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endeavour to show you, by an examination of the chapter it is found in, the sound ness and simplicity of the doctrine it teaches. The apostle has shown in the preceding chapter, that whatever claim the self-righteous Jew might imagine he derived from being the child of Abraham, in the eyes of God the Jew and the Gentile were equally acceptable; and further, that if to the Jew, as the child of Abraham, there were any promises given, he must first prove himself a Jew; and that he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God. Pursuing this line of argument, he asks in the opening verse of his third chapter, “What advantage then hath the Jew?" We must here suppose one arguing with the apostle, and saying, If this is so, what advantage hath the Jew over the Gentile, or what profit is there of
circumcision? “Much,"answers the apostle, “every way; but chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Is it no advantage to have been brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ? Is it no advantage to have been admitted into covenant with God? Is it no advantage to have had his Holy Scriptures to guide us into truth? Now such were the advantages and privileges the Jew possessed over the Gentile-he abused and forfeited them : making light of those which he possessed, he would have claimed others, as the mere child of Abraham; and because he failed in his duty, because he threw away and despised the advantages he possessed, he would have impugned the promised mercies and justice of heaven. But " what"
the apostle, did not believe, shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect ?” Shall the miere wilfulness or unbelief of a creature render void the will of the Creator? Shall our ignorance or wickedness in any
- if some
manner affect the truth? Does it look for our support, or ask our consent? God forbid : for though all the world should be found liars, although all should depart from and resist the truth, yet must it grow mightily and prevail. What then is the situation of these apostate Jews ? they misunderstand the promises, they claim privileges, without on their part fulfilling the terms and conditions on which those privileges were conferred. As being sprung from the loins of Abraham, though without his faith, they suppose a merit in their birth; forgetting how easily the same power who made them of the dust, could of the very stones raise up children unto Abraham.
From their own Scriptures, then, the apostle proceeds to prove to them the truth of what he had asserted in the two former chapters—that in nowise was there any difference between the Jew or the Gentile, both being equally under sin. As the most satisfactory answer to their presumption, he proves out of their own Scriptures, from the mouths of their own lawgiver and prophets, that notwithstanding all their boasted privileges, they had fulfilled none of the purposes for which those privileges were given them, and then proceeds: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law :" it says to those children of Abraham to whom the law was given, that every mouth may be stopped, that a ready answer may be given to these pretended privileges in the utter neglect of the conditions annexed to them, and that the pretence which might have been set up of the fulfilment of all righteousness under the law, might by their own admission be taken away; that thus all the world, the Gentile as proved in the utter corruption to which he had descended; the Jew in the perversion and neglect of the privileges he was distinguished by, might become guilty before God.
The apostle here plainly sets before us the great primary doctrine of the Christian faith: he represents the whole world as convicted and guilty before the judgmentseat of God. We are too apt in this Pharisaical spirit, to plume ourselves on our own endeavours, and to lay unction to our souls, in the good we have done, or the righteousness we have attained. Follow then the apostle's argument, and we shall undeceive ourselves: self-examination will prove the correctness of what he says, and bring us as convicted sinners before God. I sum up therefore, continues the apostle, the argument as regards the Jews. “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God.” It is by the law, which teaches how strict and holy are the commandments of God, that there is a knowledge of sin ; and as it has been proved that these commandments have not been obeyed, it is evident that no one in the sight of God can plead such obedience as shall justify or render him righteous.