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NOTE. a subject too : and though none can be subjects of the kingdom of God but those who, continuing in the faith, that has been once bestowed on them, sincerely endeavour to conform themselves to the laws of their Lord and Master Jesus Christ; and God gives eternal life to all those, and those only that do so; yet eternal life is the gift of God, the gift of free grace, since their works of sincere obedience afford no manner of title to it: their righteousness is imperfect, i. e. they are all uprighteous, and so deserve death; but God gives them life, upon the account of his righteousness, vid. Rom. i. 17. The righteousness of faith which is by Jesus Christ, and so they are still saved by grace.
Now when God hath, by calling them into the kingdom of his Son, thus quickened men, and they are, by his free grace, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that then works are required of them, we see in this, that they are called on and pressed to “ walk worthy of God, who hath called them to his kingdom and glory," 1 Thess. ii. 12. And to the same purpose here, ch. iv. 1. Phil. i. 27. Col. i. 10-12. So that of those, who are in the kingdom of God, who are actually under the covenant of grace, good works are strictlyrequired, under the penalty of the loss of eternal life: “if ye live after the fesh, ye shall die ; but if through the spirit ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live," Rom. viii. 13. And so, Rom. vi. 11, 13, they are commanded to obey God, as living men. This is the tenour of the whole New Testament: the apostate, heathen world were dead, and were, of themselves, in that state, not capable of doing any thing to procure their translation into the kingdom of God; that was purely the work of grace : but, when they received the Gospel, they were then made alive by faith, and by the Spirit of God: and, then, they were in a state of life, and working and works were expected of them. Thus grace and works consist, without any difficulty: that which has caused the perplexity and seeming contradiction, has been men's mistake concerning the kingdom of God : God, in the fulness of time, set up his kingdom in this world, under his Son; into which he admitted all those who believed on him, and received Jesus, the Messiah, for their Lord. Thus, by faith in Jesus Christ, men became the people of God, and subjects of his kingdom; and, being by baptism admitted into it, were from henceforth, during their continuing in the faith and profession of the Gospel, accounted saints, the beloved of God, the faithful in Christ Jesus, the people of God, saved, &c. for in these terms and the like the sacred Scripture speaks of them. And indeed those, who were thus translated into the kingdom of the Son of God, were no longer in the dead state of the Gentiles; but, having passed from death to life, were in the state of the living, in the way to eternal life; which they were sure to attain, if they persevered in that life 'which the Gospel required, viz. faith and sincere obedience. But yet, tbis was not an actual possession of eternal life, in the kingdom of God in the world to come; for by apostasy or disobedience this, though sometimes called salvation, might be forfeited and lost; whereas he, that is once possessed of the other, hath actually an eternal inheritance in the heavens, which fadeth not away. These two considerations of the kingdom of heaven some men have confounded and made one; so that a man being brought into the first of these, wholly by grace, without works, faith being all that was required to instate a man in it, they have concluded that, for the attaining eterual life, or the kingdom of God in the world to come, faith alone, and not good works, are required, coptrary to express words of Scripture, and the whole tenour of the Gospel : but yet, not being adınitted into that state of eternal life for our good works, it is by grace, here too, that we are saved, our righteousness, after all, being imperfect, and we, by our sins, liable to condemnation and death : but it is by grace we are made partakers of both these kingdoms: it is only into the kingdom of God in this world we are admitted by faith alone, without works ; but for our admittance into the other, both faith and obedience, in a sincere endeavour to perform those duties, all those good works, which are incumbent ou us, and come in our way, to be performed by us, from the time of our believing till our death,
TEXT. 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast : 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.
PARAPHRASE. and made his people, not by any thing you did yourselves to deserve it; it is the free gift of God, who might, if he had
so pleased, with justice have left you in that forlorn state. 9 That no man might have any pretence of boasting of him10 self, or his own works or merit. So that, in this new state
in the kingdom of God, we are (and ought to look upon ourselves, as not deriving any thing from ourselves, but as) the mere workmanship of God, created a in Christ Jesus, to the end we should do good works, for which he had prepared and fitted us, to live in them b.
NOTES. 10 - - Workmanship of God created.” It is not by virtue of any works of the
law, nor in cousideration of our submitting to the Mosaical institution, or hare ing any alliance with the Jewish vation, that we, Gentiles, are brought into the kingdom of Christ; we are, in this, entirely the workmanship of God; and are, as it were, created therein, framed and fitted by him, to the performance of those good works, which we were from thence to live in; and so owe nothing of this our new being, in this new state, to any preparation, or fitting, we received from the Jewish church, or any relation we stood in thereunto. That this is the meaning of the new creation, under the Gospel, is evident from St. Paul's own explaining of it, himself, 2 Cor. v. 16–18, viz. That being in Christ was all one as if he were in a new creation; and, therefore, from henceforth he knew nobody after the flesh, i. e. he pretended to no privilege, for being of a Jewish race, or an observer of their rites; all these old things were done away; all things under the Gospel are now and of God alone. • This is conformable to what he says, ver. 5, 6, That God quickened and raised the Gentiles, that were dead in trespasses and sins, with Christ, being by faith united to him, and partaking of the same spirit of life, which raised him from the dead; whereby, as men brought to life, they were enabled (if they would not resist, por quench that spirit) to live unto God, in righteousness and holiness, as before they were under the absolute dominion of Satan and their own lusts.
CHAPTER II. 11-22.
From this doctrine of his, in the foregoing section, that God of his free grace, according to his purpose from the beginning, had quickened and raised the convert Gentiles, together with Christ, and seated them with Christ in his heavenly kingdom; St. Paul here, in this section, draws this inference, to keep them from Judaizing, that, though they (as was the state of the heathen world) were heretofore, by being uncircumcised, shut out from the kingdom of God, strangers from the covenants of promise, without hope, and without God in the world; yet they were, by Christ, who had taken away the ceremonial law, that wall of partition, that kept them in that state of distance and opposition, now received, without any subjecting them to the law of Moses, to be the people of God, and had the same admittance into the kingdom of God with the Jews themselves, with whom they were now created into one new man, or body of men, so that they were no longer to look on themselves any more as aliens, or remoter from the kingdom of God, than the Jews thenaselves.
TEXT. 11 Wherefore remember, that ye being, in time past, Gentiles in the
flesh, who are called uncircumcision, by that which is called the cir
cumcision in the flesh, made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the
PARAPHRASE. 11 Wherefore remember, that ye, who were heretofore Gentiles,
distinguished and separated from the Jews, who are circum
cised by a circumcision made with hands, in their flesh, by 12 your not being circumcised in your flesh”, Were, at that
NOTE. 11 • This separation was so great, that, to a Jew, the uncircumcised Gentiles were
counted so polluted and unclean, that they were not shut out, barely from their holy places and service; but from their tables and ordinary conversation.
TEXT. . commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,
having no hope, and without God in the world : 13 But now in Christ Jesus, ye, who sometimes were far off, are made
nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down
the middle wall of partition between us ; 16 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of command
PARAPHRASE. time, without all knowledge of the Messiah, or any expectation of deliverance or salvation by him b; aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promised, not having any, hope of any such thing, and living
in the world without having the true God for your God, or 13
you being his people. But now you, that were formerly re
mote and at a distance, are, by Jesus Christ, brought near by 14 his death! For it is he that reconcileth us to the Jews,
and hath brought us and them, who were before at an irreconcileable distance, into unity one with another, by removing
the middle wall of partition that kept us at a distance, 15 Having taken away the cause of enmity', or distance, be
NOTES. 12 • That this is the meaning of being “ without Christ," here, is evident from this,
that what St. Paul says bere, is to show the different state of the Gentiles, from that of the Jews, before the coming of our Saviour. • Who were alone, then, the people of God. d“ Covenants.” God, more than once, renewed his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the children of Israel, that, upon the conditions proposed, he would be their God, and they stiould be his people. • It is in this sense that the Gentiles are called *0801; for there were few of them atheists, in our sense of the word, i. e, denying superior powers; and many of them acknowledged one supreme, eternal God; but as St. Paul says, Rom. i. 21, “ When they knew God, they glorified him not as God;" they owned not him alone, but turned away from him, the invisible God, to the
worship of images, and the false gods of their countries. 13 'How this was done, the following words explain, and Col. ii. 14. 14 - 'Huar, “our," in this verse, must signify persons in the same condition with
those he speaks to, under the pronoun üpris, “ ye,” in the foregoing verse, or else the apostle's argument, here, would be wide, and not conclusive; but “ye," in the foregoing verse, incontestably signifies the convert Gentiles, and so there. fore must ruw in this verse.
See Col. i. 20. 15 i It was the ritual law of the Jews that kept them and the Gentiles at an
irreconcileable distance, so that they could come to no terms of a fair correspondence; the force whereof was so great, that even after Christ was come, and had put an end to the obligation of that law, yet it was almost impossible to bring them together; and this was that which, in the beginning, most obstructed the progress of the Gospel, and disturbed the Gentile converts.
TEXT. ments, contained in ordinances, for to make in himself, of twain, one new man, so making peace;
tween us, by abolishing k that part of the law which consisted in positive commands and ordinances, that so he might
NOTE. " By abolishing." I do not remember that the law of Moses, or any part of it, is, by an actual repeal, any where abrogated; and yet we are told here, and in other places of the New Testament, that it is abolished. The want of a right understanding of what this abolishing was, and how it was brought about, has, I suspect, giveu occasion to the misunderstanding of several texts of sacred Scripture; I beg leave, therefore, to offer what the sacred Scripture seems to me to suggest concerning this matter, till a more thorough inquiry, by some abler hand, shall be made into it. After the general revolt and apostasy of mankind, from the acknowledgment and worship of the one, only, true, invisible God, their Maker, the children of Israel, by a voluntary submission to him, and acknowledgment of him to be their God and supreme Lord, came to be his people, and he, by a peculiar covenant, to be their King; and thus erected to himself a kingdom in this world, out of that people, to whom he gave a law by Moses, which was to be the law of the Israelites, his people, with a purpose at the same time, that he would, in due season, transfer this his kingdom, in this world, into the hands of the Messiah, whom he intended to send into the world, to be the Prince and Ruler of his people, as he had foretold and promised to the Jews. Into which kingdom of his, under his Son, he purposed also, and foretold, that he would admit and incorporate the other vations of the earth, as well as those of the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were to come into this his enlarged kingdom, upon new terms, that he should then propose : and that those, and those only, should from henceforth be his people. And thus it came to pass, that, though the law, which was given by Moses to the Israelites, was gever repealed, and so ceased not to be the law of that nation; yet it ceased to be the law of the people and kingdom of God in this world; because the Jews, pot receiving hina to be their King, whom God had sent to be the King and sole Ruler of his kingdom for the future, ceased to be the people of God, and the subjects of God's kingdom. And thus Jesus Christ, by his death, entering into his kingdom, having then fulfilled all that was required of him for the obtaining of it, put an end to the law of Moses, opening another way to all people, both Jews and Gentiles, into the kingdom of God, quite different from the law of ordinances, given by Moses, viz. Faith in Jesus Christ, by which, and which alone, every one, that would, bad now admittance into the kingdom of God, by the one plain, easy, and simple ceremony of baptism. This was that which, though it was also foretold, the Jews understood not, having a very great opinion of themselves, because they were the chosen people of God, and of their law, because God was the author of it; and so concluded, that both they were to remain the people of God for ever, and also, that they were to remain so, under that same law, which was never to be altered; and so never understood what was foretold them, of the kingdom of the Messiah, in respect of the ceasing of their law of ordinances, and the admittance of the Gentiles, upon the same terms with them, into the kingdom of the Messiah; which, therefore, St. Paul calls, orer and over again, a mystery, and a mystery hidden from ages.