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To a mind such as that of my late revered father,
the EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS could not fail to present
peculiar attractions; and to the study of it he devoted
a large measure of time and attention. Of such study
these Lectures are a result. They were delivered to
the people of his charge most if not all of them twice
during the course of his ministry. It was his design
to publish them, and they were in part prepared for the
press. This is the main ground for their finding a place
in this Series.


It is right to mention, that several of the Lectures
indicated as they occur have already appeared in
the Author's SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. It was thought
desirable to reproduce them, with slight modifications,
in order to the completeness of these volumes; which
may be read by many who are not likely to peruse the
Work referred to.


If, from the necessary absence of all discussion of
those views on certain great doctrinal points to which
prominence has recently been given, and which have
awakened the interest of thoughtful minds, these Lec-
tures should be pronounced behind the times; it is still
confidently hoped, that they will prove a valuable contri-
bution to the analysis and elucidation of this most im-
portant part of GOD'S HOLY WORD.

It has been found necessary, in many instances
as with the Lectures on Proverbs to curtail the clos-
ing appeals and to make occasional abbreviations in
other parts. The latter, however, has been done very

Where any question hinges on the particular word
or form of expression in the original, the Greek has
been given at the foot of the page for the convenience
of the reader; and any note introduced is indicated in
the usual way.


LONDON, May 24, 1861.



is a certain class of theologians, who are enamoured
of the principle, and discover a constant proneness to insist
upon it, that all necessary acquaintance with the scheme of
Christian doctrine may be derived, exclusively, from the FOUR
GOSPELS. It is not my intention to dispute the position.
On the contrary, I readily admit, that the essential doctrines
of salvation ur>'. to be found in the historical writings of the
Evangelists. But the principle by which those who hold it
are led to give these writings a preference to the other and
later writings of the inspired Apostles, is, in every view of
it, must unwarrantable. The evangelical historians, it is
very manifest, could not, as simple narrators, go beyond a
statement of what was done, and taught, and suffered by
their divine Master, during the life of which they record the
memoirs. If, therefore, it can be shown, that it did not
enter into the plan of Jesus to give a clear and full disclo-
sure of those great truths which constitute the peculiarities
of the New Testament revelation, during the period of his
own personal ministry; but that he purposely reserved
such disclosure, to be sxibsequently made, by the agency of
his promised Spirit, when He himself had " left the world,
and gone to the Father:" it will at once be apparent how
utterly at variance the principle in question is with what
this course of procedure gave reason to expect. Xow, such
happens to be the very state of the case. Those who hold

I. A


tin- principle of which I speak, are accustomed to regard
in iid other light than that of a "teacher come from
God;" from which the conclusion is sufficiently natural,
that, din-in-,' his mini-try, he taught all that he had it in
commi-sinn tn teach. But he sustained another character
than that of a mere teacher. He was " the Mediator between
.nid men." He came to atone for human guilt, to
" put a\vav sin l>y the sacrifice of himself." This was the
" work given him to do." His life on earth was rather the
time for the doing of the work, than for the full development
of the scheme of doctrine involved in it, and of which indeed
it formed the essential basis. That the period for communi-
cating truth, the truth which it was the divine purpose to
iweul through him to mankind, was not confined to his
'.'. al abode on earth, but extended beyond it; and that
such communication was to form a part of his mediatorial
functions in heaven, we learn from the express words of our
Lord himself, addressed to his disciples shortly before he took
his final leave of them: "I have yet many things to say
unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he,
tin- Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:
f-ir lie shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall
hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to
He shall glorify me : for he shall receive of mine,
and shall show it unto you," John xvi. 12 14.

X-ithing can be more explicit than this. It was under
tin- superintending influence of the promised Spirit that the
narratives of the Saviour's life were themselves composed,
It h;is by some been imagined, that to the composition of
historical memoirs, a mere relation of facts, inspiration
wa< hardly, if at all, necessary. But reason itself might
teach us, and the dictate of reason is confirmed by the Ian-
just cited from the lips of Jesus, that this is a mis-
take, the result of inconsiderate precipitation. When I say
so, I would be understood as using the word inspiration in
- largest sense; i,,,t as meaning, restrictedly, the direct

mnumcation to the mind of unknown truths,' or of distant
events; but such a supernatural and infallible influence as


secured its subjects from all error, in relating what was
known, as well as in revealing what was unknown. There
were two things, indeed, l)y which, in the sacred narratives
of the Evangelists, such, influence was rendered indispensable.
These were the assurance of correct statement, and the as-
surance of appropriate selection. It was necessary, in the
first place, that the writers should be secured from all liabil-
ity to mistake and inaccuracy, in the recollection, and in the
consequent narration, both of actions and incidents, and of
sayings and discourses. The actions and incidents were not
those of any ordinary biography, but of the life of one, whose
doings were invariably associated with the great object of his
mission the salvation of a lost world, and the daily occur-
rences of whose public course bore, every one of them, the
same relation. The sayings and discourses were not those of
a benevolent and persecuted fellow-man merely, in the dic-
tates of whose wisdom we had no interest beyond that im-
parted by extraordinary human sagacity, and by whose autho-
rity we were bound only in so far as they might recommend
themselves to our own judgments as worthy of acceptance
and submission, they were the sayings and discourses of
one who came with an accredited commission from heaven ;
who " spoke to the world the things which he had heard of
the Father;" and on the certain accuracy of whose recorded
instructions results the most momentous depend. In these
circumstances, it becomes indispensable to our confidence
and peace, that we be not left to the possible failure and
tivachery of memories like our own; but that we have the
assurance of such a divine aid to those memories, as takes
away the possibility of their having, in any instance, mis-
given, in the recording either of facts, or of occasional senti-
ments, or of more prolonged conversations and addresses.
And it was necessary, in the second place, that the minds of
the writers should be guided by a wisdom superior to their
own, in the selection of the materials for such a history.
Their narratives are not a full detail, but rather, as they
have been already designated, memoirs, select portions from
a vast accumulation of materials ; an accumulation, short as


the time was, so prodigious, that one of the narrators has

saiJ There are also many other things which Jesus did,

tin- which, if they should be written every one, I suppose
that the world itself would not contain the books that
should be written." From such a mass, therefore, what
may, with propriety, be called the inspiration of selection
jiiisite, to give us the assurance, that those sayings
and doings have been chosen for permanent record, which
are really the most important, and in. all respects the most
suitable for the purposes of a divine revelation. Surely, in
of such importance, a case involving, to so great an
extent, the honour of God and the everlasting destinies of
n,,.]^ nothing could have been more unsatisfactory, than to
find ourselves left to the memories of fallible men in regard
to accuracy, and to the judgments of fallible men in regard
to selection.

But, if there be one description, or one department, of in-
spiration that deserves to be considered as higher than ano-
ther, there can be 110 hesitation in assigning the highest
place to that which may be termed doctrinal inspiration,
or what has sometimes been denominated the inspiration of
-'/'(// : inasmuch as this consists in the direct convey-
ance to the mind of what had never been previously uttered
in the ear or seen by the eye; and what, therefore, the mind
could not, in the nature of the thing, recall by any act of
i-y, either natural or assisted. The " leading into all
truth" is something superior to "bringing all things to re-
membrance." In the latter case, there is memory, although
it is memory supernaturally assisted, and secured from error :
that which is written being that which had actually been
:md heard. But in the former there is, if I may so
express it, nothing that intervenes, between the inspired man
and the inspiring Deity. There i* no intermediate party:
there is no memory: there is no power of discovery or of
invention. The mind of God communicates itself directly
to the mind of man: the thoughts of the one are trans-
1, without a perceptible medium, to the other. Now,
this was the kind of inspiration necessary, in regard to ev i y


tiling beyond what had actually been said and done ly Je-
SH-. or said and done to Jesus, during the attendance of the
chosen witnesses upon his ministry; in regard to all that
was comprehended in the " many things he had to say unto
them, which they could not then bear," but which were re-
served for promised communication at an after period. And
these "many things" comprehend, without question, that
perfect acquaintance with the entire system of New Testa-
ment truth, as well as with the constitution of his church,
ami with the principles, and laws, and services, of his spir-
itual kingdom, which was necessary to the thorough fulfil-
ment of their commission, as the accredited ambassadors of
Christ and instructors of mankind.

No person by whom such considerations are duly and
candidly weighed, will undervalue the Apostolic Epistles;
will speak lightly of their inspiration; will hold them up,
disparagingly, in contrast with the Gospels, as if in the latter
we had the Lord's own statements of truth, and in the former
only the opinions and commentaries of his followers. So
far is this from being a just principle of comparative esti-
mate, that, if comparison were at all admissible, the balance
ought to turn in favour of the Epistles; forasmuch as, in
them we have the results of that fulness of divine commu-
nication, which the Saviour engaged to bestow on his Apos-
tU-s after his ascension to the Father. I need not say how
faithfully and gloriously He accomplished his promise on the
memorable day of Pentecost; when, by the light and the fire
of the Divine Spirit, their minds were cleared of all the dark-
md doubt, and confusion in which they had previously
been wrapt, and, to their equal delight and amazement, were
made " to see all things clearly ;" while, at the same moment,
their hearts were inflamed with a holy fervour, and nerved
with a mighty energy, such as dissipated all their fear of
man, unbarred and threw open the doors which that fear had
secured, and bore them on, like " sons of thunder," through
all difficulty and all resistance!

It is not in the Gospels by themselves, nor in the Epistles
iry themselves, but in the one and the other conjointly, con-


neoting both, at the same time, with the Scriptures of the
Oll Testament, that we are to look for the complete mani-
festation of the mind and will of God. All were given by
tin- same Spirit. Prophets and Apostles had the same
theme, and wrote of it under the same influence. Their
theme was the one Saviour, and the common salvation:
of which salvation," says one of the latter, in full harmony
with the spirit of these re-marks, "the prophets have in-
cjtiired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace
that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner
if, time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the
glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that
not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the
things which are now reported unto you by them that have
preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent di >wn
from heaven ; which things the angels desire to look into,"
1 iVt. i. 10 12. Of the entire volume of revelation it may
now be said, in terms originally used in application to the
<'aiioii of the Old Testament "All scripture is given by in-
spiration of God, and is profitable for instruction, for convic-
tion, for reformation, and for education in righteousness;'""
that the man of God" (the Christian minister) "may be per-
fect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works:" that is,
fully qualified for every department of his ministerial duty.
And that which is fitted to perfect the teacher, is no lesfl
fitted to perfect the taught. But if it be proper or sale to
i present any one portion of the divine Oracles as entitled,
more than another, to special attention and study, one should
think it must be that portion which contains the latest dic-
tates of the Holy Spirit, the clearest and fullest shining of
apostolic light, the largest and richest communications of
invaluable treasures, which were "put into the earthen
Is, that the excellency of the power might be of God
and not of men."


The words of the Saviour, on which we have been com-
menting, the words containing his promise of future illu-
mination, were addressed to the eleven Apostles (the trai-
tor having retired ere they were uttered) before his death.
But to that number, you are well aware, the Author of the
Epistle, on the exposition of which we are about to enter,
did not belong. Was he, then, on that account, the less
highly endowed, or the less eminently qualified for his work ?
By no means. Though not one of those Avho were called to
their office during Christ's ministry on earth, it was yet di-
rectly from Him that he received his commission. You
know his remarkable history. The Lord's predestinating eye
was upon him, while pursuing his wild career of persecuting
fury against the infant church, " breathing out threatenings
and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." As a
" chosen vessel," ordained to " bear his Xame to the Gentiles,
and kings, and the children of Israel," he was miraculously
arrested on his way to Damascus, by the power and the grace
of the glorified Redeemer. He " saw that Just One, and
heard the voice of his mouth." He received from His own
lips liis apostolic charge. He records the terms in which it
ran : " I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make
thee a minister and a witness, both of these things which
thou hast seen, and of those things in the which 1 will ap-
pear unto thee ; delivering thee from the people and from
the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their
eves, and to turn them from darkness unto light, and from
the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgive-
ness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified,
by faith that is in me."* Thus called, thus commissioned,
lie was not, in official qualifications, " a whit behind the chief-
est apostles." Having received his office directly from
Christ, from Him too he received, through no created me-
dium of communication, all his knowledge of the mind and
will of God. He had nothing at second hand. In vindicat-
ing his official authority against the cavils of his adversaries,

* Acts xxvi. 1618.


he repeatedly and emphatically adverts to this. After intro-
Og himself to the Galatiau believers, as "an apostle,, not
of isiHi, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the
Father who raised biffi from the dead," he says "I certify
yon, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is
not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither
was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye
have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' re-
ligion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of
Cod and wasted it: and profited'" in the Jews' religion above
many my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly
/ealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased
Cud, who set me apart from my mother's womb, and called
me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach
him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with
i!esh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them
who were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and
returned again unto Damascus." t He thus acted immedi-
ately upon the commission which he had received; a com-
mission evidently accompanied witb what alone could quality
him for its execution, a full communication to his mind of
the doctrines of Christian truth, and the principles and pre-
< ] it s of Christian duty. The expression, in the verses just
cited "I conferred not with flesh and blood" does not
signify, as it is often interpreted, that he did not consult his
own c-.nvonience, or his own advantage; but that he had
not recourse to man, to any human instructor. The words
tl>a follow contain its explanation: "neither went I up to
Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me."

All this his personal conversion and his official appoint-
ment and qualifications was wonderful grace to Saul, and

N'it. as some heedless English readers might be apt to fancv.
although to that he was in a fair way but made proji-
' T e oi*(r. The word expresses the idea of increase or advance-
whether in good or in evil. Examples are needless. The same
lisli \vonl is used to translate the noun xetxw in 1 Tim iv 15
' that thy profiting" \. e. thy progress in knowledge and other min-
isterial qualifications "may appear unto all."
t Gal. i. 1, 11 17.


wonderful kindness to the church. Deeply did he fuel liis
own obligations, and many a time does he extol the mercy of
which he had been so undeserving an object : " Unto me,
who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable
riches of Christ:" "And I thank Christ Jesus oxir Lord,
who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, put-
ting me into the ministry ; who was before a blasphemer, and
a persecutor, and injurious but I obtained mercy:" "For
I ai the least of the apostles, who am not meet to be called
an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by
the grace of God I am what I am."* And while the sub-
ject of the change himself thus felt and owned his obliga
tions, the whole church of God was sensible of the value of
the acquisition, as a most encouraging exemplification of the
power and riches and sovereign freeness of gospel grace, as
a deliverance from the virulent malice and the frantic vio-
lence of a ringleader in persecution, and as a transference
of a devotedly zealous and efficient auxiliary from the side of
error to the side of truth: "They glorified God in me!"t
And good cause they had, when "he who persecuted them
ill times past became a preacher of the faith which before he
destroyed.'' And what abundant reason has the church of
God, in all successive ages, to unite with the early saints of
Judea in their grateful adorations ! How incalculable the
amount of our debt to this instrument of spiritual good, and
to that Lord by whom the instrument was prepared ! What
shall we say of the self-denying and indefatigable zeal, and
of the painful and perilous labours, so extensive and so mul- ,
tiplied, of his ministry, as the Apostle of the Gentiles! And
what shall we say of all the riches of instruction, consola-
tion, direction, admonition, and encouragement, which, his in-
valuable writings, forming so large a portion of the ^NCw TY>-
tament revelation, have afforded, and continue to afford, to
the Christian mind !

How wonderful the ministry of this most wonderful man !

* .[>}}. :\\. 8: 1 Tim. i. 1214: 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. f Gal. i. 24.


Truly might he say, that he "served God ''/'//< liis *l>irit in
th- gospel of his Son." His whole soul was in his work.
He "counted all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord." Never did man give
fuller proof of his sincerity. Never did man act more con-
scientiously upon principle, or verify more thoroughly the
declaration "To me to live is Christ." His standard of
the value of time was, the amount of opportunity it afforded
him of serving Christ; and if Christ were but "magnified,"
mi matti-r to him " whether it was by life or by death." Who
ran ivad the enumeration of his toils and suffering, an enu-
ni"ration extorted from him by the necessity of self-defence
against the false insinuations of his enemies, without a
deep conviction of the sincerity and tlie ardour of his zeal?
He is speaking of those "false apostles" and "deceitful
worker*,'' wu " sought to exalt themselves by traducing and
lowering him: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as
a i'>ol,) I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes
ali'.ve measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of
the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice
was I Ix-atei! with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep : in
journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in
perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in
perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
BM, i'i perils among false brethren: in weariness and pain-
fulnes-;, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings
often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are
without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all
the. churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is
olfended, and I burn not?"* Of his "care of all the churches/'
of the depth of interest he felt in all their concerns, his
spirits rising or sinking according to the complexion of the
riding-! respecting their prosperity or their declension, which
from day to day reached him, his various epistles contain
abundant and impressive manifestation. With his whole

* 2 Cor. xi. 2329.


heart he enters into the peculiar circumstances of each:- -
and, while he indulges his sympathies, and points his ap-
peals, and urges his remonstrances, and administers his con-
solations, his encouragements, his admonitions, and his coun-
sels, as they are specially requited, he is, at the same time,
so guided by the superintending Spirit under whose inspira-
tion he writes, as to put on record what was then, and would
be in future ages, instructive and profitable to all.

In the writings of this Apostle there is a fulness of state-
ment, a closeness of argumentation, and a comprehensive-
ness of view, on the great subjects of evangelical truth,
combined with a richness of spiritual unction, and the union
of a melting tenderness with a sublime loftiness of devotional
feeling; by which, perhaps, they are more remarkably char-
acterized than any other portions of the New Testament.
He has, it is true, what may, without impropriety, be called

Online LibraryRalph WardlawLectures on the epistle to the Romans (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 35)