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accused by some, that we must do evil that good may come? The apostle does not condescend to answer this sophistry, which, however, may very easily be -> refuted. The wicked adduced the following pretext, -If God is glorified by my iniquity, and the most honourable part of a man's conduct, through life, is to promote the glory of the Lord, then I ought to sin for the purpose of advancing the glory of the Ruler of the universe. The objection can easily be real moved, for evil in itself can produce only evil. Our vice casts lustre upon God's glory, not by the work of man, but of God, who, as a wonderful Creator, knows how to subdue and direct our wickedness into another channel, so as to convert it, contrary to our intended design, to the increase of his glory. Godia has appointed piety, consisting in the obedience of his word, as the way by which he is desirous we should glorify him ; and every person who overleaps the bounds determined by his truth, endeavours : rather to disgrace than to honour God. The dif- ** ferent result which follows from the conduct of the wicked, is to be ascribed to the providence of God, not the depravity of man, that was prepared, not only to injure, but to subvert the majesty of the Deity.
As we are accused—It is surprising, when Paul discoursed concerning the secret judgments of God with such solemnity, to find his enemies calumniating him with so much frowardness; but no piety, however great, no sobriety, however distinguished, in the servants of God, can check the impure and virulent tongues of the wicked. It is no new example, therefore, that our doctrine, which we ourselves know to be the pure gospel of Christ, and to us all the angels and believers bear witness, should be loaded at this present time with so many accusations, and rendered so odious by our adversaries. Nothing can be
conceived more strange and monstrous than what is here adduced against Paul, for the purpose of making the ignorant and unexperienced dislike his preaching, in consequence of the disreputable reports circulated to its dishonour. Let us, therefore, patiently bear the calumnies with which the wicked assail the truth; nor let us ever cease constantly to maintain its simple confession, since it has sufficient power to crush to pieces, and disperse, their greatest falsehoods. But, after the example of the apostle, let us oppose, as much as we can, their malicious devices, that these flagitious and abandoned sorry fellows may not rail against their Creator with impunity. Whose damnation is just-Some take it in an active sense, as if Paul assented to the absurdity of the objection, that the doctrine of the gospel may not be considered to be in the least connected with such paradoxes. I
approve more of its requiring to be understood in a passive signification, for it would not have been consistent to give a simple assent to so great a wickedness, which ought rather to have been sharply reproved, and I think Paul adopted this
Their perverse conduct deserved to be condemned on two accounts; first, that they could ever assent to this impiety from the conviction of their understanding ; in the second place, that, by their very traducing the gospel, they had the hardihood to contrive such a calumny against so glorious a truth.
9 What then? are we better than they ? No, in no wise : for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.
What then ?-He returns from his digression to the subject in hand. For, to prevent the Jews from objecting, on any account, that they were deprived of their rights, after he had recounted the praises of
dignity, by which they exalted themselves above the Gentiles, he now finally solves the question whether they surpassed the heathens in any respect. For though this answer seems, in appearance, to disagree a little with the former, since he now deprives those of all dignity, on whom he had before bestowed much, yet there is no opposition. For those privileges, in which he confessed them to excel, are external, consisting in the goodness of God, and not their own merit. But here he inquires, whether they had any dignity of their own in which to glory in themselves. These two answers, therefore, so agree, that one results from the other. For when he extolled their prerogatives, included in God's benefits alone, he shows them to have nothing purely their own; and hence the answer, which he now gives, might immediately be inferred. For if their chief excellence consists in the oracles of God being deposited with them, and they possess not this from any merit of their own, they have no cause for boasting in the presence of God. Observe the holy artifice of the apostle, who addressed the Jews in the third person, when he claimed for them
excellence. But when he is now desirous to take all from them, he joins himself to their number, that he may avoid giving offence. For we have before proved— The Greek word here is properly a judicial one, for an accuser is said to establish an indictment in an action, which he is prepared to substantiate by other testimonies and proofs. And the apostle has cited the whole human race before the tribunal of God, that he might include all under one condemnation. Some may in vain object, that the apostle does not here merely charge with a crime, but rather proves it, for a real accusation rests on firm and valid proofs, as Cicero has, in some part of his writings, made a distinction between accusation and reproach.
Moreover, to be under sin, implies the same thing, as to be justly condemned before God as sinners, or to be under the curse which is due to sin. For as righteousness is associated with acquittal, so condemnation follows an offence.
10 As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one : 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre ; with their tongues they have used deceit : the poison of asps is under their lips : 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known :
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
As it is written–His reasoning has hitherto been designed to convince men of their iniquity. He now begins to derive his arguments from authority, which is the strongest kind of proof with Christians, provided the authority of God alone is appealed to. Let teachers of the church hence learn the character of their office. For if Paul here asserts no doctrine, which he cannot at the same time confirm by the certain oracle of Scripture, much less ought those to attempt it, who have no other command to preach the gospel, than which they have received by the hands of Paul and others. There is none righteousThe apostle makes one general position, before he descends to particulars, following rather the sense of the passage than the entire expressions; and states,
first, the sum of those things which are related by the prophet to be in man, namely, that there is righteousness in none, and afterwards enumerates, in separate parts, the fruits of his unrighteousness. (Psalm xiv. 1.) The first fruit is a want of understanding in all
He afterwards convicts them of folly, because they do not seek after God. (Psalm liii. 3.). For the man who is not possessed of the knowledge of God, whatever other kind of erudition he
have attained, is a vain person. Nay, even the very sciences and arts, which are good in themselves, are rendered vain if they want this foundation. He adds, there is none that doeth good, by which he means, they have laid aside all sense of humanity. our best bond for mutual union with each other, is found in the knowledge of God, since, in the character of a common Father to all, he reconciles us in the best manner to each other, so out of Him every thing is merely in a scattered and dissipated state ; because want of humanity generally follows our ignorance of God, while each, treating others with contempt, loves and seeks himself. He next subjoins, their throat is an open sepulchre, (Psalm v. 10, a gulf for the ruin of their fellow-men. The expression is stronger than men-eaters, for it is the height of barbarism that man's throat should be so dreadful a whirlpool as to be able to swallow down and to consume his fellow-mortals whole and entire. The same meaning must be annexed to their tongues being deceitful, and their lips lined with poison. (Psalm cxl. 4.) It is added, their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, (Psalm x. 7,) a vice opposite to the former ; but the meaning is, that they breathe forth wickedness in every part; for if they speak pleasantly they deceive, and drink to their neighbour poison, under the most captivating smiles, and with the most flattering language; but, if they speak their