Can Change the World Again.
NINTH OF ROMANS;
INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
BY REV ASA MAHAN, A. M.,
A SHORT recapitulation of the apostle's argument, from the commencement of this chapter to the close of verse 24, may be expedient, as introductory to the explanation of the remaining portion which is to occupy our attention in this lecture. In the first five verses the apostle protests, in the most solemn manner, his sorrow, for his brethren the Jews, in view of their impending doom, consequent on their rejection of God's righteousness, which is through faith alone in Christ Jesus. In the same connection, the apostle enumerates certain important privileges which pertained to the Jew consequent on his relations to the patriarchs, as the messianic seed of Abraham; privileges in which the Jew was accustomed to glory, and on which he rested his hope of eternal life; privileges, however, the thought of which tended only to aggravate the sorrow of the apostle, attended as, it was with the melancholy reflection, that a people thus privileged should finally be lost, and as a consequence suffer a doom of corresponding aggravation. The apostle, then, verse 6, states the proposition which it is his exclusive object to elucidate and establish in the remaining portion of the chapter. The Jew supposed that whatever threatenings were denounced against sinners in the Scriptures, he was perfectly secure against them, however he might live himself; for the reason, that his salvation did not turn upon his moral character at all, but upon his patriarchal descent. "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect," is the proposition which the apostle lays down in opposition to this fundamental error of his countrymen; that is, the case of the Jew, consequent on all the privileges pertaining to him on account of his patriarchal descent, is not, as he vainly supposes, such that the word of God's threatening has become ineffectual, or lost its curse-inflicting power in respect to him, any more than in respect to other sinners, and this for the reason, that "all are not (as the Jew supposes) Israel (heirs with Israel of life eternal) who are of Israel, (lineally descended from Israel;) neither because they are the seed (lineal descendants) of Abraham are they all children," that is, spiritually so.
To substantiate this proposition, the apostle (verses 813) cites the cases of the descendants of Ishmael and Easu. In respect to them, the Jew himself acknowledged, 1. That they were the real descendants of Abraham. 2. That patriarchal descent did not avail, in their case, to place them even among the messianic seed of Abraham, much less secure for them a place among his spiritual children. How obvious, then, is the conclusion, that mere patriarchal descent does not secure an individual a place among "the children of God;" and how presumptuous in the Jew, to suppose that because he was merely lineally descended from Abraham, he was therefore secure, whatever his character might be, against God's word of threatening, and an heir with Abraham of life eternal!
To show that suspending the destiny of man, not upon patriarchal descent, but upon an acceptance or rejection of God's righteousness, does not imply that there is "unrighteousness with God," the apostle makes (verses 1418) a direct appeal m the Scriptures, the divine authority of which the Jew himself acknowledged. The first passage cited is the declaration of God to Moses, consequent on the prayer of Moses that God would pardon Jews who had sinned, and were still impenitent. God refuses to answer the request, saying, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and will have compassion no whom I will have compassion;" that is, my principles for dispensing pardon are fixed and changeless; the prayer of no individual, in behalf of any who refuse to comply with the condition which I have laid down, will avail at all to change my purpose in respect to this subject. Hence, the apostle infers (verse 16) that the condition of merry dose not depend upon the will of him that seeks it, nor upon that of him who uses means to obtain it, but upon the will of God who is to bestow it, "So, then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," The Jew, then, if he would escape God's word of threatening, and become a subject of divine mercy, should not, as he was doing, go about to establish his own righteousness, and thus prescribe for God the condition of mercy. On the other hand, he should go to God, and learn from him what his condition is; and, by humble compliance, render his own "calling and elective sure."
In verse 17, the apostle cites, in further confirmation of his position, against the error of the Jew, the declaration of God to Pharaoh,a declaration in which the Most High avows the great fact, in the first instance, that he had raised Pharaoh up from the fearful diseases from which he had just been restored, for the purpose of "showing him the divine power," and that as a means of his salvation; and then, in the next instance, declares that his ultimate design in respect to him, was, through him as a monument of mercy if he did repent, or a monument of wrath if he continued to harden himself against God, to bring about a consummation, in which, for the salvation of the race, "God's name should be declared throughout all the earth." "For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." From the undeniable fact, that God refused to pardon the impenitent Jew, even when Moses prayed for it, and avowed the purpose to pardon and save even Pharaoh, if he would repent, and finally destroyed him, only when he had hardened himself into incurable reprobacy, how evident is the conclusion which the apostle draws, (verse 18,) that God is not, as the Jew supposed, confined to the principle of patriarchal descent, in selecting his vessels of mercy or of judgment; but that, on the other hand, according to his own divinely prescribed principle, in conformity to which he is merciful towards, or pardons, those who humbly "submit themselves, to the righteousness of God," and is hard or relentless towards, that is, inflicts his word of threatening upon all those who harden themselves against him, that "therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth,"
The apostle was well aware of what would be the final resort of the Jew, in self-defence, against appeals to his own Scriptures, appeals to which he could make no reply. As a stern, high predestinarian, and being at the same time devoid of moral principle, he would fall back as he had done (chap, iii, ver. 18) to shield himself against the apostle's demonstration of the doctrine of justification by faith, in opposition to the Jewish error of salvation by deeds of law; he would fall back, I say, upon his own predetinarianism, and deny the fact of his owe guilt and consequent desert of punishment. As making such an impious reply to his arguments, the apostle meets the Jew, (verse 19,) "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault! for who hath resisted his will?" That is, I am well aware of your last resort against appeals to your own Scripture, appeals which you cannot misunderstand or reply to. You will fall back, as yon are wont to do on all other occasions, when thus sorely pressed; you will fall back again upon you own error of eternal and all-necessitating predestination, and deny the fact of your real desert of punishment. In reply, the apostle first informs the Jew that in thus refusing to yield to the undeniable teachings of his own acknowledged divinely inspired Scriptures, he stands self-convicted, in the first instance, of replying against Goda fearful attitude for a creature to assume in respect to his Creator. In denying the fact of his moral agency as he had done, in affirming the impossibility of his own desert of punishment, when God had asserted the fact that he was a moral agent, in the revelation of the great principle of His eternal government, that He would dispense mercy and judgment upon the exclusive principle of personal character, ("who will render to every man according to his deeds,") the Jew was guilty of the horrid impiety of denying the right of God to create him as he had done. "Nay, but, oh man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?"
Still further; as God had revealed the fact (Jer, viii. 110) that nations and individuals are in his hands, to deal with them, as a righteous moral governor, according to their moral conduct, as the clay is in the hands of the potter, for the Jew to deny God's right to dispense mercy and judgment to Jews and Gentiles alike, accordingly as they accept or reject God's righteousness, was not only unscriptural but as absurd in itself, as it would be to affirm that the potter has not the right, of the same lump of clay, to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?"
Finally; what objection could be brought against this doctrine, when it revealed God as dealing with men, whether Jews or Gentiles, upon such principles as these? 1. He is determined, in case men will remain incorrigible in their sins, to make his wrath against sin and his power to punish it known, in their destruction, 2. To prevent such a doom, he "endures with much long-suffering" the rebellion of those even who are in their character vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. 3. He thus endures them, that, on their becoming vessels of mercy, he may make known upon them as such "the riches of his glory," whether they be Jews or Gentiles. What objection could the Jew bring against a system of divine administration based wholly upon such principles? This is the meaning of the question propounded in verses 2224. "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
Explanation of Romans ix. 2533,
We now advance to a direct consideration of the portion of the chapter which is to be the subject of attention in this lecture. In respect to this part of the chapter there is, happily, but a very little diversity of opinion among commentators. It naturally divides itself into two parts. In the first, including verses 2528, the apostle proves, by a direct appeal to Scripture, that Gentile believers are to constitute a portion of the church or elect of God, and that not all, as the Jew maintained, but a part only of the Jews will be saved; thus disproving the two great errors of the Jew, to wit, that sin in him will not expose him to the curse revealed in God's word of threatening, and that faith in the Gentile will not secure him a place among the children of God. In the second part of this passage, (verses 2933,) the apostle presents the great and conclusive reason why the Jew had failed to attain the righteousness which he sought. We will consider these portions of the passage separately.
In verse 25, the apostle makes a quotation from Hosea i. 10, and quotes the passage not literally, but according to its real import. In this passage the great truth stands directly and distinctly revealed, that Gentiles were to become a constituent portion of the Church of Christ, Gentiles of no class, up to that time, had been called God's people; but now such of them as believe were to be called his people. They had never had a place among the people who were called God's beloved; but now they were to wear this endearing title, "As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved." Thus the error of the Jew, that the Gentile, though a believer, cannot be saved, was made manifest.
Verse 26 has an exclusive reference to the Jews. To understand it, we must refer to the whole passage from which it was originally taken; to wit, Hosea i. 810: "Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bard a son. Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi; for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God." The term Lo-ammi means Not-my-people. The daughter which the wife of the prophet had previously borne he was directed to call Lo-ammi, Not-my-people; because the Jews, who had before been called Ammi, My-people, were, in the fulfilment of this prophecy, to cease to be called such. They were to be called Lo-ammi, Not-my-people, because they were to be cut off for their wickedness from that peculiar relation to God. Yet the time would come, in the progress of ages, when their "number would be as the sands of the sea, and in the very place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God." This passage, then, contains the following truths respecting the Jews. 1. The time would come when they would cease to stand before the world as the acknowledged people of God. God himself would reject them for their sins. 2. In the progress of subsequent ages they wouldtheir number then being immensely greatbe restored to their former relations as the people of God. This passage, then, clearly demonstrates the truth of the great proposition stated in verse 6, that the Jew, consequent on his patriarchal decent, is not curse-proof against God's word of threatening. This, as I suppose, must be the object of the apostle in citing from Hosea the passage under consideration.
Some have supposed that both passages above cited relate to the Gentiles, placing what follows, as quoted from Isaiah, concerning the Jews, in contrast with what is said in Hosea, concerning the Gentiles. No difference in the bearing of the whole upon the apostle's argument is made, whichever way the passages are explained. To my mind, however, the above is obviously the true explanation.
Of the meaning of the following verse, 2729, there can be no doubt. In verse 27, quoted from Isaiah x. 22, it is affirmed that, although the number of the people of Israel was immensely great, such an idea being properly expressed by the figure, "as the sand of the sea," "a remnant" only would escape destruction. This implied that the mass of the people would perish in their sins, and, consequently, demonstrated the truth of the proposition which it was the great object of the apostle to establish, to wit, that the Jew, was not secure against God's word of threatening. Such is the meaning of the words "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved."
Verse 28 is immediately connected with the one just explained, and constitutes a part of Isaiah x. 22, and the whole of the following verse. Its meaning has been expressed in a former lecture, and may be thus expressed: "For,"that is, what I have said will surely take place, or "I speak of the remnant only, for a different destiny awaits the rest, or the mass of the people,""he will finish the work," (word,) or execute his word of threatening against the body of the people, "and cut it short in righteousness;" that is, execute it speedily in righteousness;" that is, execute it speedily in righteous vengeance: "because a short work (word) will the Lord make in the earth;" that is, God will cause his word of threatening to be shortly or speedily executed in the sight of the whole earth. The meaning of the two verses, taken together, may be thus expressed: "Though the number of the children of Israel be now immensely great, but a remnant of them shall escape the judgments impending over them; for God will accomplish this threatening upon the mass of the nation, and bring that threatening to a speedy consummation. Most assuredly will God cause his word of threatening to be speedily consummated in the sight of the whole earth." In the presence of such fearful declarations pertaining to the Jewish nation, how presumptuous in the Jew to entertain the idea that he, in consequence of his patriarchal decent, is curse-proof in respect to God's threatened judgments upon all who "reject his great salvation!"
In verse 29 the apostle confirms what he had proved in the verses preceding, by another quotation from Isa. i. 9. "And as Esaias said before, (in a former chapter,) Except the Lord of Sabaoth (of hosts) had left us a seed, (a remnant or portion surviving, this being the meaning of the term seed,) we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah;" that is, our nation would have utterly perished. Thus the apostle proved, by a direct appeal to the Scriptures, that the divine dispensation hung over the Jew and Gentile alike, filled with vials of mercy and vials of wrath, and that neither could enjoy the one or shun the other, unless on one condition, "submission to God's righteousness."
The connection between the opposite quotations, which the apostle makes from the prophets Hosea and Isaiah, concerning the Jews, is very striking. Hosea points to a consummation in the progress of the nation, in which, after they have been for ages Lo-ammi, they should become, their numbering immensely great, Ammi, or "the sons of the living God." But Isaiah points to a prior consummation of a different kind, when their number, at the time, being indeed immense, yet only a remnant would escape the judgments of God. Both quotations culminate in one great truth, to wit, that the Jew is not, as he supposes, in consequence of his relations and privileges as a descendant of Abraham, shielded, while he remains in his sins, from the threatened judgments of God.
The above quotation, also, in the same manner as the apostle's entire course of reasoning throughout, shows clearly that I have rightly explained his meaning in the phrase, verse 6, "not as thought the word of God hath taken none effect," in explaining the phrase "the word of God" to mean, not his word of promise, but his word of threatening. The reasonings and quotations of the apostle everywhere bear directly and immediately upon this latter idea, and not so directly and immediately upon the former. We may very safely and assuredly conclude, then, that that phrase has been rightly explained, as well as the train of argumentation pursued to establish it.
The apostle has now completed his demonstration of the proposition before us, and proceeds, in the remainder of the chapter, to introduce another and different subject,a subject, however, not disconnected with the one which has previously occupied our attention. Two facts were undeniable: that portion of the Gentiles, while they had, prior to the proclamation of God's righteousness, which is through faith in Christ alone, made no efforts at all for their own salvation, had now attained to this righteousness; while the mass of the Jews, although they had attempted to attain to a certain form of righteousness, had failed of attaining to any form of real righteousness whatever. To announce this fact, and to state the reason of the total failure of the Jew, is the object of the apostle in the remaining part of this chapter:"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." The article "the," before the term Gentile, in the 30th verse, and before the words "law of righteousness," in the verse following, is not, in either instance, in the original, and had better have been omitted in the translation. The apostle does not mean to say that "the Gentiles," that is, the mass of them, but the "Gentiles," that is, a certain portion of them, had attained to the righteousness referred to. Nor does he intend to say that the Jews, who rejected Christ, had followed after "the law," that is, the true law of righteousness. On the other hand, they had followed, as the apostle shows in chapter x. 5, a law of righteousness, that is, a law of their own; in doing which, however, they had failed even to attain to "a law," that is, to any law of righteousness. The meaning of these two verses, then, may be thus expressed:"What shall we say then?" that is, what are the real facts of the case pertaining to Jews and Gentiles? These are the facts:Gentiles who, previous to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, had never sought after any form of righteousness, the righteousness which is by faith. But Jews, which did indeed aim to observe a law of righteousness, one of their own, had not attained to any law of righteousness whatever. Their efforts, even in the direction in which they were put forth, had been a total failure.
The question now arises, What is the cause of this melancholy fact pertaining to the Jew? The reason is obvious. He had sought righteousness indeed, but had refused to seek it in God's way. He had endeavored to attain salvation by attempting to observe a law of righteousness, that is, "as it were by works of law," and not by faith, which is God's revealed condition. The particle "the" should be omitted, before the term law, in this, as in the instances above mentioned. In seeking salvation in the wrong direction, he would of course refuse to take the right one, and thus stumble over the rock of salvation appointed by God for sinners to build their hopes upon. Christ is called a stone of stumbling to those who reject him, for two reasons. 1. In seeking righteousness in some other direction, they of course reject him. He becomes an object of offence to them. 2. As, when men stumble over an object, they are injured by the fall, so, in the rejection of Christ, the guilt and condemnation of sinners are infinitely enhanced. Hence, to all such, he is properly called "a stone of stumbling and rock of offence." Such is the meaning of verse 32. "Wherefore?" that is, what is the true cause of the total failure of the Jews? This is the true cause:"Becuase they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at the stumbling-stone."
The fact that Christ would become "a stone of stumbling and rock of offence" to some, as well as the author of eternal salvation to others, the apostle now shows, in the last verse of this chapter, by another quotation from Isaiah, referring directly and exclusively to Christ. The quotation is made up of two passages, and contains the real substance of both; to wit, Isaiah viii. 14; xxviii. 16. God represents himself as laying in the midst of the Jewish nation, here typified by the term Zion, (Jerusalem, or Zion, being then the capital of the nation, and properly used to express it,) a rock for the people to build their hopes for eternity upon. At the same time, he intimated that the rock, or his revealed plan of salvation, would, as a matter of fact, be to many a stumbling-stone and rock of offence; that is, many would reject, and take offence at, the plan of salvation revealed, and thereby increase their own condemnation. Whosoever would believe in him, however, would not be ashamed, or be disappointed in their expectations. The opposition of the Jew, therefore, to Christ, is no evidence that he is not the Son of God. The fact that he is to the Jew a rock of offence, on the other hand, only confirms the doctrine of salvation by faith revealed through him. Such is the meaning of verse 33. "As it is written, Behold, I law in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." In stating the reasons why the Jew had failed to attain righteousness, the apostle impliedly stated the reasons why Gentiles attained to righteousness, while the Jew had failed to attain it. The former, when the way of life was revealed to him, embraced the truth by faith, while the latter rejected it.
I have now completed the examination of this important chapter. If I have rightly explained it, some service has been done to the cause of truth and righteousness. If I have failed in the great argument, I trust that those who have heard me, and others who may read these thoughts, when presented to the public, will have wisdom to detect the error. I shall draw the lectures on this chapter to a close, with a few brief reflections of a general nature.
I. I may be permitted here to allude to some considerations which go to confirm the general correctness of the explanation of the chapter which has been given in these lectures. Among these I notice the following:
1. The explanation throughout accords with the universally received law of biblical criticism. I feel quite sure that it cannot be shown that those laws have been violated in this exposition.
2. The entire argument of the apostle, according to this exposition, bears directly and most decisively upon the real question at issue between him and the Jew, to wit, Whether relationship to Abraham, such as the Jew sustained, did, in fact, render one secure from the judgments of God threatened against sinners? This is not the only question at issue between them, but the very question which, as all acknowledge, the apostle does discuss in this chapter. What higher evidence can we have that an explanation is correct than this, that, according to it, all parts of the passage are in harmony with the real and great question at issue between the parties, and with the question actually discussed in the passage itself?
3. Every particular part of the passage, every sentence, phrase, and quotation from Scripture, found in it, perfectly harmonizes, as we have seen, with this explanation. Nothing in the passage is out of place, nothing unhinges against our line of argument, as we traverse the passage from beginning to end. Such are the grounds on which I rest the claims of the explanation of Romans ix. given in these lectures.
II. The fundamental objections which lie against the high Calvinist explanation of the passage next claim our attention.
1. This explanation throughout rest upon an assumption known to be false, to wit, that Paul is here, as a predestinarian, reasoning against the Jew, as an anti-predestinarian; when, in fact, the Jew was himself a high predestinarian, and could not have been at issue with the apostle on this subject, if Paul was himself a predestinarian.
2. This explanation makes Paul lay out his main stress in proving pints where there is no difference of opinion at all, if he was a predestinarian; instead of concentrating his whole force, as he should have done, upon the real question in difference, the question, Who were, and who were not, the elect? Can we suppose that such a man, under immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would take such a course as that?
3. According to this explanation, the main direction of the apostle's reasoning is wholly apart from the point which, as all acknowledge, he was aiming to prove, and had no bearing upon it whatever. The point on which the apostle is arguing, as all admit, is the proposition that patriarchal descent does not render the Jew sure of God's favor, and safe from the threatenings which he has denounced against sinners. What adaptation has an argument to prove the doctrine of eternal and unconditional election and reprobation to settle such a proposition as this?
4. According to this explanation, the apostle's reasonings, throughout the chapter, lack the unity which every else characterize him as a reasoner. At one time, he is arguing the real question at issue; at another, a point where there was no difference of opinion, and that just as if such difference did exist. No such example can be found in Paul's writings anywhere else.
5. This explanation makes the apostle contradict himself in different parts of the chapter. At one time it makes him assign, as the sole reason of the destruction of the Jew, the eternal decree and sovereignty of God. "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." Then, in another place, it makes him affirm that the Jew himself is the sole cause of his own death. "Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith." What must we think of an explanation which places different parts of the same chapter in such open opposition to each other?
6. Another fundamental objection to this explanationan objection not yet referred to in these lecturesnext claims our special attention. According to this explanation, the connection between the first five verses and the remaining portion of the chapter is the most unnatural imaginable. In these verse the apostle represents the impending doom of the Jew as a source of the greatest conceivable sorrow and grief to him. According to this explanation, he then goes on to present this very doom as occurring according to, and in consequence of, an eternal and irreversible purpose and decree of God. No event, whatever its character in itself, can be, when thus contemplated, an object of continual sorrow and heart-heaviness to a truly devout, believing, submissive, and trustful mind. The moment any event whatever is contemplated by such a mind, as an object of eternal and irreversible purpose of God, it then becomes, however the mind may be affected by it when contemplated from other points of view, an object of submissive acquiescence and holy joy, and not of mental sorrow. Paul, then, as a holy man, and under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could never have presented the doom of his countrymen as a source of "great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart," and then, in the same connection, present the same event as the object of an eternal and irreversible purpose and decree of God. The high Calvinist's explanation, which imputes to him such inconsistency,yes, unsubmissiveness and impiety, as such a state of mind, in such a connection, would be,cannot be the correct interpretation. A different and opposite construction ought to be put upon the chapter.
III. A great truth, clearly brought to view in verses 3033 of this chapter, next claims our attention. It is this. All persons who are seeking salvation in a wrong direction, and who vainly suppose themselves to have thus secured it, are, in fact, in a condition far more hopeless than those who are not seeking it at all. The individual who knows himself "without God in the world," is far more likely to take warning and "lay hold on the hope set before him."
IV. We are now prepared for a distinct consideration of the fundamental principle, or distinguishing characteristic of Judaism. The principle of the system is one thing; the form is quite another. What, then, is the principle, as distinguished from the form, of the thing? It is this: The idea that our position in eternity is conditioned upon external relations and circumstances, and not upon moral character exclusively, upon anything other than real holiness or heart purity. The Jew rested his hope of salvation wholly upon circumstances external to the state of his heart. This was the principle of his system. Nor can we now fail to perceive that a system of religion may be wholly Judaistic in principle, though totally diverse in form from Judaism itself. That system, whatever its form or by whatever name it may be called, is really and radically Judaistic, and is only another form of the same thing, which conditionates salvation upon anything whatever, other than true holiness of heart.
V. Some of the particular forms of modern Judaism next claim our attention. Among these, I notice the following, as deserving special attention:
1. Placing the condition of salvation in our connection with, or a standing in some particular sect or denomination, instead of conditioning our destiny exclusively on what the Bible does, "repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Of this, Romanism is an example. In all such systems, a community so called Christian has been substituted for the Jewish, and connection with that community for descent from Abraham. Only a different form of the same thing, to wit, external relations, has been substituted for "God's righteousness."
2. Another form of modern Judaism consists in placing the conditions of salvation on subjection to particular ordinances, such as Baptism or the Lord's Supper, ordinances duly administered. When the fact of our becoming regenerated, and "receiving power to become the sons of God," is made to turn, not upon our receiving Christ directly and immediately by faith, but upon our being subject to the ordinance of baptism, what is this but another form of Judaism baptized with the name of Christian? The remains of two infants, who died at the same age, are before us; one was subjected to the ordinance of baptism, and the other not. What must we think of a system of religion, calling itself Christ, that would affirm, that for such a reason the soul of one of these is now in the kingdom of darkness? If all who die in infancy are saved, then baptism, as far as regeneration and translation into the kingdom of grace is concerned, is of no real use. The soul is just as well off without it as with it; and it is the height of absurdity to talk about an individual's being regenerated and made an heir of the kingdom of God "by baptism." If all infants, who die unbaptized, are lost, and lost for the reason that they were not baptized, then the immortal destiny of nearly half the race is made to turn wholly upon mere accidental external relations, in respect to the existence of which neither the saved or lost had any knowledge, choice, nor agency. What is such a system, but one of the grossest and most irrational and unchristian forms of Chistianized Judaism of which humanity, in its darkest speculations, ever conceived? Suppose a child is taken into the house of God, and there receives the ordinance of baptism, with an avowed atheist for a godfather, (the very circumstances in which a particular friend of min received the ordinance,) what infinite credulity must posses a mind that, witnessing no change whatever in the subsequent dispositions or manifestations of the child, can then see it grow, as in fact often the case, directly up, as it advances in age, into a giant in depravity, and with no form of virtue attaching to it, and yet believe that that child was really and truly regenerated, and made an heir of the kingdom of God, in and by that ordinance! Two children, we will further suppose, are before us, presenting, in all respects, the same or similar manifestations; one has received the ordinance of baptism, and the other has not. Yet we are to believe, in the presence of the same fruits, that one of these children is a truly spiritual regenerated person, and an heir of life eternal, and the other a child of wrath! But suppose, once more, that the individual who has received the ordinance grows up visibly a monster in depravity; while the other, without ever having received the ordinance, in the so-called apostolic form, and having never been convinced of the necessity of receiving it, or even suspected it, yet, according to the best light given him, he has "served God with a pure conscience." In the presence of such fruits, we are to regard the former as having been "spiritually regenerated," and the other as "having no hope, and being without God in the world." Thus we are required to reverse wholly the Savior's rule, and say, "By their fruits ye shall not know them," but ye shall know them by mere external relations, which imply in themselves no form or degree of holiness whatever, nor the most distant approach to any proper manifestations of it. All this we are expected to believe, in the presence of the most undeniable fact that the Bible never gives the shadow of an intimation, near or remote, that regeneration is by baptism; and when God himself has given us a formal definition of the "baptism that does save us,"a baptism which consists not in "the putting away of the filth of the flesh," that is, does not consist in any outward ordinances, "but in the answer of a good conscience towards God," that is, "in righteousness and holiness." What an infinite mistake the Holy Ghost made, in "sending Paul not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel," if spiritual regeneration is, not "by the foolishness of preaching," but "by baptism!"
3. The third form of Christianized Judaism demanding attention, consists in practically conditionating salvation upon the relations of the intelligence to certain systems of doctrine, rather than in practical godliness. The relations of the intellect to the truth are as distinct from the state of the heart, as external ordinances. Holiness of heart is no more implied in, or necessarily connected with, mere intellectually assent to any system of doctrine, than regeneration is with baptism. Simon Magus was baptized, and yet remained in the "gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity." So a man may "understand all mysteries and all knowledge," and yet be "as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." Now, where a main's standing in a church depends rather upon imputed soundness in doctrine than upon a holy life, where a church can "bear those that are evil," but cannot endure in her members dissent from her creed, on points acknowledged to be not essential to real holiness, we have in all such cases Judaism in principle, as really and truly as in either of the cases above named.
4. The last form of this error that I notice conditionates salvation not upon present obedience, but upon the relations of the individual to some supposed change of character in some past time. Salvation, in this case, is made to turn upon what is as really and truly external to the now state of the heart, as in any system of formalism that ever existed. That form of the doctrine of saints' perseverance which affirms that "we are partakers of Christ," not "if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end," but if we have been once regenerated, is nothing but Judaism under a Christian name.
EXPLANATION OF ROMANS IX. 113,
EXPLANATION OF ROMANS IX. 1418,
EXPLANATION OF ROMANS IX. 1924,
EXPLANATION OF ROMANS IX. 2533,
Eposition of Romans IX., Etc. By Asa Mahan - Romans 9 Commentary