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THE NEW TESTAMENT.
JOHN WESLEY, M. A.
LATE FELLOW OF LINCOLN-COLLEGE, OXFORD.
PRINTED AT THE CONFERENCE-OFFICE, 14, CITY-ROAD,
SOLD BY THOMAS BLANSHARD, 14, CITY-ROAD; ALSO, BY J. BUTTERWORTH,
ST. PAUL'S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS:
MANY of the Writings of the New Testament, are written in the form of Epistles. Such are not only those of St. Paul, James, Peter, Jude, but also both the treatises of St. Luke, and all the writings of St. John. Nay, we have seven epistles herein, which the Lord Jesus himself sent by the hand of John to the Seven Churches; yea, the whole Revelation is no other than an epistle from him.
Concerning the Epistles of St. Paul, we may observe, he writes in a very different manner to those churches which he had planted himself, and to those who had not seen his face in the flesh. In his letters to the former, a loving or sharp familiarity appears, as their behaviour was more or less suitable to the gospel. To the latter he proposes the pure, unmixed gospel, in a more general and abstract manner.
As to the time wherein he wrote his epistles, it is probable he wrote, about the year of Christ, according to the common reckoning,
48, from Corinth, the epistle to the Thessalonians:
49, from Phrygia, the epistle to the Galatians:
52, from Ephesus, the first epistle to the Corinthians:
from Troas, the first epistle to Timothy:
from Macedonia, the second epistle to the Corinthians, and that to Titus:
from Corinth, the epistle to the Romans:
57, from Rome, the epistles to the Philippians, to Philemon, to the Ephesians, and to the Colossians:
58, from Italy, the epistle to the Hebrews:
66, from Rome, the second epistle to Timothy.
As to the general epistles, it seems, St. James wrote a little before his death, which was A. D. 63. St. Peter, who was martyred in the year 67, wrote his latter epistle a little before his death, and not long after his former. St. Jude wrote after him, when the mystery of iniquity was gaining ground swiftly. St. John is believed to have written all his epistles a little before his departure. The Revelation, he wrote A. D. 96.
That St. Paul wrote this epistle from Corinth, we may learn, from his commending to the Romans, Phebe, a servant of the church of Cenchrea, chap. xvi. 1, a port of Corinth, and from his mentioning the salutations of Gaius and Erastus, chap. xvi. 23, who were both Corinthians. Those to whom he wrote, seem to have been chiefly foreigners, both Jews and Gentiles, whom business drew from other provinces; as appears, both by his writing in Greek, and by his salutations of several former acquaintance.
His chief design herein is, to shew, 1. That neither the Gentiles, by the law of nature, nor the Jews, by the law of Moses, could obtain justification before God; and that, therefore, it was necessary for both, to seek it from the free mercy of God by faith. 2. That God has an absolute right to shew mercy on what terms he pleases, and to withhold it from those who will nut accept it on his own terms.
NOTES ON PAUL'S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
THIS EPISTLE CONSISTS OF FIVE PARTS,
I. The introduction,
II. The proposition, briefly proved,
1. Concerning faith and justification,
2. Concerning salvation,
3. Concerning the equality of believers, Jews or Gentiles,
To these three parts, whereof
The first is treated of
Not only the treatise itself, but also the exhortation answers
2. Concerning salvation,
3. Concerning the equal privileges of Jewish and Gentile
IV. The exhortation,
1. Concerning faith and its fruits, love and practical
C. i. 18. C. ii. 1-10. 11-29.
C. iii. 1-20. 21-31.
C. iv. 1-25.
C. ix. xi. C. xii. 1, 2.
C. xiii. 1-10. 11-14. C. xiv. 1.-XV. 13. 14.-xvi. 25.
To express the design and contents of this epistle a little more at large: The apostle labours throughout, to fix in those to whom he writes, a deep sense of the excellency of the gospel, and to engage them to act suitably to it. For this purpose, after a general salutation, chap. i. 1-7, and profession of his affection for them, ver. 8-15, he declares he shall not be ashamed openly to maintain the gospel at Rome, seeing it is the powerful instrument of salvation, both to Jews and Gentiles, by means of faith, ver. 16, 17. And in order to demonstrate this, he shews,
1. That the world greatly needed such a dispensation, the Gentiles being in a most abandoned state, ver. 18-32, and the Jews, though condemning others, being themselves no better, chap. ii. 1-29; as, notwithstanding some cavils, which he obviates, chap. iii. 1-8, their own Scriptures testify, ver. 9-19: so that all were under a necessity of seeking justification by this method, ver. 20-31.
2. That Abraham and David themselves sought justification by faith, and not by works, chap. iv. 1-25.
3. That all who believe, are brought into so happy a state, as turns the greatest afflictions into matter of joy, chap. v. 1—11.
4. That the evils brought on mankind by Adam, are abundantly recompensed to all that believe in Christ, ver. 12-21.
5. That far from dissolving the obligations to practical holiness, the gospel increases them by peculiar obligations, chap. vi. 1-23.
In order to convince them of these things the more deeply, and to remove their fondness for the Mosaic law, now they were married to Christ by faith in him, chap. vii. 1-6, he shews how unable the motives of the law were to produce that holiness, which believers obtain by a living faith in the gospel, chap. vii. 7-25, viii. 1, 2; and then gives a more particular view of those things, which rendered the gospel effectual to this great end, ver. 3-39.
NOTES ON PAUL'S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
That even the Gentiles, if they believed, should have a share in these blessings; and that the Jews, if they believed not, should be excluded from them being a point of great importance, the apostle bestows the 9th, 10th, and 11th chapters in settling it. He begins the 9th chapter, by expressing his tender love and high esteem for the Jewish nation, ver. 1-5, and then shews,
1. That God's rejecting great part of the seed of Abraham, yea, and of Isaac too, was undeniable fact, ver. 6-13.
2. That God had not chosen them to such peculiar privileges, for any kind of goodness, either in them or their fathers, ver. 14-24.
3. That his accepting the Gentiles, and rejecting many of the Jews, had been foretold both by Hosea and Isaiah, ver. 25-33.
4. That God had offered salvation to Jews and Gentiles on the same terms, though the Jews rejected it, chap. x. 1-21.
5. That though the rejection of Israel for their obstinacy was general, yet it was not total: there being still a remnant among them who did embrace the gospel, chap xi. 1–10.
6. That the rejection of the rest was not final, but in the end all Israel should be saved, ver. 11-31.
7. That, meantime, even their obstinacy and rejection served to display the unsearchable wisdom and love of God, ver. 32-36.
The rest of the epistle contains practical instructions and exhortations. He particularly urges, 1. An entire consecration of themselves to God, and a care to glorify him by a faithful improvement of their several talents, chap. xii. 1-11. 9. Devotion, patience, hospitality, mutual sympathy, humility, peace, and meekness, ver. 12-21. 3. Obedience to magistrates, justice in all its branches, love the fulfilling of the law, and universal holiness, chap. xiii. 1-14. 4. Mutual candour between those who differed in judgment, touching the observance of the Mosaic law, chap. xiv. 1-23, xv. 1—17, in enforcing which he is led to mention the extent of his own labours, and his purpose of visiting the Romans, in the mean time recommending himself to their prayers, ver. 18-33. And after many salutations, chap. xvi. 1—16, and a caution against those who caused divisions, he concludes with a suitable. blessing and doxology, ver. 17-27.
CHAP. I. 1. PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called
CHAP. I. Ver. 1. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ-To this introduction the conclusion answers, chap. xv. 15, &c. Called to be an apostle-And made an apostle by that calling. While God calls, he makes what he calls. As the judaizing teachers disputed his claim to the apostolical office, it is with great propriety that he asserts it in the very entrance of an epistle, wherein their principles are entirely overthrown. And various other proper and important thoughts are suggested in this short introduction: particularly the prophecies concerning the gospel; the descent of Jesus from David; the great doctrines of his godhead and resurrection; the sending the gospel to the Gentiles; the privileges of Christians; and the obedience and holiness to which they were obliged, in virtue of their profession. Separated By God, not only from the bulk of other men, from other Jews, from other disciples, but even from other Christian teachers, to be a peculiar instrument of God in spreading the gospel..