« AnteriorContinuar »
FRIENDS OF THE PUBLICATION.
The opportunity afforded by the present Number, is embraced by the Translator to inform you, that in this part of the work which contains Selections from Luther on the Epistles to the Romans, to tho Galatians, and of Peter, Ac, he has, after due deliberation, considered it right, not to re-translate those portions which are taken from the Commentary on the Galatians, but to give you the same translation that has hitherto ever received the sanction of the Church. His design in so doing, was not to avoid trouble, (for it was as much labour to transcribe, and to modernise the orthography, Arc, as it would have been to re-translate,) but he felt a cheok to adopting any measure, which should have the shadow of a tendency to supersede that translation of Luther on the Galatians, which has been so long established by the universal approbation of good men, and so signally owned and honoured of God to the edification and various deliverances of his people.
It will perhaps be asked, why he published Selections from
the Commentary on the Galatians at all, when the whole work
is so public, and may be so easily obtained ?—He answers:
Those who desire to read Luther for true profit, are those who
are under a concern about their eternal state: and such, for the
most part, cannot afford to give 12s. Od. for that one whole
work: which is, we believe, the common price of that invaluable
production. Considering, therefore, the state and desires of
such needy and seeking characters, he thought he might not
render an unacceptable service, if he should select, according
to his ability, such portions as he judged would meet their wants
and suit their cases, and should comprise them within the space
of two or three Numbers; and consequently, within the price
of 4s. or 5*.; which space and price, the Selections from the
Vol i. o 6 Galatians will not he trusts exceed, even with the addition of much invaluable matter of the same nature and purport, from the Commentaries on the Romans, Peter, Psalms, and other works of Luther.
He would also observe, that from the quantity of matter which has, by typographical arrangements, been compressed into a page, he hopes he shall be enabled to augment the work with two or three pieces of our great Author more than those enumerated in the Proposals; in the selection and disposal of which, he shall he hopes have in view the edification and best interests of his Friends.
Nor would he wholly lose this opportunity of acknowledging the encouragement with which his feeble endeavours have thus far been countenanced.—May the future reception of the work prove, that the undertaking was not altogether in vain! The motive which gave birth to it was, a will to render, "in quiet," and "without observation," a service to the Church of God in this " dark and cloudy day;" when the eyes of so few can " see their teachers," and when all are sighing under " a famine of hearing the word." And as He who has all supplies in himself, hath said, " When the poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the vallies. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and dry land springs of water;"—to see the present little work so blessed as to be made one of the very least of these " springs" or " fountains," in the present "wilderness" and " dry land," is, he trusts, all his desire.
July 1, 1823.
EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS.
As this Epistle of Paul to the Romans contains alone the plan of the whole scripture, and is a most complete epitome of the New Testament, or Gospel; which Gospel it exhibits, of itself, in the most brief and most clear manner; I consider it ought, not only to be imbibed by all Christians from their youth, and to be thoroughly understood to a word; but, to be, by unceasing and anxious meditation, pondered and digested, and cast down, like well-digested food, into the "lower parts of the belly." For this epistle, is such a full treasury of spiritual riches, and as it were, such an overflowing cornucopia?, that if you read it a thousand times over, there is always in it something new to be found, so that the last time of reading shall be ever the most profitable. Because, under the divine teaching, and under the growth in the knowledge of Christ, the nature of faith, (which is therein to be learnt and experienced in the workings of all its divine sensations with power,) carries you deeper and deeper into the subject; the faith grows as you proceed, and becomes, by its own increase, more strong, more sweet, more precious, and more enriched. I thought, therefore, I might render a profitable service, if I should spend upon it, (according to the measure of the gift which I have received of God,) a certain portion of labour; and, by this short preface, open a plain way for its being read and understood by my posterity, with more clearness, and with less offence. To which work I feel myself more especially inclined, because I know that this epistle, which ought to be made the only test, and only plan, has been so obscured by the unprofitable comments and vain sophistries of so many, that its grand scope, though as plain as possible, has been understood but by few writers during many ages.
In the first place then, we must examine, and clearly understand, the nature of the terms and figures of speech used by the apostle. And above all, what he would have us to understand by these and the like terms—law, sin, grace, faith, righteousness, flesh, spirit. For, if we understand not what is meant by these, though we read never so diligently, it will be but labour in vain. The term law, is not here to be understood according to the manner of philosophy, or reason, as being a doctrine that teaches what ought to be done, and what ought not to be done. Eor all human laws are fulfilled by external works, even though those works be done contrary to the desire of the heart. But God, as being the searcher of hearts, judges according to the inward motions of the heart. Wherefore, the law of God requires the obedience of the heart and affections. Nor is it fulfilled by any external works, unless those works be done with all the willingness of the heart, and with the whole flow of the affections. And therefore, there is nothing that the law so vehemently arrests and condemns, as those specious and outside works: that is, hypocrisy, where there is falsehood and any deception designed in the heart. Hence, the prophet saith, "All men are liars," Psalm cxvi. Therefore, nature cannot fulfil the law. For all men are by nature inclined to evil, and hate the law. And, wherever there is not a willing and happy inclination of the heart towards God and his law, there is sin, and the wrath of God; how many and great works soever you may do under such an hypocrisy.
After taking this view of the nature of the law, St. Paul, chap. ii. brings forward all the Jews as sinners and transgressors of the law, notwithstanding all their show of obedience to the law by their external works. "For (saith he) not the hearers of the law are just