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THIS celebrated epistle was probably written from Corinth, when Paul was travelling through Greece, after finishing his tour in Macedonia, about the year of our Lord 58, which was the fourth of the Emperor Nero. The chief arguments to prove this have been already stated in a few words, Vol. III. p. 295, note C; and they are drawn from comparing Acts xx. 1-4, with Rom. xv. 25-27; xvi. 21. But for the sake of those who may not have the third volume before them, I shall exhibit them again in my notes on those texts as they occur in the epistle, and shall observe the same method elsewhere on the like occasions.

The design of the epistle has been much more controverted than its date ; and yet it seems so obvious, that hardly any thing has surprised me more than the different and inconsistent plans which ingenious writers have given of it. I should but confound the reader, as well as swell this preface beyond all due bounds, if I should attempt distinctly to propose and examine them here. Instead of this, I shall therefore content myself with exhibiting (not my own hy. pothesis, for truly it has been my care to have no hypothesis at all, but) what upon reading the epistle, without any view but that of following the apostle whithersoever he should lead me, I find to be assured fact; and I will state these contents in as few and as plain words as I can, and so every reader will VOL. 4.



A general introduction easily see what this great author intended, by seeing what he has done ; for no doubt he answered his own design.

Now I think it must be evident to every reader of common discernment and attention, that Paul is labouring through all this epistle, “to fix on the minds of the Christians to whom he addresses himself, a deep sense of the excellency of the gospel, and to engage them to act in a manner agreeable to their profession of it.” For this purpose, after a general salu. tation, (chap. i. 1–7,) and profission of his ardent affection for them, (ver. 3–15,) he declares, that he shall not be ashamed openly to maintain the gospel at Rome; for this gena eral reason, that it is the great and powerful instrument of sal. vation, both to Jews and Gentiles, by means of faith. (ver. 16, 17.) And then to demonstrate and vindicate its excellency in this view of it, the apostle shews,

I. That the world greatly needed such a dispensation ; the Gentiles being fallen into a most abandoned state, (ver. 18, 10 the end,) and the Jews, though condemning others, being themselves no better; (chap. ii. throughout ;) as notwithstanding some cavils, which he obviates, (chap. iii. 1-8,) their own scriptures testify. (ver. 9—19.) So that there was an universal necessity of seeking for justification and salvation in this method. (ver. 20, to the end.)

II. That Abraham and David themselves sought justification in such a way as the gospel recommends, that is, by faith, (chap. iv. 1-12,) and that a very illustrious act of it entailed everlasting honour on that great patriarch from whom the Jews boasted their descent. (ver. 13, to the end.)

III. That hereby believers are brought into so happy a state, as turns the greatest afflictions of life into an occasion of joy. (chap. v. 1-11.)

IV. That the calamities brought on the seed of the first Adam by his ever to be lamented fall, are with glorious ad. vantage repaired to all who by faith become interested in the second Adam. (ver. 12, to the end.d

to the epistle to the Romans. V. That far from dissolving our obligations to practical holiness, the gospel greatly increases them by a peculiar obligation, (chap. vi. 1-14,) which the apostle strongly urges upon them. (ver. 15, to the end.)

By these general considerations, St. Paul illustrates the excellency of the gospel in the six first chapters of this epistle, and they must be acknowledged considerations of the highest importance.

There were great numbers of Jews at Rome, many of whom had embraced the gospel; to make them therefore more sensible how glorious a dispensation it was, and to take them off from a tond attachment to the Mosaical law, now they were married to Christ by a solemn profession of his re. ligion, (chap. vii. 146,) the apostle largely represents how comparatively ineffectual the motives of the law were to pro. duce those degrees of obedience and holiness, which by a lively faith in the gospel we obtain. (chap. vii. 7, to the end. chap. vii. 1, 2.) And here, in all the remainder of this cele. brated chapter, the apostle gives a more particular view of those things which rendered the gospel so much more efficacious for this great purpose, viz. that of forming the soul to holi. ness, than the legal economy had been : (chap. viii. ver. 9.) The discovery it makes of the incarnation and death of Christ; (ver. 3,4;) the spirituality of temper to which it calls us; (ver. 5-8 ;) the communication of the sanctifying and comforting influences of the spirit of God, whereby true believers are formed to a filial temper; (ver. 9–17;) the views which it exhibits of a state of glory, so great and illustrious, that the whole creation seemed to wait for the manifestation of it; (ver. 18-25;) while in the mean time believers are sup. ported under all their trials by the aids of the Spirit, (ver. 26, 27,) and an assurance that all events should cooperate for their advantage ; (ver. 28 ;) since God has in consequence of his eternally glorious plan already done so much for us, (ver. 29, 30,) which emboldens us to conclude, that no accusation shall

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