentment and the fierce onset of savage warfare, may we detect their perception of what is honest and what is unfair in the dealings of man with man. And just grant of any individual amongst them, that he is keenly alive to the injustice of others to himself, while, under the hurrying instigations of selfishness and passion, he works the very same injustice against them; and you make that individual a moral and an accountable being. We grant him to be sensible of what he ought to do, and thus make him the rightful subject of condemnation if he does it not. ‘ For thinkest thou, 0 man, that judgest them who do these things, and doest them thyself, that thou wilt escape the judgment of God? Even we therefore, unknowing as we are of the inward machinery of another's heart, can trace as it were an avenue by which the most unlettered barbarian might be approached in the way of judgment and retribution. And much more we may we be sure, that God, who judgeth all things, will find a clear and open path to the fulfilment of the process that there is here laid before us - summoning all to their account, without exception; and, from the farthest limits of the human territory, calling Heathens to His jurisdiction, as well as Christians and Jews, and, under a law appropriate to each, dealing out the distributions of equity among the various families and denominations of the world.

In this passage, the apostle, after the gradual and skilful approaches which he had made for the purpose of finding his way to the Jewish understanding, at length breaks out into the warfare of open and proclaimed argument. He throws out his express challenge, and closes with his adversary - thus entering upon the main business of his Epistle, the great object of which was to bring over his own countrymen to the obedience of the faith. After affirming of the two great classes of mankind, that each was subject to a law of its own acknowledging ; and after, upon this principle, having convicted the Gentile world of its being under sin - he addresses himself to the Israelite, and dexterously lays open the egregious folly of his confidence - a confidence resting, it would appear, not on his practice of the law, but barely on his possession of it - a satisfaction with himself; not for following the light, but simply for having the light - an arrogant sense of superiority to others, not in having obeyed the commandment, but just in having had the commandment delivered to him - thus turning into a matter of vanity, that which ought in fact to have aggravated his shame and condemnation; and bearing it proudly over others, who, had they acted up to their more slender advantages, would in fact have been entitled to sit in judgment and superiority over him. It is observable, that, in this work of convincing the Jews of sin, the apostle fastens, in the first instance, on the more glaring and visible delinquencies from the law of righteousness - as theft and adultery and sacrilege, He brings forth that which is fitted to strike conviction into the breast of a notorious transgressor; who, just because the evidence of his guilt is more palpable than that of others - just because the materials of his condemnation more immediately meet the eye of his own conscience - is, on that very account, often more easily induced to take the first steps of that process which leads to reconciliation with the offended Lawgiver. And this is the reason, why it is said of publicans and profligate persons, that they enter the kingdom of Heaven, before the Scribes and the Pharisees.

But the apostle is not satisfied with convincing them only. Before he is done with his demonstration about the law, he enters into the very depths of it - even as the Saviour, in his sermon on the mount, did before him. It is possible to undergo the outward rite of circumcision, and not be circumcised in the spirit of our minds. And it is possible to maintain a conformity with all those requirements which bear on the external conduct, without having a heart touched by the love of God, or in any way animated by the principle of godhiness. He does not end his demonstration of sinfulness, till he has completed it; and, while the first attack of his expostulation is directed against those who do the overt acts and wear the visible insignia of rebellion, he sends it with a penetrating force into the recesses of a more plausible and pleasing character - where, with nothing to deform or to shed a disgrace over the outward history, there may be a heart still uncircumcised out of all its affections to the creature, and utterly alive unto the world, and utterly dead unto God.

We conclude with two remarks, in the way of home and personal application, founded on the two senses given to the word letter as contrasted with the word spirit.

The first sense that is given to the word letter, t is the outward conformity to the law, which may be rendered apart from the inward principle of reverence or regard for it.

Now it is not merely true that your sabbaths and your sacraments may be as useless to you, as the rite of circumcision ever was to the Jews. It is not merely true that the whole ceremonial of Christianity may be duly and regularly described on your part, without praise or without acceptance on the part of God. It is not merely true that worship may be held every day in your own houses, and your families be mustered at every recurring opportunity to close and unfailing attendance on the house of God. But it is also true, that all the moral honesties of life may be rendered; and in the walks of honourable merchandise, there ever be attached to your name, the respect and confidence of all the righteous; and, foremost in the lists of philanthropy, every scheme connected with its cause may draw from you the largest and most liberal ministrations: and even all this, so far from the mere forcing of an outward exhibition, may emanate upon your visible doings, from the internal operation of a native regard for your brethren of the same species, and of a high-minded integrity in all your transactions with them. And yet one thing may be lacking. The circumcision of the heart may be that which you have no part in. All it's longings may be towards the affairs and the enjoy- ments and the interests of mortality. Your taste is not to what is sordid, but to what is splendid in character; but still it is but an earthly and a perishable splendour. Your very virtues are but the virtues of the world. They have not upon them the impress of that saintliness which will bear to be transplanted into heaven. The present and the peopled region of sense on which you expatiate, you deck, it is true, with the lustre of many fine accomplishments; but they have neither the stamp nor the endurance of eternity: And, difficult as it was to convict the Hebrew of sin, robed in the sanctitities of a revered and imposing ceremonial, it is at least a task of as great strenuousness to lay the humiliation of the gospel spirit upon him, who lives surrounded by the smiles and the applauses of society - or so to awaken the blindness, and circumcise the vanity of his heart, as to bring him down a humble supplicant at the footstool of mercy.
What turns the virtues of earth into splendid sins, is that nothing of God is there. It is the want of this animating breath, which impresses upon them all the worthlessness of materialism. It is this which makes all the native loveliness of our moral world of as little account, in the pure and spiritual reckoning of the upper sanctuary, as is a mere effloreseenee of beauty on the face of the vegetable creation. It serves to adorn and even to sustain the interests of a fleeting generation. Verily it hath its reward. But not till, under a sense of nothingness and of guilt, man hies him to the cross of expiation - not till, renouncing all righteousness of his own, he flees for shelter to the righteousness of Christ, as that alone which is commensurate to the demands, and congenial with the holy character * of the Lawgiver - not till, in the attitude of one whose breast is humbled out of all its proud complacencies, hlie receives the atonement of the gospel, and along with it receives a clean heart and a right spirit from the hand of his accepted Mediator - It is not till the period of such a transformation, when he is made the workinanship of God in Christ Jesus, that the true image of moral excellence which was obliterated from our species at the fall, comes to be restored to him, or that he is put in the way of attaining a resemblance to his Maker in righteousness and in true holiness.

We meant to have added another remark founded on another sense of the word letter, which is the word of God as opposed to the Spirit of God. But we have no time to expatiate any further. Let us only observe that the apostle speaks both of the letter and spirit of the New Testament. And certain it is, that, were we asked to fix on a living counterpart in the present day to the Jew of the passage now under consideration - it would be on him, who, thoroughly versant in all the phrases and dexterous in all the arguments of orthodoxy, is, without one affection of the old man circumcised arid without one sanctified affection to mark him the new man in Christ Jesus our Lord, withal, a zealous and staunch and sturdy controversialist. He too rests in the form of sound words, and is confident that he is a light of the blind, and founds a complacency on knowledge though it be knowledge without love and without regeneration - nor can we think of any delusion more hazardous, and at the same time more humbling, than that by which a literal acquaintance with the gospel, and a literal adherence on the part of the understanding to all its truths and all its articles, may be confounded with the faith which is unto salvation. Faith is an inlet to holy affections. Its primary office is to admit truth into the mind, but it is truth that impresses as well as informs. The kingdom of God is neither in word alone, nor in argument alone - it is also in power; and while we bid you look unto Jesus and be saved, it is such a look as will cause you to mourn and to - be in heaviness - it is such a look as will liken you to His image, and import into your own character all the graces and the affections which adorn His. It is here that man finds himself at the limits of his helplessness, lie cannot summon into his breast that influence which will either circumcise its old tendencies, or plant new ones in its room. But the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of Him crucified is the grand instrument for such a renovation; and he is at his post, and on the likely way of obtaining the clean heart and the right spirit, when, looking humbly and desirously to Jesus as all his salvation, he may at length experience the operation of faith working by love and yielding all mannner of obedience.
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