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2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth, against them which com

(3.) Remarkable zeal against sin may be no proof of innocence. Comp. Matt. vii. 3. The zeal of persecutors, and often of pretended reformers, may be far from proof that they are free from the very offences which they are condemning in others. It may all be the work of the hypocrite to conceal some base design; or of the man who seeks to show his hostility to one kind of sin, in order to be a salvo to his conscience for committing some other. (4.) The heart is deceitful. When we judge others we should make it a rule to examine ourselves on that very point. Such an examination might greatly mitigate the severity of our judgment; or might turn the whole of our indignation against ourselves.

mit such things.

3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do condemns it, and will punish it. He regards those who do these things as guilty, and will treat them accordingly

According to truth. This expres sion is capable of two meanings. The Hebrews sometimes use it to denote truly or certainly. God will certainly judge and punish such deeds. Another meaning, which is probably the correct one here, is that God will judge those who are guilty of such things, not according to appearance, but in integrity, and with righteousness. He will judge men according to the real nature of their conduct; and not as their conduct may appear unto men. The secret, as well as the open sinner therefore; the hypocrite, as well as the abandoned profligate; must ex2. But we are sure. Greek, "We pect to be judged according to their know." That is, it is the common true character. This meaning comand admitted sentiment of mankind. ports with the design of the apostle, It is known and believed by men gene- which is to show that the Jew, who rally that God will punish such crimes. secretly and hypocritically did the It is implied in this declaration that very things which he condemned in the this was known to the Jews, and it Gentile, could not escape the righteous was particularly to the purpose of the judgment of God. ¶ Against him. apostle so to express himself as to in- That is, against every man, no matter clude the Jews. They knew it be- of what age or nation. ¶ Which comcause it was every where taught in the mit such things. The crimes enumeOld Testament, and it was the acknow-rated in ch. i. The apostle is not to ledged doctrine of the nation. The be understood as affirming that each design of the apostle here, says Calvin, and every individual among the Jews is to take away the subterfuges of the was guilty of the specific crimes charged hypocrite, lest he should pride himself on the heathen, but that they were as if he obtained the praise of men, for a a people inclined to the same things. far more important trial awaited him at Even where they might be externally the bar of God. Outwardly he might moral, they might be guilty of cherishappear well to men; but God searched ing evil desires in their hearts, and thus the heart, and saw the secret as well as be guilty of the offence. Matt. v. 28. the open deeds of men, and they who When men desire to do evil, and are practised secretly what they condemn- prevented by the providence of God, it ed openly, could not expect to escape is right to punish them for their evil the righteous judgment of God. God, intentions. The fact that God prevents without respect of persons, would pu- them from carrying their evil purposes nish wickedness, whether it was open, into execution does not constitute a as among the Gei iles, or whether it difference between their real character was concealed unde. the guise of great and the character of those who are regard for religion, ar among the Jews. suffered to act out their wicked designs. The judgment of God. That God 3. And thinkest thou, &c. This is

such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not know

a c.9.23. b Isa.30.18.

с

e John 4.2.

neglect. It does not mean here that they professedly treated God's goodness with neglect or contempt; but that they perverted and abused it; they did not make a proper use of it; they did not regard it as fitted to lead them to repentance; but they derived a practical impression, that because God had not come forth in judgment and cut them off, but had continued to follow them with blessings, that therefore he did not regard them as sinners, or they inferred that they were innocent and safe. This argument the Jews were accustomed to use (comp. Luke xiii. 1-5. John ix. 2); and thus sinners still continue to abuse the goodness and mercy of God.

an appeal to their common sense, to their deep and instinctive conviction of what was right. If they condemned those who practised these things; if, Imperfect and obscure as their sense of justice was; if, unholy as they were, they yet condemned those who were guilty of these offences, would not a holy and just God be far more likely to pronounce judgment? And could they escape who had themselves delivered a similar sentence? God is of " purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity." (Hab. i. 13.) And if men condemned their fellow men, how much more would a pure and holy God condemn iniquity. This appeal is evidently directed against the Jew. It was doubtless a The riches of his goodness. This prevalent sentiment among them, that is a Hebrew mode of speaking, for provided they adhered to the rites of "his rich goodness," i. e. for his abuntheir religion, and observed the cere- dant or great goodness. Riches demonial law, God would not judge note superfluity, or that which abounds, them with the same severity as he or which exceeds a man's present would the abandoned and idolatrous wants; and hence the word in the Gentiles. Comp. Matt. iii. 9. John viii. New Testament is used to denote 33. The apostle shows them that abundance; or that which is very great crime is crime, wherever committed; and valuable. See Note, ch. ix. 23. that sin does not lose its essential cha- Comp. ch. xi. 12. 33. 2 Cor. viii. 2. racter by being committed in the midst Eph. i. 7. 18; iii. 8. 16. Col. i. 27. of religious privileges; and that those Eph. ii. 4. The word is used here to who professed to be the people of God qualify each of the words which folhave no peculiar license to sin. Anti-low it, his rich goodness, and forbearnomians in all ages, like the Jews, have ance, and long suffering. Goodsupposed that they, being the friends of ness. Kindness, benignity. ¶ ForGod, have a right to do many things bearance, avoys. Literally his holdwhich would not be proper in others; ing-in or restraining his indignation; that what would be sin in others, they or forbearing to manifest his displeamay commit with impunity; and that sure against sin. Long-suffering. God will not be strict to mark the This word denotes his slowness to offences of his people. Against all anger; or his suffering them to comthis Paul is directly opposed, and the mit sins long without punishing them. Bible uniformly teaches that the most It does not differ essentially from foraggravated sins among men are those bearance. This is shown by his not committed by the professed people of coming forth, at the moment that sin is God. Comp. Isa. i. 11-17; Îxv. 2-5. committed, to punish it. He might do Rev. iii. 16. it justly, but he spares men from day to day, and year to year, to give them opportunity to repent. and be saved.

4. Or despisest. This word properly means to contemn, or to treat with

God is as constantly doing him good; if the patience of God is seen from year to year, while the man is rebellious, it is adapted to melt and subdue the heart. (3.) The great mercy of God in this often appears to men to be overwhelming; and so it would to all, if they saw it as it is. God bears with men from childhood to youth; from youth to manhood; from man. hood to old age; often while they violate every law, contemn his mercy, profane his name, and disgrace their species; and still, notwithstanding all this, his anger is turned away, and the sinner lives, and "riots in the beneficence of God." If there is any thing that can affect the heart of man, it is this; and when he is brought to see it, and contemplate it, it rushes over the soul and overwhelms it with bitter sorrow. (4.) The mercy and forbearance of God are constant. The manifestations of his goodness come in every form; in the sun, and light, and air; in the rain, the stream, the dew-drop; in food, and raiment, and home; in friends, and liberty, and protection; in health and peace; and in the gospel of Christ, and the offers of life; and in all these ways God is appealing to his creatures each moment, and setting before them the evils of ingratitude, and beseeching them to turn and live.

The way in which men despise or abuse the goodness of God is to infer that He does not intend to punish sin; that they may do it safely; and instead of turning from it, to go on in committing it more constantly, as if they were safe. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Eccl. viii. 11. The same thing was true in the time of Peter. 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4. And the same thing is true of wicked men in every age; nor is there a more decisive proof of the wickedness of the human heart, than this disposition to abuse the goodness of God, and because he shows kindness and forbearance, to take occasion to plunge deeper into sin, to forget his mercy, and to provoke him to anger. 1 Not knowing. Not considering. The word used here, avov, means not merely to be ignorant of, but it denotes such a degree of inattention as to result in ignorance. Comp. Hosea ii. 8. In this sense it denotes a voluntary, and therefore a criminal ignorance. ¶ Leadeth thee, &c. Or the tendency, the design of the goodness of God is to induce men to repent of their sins, and not to lead them to deeper and more aggravated iniquity. The same sentiment is expressed in 2 Pet. iii. 9, "The Lord is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." See also Isa. xxx. 18, " And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you." Hosea v. 15. Ezek. xviii. 23. 32. Repentance. Change of mind, and purpose, and life. The word here evidently means, not merely sorrow, but a forsaking of sin, and turning from it. The tendency of God's goodness and forbearance to lead men to repentance, is manifest in the following ways. (1.) It shows the evil of transgression when it is seen to be committed against so kind and merciful a Being. (2.) It is fitted to melt and soften the heart. Judgments often harden the sinner's heart, and make him obstinate. But if while he does evil

And from this passage, we cannot but remark, (1.) That the most effectual preaching is that which sets before men most of the goodness of God. (2.) Every man is under obligation to forsake his sins, and turn to God. There is no man who has not seen repeated proofs of his mercy and love. (3.) Sin is a stubborn and an amazing evil. Where it can resist all the appeals of God's mercy; where the sinner can make his way down to hell through all the proofs of God's goodness; where he can refuse to hear God speaking to him each day, and each hour, it shows an amazing extent of depravity to resist all this, and still remain a sinner. Yet there are thousands and millions who do it; and who can be won by no exhibition of love or mercy to forsake

ing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

unto thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation 5 But, after thy hardness and of the righteous judgment of impenitent heart, treasurest up

a Isa.30.18. b Deut.32.84

b

their sins, and turn to God. Happy is the man who is melted into contrition by the goodness of God, and who sees and mourns over the evil of sinning against so good a Being as is the Creator and Parent of all.

God;

c Eccles.12.14

it exists, for future use; it is kept in store (comp. 2 Peter iii. 7) against future times; and the man who commits sin is only increasing this by every act of transgression. The same sentiment is taught in a most solemn manner in Deut. xxxii. 34, 35.-It may be remarked here, that most men have an immense treasure of this kind in store, which eternal ages of

5. But after thy hardness. The word "after" here (xarà) means in respect to, or you act according to the direct tendency of a hard heart in treasuring up wrath. The word hard-pain will not exhaust or diminish! ness is used to denote insensibility of mind. It properly means that which is insensible to the touch, or on which no impression is made by contact, as a stone, &c. Hence it is applied to the mind, to denote a state where no motives make an impression; which is insensible to all the appeals made to it. See Matt. xxv. 24; xix. 8. Acts xix. 9. And here it expresses a state of mind where the goodness and forbearance of God have no effect. The man still remains obdurate, to use a word which has precisely the meaning of the Greek in this place. It is implied in this expression that the direct tendency, or the inevitable result, of that state of mind was to treasure up wrath, &c. Impenitent heart. A heart which is not affected with sor row for sin, in view of the mercy and goodness of God. This is an explanation of what he meant by hardness. Treasurest up. To treasure up, or to lay up treasure, commonly denotes a laying by in a place of security of property that may be of use to us at some future period. In this place it is used, however, in a more general sense, to accumulate, to increase. It still has the idea of hoarding up, carries the thought beautifully and impressively onward to future times. Wrath, like wealth treasured up, is not exhausted at present, and hence the sinner becomes bolder in sir.. But

Stores of wrath are thus reserved for a guilty world, and in due time it "will come upon man to the uttermost." 1 Thess. ii. 16. ¶ Unto thyself. For thyself, and not for another; to be exhausted on thee, and not on your fellow man. This is the case with every sinner, as really and as certainly as though he were the only solitary mortal in existence. Wrath Note ch. i. 18. Day of wrath. The day when God shall show or exe. cute his wrath against sinners. Comp. Rev. vi. 17. 1 Thess. i. 10. John iii. 36. Eph. v. 6. ¶ And revelation. Or the day when the righteous judgment of God will be revealed, or made known. Here we learn, (1.) That the punishment of the wicked will be just. It will not be a judgment of caprice or tyranny, but a righteous judgment; that is, such a judgment as it will be right to render, or as ought to be rendered, and THEREFORE such as God will render, for he will do right. 2 Thess. i. 6. (2.) The punishment of the wicked is future. It is not exhausted in this life, It is treasured up for a future day, and that day is a day of wrath. How contrary to this text are the pretences of those who maintain that ail punishment is executed in this life. (3.) How foolish as well as wicked is it to lay up such a treasure for the future; to have the only inheritance in

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

a Prov.24.12. Matt.16.27. Rev.20.12.

7 To them, who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek

the eternal world, an inheritance of to which the rewards of heaven shall wrath and wo!

6. Who will render. That is, who will make retribution as a righteous Judge; or who will give to every man as he deserves. To every man. To each one. This is a general principle, and it is clear that in this respect God would deal with the Jew as he does with the Gentile. This general principle the apostle is establishing, that he may bring it to bear on the Jew, and to show that he cannot escape simply because he is a Jew. According to his deeds. That is, as he deserves; or God will be just, and will treat every man as he ought to be treated, or according to his character. The word deeds (gya) is sometimes applied to the external conduct. But it is plain that this is not its meaning here. It denotes every thing connected with conduct, including the acts of the mind, the motives, the principles, as well as the mere external act. Our word character more aptly expresses it than any single word. It is not true that God will treat men according to their external conduct; but the whole language of the Bible implies that he will judge men according to the whole of their conduct, including their thoughts, and principles, and motives; i. e. as they deserve. The doctrine of this place is elsewhere abundantly taught in the Bible. Prov. xxiv. 12. Matt. xvi. 27. Rev. xx. 12. Jer. xxxii. 19. It is to be observed here that the apostle does not say that men will be rewarded for their deeds (comp. Luke xvii. 10), but according to (nara) their deeds. Christians will be saved on account of the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus iii. 5), but still the rewards of heaven will be according to their works; that is, they who have laboured most, and been most faithful, shall receive the highest reward, or their fidelity in their Master's service shall be the measure or rule according

be distributed. Matt. xxv. 14-29. Thus the ground or reason why they are saved shall be the merits of the Lord Jesus. The measure of their happiness shall be according to thei character and deeds. On what principle God will distribute his rewards the apostle proceeds immediately to state.

7. To them. Whoever they may

be. Patient continuance. Who by perseverance in well doing, or in a good work. It means that they who so continue, or persevere in good works as to evince that they are disposed to obey the law of God. It does not mean those who perform one single act, but those who so live as to show that this is their character to obey God. It is the uniform doctrine of the Bible that none will be saved but those who persevere in a life of holiness. Rev. ii. 10. Matt. x. 22. Heb. x. 38, 39. No other conduct gives evidence of piety but that which continues in the ways of righteousness. Nor has God ever promised eternal life to men unless they so persevere in a life of holiness as to show that this is their character, their settled and firm rule of action. The words well doing here denote such conduct as shall be conformed to the law of God; not merely external conduct, but that which proceeds from a heart attached to God and his cause. Seek for. This word properly denotes the act of endeavouring to find any thing that is lost. Matt. xviii. 12. Luke ii. 48, 49. But it also denotes the act when one earnestly strives, or desires to obtain any thing; when he puts forth his efforts to accomplish it. Thus, Matt. vi. 33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. Acts xvi. 10. 1 Cor. x. 24. Luke xiii. 24. In this place it denotes an earnest and intense desire to obtain eternal life. It does not mean simply the desire of a sinner to be happy, or

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