« AnteriorContinua »
perfect obedience, God hath appointed for their salvation, a righteousness without law, that is, a righteousness which does not consist in perfect obedience to any law whatever, even the righteousnese of faith, that being the only righteousness attainable by sinners; and at the same time declares, that God will accept and reward that kind of righteousness through Christ, as if it were a perfect righteousness. These inferences, indeed, the apostle hath not drawn in this part of his letter, because he intended to produce them, (chap. iii. 20. 23. 28.) as general conclusions concerning all mankind, after having proved the insufficiency of the law of Moses for justifying the Jews. Yet it was fit to mention them here, that the reader might have a complete view of the apostle's argument.
I shall finish this illustration with the following remarks.
1. The picture which the apostle hath drawn of the manners of the Greeks, is by no means aggravated. The intercourse which he had with the philosophers, and more especially with his own disciple, Dionysius the Areopagite, enabled him to form a just judgment of the learning and religion of that celebrated people: as his long residence in Athens, Corinth, and other Greek cities, made him perfectly acquainted with their manners. But though his description is not exaggerated, we must remember that it docs not extend to every individual. It is an image of the manners of the Greek nations in general, or rather of such of them as were in the higher ranks of life. I call the reader's attention to this remark, because the apostle himself supposes, in the second chapter, that the Gentiles, who have not the benefit of revelation, may attain that faith and holiness which is necessary to justification; in which case he assures us, that they shall be rewarded with glory and peace. Besides, it is well known, that; in every Gentile nation, there were always many who believed in the one true God, and who, in the persuasion that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them who diligently seek him, were anxious to know and do his will; and who being instructed and strengthened by God, behaved in such a manner; as to be acceptable to him.
2. My second remark is, That although the revelation of the wrath of God from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, mentioned by the apostle, Rom. i. 18.. certainly implies, that no sinner can have any hope of salvation from the law of nature, it does not follow, that the pious hea-. thens had no hope of salvation. The heathens in general be
lieved their deities placable, and, in that persuasion, offered to them propitiatory sacrifices, and expected to be pardoned and blessed by them, even in a future state (See Guardian, No. 27.): nay, many of them believed they were to reanimate their bodies. But these hopes they did not derive from the law or light of nature, but from the promise which God made to the first parents of mankind. For that promise being handed down by tradition to Noah and his sons, they communicated the knowledge thereof, together with the use of sacrifice, to all their descendants. So that the hope of pardon and immortality, which the pious heathens entertained, was the very hope which the gospel hath more clearly brought to light, and was derived from the same source, namely, from divine revelation. Withal, being agreeable to the natural wishes of mankind, and the only remedy for their greatest fears, these circumstances contributed to preserve it in the world.-Since then, the hope of pardon and of a future state, which the heathens entertained, was derived, not from the light of nature, but from the primitive revelations, the apostle's reasoning in this chapter is perfectly just, and his conclusion stands firm ; namely, that the light and law of nature hold out no method in which a sinner can be saved, and that it is the gospel alone which hath brought the important secret to light, by explaining and enlarging the primitive revelations, and by teaching in the clearest manner, that God will accept men's faith for righteousness, and, at the judgment, reward it as if it were a perfect righteousness, on account of the obedience of Jesus Christ.
3. My third remark is, That the description which the apostle hath given of the national manners of the Greeks, however disgraceful to human nature, being perfectly true, merits attention ; because it is a complete confutation of those who contend, that natural reason hath always been sufficient to lead inankind to just notions in religion, and to a proper moral conduct. For after the weakness of human reason, in matters of religion and morality, hath been so clearly demonstrated by experience in the case of the Greeks, who, of all mankind, were the most distinguished for their intellectual endowments, the futile pretence of the sufficiency of the light of nature, set up by moderir infidels, for the purpose of rendering revelation needless, should be rejected with the contempt due to so gross a falsehood. And all who are acquainted with the actual state of the world under the guidance of the light of nature, ought thankfully to embrace the
instruction contained in the gospel, as the most effectual means . of training ignorant sinful creatures to virtue ; and should humbly submit to the method of salvation by Christ, therein revealed, as of divine appointment, and as the only method in which sinners can be saved.
PREMONITION TO THE READER..
Some perhaps may be of opinion, that to have done justice to the following translation of the apostolical epistles, the author, as often as it differs from the common version, should have shewn the import and propriety of these differences, with the reasons on which they are founded, especially when they are of the minute kind; because negligent readers, fancying differences of that sort of little moment, and not attending to those which are of greater magnitude, are apt to conclude, that the translation, now submitted to the public, differs so little from the one in common use, that it might have been spared. But nothing can be worse founded than such a conclusion. Persons who are judges of language, know that the alteration of a single word in a sentence, and even a different pointing, will change its meaning entirely; as was shewn by some examples, p. 28. Gen. Pref. But to have illustrated in the same manner all the alterations and corrections which the author hath introduced into his translation would have swelled the work to an enormous size. And therefore to shew in what particulars this differs from the common version of the epistles, the author hath contented himself, as was observed, p. 30. with printing what is different in Italic characters, and hath left it for the most part to the reader's own sagacity, not only to judge of the propriety of his corrections, but to investigate the reasons by which they are supported.
Yet to prevent cursory readers from disregarding this translation of the epistles, merely because a number of the corrections which it offers, are of the minute kind, the author will here compare one of its chapters only with the common English version of the same chapter, and will shew, that even by the slightest alterations, when made agreeably to the original, such a change in the sense is sometimes produced, as throws great light on the sentiments and reasonings of the inspired writers. The chapter chosen for comparing the two translations, shall be the first of abc epistle to the Romans ; not because the alterations introduced into the new translation of that chapter, are either of greater magnitude, or more in number, or of higher importance than those in the other chapters of the epistle, (for in reality, they are fewer, more minute, and of less importance,) but beGause the reader will naturally fix his eye on that chapter first, from its presenting itself first to his view.
Rom. i. 3. Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. This leads the reader to think of the formation of our Lord's body. Whereas the apostle's meaning is, that with respect to his flesh he was descended from David, and that by a female. In the new translation, these ideas are suggested, by substituting the word born (which is one of the literal significations of yevopesya) in place of the word made, in this manner : Iho was born of the seed of David, with respect to the flesh.
Ver. 4. Was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. "This implies that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, by his raising other persons from the dead. But as Jesus himself often appealed to his own resurrection in proof of his being the Son of God, the phrase og ovz67T!WS VERZNO is undoubtedly an ellipsis, in which two words are omitted. One -of them is supplied by our translators, namely the word from : the other word his is supplied in the new translation, which runs thus: Declared the Son of God by his 'resurrection from the dead. The meaning is, that Jesus was declared the Son of God by his own resurrection, and not by raising others from the dead.
Ver. 5. By whom we have received grace and apostleshisi, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name.
This rendering, besides being inelegant, is faulty in two particulars. For First, Paul did not receive his apostleship by Christ; that is, from God by the intervention of Christ, but from Christ himself, as holding the right originally of making an apostle. Secondly, UTELOWY TAS TIGEws does not signify obedience 10 the fuith, but the obedience of faith. In the new translation these faults are thus corrected. From whom we have received grace and apostleshif, in order to the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, on account of his
The apostle received his office from Christ himself, that by preaching him every where as the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, he might produce the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, on account of his dignity and authority as the Son of God.
Ver. 9. Without ceasing making mention of you always in my frayırs, is a tautology, which, in the new translation, is avoided, by joining the clause, always in my prayers, with the word requesting in the beginning of ver. 10. with which it stands connected in the Greek.
Ver. 12. T870 de 656, that is to say. According to this translation, ver. 12. is an explication of ver. 11. But every reader must be sensible, that the things contained in the two verses are entirely different. Wherefore 7870 ds est should not be translated, that is to say, as in our bible, where de is neglected as an expletive, and the words to say, are supplied, but the verse should be supplied and translated in the following manner.
And this is proposed, that I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith of you and me.
Ver. 15. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to fireach the gospel to you that are in Rome also. The new translation of this verse is more perspicuous and emphatical. Ther fore, (namely because I am a debtor, &C.) I am willing, according to my ability, to preach the gospel even to you who are in Rome. For to hinder the Romans from suspecting that the apostle had hitherto avoided coming to Rome, because he was afraid to preach the gospel to such a learned and intelligent people, he told them, that notwithstand. ing their great learning, he was willing to preach the gospel even to them. And to shew that this is his meaning, he added, ver. 16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, &c.
Ver. 17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. The righteousness of God revealed from fuith to faith, is an assemblage of words, to which no distinct meaning can be affixed. But the original rightly construed, gives the following clear literal sense. The righteousness of God by faith, is revealed in it, in order to faith. The apostle was not ashamed of the gospel, because a righteousness of God's appointment, to be obtained by faith, is revealed in it, in order to produce faith in them to whom it is preached. The latter clause, as it is written, the just shall live by faith, were better translated, The just by faith, shall live. For although in the Hebrew it is, The just shall live by his faith, the copy of Habakkuk’s prophesy, from which the LXX took their translation, and the apostle his quotation, certainly wanted the pronoun his. Besides, as the apostle's design in making this quotation, was to prove, that Habakkuk wrote concerning a righteousness by faith, cither the most ancient and best copies of his prophesy wanted