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EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS;
COMMENTARIES OF DR. MACKNIGHT, PROFESSOR MOSES
ALL Scripture is given nv inspiration of God. Every page of the sacred volume is stamped with the impress of Deity, and contains an inexhaustible treasure of wis dom, and knowledge, and consolation. Some portions of the word of God, like some parts of the material creation, may be more important than others. But all have their proper place, all proclaim the character of their glorious Author, and all ought to be earnestly and reverentially studied. Whatever be their subject, whether it relates to the history of individuals or of nations, whether it contains the words of precept or exhortation, or whether it teaches by example, all is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. But while every part of the word of God demands the most serious attention, it is not to be doubted that certain portions of the sacred volume call for more frequent and deeper meditation. In the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms contains a summary of all Scripture, and an abridgment of its most important instructions and sweetest consolations. In the New Testament, the Epistle to the Romans is entitled to peculiar regard. It is the only part of Scripture which contains a detailed and systematic exhibition of the doctrines of Christianity. The great truths which are embodied and inculcated in every other part of the Bible, are here brought together in a condensed and compre hensive form. More especially the glorious doctrine of justification by faith is clearly unfolded and exhibited in the strongest light.
The Epistle to the Romans has always attracted the peculiar notice of those whose study has been directed to the interpretation of Scripture. To this portion of the divine record, all who look for salvation by grace have constantly appealed, and here they have a rich mine of evidence alike solid and inexhaustible. No considerable difference of interpretation has ever been given of its contents by those who have renounced their own wisdom, and determined to follow implicitly the obvious meaning of the word of God. This Epistle has been equally an object of attention to those who admit the authority of Scripture, but follow their own wisdom in forming their system of religious doctrine. Salvation by grace and salvation by works are so incompatible with each other, that it might well be supposed no attempt would ever be made to bring them into harmony.. Still the attempt has been made. Human wisdom cannot receive the doctrine of the Epistle to the Romans, and men professing Christianity cannot deny it to be a part of Scripture. What, then, is to be done? A compromise is proclaimed between the wisdom of man and the revelation of God. All the ingenuity of Mr. Locke, one of the most acute and subtle metaphysicians that ever appeared, has been exerted to bring the doctrine of Paul into accordance with human science. Like him many others have labored to give a view of this Epistle that may reconcile human merit with divine grace.
Nothing is more manifest than the direct opposition between the doctrine of inspira tion, as unfolded in the Epistle to the Romans with respect to the state and prospects of mankind, and the doctrine of this world's philosophy. Paul contemplates all men in their natural state as ruined by sin, and utterly unable to restore themselves to the Divine favor. Philosophers, on the contrary, survey the aspect of society with real or affected complacency. They perceive, indeed, that imperfection and suffering prevail to a considerable extent: but they discover a vast preponderance of happiness and virtue. They cann deny that man is of a mixed character.