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Title: St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Vol. II - A Practical Exposition
Author: Gore, Charles, 1853-1932
Language: English
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_St. Paul's_

_Epistle to the Romans_

_A Practical Exposition_













There would be no need for a preface to this second volume were it not
that a very kindly and careful review of the first volume in _The
Guardian_ of May 24 last, requires a word of notice.  The reviewer
warns me off 'the dialogue system of exegesis.'  Now no doubt this
principle, like every other, may be abused.  'The Jewish objector' may,
as the reviewer complains, be allowed to 'run riot.'  Still I cannot
doubt that the Jewish objector is a reality of an illuminative kind in
the argument of such passages as Romans iii. 1-8, or the great passage
(ix-xi), to which the first part of this volume is devoted.  Of the
other points of detail noticed by the reviewer--which a volume of this
kind is not the place to discuss--many are confessedly doubtful, and
some unimportant.  On most of {vi} them I am still disposed to retain
my former opinion, but I would, in accordance with my critic's wishes,
alter 'the actual life' (vol. i. p. 203) into 'the principle of life,'
and (p. 213) instead of saying that the principle of living by dying
'belongs only to a fallen world' say that 'it belongs, _as St. Paul
views it, though probably not in its ultimate law_, to a fallen world.'
I agree that in its deepest sense the principle appears to be an
ultimate law of all created life of which the conditions are known to

C. G.

  _Conversion of St. Paul_, 1900.





DIVISION IV  _The theodicy or justification of God for His
             dealings with the Jews_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    1


   IX.  1-13 § 1 The present rejection of Israelites no
                 breach of a divine promise  . . . . . . . . . .   14

       14-29 § 2 God's liberty in showing mercy and judgement
                 always retained and asserted  . . . . . . . . .   31

     30-x.21 § 3 Lack of faith the reason of Israel's rejection    44

   XI.  1-12 § 4 God's judgement on Israel neither universal
                 nor final . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   59

       13-36 § 5 God's present purpose for the Jews through
                 the Gentiles: and so for all humanity . . . . .   68

DIVISION V _Practical exhortation_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   95

  XII.   1-2 § 1 Self-surrender in response to God . . . . . . .   97

        3-21 § 2 The community spirit  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  103

 XIII.   1-7 § 3 The Christians and the imperial power . . . . .  116

        8-10 § 4 The summary debt  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  127

       11-14 § 5 The approach of the day . . . . . . . . . . . .  133

  XIV.  1-23 § 6 Mutual toleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  137

   XV.  1-13 § 7 Unselfish forbearance and inclusiveness . . . .  159


DIVISION VI _Conclusion_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  170

    XV. 4-33 § 1 St. Paul's excuse for writing, and his hope
                 of coming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  171

   XVI.  1-2 § 2 A commendation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  189

        3-16 § 3 Personal greetings  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  191

       17-20 § 4 Final warning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  198

       21-23 § 5 Salutations from companions . . . . . . . . . .  200

       25-27 § 6 Final doxology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  201


A.  The meanings of the word 'faith' . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  205

B.  The use of the word 'conscience' . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  207

C.  Recent reactions from the teaching about hell  . . . . . . .  210

D.  Difficulties about the doctrine of the atonement . . . . . .  215

E.  Evolution and the Christian doctrine of the Fall . . . . . .  219

F.  Baptism by immersion and by affusion . . . . . . . . . . . .  237

G.  A prayer of Jeremy Taylor  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  238

H.  The origin of the maxim 'In necessariis unitas, &c.' . . . .  239

I.  St. Augustine's teaching that 'The Church is the
       body of Christ offered in the eucharist'  . . . . . . . .  240




_The theodicy or justification of God for His dealings with the Jews._

St. Paul has concluded his great exposition of the meaning of 'the
gospel': that in it is the disclosure of a divine righteousness into
which all mankind--Jews and Gentiles on the same level of need and
sin--are to be freely admitted by simply believing in Jesus.  The
believer in Jesus first welcomes the absolute and unmerited forgiveness
of his sins, which his redeemer has won for him, and thus acquitted
passes into the spiritual strength and joy and fellowship of the new
life, the life of the redeemed humanity, lived in Jesus Christ, the
second Adam or head of our race.  The {2} contemplation of the present
moral freedom, and the glorious future prospect, of this catholic
body--the elect of God in Jesus Christ--has in the eighth chapter
filled the apostle's language with the glow of an enthusiasm almost
unparalleled in all the compass of his epistles.  And he is intending
to pass on to interpret to the representatives of this church of Christ
at Rome some of the moral obligations which follow most clearly from
the consideration of what their faith really means.  This ethical
division of the epistle begins with chapter xii.  The interval (ix-xi)
is occupied with a discussion which is an episode, in the sense that
the epistle might be read without it and no feeling of a broken unity
would force itself upon us.  None the less the discussion not only
confronts and silences an obvious objection to St. Paul's teaching, but
also brings out ideas about the meaning of the divine election, and the
responsibility involved in it, which are vital and necessary for the
true understanding of the 'free grace of God.'  For these chapters
serve really to safeguard the all-important sense of our human
responsibility under the rich and unmerited conditions of divine
privilege in which we find ourselves.


St. Paul's argument so far has involved an obvious conclusion.  God's
elect are no longer the Jews in particular.  On the contrary, the Jews
in bulk have lost their position and become apostates in rejecting the
Christ.  This result in the first place cuts St. Paul to the heart, for
his religious patriotism was peculiarly intense.  But in the second
place it furnishes an objection in the mouth of the Jew against St.
Paul's whole message.  For if God had really rejected His chosen
people, He had broken His word in so doing.  God had pledged Himself to
Israel: the Old Testament scriptures were full of passages which might
be quoted to this effect.  Thus--

  'My mercy will I not utterly take from David
    'Nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
  'My covenant will I not break,
    'Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
  'Once have I sworn by my holiness;
    'I will not lie unto David;
  'His seed shall endure for ever,
    'And his throne as the sun before me.
  'It shall be established for ever as the moon,
    'And as the faithful witness in the sky[1].'

But according to St. Paul's teaching, had not God 'broken His
covenant'?  What had {4} become of the 'faithful witness'?  To this
objection, then, St. Paul sets himself to reply.  The chapters we are
now to consider may be best represented as an animated defence of his
teaching directed toward a Jew who pleads this objection.  St. Paul, no
doubt, had heard too much of it since he began to preach the gospel,
and had felt it too deeply in his own mind in the earlier days, when
the word of Jesus was as a goad against which he was kicking, for it to
be possible for him to pass it by.  And his defence--his 'theodicy' or
justification of God--is in brief this: God never committed Himself or
tied Himself to Israel physically understood.  He always kept hanging
over their heads declarations of His own freedom in choosing His
instruments, and warnings of possible rejection, such as ought to have
prevented their resting satisfied with merely having 'Abraham to their
father' (ix).  And if the question be asked: Why has Israel been
rejected?  The answer is: That so far as actual Israel has fallen out
of the elect body, it is because they refused to exhibit the
correspondence of faith (x); but also Israel, as such, has not been
rejected; for, as of old, so now there is a faithful remnant.  Nor
again is the partial alienation of Israel which {5} has occurred final.
God is simply waiting for their recovery of faith, to restore them to
their ancient and inalienable position of election.  Meanwhile He uses
their temporary alienation as the opportunity of the Gentiles, who in
their turn can only retain their newly won position by maintaining the
correspondence of faith with the purposes of God, and who also wait for
their fulfilment and the perfecting of their joy upon the recovery of
Israel as a body.  Thus through all stages of election and
rejection--by both methods of mercy and of judgement--God, in His
inscrutable wisdom, works steadily for the opportunity of showing His
mercy upon all men.

When we have a brief analysis of the argument of these chapters under
our eyes, we may well rub them in astonishment, and look again, and ask
why, in the reaction against Calvinism[2], we had come (to put it
frankly) to dislike these chapters so much.  We know that as a fact
these chapters have been taken as a stronghold of the Calvinistic
position by both its {6} friends and foes.  They have come to
constitute in modern literature a sort of reproach upon
Christianity[3], just on the ground on which the best Christian
conscience of our time is most sensitive.  Many of us would have to
admit that we have shrunk from these chapters as we have heard them
read, and probably avoided them in our own reading.  We have shrunk
from the sound of the words--'the children being not yet born, neither
having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to
election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth'--'Jacob
have I loved, and Esau have I hated'--'Whom he will he
hardeneth'--'Hath not the potter power over the clay.'  Yet these
texts, with their arbitrary, unfair and narrow sound, appear as steps
in an argument which has for its conclusion the most universal
conception possible of the purpose of the divine love.  'God shut up
all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.'  The
conclusion of the argument is so unmistakable, and so plain against any
Calvinistic attribution to God of {7} a narrow and arbitrary
favouritism, that there must have been some great mistake in our
understanding of its main point and drift.  It is worth while then to
indicate at starting where the error has lain.

1.  It has been in part owing to our mistaken habit of taking isolated
'texts' out of their connexion, as if they were detached aphorisms.
Now St. John, in his meditative method, does very generally round off a
fundamental Christian truth into an aphorism which really admits of
being detached and quoted apart from its context.  And no doubt there
are in St. Paul detachable texts.  But on the whole St. Paul, least of
all men, admits of being judged by detached fragments.  His thought is
always in process.  It looks before and after.  He is seriously wronged
by the mere fact of his epistles being divided into separate verses,
and sometimes arbitrary chapters, as in the Authorized Version.  Thus
in the case of these three chapters, the common mistake as to the
meaning of particular phrases could hardly have arisen if the argument
had been kept in mind as a whole, and especially its conclusion as to
the universal purpose of divine love--'to have mercy upon all.'

2.  For, among other things, the true meaning {8} of 'election' in
these chapters would then have been apparent.  St. Paul has been
popularly misunderstood to be referring to God's 'election' of some
individual men to salvation in heaven, and His abandonment of the rest
to hell.  Whereas the argument as a whole and its conclusion make it
quite certain that what he is speaking of is the election of men in
nations or churches (only subordinately of individuals)[4] to a
position of special spiritual privilege and responsibility in this
world, such as the Jews had formerly occupied, and the Christians were
occupying now--an election to be the people of God, and bear His name
in the face of the world--the sort of election which carries with it a
great joy and a special opportunity, but not by any means a certainty
of final personal acceptableness to {9} God, apart from moral
faithfulness.  Apart from such faithfulness the 'children of the
kingdom shall be cast into the outer darkness,' and the highest shall
be put lowest, while the lowest are raised highest.

3.  Another cause of misunderstanding has been forgetfulness of the
point of view of the opponent with whom St. Paul is arguing.  In modern
times assertions of divine absoluteness, like St. Paul's, have been
made by teachers who were refusing to recognize any such freedom of the
will in the individual human being--any such power to control his own
personal destiny--as seems to our common sense to be involved in moral
responsibility in any real sense.  St. Paul has therefore been
supposed, like these more recent teachers, to be asserting divine
absoluteness, or the unrestricted freedom of divine choice, as against
human freedom, or in such a way as to destroy the idea of moral
responsibility.  But in fact St. Paul is vindicating moral
responsibility.  His opponent is the Jew, who holds that God had so
tied His hands and lost His liberty in choosing Israel once for all for
His elect people, that every child of Abraham can at all times claim
the privileges of his election for no other reason than because of his
{10} genealogy.  Such a doctrine of election does indeed destroy all
real moral responsibility in the subject of it, and all freedom of
moral choice in God.  St. Paul, on the other hand, asserts that God
remains free and absolute to elect and to reject, irrespective of all
questions of race, where He will and as He will.  The absolute reason
of God's selections, the reason why certain races and individuals are
chosen for special privileges and as special instruments of the divine
purpose, lies in a region into which we cannot penetrate.  But because
God has shown us His moral character and requirement, we can know how,
and how only, we may hope to retain any position which God has given
us; it is by exhibiting moral correspondence with His purpose--that is
faith--or malleability under His hand.

This is a doctrine then which lays upon 'the elect,' at any particular
moment, the moral responsibility of correspondence with a divine
purpose.  In a word, St. Paul asserts divine sovereignty in such a
sense as vindicates instead of destroying moral responsibility, while
his opponent is claiming for Israel a sort of freedom from being
interfered with, which would really destroy their moral responsibility
altogether.  {11} Thus, as has already been pointed out[5], nothing can
well be more important than to keep clearly in mind, here as elsewhere,
_with whom_ St. Paul is arguing.

4.  It is worth while remarking, before we apply ourselves to St.
Paul's argument in detail, that it is essentially 'apologetic': it is a
justification of God in view of certain felt difficulties: and it is an
argument _ad hominem_, that is an argument with certain people on their
own assumptions, the sort of argument which takes the form of saying,
'you at least have no right on your own principles to urge such and
such difficulties.'  Now we are bound to recognize how very important
at all periods this _ad hominem_ appeal is: how very important it is to
get men to see what their own principles really involve.  A great part
of the evil of the world comes through people not thinking out what
they really mean and believe.  But on the other hand, this sort of
argument, which proceeds upon a certain set of assumptions, has often a
merely temporary force, and carries with it an accompanying danger.
When the state of mind contemplated becomes a matter of history, the
argument based on its assumption has lost its power.  In {12} view of a
quite different set of assumptions it may become even misleading.  For
example, Bishop Butler argued for the truths of natural and revealed
religion, on the analogy of the facts of nature and on the assumption
of a divine author of nature, thus--If, as you admit, God made nature,
and yet nature is shown to contain such and such facts or processes,
how can you argue against the divine authorship of natural religion and
revelation on the ground that it attributes to God similar facts and
processes?  This was a very effective argument so long as men did treat
the doctrine of God having created the world as a matter of course.
But when 'agnosticism' arose--when men ceased to discover in nature any
decisive argument for God or against God, and professed only an
inability to draw any conclusion at all, Butler's argument had lost its
force, and the difficulties in nature and religion to which he called
attention could even be used against ascribing a divine authorship to
either.  Apologetic arguments are always liable to this peril.  Thus
St. Paul's arguments, based on an unhesitating belief that the Old
Testament contained really the words of God, that what they asserted
about God was certainly true, and that God was certainly just {13} and
the standard of justice, may have an effect very contrary to his
intention when they are applied to people who feel no such certainties.
St. Paul may seem to be making the difficulties of believing in the
Bible only more obvious, by calling attention to its 'harsh and
unedifying' elements.

But this unfortunate result of most 'apologies' is, at least in the
case of St. Paul and Bishop Butler, only superficial.  If the
apologetic argument is really deep, it retains, if not exactly its
original value, yet a value not the less real.  Butler's indications of
the profound analogy which holds between the doctrines of religion and
the facts of nature, can never be out of place or lose force.  Still
less can men ever cease to learn the deepest lessons from his temper of
mind and method.  And that it is so with St. Paul's apology--that it
contains the profoundest and most abiding lessons about the
responsibility and danger of all elect bodies and individuals--will
appear plainly enough in what follows, now that we are in a position to
approach his argument in detail.

[1] Ps. lxxxix. 33-7.

[2] By this phrase is commonly meant the doctrine that God created some
men absolutely and irresistibly predestined to eternal life and joy,
and created the rest of mankind absolutely and hopelessly abandoned to
eternal misery.

[3] Matthew Arnold, _St. Paul and Protestantism_ (Smith, Elder, 1870),
p. 99, admits that St. Paul 'falls into Calvinism,' but patronizingly
excuses him on the ground that this Calvinism is with him secondary, or
even less than secondary.

[4] Of course the election of the nation or the church is felt,
especially in the New Testament, or whenever in the Old Testament
individuality is fully realized, to involve the election of each of the
persons composing the nation or the church.  But still their election
is a challenge to their faith, and no guarantee of ultimate salvation.
St. Paul is left praying and suffering 'for the elect's sake that they
also may obtain the salvation ... with eternal glory' (2 Tim. ii. 10).
The elect have to 'make their calling and election sure' (2 Peter i.
10).  It should, however, be noticed that election may be, and in the
Gospels is, used to describe the final selection of those who are
proved worthy of the 'marriage supper of the Lamb.'  (Matt. xxii. 14.)

[5] Vol. i. pp. 114 f.



_The present rejection of Israelites no breach of a divine promise._

St. Paul has finished his glowing description of the position and
prospects of the elect people of God.  And then, by contrast, the
misery of the outcast people once called elect--his own people--wrings
his heart with pain.  The very idea that in his new enthusiasm for the
catholic church he can be supposed to be forgetting those who are of
his own flesh and blood, stirs him to a profound protest.  He solemnly
asseverates that the pain which Israel's rejection causes him is acute
and continuous.  He has caught himself at the point of praying to be
himself an outcast from Christ, if so be he could bring the people of
his own kindred and blood into the Church.  For who indeed could seem
to have so good a title to be there?  They are the Israelites--that is
God's own people: the eye of God was so specially upon this race {15}
that He redeemed it and made it His own son[1]: to them was vouchsafed
the shining of His continual presence in the tabernacle[2]: to them, in
the persons of the patriarchs and of Moses, God gave special covenants,
that is to say, pledged His word to them in an unmistakable manner and
repeatedly that He should be their God and they should be His people:
thus in pursuance of a divine purpose they were brought under the
education of the divinely given law and ritual worship: and all this
with direct and repeated promises of a more glorious position in the
future to be brought about by the divine king, the Christ who was to
be.  To them finally belongs all the sanctity which can attach to a
people from having numbered among its members the holy ones of God: for
of this race were the patriarchs, the friends of God; and of this race,
so far as human birth is concerned, came in fact the Christ who, born a
Jew, is sovereign of the universe and ever blessed God.  Surely then,
St. Paul implies, that this race, now that the Christ they were
expecting is at last come, now that the goal of all God's dealings with
them is at last reached, should have fallen outside the circle of His
people and be no longer sharers in {16} the sonship or the election,
would seem a result too monstrous to contemplate.  The contrast between
what they were and were intended for, and what in present appearance
they are, is indeed appalling.

Yet the natural conclusion for the Jew to draw, which at this point
flashes into St. Paul's mind, the conclusion that God has proved
unfaithful, is not the true one.  No: God's word, God's promise, has
not broken down.  For, if the facts are looked at, it appears quite
plainly that the Israel of God was never simply the Israel of physical
descent, nor the children of Abraham simply his physical seed.  Plainly
not.  For Isaac and Ishmael were equally Abraham's seed, physically
considered, but for the purpose of God the promise is given only to the
family of the younger son, Isaac (Gen. xxi. 12), who moreover was born,
not in the mere natural order, but under circumstances of special
divine promise and intervention (Gen. xviii. 10).  And if in this case
it be said that the younger son Isaac was the only son of Sarah, the
wife and free woman, and therefore had a natural prerogative over
Ishmael, yet the same inscrutable principle of selection is apparent in
the next generation, in a case where there is no possible inequality
{17} of natural claim--in the case of the two sons born simultaneously
to Isaac of the same mother.  Prior to their birth, and prior therefore
to any possible merit or demerit on their own part--so that God's
absolute freedom of choice should appear quite conspicuously--the
younger Jacob was deliberately preferred over the elder Esau (Gen. xxv.
23).  And in fact this race of Esau, this Edom--though they were
Israelites after the flesh--appear in history as something much worse
than merely secondary to the true Israel; for God speaks by Malachi and
declares that, whereas Israel is His beloved son, Esau, that is Edom,
He has 'hated' (Mal. i. 3).  No Israelite therefore who reads his
scriptures (St. Paul would conclude) ought to have failed to perceive
an inscrutable element in God's choice of his chosen people.  He ought
not to have felt in his own case, any more than in that of the first
children of Abraham or Isaac, that he could be sure of membership in
the people of God merely because of his physical descent.

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness
with me in the Holy Ghost, that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain
in my heart.  For I could wish[3] that I myself were anathema from
Christ for my {18} brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the
covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service _of God_, and the
promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning
the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever.  Amen.  But _it is_
not as though the word of God hath come to nought.  For they are not
all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are Abraham's
seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God;
but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.  For this is a
word of promise, According to this season will I come, and Sarah shall
have a son.  And not only so; but Rebecca also having conceived by one,
_even_ by our father Isaac--for _the children_ being not yet born,
neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God
according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that
calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  Even
as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

1.  St. Paul's earnest asseveration is very noticeable in form.  It
shows so much of his instinctive inward life.  He lives 'in Christ,'
who is light as well as life[4], and to speak the truth is the very
atmosphere of this new life[5].  As it comes natural to many people to
say 'upon my word as a gentleman,' it comes natural to St. Paul to say,
'speaking as in Christ, who is the light.'  And his natural
conscience--that is the faculty of passing judgement on one's own
actions, {19} which in St. Paul's case bears witness to the truth of
what he says by passing no censure on him--that too does not act of
itself merely, but in the Spirit of the new life, the Holy Spirit of
Christ, which inspires and ratifies the moral judgement, otherwise so
liable to be degraded or perverted or silenced: his conscience bears
witness with his word in the Holy Ghost.  Here, then, is the whole
secret of Christian truthfulness.  The Christian is truthful because he
lives and speaks in God, in Christ, in the Spirit.

As to St. Paul's half-expressed prayer ('I was praying,' he says, i.e.
'I caught myself praying'), it resembles that of Moses for his
rebellious people[6].  'And now, O Lord, if thou wilt forgive their
sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou
hast written.'  But St. Paul's instinctive desire is not apparently
like that of Moses, to perish with his people rather than be saved
without them; but to offer himself for rejection with a view to their
salvation.  The prayer is, as St. Paul implies, an impossible prayer,
but it expresses, as hardly anything else could, the intensity of his
feeling.  And such intensity of feeling was natural to the deep
religious patriotism of a Jew.


We may illustrate St. Paul's feeling by comparing a fine expression of
a more commonplace sorrow over the ruin of Israel from a period after
the destruction of Jerusalem[7].  'Now therefore I will speak; touching
man in general, thou knowest best; but touching thy people will I
speak, for whose sake I am sorry; and for thine inheritance, for whose
cause I mourn; and for Israel, for whom I am heavy; and for the seed of
Jacob, for whose sake I am troubled.'  'Thou seest that our sanctuary
is laid waste, our altar broken down, our temple destroyed; our
psaltery is brought low, our song is put to silence, our rejoicing is
at an end; the light of our candlestick is put out, the ark of our
covenant is spoiled, our holy things are defiled, and the name that is
called upon us is profaned; our freemen are despitefully treated, our
priests are burnt, our Levites are gone into captivity, our virgins are
defiled, and our wives ravished; our righteous men carried away, our
little ones betrayed, our young men are brought into bondage, and our
strong men are become weak; and, what is more than all, the seal of
Sion--for she hath now lost the seal of her {21} honour, and is
delivered into the hands of them that hate us.'

2.  As we read St. Paul's enumeration of the glories of Israel, it is
of course obvious for us to pursue the line of thought taught us
elsewhere by St. Paul, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews; and to
recognize how each element of the 'glory,' which belonged once to the
Jewish 'ministration of condemnation,' belongs in deeper and fuller
measure to the Christian 'ministration of the Spirit[8].'  Ours is the
vocation of the chosen people; ours is the sonship to God; and the
perpetual presence; and the security of divine covenant; ours is the
divine law, and with it, what is much better, the Spirit for its
accomplishment; ours is the corporate worship in spirit and in truth,
the Church's eucharist; for us, too, are promises which the realization
of those of the first covenant has made 'more sure'; ours finally is
the communion of the saints from Abraham onward into the body of
Christ.  And in proportion therefore to the greatness of our
privileges, even as compared with those of the older covenant, is the
greatness of our responsibility; 'For I would not, brethren, have you
ignorant[9],' St. Paul would {22} say; he would not have us fail to
profit by the warnings of old days.  And another voice warns us 'Of how
much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden
under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant,
wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite
unto the Spirit of grace[10].'

3.  There has been amongst critics, since Erasmus, much controversy
over the clause, 'who is over all, God blessed for ever.'  There is no
doubt that it is translated most naturally, and most agreeably to the
balance and movement of the sentence, if we attribute it to Christ, as
above.  But many critics, including some who were orthodox, have
stumbled at the idea of St. Paul speaking of Christ straight out as
'over all, God blessed for ever.'  Generally no doubt 'God' is used by
St. Paul as a proper name of the Father.  But Christ is continually
recognized as possessing strictly divine attributes, and exercising
strictly divine functions; and in all St. Paul's epistles, beginning
with his earliest to the Thessalonians, He is God's Son, His own or
proper Son[11].  His blood, as shed for our ransoming, is God's own
blood, or {23} (possibly) the blood of one who is 'His own'[12].  He
subsisted eternally in the form, or essential attributes, of God, and
in possession of equality with Him; and He possesses now, as glorified
in humanity, the divine name of universal sovereignty, the object of
universal worship[13].  Therefore He is in the strictest sense divine;
and whatever or, I should say, whoever is essentially divine and proper
to the being of God, can rightly be called God.  For, indeed, there is
nothing in the strict sense divine but God Himself.  It was then merely
a question of time when Christians would become sufficiently familiar
with the new revelation of the threefold name to apply the word God to
the Son and the Spirit as naturally as to the Father.  And there is
nothing really to surprise us in St. Paul here applying it to
Christ[14]: nothing certainly to warrant us in doing violence to the
sentence, in order to obviate the conclusion that he did so, by putting
a full stop after 'flesh,' and then supposing an abrupt exclamation 'He
who is over all is God blessed for ever[15]!'


Let it be recognized, then, that St. Paul here plainly speaks of Christ
as 'over all,' i.e. in His glorified manhood, and also as 'God blessed
for ever'--that is, as the one proper and eternal object of human
praise; and that he speaks of Him again elsewhere[16], as 'our great
God and Saviour.'  It was only because He was essentially and eternally
'God' that He could, in our manhood and as the reward of His human
obedience, be exalted to divine sovereignty and be 'over all.'

4.  In the rest of the section St. Paul is arguing with a Jew, who
makes the claim that because of the divine covenant God is bound to the
Israelites, and to all Israelites for ever.  'We have Abraham to our
father,' and that is enough[17].  The higher prophetic spirit of the
Old Testament had already realized that God's election of Israel was a
challenge to her to prove herself worthy of an undeserved
privilege[18], and that, though a faithful remnant would {25} never
fail, yet unfaithfulness in the bulk of the nation would bring
destruction upon them and loss of God's favour[19].  The prophetic
spirit had realized also that God's servant Israel was not 'called' for
his own selfish honour's sake, but was entrusted with a divine ministry
to fulfil for all the nations of the earth[20].  It is to this higher
sense of what Israel's position meant, and the perils it involved, that
John the Baptist and our Lord Himself had sought to recall the Jews.
They must not 'think to say within themselves, They had Abraham for
their Father; for God was able of the stones to raise up children unto
Abraham.'  For 'many should come from the east and the west, and sit
down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, and the
sons of the kingdom should be cast into {26} the outer darkness[21].'
But it is evident that this higher meaning of the doctrine of election
had been forgotten by contemporary Judaism, and they would not be
recalled to it.  They refused to contemplate the spiritual risk of
missing their vocation, or the universal purpose for which it was
given.  They chose to think that Israel, i.e. the actual Israelites in
bulk, _must_ remain God's elect; that the Christ, when He came, must
come to exalt their race and nation: that they were bound to inherit
the blessings of the world to come: that the divine government of the
world existed for their sakes[22].

St. Paul, then, is here intending to vindicate the real meaning of
election, in the sense in which it is bound up with the ethical
character of God and carries with it a deepened feeling of
responsibility in those who are the subjects of it.  {27} But his
argument is directed, first of all, to one point only--to bringing the
eyes of the Jews straight up to their own scriptures, and forcing them
to see that _they_ do not justify the idea of election purely by race.
It is not all of a certain seed, but only part of it, that is chosen.
There is nothing to hinder a great part of the race again becoming as
Ishmael or as Edom by the side of Israel.  Ultimately, no doubt, there
are _two_ points to be proved.  First, that God's method of choosing an
elect body to be His people in the world is inscrutable, so that we
cannot produce or determine His election by any calculation, or by any
real or supposed merits, of ours; secondly, that though we cannot
create our vocation, we can retain it by moral correspondence or faith,
and by that only.  But at present it is only the first point that is
insisted upon--the absolute, inscrutable element in the divine choice.
And that, we should notice, is a fact not merely of scriptural evidence
but of common experience.  Men are born to higher and lower positions
of privilege and opportunity.  They are born Jacobs or Esaus, in
respect of moral, intellectual, religious, or physical endowment--with
ten talents, or five, or two, or one; and God does not often give us so
{28} much as a glimpse of the reason why.  All He does make clear to us
is that the determination of human vocations, higher or lower, is in
wiser hands than ours.

It is of course evident, as has already been said, that what St. Paul
is speaking about is the election of men, and specially races or
nations of men, to a position of _spiritual privilege in this world_.
We know now, better than the Jews of the Old Covenant could know it,
that behind all the apparent injustices and inequalities of this world
lies the rectifying equity of God.  St. Peter had come to believe that
the divine mercy had rectified in the world beyond death the apparently
rough and heavy handed judgement upon the rejected mass of mankind in
the time of the Flood.  That physical catastrophe at least was an
instrument of mercy in disguise[23].  St. Paul believed the same about
all God's rejections, as well as elections, in this world.  They served
one universal purpose: 'That he might have mercy upon all[24].'  But
{29} all the same here and now in this world God does work by means of
enormous inequalities.  There are Jacobs whom He plainly loves, upon
whom He showers all His richest blessings, and Esaus whom, to judge
from present evidence, we should say He hates--whom He sets to live in
hardest and most cramping surroundings.  And no man can determine which
lot he shall enjoy.  That lies in the inscrutable selectiveness of God.

That there is no question at all about the eternal welfare of the
individual Esau's soul--that the question is simply of the comparative
status of Israel and Edom in this world--appears plainly in the passage
of Malachi, which St. Paul quotes.  And we must notice how unexpected
an application St. Paul gives to this passage in a direction most
unfamiliar to Jewish thought.  For Edom was to the Jew the very type of
all that was most hateful.  He anticipated for the Edomites God's worst
vengeance, as for Israel God's best blessings.  But St. Paul forces him
to think--Why should he assume that he will be better off than Edom?
Edom was once physically on Israel's level, or his superior in claim,
when their first fathers were but just born infants.  But God chose one
{30} and not the other.  He may exercise the like unscrutable
selectiveness upon the seed of Israel to-day.  And Edom did not remain
in a merely secondary position.  He sank to be a byword for all that is
most hateful to God.  Be warned, St. Paul would say, it may be that
'with change of name the tale is told of thee[25].'

[1] Exod. iv. 23; Hos. xi. 1.

[2] Exod. xvi. 10.

[3] Or 'pray' (marg.) literally 'I was praying.'

[4] Cf. Eph. v. 8-14.

[5] Cf. Col. iii. 9.

[6] Exod. xxxii. 32.

[7] 2 Esdr. viii. 15-16, x. 21-23.  The latter passage is not spoken to
God, but by one Jew to another.

[8] 2 Cor. iii. 8.

[9] See 1 Cor. x. 1-13.

[10] Heb. x. 29.

[11] 1 Thess. i. 10; Rom. viii. 3.

[12] Acts xx. 28.

[13] Phil. ii. 6-11.

[14] Without the article which makes it a proper name of the Father.

[15] R. V. margin^2.  It does further violence to the Greek to
translate as R. V. margin^1, 'He who is God over all is (be) blessed
for ever.'  I have nothing to add on the matter to S. and H. _in loc._,
especially p. 236.

[16] Tit. ii. 13.  This is probably the right rendering.

[17] St. Matt. iii. 9.

[18] Great stress was laid by the prophets on the absence of any
original merit or power in Israel, which caused the divine election;
see Ezek. xvi, Deut. xxvi. 5.

[19] See especially Amos ix. 7-10: 'Are ye not as the children of the
Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord.  Have not I
brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from
Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?  Behold, the eyes of the Lord God
are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of
the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,
saith the Lord.  For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of
Israel among all the nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet
shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.  All the sinners of my
people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake
nor prevent us.'

[20] Gen. xii. 3; Isa. lxvi. 18; Zech. viii. 23, &c.

[21] Matt. viii. 11, 12.

[22] In Weber's _Jüdische Theologie_ (Leipzig, 1897, formerly called
_System der Altsynagog. Palästin. Theol._ or _Die Lehre des Talmud_),
pp. 51 ff, there are striking illustrations from the Talmud of this
fixed tendency of thought among the Jews.  Thus 'there exists no
clearer proof of the Talmudic conviction of the absolutely holy
character of Israel than that in all the places of Scripture in which
Israel is reproved and has evil attributed to it, the expression, "the
haters of Israel," is substituted for Israel.'  'We read: Isaiah was
punished, because he called Israel a people of unclean lips,' &c.  Cf.
S. and H., p. 249, and my _Ephesians_, p. 261.

[23] 1 Pet. iv. 6.  'The gospel was preached to' these 'dead men that
they might be judged according to men in the flesh,' i.e. by perishing
in the flood, 'but live according to God in the spirit,' i.e. through
our Lord's preaching in Hades.  There is, I think, so far, no ambiguity
about this passage.

[24] Not, however, without regard to man's will to respond to the
divine offer, see later, p. 82 ff.

[25] Mal. i. 2, 3.  'Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet
I loved Jacob; but Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation,
and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness.  Whereas Edom
saith, We are beaten down, but we will return,' &c.  This passage (1)
plainly refers to _Esau_ as meaning _Edom_, the people; (2) describes
not the original lot of Esau, which was secondary indeed, but highly
blessed (Gen. xxvii. 39, 40); but the ultimate lot of Esau when he had
misused his original endowment in violence and cruelty.


DIVISION IV.  § 2.  CHAPTER IX. 14-29.

_God's liberty in showing mercy and judgement always retained and

But the obvious reply of the Jewish objector to St. Paul's assertion of
the absolute and apparently arbitrary freedom of God's election is that
it is unfair.  It convicts God of unrighteousness.  To this objection
(ver. 14), which St. Paul deprecates with horror, he replies not by any
large consideration of divine justice, but still by keeping the Jew to
his own scriptures.  The God revealed in scripture must be to the
objector still the just God.  He cannot call God unjust if His method
as it now appears is that to which He called attention long ago.  Look
back, then, at the past records.  Did God disclose Himself as bound to
show mercy on Moses the Israelite, or to harden and judicially condemn
Pharaoh the Egyptian?  No, He declares to Moses His unrestricted
freedom to exhibit His {32} compassion on whom He will (Exod. xxxiii.
19).  Men cannot by any choice or efforts of their own produce an
exhibition of divine favour such as was shown to Moses the leader of
Israel: the absolute initiative must come from God, and in taking that
initiative He declares Himself absolutely free.  In the same way God
implicitly asserts His sovereign freedom when He brings Pharaoh out
upon the stage of history as an example of the way in which He hardens
men's hearts with a hardening which is the prelude to overthrow, that
men all over the world may see and tremble at the divine power.  It is
not because Pharaoh is an Egyptian that he is hardened.  He is
hardened, as Moses has compassion shown him, simply because it is the
will of God so to do in his case.

But the objector comes forward again (ver. 19): 'If this is the
arbitrary method of God--if we are simply powerless puppets in the
hands of an absolute and arbitrary will, to be saved or be
destroyed--at any rate He has no reason to complain of us.  If all the
power is His, so is the responsibility.'  Now St. Paul has it in his
hand to show that there remains to man a very real power to retain his
position, and consequently a very real responsibility and room for {33}
being blamed or praised: for if we cannot create our vocation, we can
and we are required to correspond with it in a reverent and docile
faith; and it was exactly here that the Jews had failed, in spite of
all their prophets had taught them.  But he keeps back this answer
awhile, because he finds the attitude of such an objector toward God in
itself so reprehensible.  Such an one has not given consideration to
what the relation of man to God really is--the creature to the creator.
His critical, complaining attitude is nothing better than foolish.

Thus he takes his antagonist back upon the old prophetic metaphor of
the potter and his clay, with which Isaiah and Jeremiah had rebuked the
arrogance and impatience of men long ago: 'Shall the thing framed say
of him that framed it, He hath no understanding; and shall the clay say
to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou[1]?'  He follows, however,
most closely upon the later writer of the Book of Wisdom: 'For a
potter, kneading soft earth, laboriously mouldeth each several vessel
for our service: nay, out of the same clay doth fashion both the
vessels that minister to clean uses, and those of a contrary sort.  All
in {34} like manner; but what shall be the use of each vessel of either
sort, the craftsman himself is the judge[2].'  The thought was often in
St. Paul's mind of the inequality of lots in the world and the Church.
There are more and less honourable limbs in the body politic: there are
vessels for honourable and vessels for dishonourable purposes in the
great social economy[3].  So it is with the races of men.  They are all
of one blood--of the one lump.  But some have high and others low
vocations, and the right to determine of what sort the lot shall be in
each case lies absolutely with the Divine Potter.  It is childish to
dispute His title.  And not only so: when the potter, whom Jeremiah was
ordered to observe, found a vessel he was making marred under his hand,
'he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make
it[4].'  Accordingly, when the chosen material (i.e. the Jews) would
not mould to the high purpose for which the Potter was fashioning it,
who shall complain if He diverted it to lower uses or threw it away to
destruction, and produced out {35} of His stores other vessels which He
had already prepared and destined for glorious functions (that is to
say, the Gentile Christians)?  But the case is even stronger than this.
Who indeed shall complain if, when the vessels originally destined for
the higher uses prove fit for nothing but destruction, the Divine
Potter--though willing, now as in the case of Pharaoh, to let His wrath
fall and to manifest His power--yet shows almost unlimited forbearance
with them (as in fact God did with the Jews); and when at last He does
let His wrath fall, only does so in order to manifest anew the
resourcefulness of His mercy[5] upon a new and larger Israel, gathered
not from among the Jews only, but from among all nations, to be the
object of His compassionate regard?

Indeed, the prophet Hosea (ii. 23, i. 10) foresaw this choice of a yet
unrecognized people to be God's people.  Isaiah again (x. 22)
anticipated no more than a remnant surviving of all the multitudes of
Israel, because of the sharpness and conclusiveness of the divine
judgement upon them.  And (i. 9) it is only to the compassion of God
that he attributes their exemption by means {36} of the faithful
remnant from entire annihilation, like that of the Cities of the Plain.

What shall we say then?  Is there unrighteousness with God?  God
forbid.  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.  So then it is
not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath
mercy.  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did
I raise thee up, that I might shew in thee my power, and that my name
might be published abroad in all the earth.  So then he hath mercy on
whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he still find fault?  For who
withstandeth his will?  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest
against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why
didst thou make me thus?  Or hath not the potter a right over the clay,
from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honour, and another
unto dishonour?  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make
his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath
fitted unto destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his
glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory, _even_
us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the
Gentiles?  As he saith also in Hosea,

  I will call that my people, which was not my people;
  And her beloved, which was not beloved.
  And it shall be, _that_ in the place where it was said
        unto them, Ye are not my people,
  There shall they be called sons of the living God.

And Isaiah crieth concerning Israel, If the number of the children of
Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the {37} remnant that shall be
saved: for the Lord will execute _his_ word upon the earth, finishing
it and cutting it short.  And, as Isaiah hath said before,

  Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,
  We had become as Sodom, and had been made like
        unto Gomorrah.

What has been already said will have been enough to guard against the
main sources of mistake in reading this section.  St. Paul might have
much to say about God's righteousness in general, and large ways of
vindicating it.  But here he holds fast to the single aspect of
righteousness according to which it means that God has been true to the
original principles of His covenant.  The God who chose Abraham and
Moses is the God who is now, and rightly on His own declared principles
of government, rejecting the greater part of the people of Abraham and
Moses.  This--faithfulness to His own declared principles--is what St.
Paul here means by His righteousness.  And as it was God's declared
principle to retain His own liberty to show mercy on men according to
His free will, inside or outside the chosen people, so on the other
hand He retained His liberty to exhibit His judgement of hardening
according to His will inside or outside the chosen people.  He who
brought Pharaoh the Egyptian upon the stage {38} of history[6], as an
example of hardening judgement, is within His right in doing the same
now with (the mass of) the people of His choice.  The liberty asserted
for God is wholly consistent with His being found, in fact, to have
'hardened' those only who have deserved hardening by their own
wilfulness.  It was for such a moral cause that God hardened the hearts
of the Jews, that 'seeing they might not see, and hearing they might
not hear[7].'  We can feel no doubt that some similar moral cause
underlay the hardening of Pharaoh.  But this is not St. Paul's present
point.  All his argument is directed to asserting God's liberty to show
mercy or harden, irrespectively of considerations of race, when and
where He in His sovereign moral will chooses.

We should notice that St. Paul's method is here, as elsewhere, what is
called ideal or abstract, in the sense that he makes abstraction {39}
of a particular point of view; and, apparently indifferent to being
misunderstood, substantiates his argument upon the particular aspect
which he has taken apart from the whole matter in hand, till it is done
with, and then other points can be taken in their turn.  And he does
not, as a modern writer would do, painfully correlate the various
aspects of the subject[8].

By means of the famous simile of the potter St. Paul asserts two
principles about God: (1) that God is free, and condescends to give no
account to His creatures, in absolutely determining the high or low
vocations of men.  To one man or nation He gives five talents, to
another two, to another one.  He makes vessels to honourable and
vessels to (comparatively) dishonourable uses.  He makes men Jews or
Assyrians, Englishmen or Hottentots, at His absolute discretion.  (2)
That God is absolutely free, when the human material which He is
moulding for His purposes proves intractable, to repudiate and reject
what has, by its refusal to mould, become a 'vessel of wrath' fit 'to
be taken and destroyed.'  And it is only by a voluntary limitation of
this freedom that He exhibits long toleration with the intractable and
{40} obstinate, and is longsuffering with them even when His wrath is
ready and waiting to show itself.  These are the two distinct points in
the simile of the potter.  We must distinguish carefully between the
'vessels _destined for_ dishonour'--the 'less honourable limbs' of
humanity--and the 'vessels _of_ wrath,' or 'vessels fitted for
destruction,' i.e. those which have proved themselves unfit for the
vocation to which they were destined and have to be rejected.  We note
that St. Paul does not say that _God fitted_ vessels for destruction,
but that He bore long with those which had so _become fitted_.  St.
Paul never gives us any real justification--if we look at his language
carefully--for the idea of any predestination to _rejection_, as
distinct from predestination to higher or lower purposes.  And the New
Testament is full of assurances that a predestination to a low vocation
in this world may be a predestination to high glory in eternity, if the
humble calling is faithfully followed.

It ought not to be denied, however, that in all this passage St. Paul's
feet, as he moves along his argument, are dogged by the metaphysical
difficulty of finding room for human free-will inside the universal
scope of the divine action and the prescience of the divine wisdom.
This {41} is a perennial difficulty.  But St. Paul does not touch it.
He does not even touch the question of whether God does actually (in
our sense) _foreknow_ the final destiny of every individual, and how he
will act on each occasion[9]; he does not touch the question how or how
far human wilfulness can be allowed to disturb the divine order.  In
the Pharisaic schools he would certainly have been brought up, as
Josephus tells us, both to 'attribute everything to fate and God,' and
also to recognize that it 'lay with men for the most part to do right
or wrong': to believe that 'everything was foreseen,' and also that
'free-will was given'; or, as Josephus elsewhere puts it (as if it made
no difference), to believe 'that some things, but not all, are the work
of fate, and other things are in men's own power and need not
happen[10].'  That is to say, he would have been educated to believe
both in predestination and in freedom, without any {42} special attempt
to reconcile the two.  We can tell for certain that this inherited
belief was further moralized in St. Paul's case by his enlarged view of
the divine purpose as working through high and low estates alike, for
the final good of all men; and by his deepened perception of the
correspondence with God's purpose, which, in the exercise of our
freedom, is required of us.  But, so far as we know, St. Paul left the
strictly metaphysical question exactly where he found it--as an
imperfectly reconciled antithesis.  And there perhaps we men shall
always have to leave it, or at least till we come to know even as we
are known.

In the quotations from the Old Testament, with which the section
concludes, we notice that St. Paul varies the original application of
the passages from Hosea.  In the prophet they refer to the recovery of
dejected and dishonoured _Israel_, while the apostle applies them to
the exaltation of _the Gentiles_ from their low estate.  As is often
the case, while other passages in the prophets were there to prove
exactly what he wanted[11], St. Paul takes the words which come {43}
into his mind with a considerable latitude of application, and without
any critical argument.  Thus, if he makes somewhat free with the
particular texts, it is in order to vindicate the real teaching of the
Old Testament.  He has, if not exact criticism, what is much better,
profound spiritual insight.

The passages quoted from Isaiah are characteristic and central.  This
great prophet first clearly perceived that most striking law of human
history--that progress comes, not mostly through the majority of a
nation, but through the faithful remnant.  It is the few best through
whom alone God can freely work.  It is the best who in the long run
determine the moral level of the nation, and either keep the mass of
men around them from corruption, or, if that is impossible, provide a
fresh point of departure and hope in a society now inevitably, as a
whole, hastening to decay and judgement.  'As a terebinth, and as an
oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is
the stock thereof[12].'

[1] Isa. xxix. 16, xlv. 9, lxiv. 8; Jer. xviii. 6; Ecclus. xxxiii. 13.

[2] xv. 7.

[3] 1 Cor. xii. 22-5; 2 Tim. ii. 20.

[4] Jer. xviii. 4.  The passage continues with a strong assertion of
God's freedom to govern the destinies of nations on moral principles.

[5] When Moses asked to see God's glory (Exod. xxxiii. 18), what was
revealed to him was His goodness and free mercy, and what St. Paul here
means by God's glory is His mercy especially.

[6] In the original the words run, 'For this cause have I made thee to
stand,' i.e. probably, 'I have preserved thy life under the plague of
boils, and other plagues, in order to make thee an example of a more
conspicuous judgement.'  But St. Paul, departing from the Greek Bible,
uses a word 'raised thee up,' which in Pharaoh's case, or in that of
Cyrus, means to bring upon the stage of history.  Isa. xli. 2; cf. Jer.
1. [xxvii in the Greek] 41; Hab. i. 6.

[7] See Matt. xiii. 14, 15; Mark iv. 12; John xii. 40.

[8] Cf. vol. i. p. 75.

[9] On the meaning of divine foreknowledge in St. Paul see vol. i. p.

[10] See Joseph. _Antiq._ xiii. 5, 9; xviii. 1, 3; _Bell. Jud._ ii. 8,
14.  Cf. Schürer, _Jewish People_ (English trans.), Div. ii. vol. ii.
pp.14 ff.; James and Ryle, _Ps. of Solomon_, p. 96.  The Essenes,
Josephus says, believed in fate, and not in free-will; the Sadducees in
free-will and not in fate; but the Pharisees in both.  No doubt
Josephus is importing Greek philosophical views into his account of
Jewish parties, but substantially his account is probably true.

[11] e.g. Isa. xix. 24; Ezek. xvi. 55.  (The exaltation into the
fellowship of the chosen people of Egypt, Assyria, Sodom, and Samaria.)

[12] Isa. vi. 13.


DIVISION IV.  § 3.  CHAPTER IX. 30-X. 21.

_Lack of faith the reason of Israel's rejection._

What is to be our conclusion then?  That Gentiles, men beyond the pale
of God's covenant, who made no pretension of pursuing righteousness,
all at once laid hold on righteousness and made it their own, simply by
accepting in faith the divine offer which came their way; while Israel,
the chosen people, devoted to pursuing a law of righteousness, never
caught up with that of which it was in pursuit.  The result seems
strange enough.  But the reason of it is apparent.  Israel[1] had been
put under a divine election, which required of them the open ear, the
responsive will, of faith.  But instead of cultivating this temper of
faith, they fastened upon the specified {45} observances of the Mosaic
law, and blindly adhered to them, as if God had nothing deeper or
greater to teach them, and they had nothing deeper or greater to
receive.  Thus, when the Christ came, with His completer light and
claims, they would not have Him.  They wanted nothing further, nothing
more than they were accustomed to.  And thus Isaiah's prophecy was
fulfilled, that the Christ, the tried foundation stone, the destined
security of all who should believe in Him, would turn out to be a stone
at which the chosen people should stumble, and a rock on which it
should meet disaster[2] (ix. 30-33).

And here is the pathos of the situation.  Here is what puts passion
into St. Paul's desire and his prayer for Israel's entrance into the
great deliverance.  It is that they have such a real zeal for God,
though without any spiritual insight to guide it.  A real zeal for God!
of that St. Paul's own experience qualified him to testify.  But in
what sense without insight?  In the sense that with Jesus of Nazareth
there appeared a divine righteousness, which God was communicating to
men[3]; but the Jews, {46} preoccupied with maintaining a standard of
righteousness which they had taken for their own--which had become
identified, that is to say, with their own self-satisfaction and pride
of privilege and independence of interference--failed to perceive the
divine purpose, and, in fact, refused to submit themselves to it.  For
that principle of law which the Jews had come to regard as God's final
word, He really intended only as a temporary discipline to be brought
to an end by the coming of the Christ, and by the disclosure of the
real righteousness which, in Christ, God should offer and man should
simply accept in faith.  Law and faith are in sharp and intelligible
contrast.  Under the law of works a man, as Moses says[4], stands to
preserve his life (or save his soul) according as he performs the
specified requirements (as if man were an independent being who could
thus stand over against God on his merits).  But faith, attributing
nothing to itself, simply accepts the offer of God, the divine message
of compassion brought near to it.  Moses of old told the Israelites[5]
that the commandment was not {47} too hard for them, neither was it far
off.  _It was not in heaven, that they should say, who shall go up for
us to heaven, and bring_ it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we
may do it?  Neither was it beyond the sea, that they should say, _who
shall go_ over the sea for us, _and bring_ it unto us, and make us to
hear it that we may do it?  But _the word was very nigh unto them, in
their mouth and in their heart_, that they might do it.  These words
really describe the character of the Christian message of faith, of
which the apostles are the heralds.  Truly there is no need for the
believer in Jesus to seek some one to scale heaven to reach a remote
God, for Christ is come down.  Or to descend into the abyss to seek a
Christ dead and lost, for Christ is risen.  The great deliverance is
offered to us on very easy terms.  A man has only openly to confess
that the human Jesus is really the divine Lord, and heartily to believe
that God raised Him from the dead.  Let him heartily accept that
message, and the fellowship in the divine righteousness is his.  Let
him publicly confess that creed, and the great salvation is open to
him.  It is the old teaching of Isaiah[6]--if a man but believe (in the
Christ) there is no {48} fear of his being put to shame.  And here Jews
and Greeks are all on the same level of need and opportunity.  There is
over all the same Lord Christ, with the same inexhaustible good will
towards all who simply call on Him.  Again the old scripture testifies
that it is every one who calls on the name of the Lord who shall be
saved[7].  The conditions then are very simple.  To call on the Lord,
we may say, men must believe in Him.  To have the opportunity of
believing on Him, they must have heard about Him.  To hear about Him,
they need one to speak in His name.  And how can men speak in the name
of God except as His apostles, as men commissioned and sent from Him?
And these terms we know well enough have all been fulfilled.  The
commissioned heralds of the good tidings of God have gone forth, so
that all men may hear and believe and call out to God.  Truly Isaiah's
vision of the welcome preacher of good tidings[8] is realized to-day
(x. 1-15).

Now we have clear before us the simplicity of the gospel, the message
to faith.  And we have before us the plain fact that the Israelitish
people, preoccupied with their own temporary {49} and misunderstood
standard of the law, have not generally accepted it.  But this is no
more than Isaiah led us to expect.  'Lord,' he cries, 'who gave
credence to our message[9]?'  (Faith, you see, according to the
prophet, requires just a listening to a divine message; and this
message has come to men by the preaching about Christ.)  And can it be
pleaded that the Jews have not had the opportunity of hearing the
message?  No, truly, as the Psalmist says, the voice of God's
messengers has gone over all the earth, and their words to the end of
the inhabited world[10].  Or can it be said that Israel did not know
that a preaching to the _Gentiles_ was to be looked for?  No, a
succession of warnings had reached them.  Thus Moses foretold that it
should be a nation which (religiously speaking) was no nation, a people
without understanding, that God would use to provoke His people to
jealousy, and stimulate their emulation[11].  Again, Isaiah uses
startling words, and declares that God has been discovered by those who
never sought Him, and revealed to those who never asked for
Him[12]--that is the Gentiles.  But the words of Isaiah {50} that
follow describe truly the relation of God and Israel.  God has tenderly
and persistently been offering His love to them, but they have proved
themselves only rebellious and full of contradiction (x. 16-21).

This, then, is the plain summary.  Israel is rejected because, after
every offer, and with every opportunity, they have refused God's
leading, refused to be docile, refused to believe, refused to obey.

What shall we say then?  That the Gentiles, which followed not after
righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which
is of faith: but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did
not arrive at _that_ law.  Wherefore?  Because _they sought it_ not by
faith, but as it were by works.  They stumbled at the stone of
stumbling; even as it is written,

  Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence:
  And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame.

Brethren, my heart's desire and my supplication to God is for them,
that they may be saved.  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal
for God, but not according to knowledge.  For being ignorant of God's
righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject
themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the
law unto righteousness to every one that believeth.  For Moses writeth
that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall
live thereby.  But the righteousness which is of {51} faith saith thus,
Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring
Christ down:) or, Who shall descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring
Christ up from the dead.)  But what saith it?  The word is nigh thee,
in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we
preach: because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus _as_ Lord,
and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou
shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the
scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same _Lord_
is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him: for, Whosoever
shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall
they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they
believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear
without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?
even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring
glad tidings of good things!

But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings.  For Isaiah saith,
Lord, who hath believed our report?  So belief _cometh_ of hearing, and
hearing by the word of Christ.  But I say, Did they not hear?  Yea,

  Their sound went out into all the earth,
  And their words unto the ends of the world.

But I say, Did Israel not know?  First Moses saith,

  I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation,
  With a nation void of understanding will I anger you.

And Isaiah is very bold, and saith,

  I was found of them that sought me not;
  I became manifest unto them that asked not of me.


But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands
unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

In this passage St. Paul gives us the other side of the question of the
rejection of the Israelites.  God had retained an absolute freedom, not
to be questioned by men, to reject whom He willed.  That was the first
point.  But can we see whom our God wills to reject, or why in
particular He rejected (though not finally, as will appear) the chosen
people?  It is because they failed in faith.  And faith is precisely
that which is necessary to maintain correspondence with God--it is
_the_ faculty of fellowship with Him.  They failed because the false
principle of justification by works had obscured in their minds the
need and meaning of faith.  The false principle meant, as we have
already seen, the maintaining an accepted standard of conduct and
divine service, especially in outward matters, and for the rest
claiming to be left alone.  The accepted standard was that which
distinguished Israel from the rest of the world, and what they had
become accustomed to.  It was a righteousness of 'their own.'  They
prided themselves on it.  Their public opinion required its observance.
It had come to usurp the place of any direct {53} relationship to the
voice of God.  They had no idea that God could have anything more or
deeper to require of them.  They had lost personal touch with Him.
Therefore seeking to establish this, their own righteousness, they
failed to submit themselves to the (now newly revealed) righteousness
of God in Christ.  This unprogressiveness of the Jewish ideal, this
substitution of the accepted standard under the law for the word of
God, on the part of the Pharisees, the religious representatives of
Israel, is precisely what the pages of the Gospel record.  Therefore
the 'corner stone of sure foundation' for the divine building became to
them the stone on which they stumbled and fell.  And yet that the law
was a temporary expedient, and not the whole counsel of God, was the
deepest witness of the Old Testament; and in being false to the further
revelation of the will of God in Christ, they were false to their own
deepest principles.  All this ground we have gone over already, and
need not traverse again[13].

So also we have already become familiar with the simplicity of the
message of God in Christ, and the simplicity of the faith which, {54}
rooted in the consciousness of sin and need, and equally possible for
all men who can share this consciousness, is required to welcome God's
offer, and so be brought by Christ into living union with Him.  All
this St. Paul has already elaborated, and is here only resuming and
recapitulating by the way.  But one or two points in the recapitulation
require notice.

1.  St. Paul takes the basis of his statement of the principle of grace
and faith out of the heart of the books of Moses--the idea of the 'word
very nigh thee,' of the simple message claiming only to be simply
accepted, and of the 'very present help' of a gracious God needing only
to be welcomed.  The fact is that St. Paul usually idealizes when he
treats of 'the law of Moses'; as, for example, when he here says that
'Moses writeth that the man that _doeth_ the righteousness ... shall
_live_ thereby,' as if that was all that Moses said.  The principle of
law, as Saul the Pharisee had learned to understand it, is the dominant
principle in the five Books of the Law, but not the only one.  'Grace,
already existing in the Jewish theocracy, was the fruitful germ
deposited under the surface, which was one day to burst forth and
become the peculiar character {55} of the new covenant[14].'  The God
of the new covenant is the God also of the old, and was there already
intimating His truer and deeper character.  To this St. Paul bears
witness by resting his statement of the principle of the new covenant
upon the words of the old.

2.  In this passage we have the germ of what we call the creed.  The
lordship of Jesus, in the sense which implies His proper divinity, and
His resurrection and triumph over death--was already matter of public
confession in the Christian church: to make profession that 'Jesus is
Lord' qualified for 'the salvation'[15]: and in this lay hid all that
is essential to the Christian creed.  Already then in the earliest
church subjective faith involved a certain objective and public
creed[16] which came very soon to be called 'the faith.'  In this
passage also, as in xiv. 9 and in St. Peter's epistle, we recognize, as
an element in the common tradition, the belief in the Descent into
Hades (the abyss).

3.  St. Paul incidentally shows us his {56} instinctive feeling that to
be a trustworthy ambassador for God one needs 'apostolate.'  'How shall
they preach except they be _sent_?'  And this apostolate, as he uses
it, means not only an inward sense of mission, but an external sending
by Christ Himself; and in pursuance of the same principle, when once
the Church has been established, it would mean a sending by those
authorized to send in His name.  This is the root principle of the
Christian 'stewardship.'  As the subapostolic Clement expresses it,
'Christ (was sent) from God, and the apostles from Christ.  Each came
in due order from the will of God.  Therefore, having received the
words of command, and having been fully convinced by the resurrection
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and been assured in the message of God with
conviction of the Holy Ghost, they came forth, preaching the gospel
that the kingdom of God was to come.  Therefore as they preached in
country and towns they established their first-fruits, when they had
put them to the proof, to be bishops (i.e. presbyters), and deacons of
those who were to come to the faith.'  And afterwards, in view of
disputes over the presbyteral office, which divine inspiration enabled
them to anticipate, they made provision for a due succession {57} in
the 'episcopate' on the death of those first appointed[17].

4.  St. Paul's singularly free, but deeply inspired, manner of applying
texts from the Old Testament is especially illustrated in this passage.

Thus the passages quoted from Isaiah about the Stone, which St. Paul
applies to Christ, refer originally to Jehovah simply in one case (Isa.
viii. 14), and probably to His will and covenant as the foundation of
Israel's polity in the other (Isa. xxviii. 16).  Jewish tradition had
possibly already referred them to the Christ[18]; and certainly our
Lord's use of Ps. cxviii. 22--'The stone which the builders
rejected'--as applying to His own rejection, made the reference more
obvious.  It is indeed in deepest accordance with the spirit of Isaiah:
and St. Peter (1 Peter ii. 6), we notice, follows St. Paul in the use
of them.  Another passage (lii. 7) about 'the feet of those who preach
good tidings' is transferred, with added meaning, from the heralds of
the redemption from Babylon, to the heralds of the greater redemption.
And the opening of chapter lxv, which originally refers altogether to
apostate Israel, is divided, {58} and applied in part to the Gentiles,
in part to the Jews.  (Other passages in the prophets, we should
observe, would justify the former application.)  Again, a passage from
Ps. xix is transferred very beautifully from the witness of the heavens
to the witness of the Gospel; as if St. Paul would say--grace is become
as universal as nature.  The language of a passage from Deuteronomy, as
we have seen, is taken from the law to express the spirit of the
gospel.  The calling upon Jehovah in Joel becomes in St. Paul's
quotation the calling upon Christ.  All this free citation, uncritical
according to our ideas and methods, yet rests upon a profoundly right
apprehension of the meaning of the Old Testament as a whole.  The
appeal to the Old Testament, even if not to the particular passage, is
justified by the strictest criticism.

[1] I have endeavoured sometimes in this analysis to expand what St.
Paul means by 'pursuing righteousness,' by 'works' and by 'faith,' in
accordance with the meaning already assigned to these words; see vol.
i. pp. 7-24.

[2] Isa. viii. 14; xxviii. 16.  Cf. Matt. xi. 6.

[3] See above, vol. i. p. 17.

[4] Levit. xviii. 5.

[5] Deut. xxx. 11-14.  I have italicized the words substantially
reproduced by St. Paul, but I have quoted the whole passage because its
whole meaning is in his mind.

[6] Isa. xxviii. 16.

[7] Joel ii. 32.

[8] Isa. lii. 7.

[9] Isa. liii. 1.

[10] Ps. xix. 4.

[11] Deut. xxxii. 21.

[12] Isa. lxv. 1, 2.

[13] See vol. i. pp. 7 ff., 165 f., 250 ff.

[14] Godet _in loc._

[15] Cf. 1 Cor. xii. 3.  The lordship of Jesus, we see in this passage,
means that He can have applied to Him the sayings of the Old Testament
about the Lord Jehovah; and can be 'called upon' as such in prayer
(Joel ii. 32).

[16] Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 1-3.

[17] Clem, _ad Cor._ 42, 44.

[18] See S. and H. _in loc._



_God's judgement on Israel neither universal nor final._

But if Israel has thus by her own fault fallen from her high estate,
are we then to suppose that God has simply rejected His own chosen
people?  Such a thought cannot be entertained.  How could it have been
in the mind of such an Israelite as St. Paul, one who came of Abraham's
genuine seed, and of the tribe which held so fast by Judah?  No: the
people on whom from eternity God's eye rested, to mark them out for
Himself and for His purposes, assuredly cannot, as a people, have been
cast away[1].  What has happened now is only what is recorded long ago
in the history of Elijah.  Then, as now, a general unfaithfulness in
the bulk of the nation concealed the existence of a faithful remnant.
Yet God had, as He assured the prophet, {60} reserved for Himself such
a remnant, and of very considerable numbers.  And now also such a
remnant of true Israelites exists in accordance with the selective
action of grace--that is to say, God's gratuitous and unmerited good
will.  Yes: let there be no mistake about it; their position is due to
nothing else than the original and continuous action of God's grace;
and grace means God's absolutely gratuitous and unmerited good will
(which may therefore come upon Gentiles equally with Jews).  It
excludes the idea of these remnants owing their position to previous
merits, or of its being in any way God's response to an antecedent

This then is what we have to recognize.  What Israel in bulk sought for
(by way of its supposed merit), that it did not get, but a select
remnant got it; and upon the rest there fell that judicial
hardening--that reversal of their true relation to God--which Moses and
Isaiah already discerned in the chosen people[3]: an abiding {61}
stupor, and deafness, and blindness, with regard to God's purpose and
will for them.  David too, as God's righteous servant, demands, as a
divine requital upon his bitter and cruel enemies, that their very
abundance should betray them into captivity and prove their
stumblingblock; that their spiritual vision should be lost and their
backs bent downward to the ground.  Which is just what has happened to
Israel through their rejection of the Son of David.

The bulk of the people then has stumbled.  But we must not exaggerate
what has happened.  As it is not all of them who have stumbled, so also
it is not for ever.  Their stumbling is not equivalent to a final fall.
Already we can perceive how it may be reversed.  The refusal of the
Jews to recognize the Christ has been the occasion for a turning to the
Gentiles.  Thus the salvation of the Christ has come to them.  And this
has happened in the divine providence in order that, as Moses
anticipated, they may in their turn provoke the Jews to jealousy--to a
jealous determination not to lose their old {62} privileges.  Thus if
even the transgression of Israel has proved the occasion for enriching
the world as a whole, if even the deficiency of Israel (leaving vacant
space, as it were, in the Church) has proved the occasion for enriching
the Gentiles, how much more enrichment is to be expected when the
chosen people are recovered in their full number?

I say then, Did God cast off his people?  God forbid.  For I also am an
Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God did
not cast off his people which he foreknew.  Or wot ye not what the
scripture saith of Elijah[4]? how he pleadeth with God against Israel,
Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine
altars: and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what saith the
answer of God unto him?  I have left for myself seven thousand men, who
have not bowed the knee to Baal.  Even so then at this present time
also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  But if it
is by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.
What then?  That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but
the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened: according as it
is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not
see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day.  And David

  Let their table be made a snare, and a trap,
  And a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:
  Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see,
  And bow thou down their back alway.

I say then, Did they stumble that they might fall?  God forbid: but by
their fall salvation _is come_ unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them
to jealousy.  Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their
loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

1.  We learn a little more exactly about St. Paul's doctrine of
election in this chapter.  God's final purpose for good is, as we shall
see at the end of the chapter--and in what sense we shall have to
consider--upon all men whatsoever.  But this universal purpose is
worked out through special 'elect' instruments.  Thus God recognized[5]
Israel beforehand, i.e. in His eternal counsels, as the people to bear
His name in the world.  This was the selection of Israel, and was an
act of which the initiative was wholly on God's side.  It was a pure
act of the divine favour.  This 'selection of grace' was upon Israel as
a whole, but at later stages of the history, frequently enough, owing
to the disobedience and apostasy of the majority, it is found to rest
in an effective sense only upon a 'remnant' whom God has reserved for
Himself, because they have not utterly refused to {64} correspond to
the original and continuous call of the divine grace.  For the rest
their privileges become the occasion of their fall: their light becomes
their darkness.  For judgement always and inevitably waits upon any
form of misused privilege.  Thus, when the Christ came, only an elect
remnant of the nation welcomed Him.  The rest fell under judgement.
But God overrules even this apostasy.  He takes the opportunity of the
absence of those who should have been at the marriage supper of the
king's son, to fill the great vacancy from the Gentile world.  They are
brought within the scope of the selecting call.  But God's original
vocation is still irrevocably upon apostate Israel.  The new Gentile
converts are to stimulate them to recover their lost privileges.  Their
wilfulness and obstinacy is to give place to humility and faith; and
Jew and Gentile all together are to constitute the elect catholic

This is very simple and cheerful teaching.  It leaves for us to
consider later the question whether God's original and special vocation
resting upon the Jews is finally to _constrain_ them all to conversion,
and whether in the same way His ultimate purpose of salvation for all
men is to take place infallibly in all cases.  This {65} question is
still to be considered.  But at any rate the doctrine of election has
lost all that gave it a colouring of arbitrariness and injustice and
narrow sympathies.

We ought to notice in the above passage how St. Paul, in recalling the
continual obstinacy and hardening of the majority of the chosen people,
is following on the lines of St. Stephen's speech (Acts vii. 51).

2.  The imprecatory psalms are, especially in our Anglican public
services, a great stumblingblock to many--especially the 69th (here
cited by St. Paul) and the 109th.  These psalms do not represent barely
the cry of an individual sufferer invoking God's curse upon his private
enemies.  The sufferer, who is the psalmist, or with whom at least the
psalmist identifies himself, represents afflicted righteousness.  It is
God's people, His 'servant' and 'son' according to the language of the
Old Testament, that is under persecution from the enemies of God.  And
he calls upon God to vindicate Himself by punishing the adversary; to
let it be seen that His word and promise is truth.  'How long, O God,
holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge?'  Even from this point
of view, however, when with the assistance {66} of the modern critics
we have in the main purged away the element of private vindictiveness,
these psalms no doubt remain with the stamp of narrowness and
bitterness upon them.  They have none of the larger New Testament sense
that the worst enemies of the Church may be converted and live: that
our attitude towards all men is to wish them good, purely good and not
evil, even though it be under the form of judgement: 'Rejoice when men
revile you and persecute you'; 'Bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you'; 'That by
your good works which they shall behold, they may glorify God in the
day of visitation.'

But granted the limitation and bitterness still remaining in these
psalms, their citation in the New Testament shows us what is for us the
right use of them.  They are by implication taken up--where we should
least expect them--into the mouth of the Son of Man[6].  That is to
say, it is His enemies on whom the judgements are imprecated.  There is
a wrath of the Lamb.  There is a divine sword of judgement which
proceeds out of His mouth.  He, the administrator of the righteousness
of God, {67} expects from His Father judgement on His enemies.  It is
not necessarily, as St. Paul here indicates, final judgement: the
judgement upon the Jews was not yet that; but judgement of some
sort--temporal or final--upon His wilful adversaries, the Son expects
of the Father.  And we men, as we repeat these psalms, are, like the
first Christians in face of the suicide of Judas, to identify ourselves
with the divine righteousness and accept the law of just retribution.
This is the deepest and truest sense in which we can still say the
imprecatory psalms; and in these days of a philanthropy that often
lacks the stern savour of righteousness, it is very necessary that we
should make this sense our own.

[1] Three times--1 Sam. xii. 22, Ps. xciv. 14, xcv. 3 (in the
Greek)--the promise occurs 'The Lord will not cast away His people.'

[2] The vocation and election which made Israel the chosen people were
absolutely of God.  What distinguished the faithful remnant from the
bulk of the nation was simply that they had not altogether failed in
faith, so that the unchanging election was not in their cases
practically suspended, but God 'reserved them for Himself.'

[3] St. Paul refers chiefly to Isa. xxix. 10--the description of a
besotted people whose prophets are eyes that cannot see, and their
seers ears that cannot hear; so that the word of God has become as a
sealed book; cf. also Isa. vi. 9.  But there is a similar passage in
Deut. xxix. 4, which partly moulds his language, and supplies the words
'unto this day.'

[4] Rather, as margin, in Elijah, i.e. the passage of Scripture about

[5] This--to recognize or mark out beforehand--is the meaning of divine
'foreknowing' in St. Paul.  See vol. i. pp. 317 f.

[6] Both in this passage and in Acts i. 20.


DIVISION IV.  § 5[1].  CHAPTER XI. 13-36.

_God's present purpose for the Jews through the Gentiles: and so for
all humanity._

St. Paul would not have it supposed that, in his zeal for the recovery
of Israel, he was proving faithless to his vocation as the apostle of
the Gentiles.  On the contrary, he explains (assuming the Roman
Christians to be Gentiles in the mass) that he is, by this very zeal,
fulfilling that vocation.  The conversion of the Gentiles was meant to
react as a stimulus on the Jews.  When St. Paul magnifies his Gentile
ministry, he does so always with the motive of stinging the jealousy of
his own people, and so bringing some of them to salvation.  How can
such a consummation be too eagerly desired?  For if even so pitiable an
event as their rejection has yet, in God's providence, been overruled
for {69} a good end--the bringing back of the outside world into the
fellowship of God[2]: can we doubt that so happy an event as their
recovery would be indeed (what Ezekiel saw in vision in the valley of
the dry bones) a veritable resurrection?  For the consecration of God
is still upon them.  The holy (i.e. consecrated) people they still
remain.  As the 'heave offering' of the 'first of the dough'[3]
consecrates the whole lump, so the first of the nation offered to
God--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--have consecrated the whole nation.  The
holiness of the root of God's olive tree[4] has passed to the latest
branches.  It is quite true that some of these branches of the Jewish
olive tree were broken off, and that the Gentiles were introduced in
their place; like a wild olive grafted upon the root of a cultivated
plant, and so sharing its rich sap.  But that--to let the metaphor
continue--gives the wild olive no ground for an insolent contempt of
the branches which naturally belonged to the tree.  What advantage it
now has it wholly derives from that which it is {70} affecting to
despise.  It is the root that supports it, not it the root.  And are
the Gentiles disposed to argue that these rejected Jewish branches were
broken off in order that they might take their place; and that they,
the Gentiles, are thus plainly preferred by God to the Jews?  The
answer is plain.  Why were they broken off?  Because they would not
maintain the correspondence of faith with the purpose of God; and it is
simply by maintaining this attitude that the newly introduced Gentiles
can hope to retain their place.  They had better exhibit, not a
groundless pride, but a reasonable fear.  Is God likely to be more
sparing towards them than towards His first chosen?  God has displayed
before their eyes both His attributes of severity and goodness, and
they must take note of both.  At the present moment it is severity
towards Jews, goodness towards Gentiles.  Yes, goodness towards
Gentiles; but so long only as they abide faithfully in His goodness, no
longer.  When they fail of faithfulness, they too, like their Jewish
predecessors, shall be cut off.  And, on the other hand, when those
Jews change their attitude, and their hardness melts and faith returns,
they shall be recovered and reingrafted into the old olive tree.  If
God {71} could graft into it branches cut out of an alien and inferior
stock, how much more easily can He reingraft into it what is really
part of its very self?

Here then we have a real disclosure of a divine secret[5], to which the
Gentiles would do well to keep their eyes open, lest (like the Jews
before them) they mistake for wisdom their own self-conceit.  The
hardening of the Jews has been used by God as an opportunity for the
gathering in of the full number of the nations of the earth; and that
with the further purpose that, when the nations are gathered in, Israel
in all its completeness should be recovered too.  And so shall be
fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy of a redeemer from Zion, who should restore
Israel, and of a new covenant with them, based on a fresh forgiveness
of their sins[6].  Thus if we think of the actual relation of the Jews
to the present preaching of the Gospel, we must think of them as God's
enemies, and as having by their very enmity secured the Gentiles their
opportunity; but if we think of them in relation {72} to God's eternal
choice, they still must appear as sharing the divine love which rests
on the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God's gifts and vocation
do not admit of being repented of and recalled.  Thus we know what to
expect.  As the Gentiles passed out from disobedience under the divine
compassion through the opportunity afforded by the disobedience of the
Jews; so now the divine compassion which rests on the Gentiles is
intended (by stimulating the Jews to recover their lost privileges) to
prove the means of recovering them too out of their disobedience into
the shelter of the divine compassion which is the common heritage of
all.  We see, in fact, all men in turn shut up in disobedience to God,
as in a prison house: it is God who has so shut them up; but it is done
in view of the largest and most compassionate purpose which can be even
conceived.  It is done that (when men have become wearied of their own
wilfulness, and have experienced their own need) the divine mercy may
welcome and embrace all alike at last.

And if this is the purpose of God disclosed to us, how can we fail to
adore the fathomless resourcefulness of His wisdom in determining how
to act, and His skill in executing what He {73} has determined?  How
can we fail to recognize our utter incompetence to explore His
judgement, or track out His ways?  Like inspired men of old[7] we must
recognize that the absolute initiative is His, and our only reasonable
attitude the humblest correspondence.  Truly in counsel and operation
we have contributed to God nothing of our own: we have no claim with
which to approach Him.  He is the unique source of whatever is, and the
sole executor of whatever takes place, and the only end to which all
things tend: and to Him, therefore, alone all praise is due, and shall
be given.

But I speak to you that are Gentiles.  Inasmuch then as I am an apostle
of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry: if by any means I may provoke to
jealousy _them that are_ my flesh, and may save some of them.  For if
the casting away of them _is_ the reconciling of the world, what
_shall_ the receiving _of them be_, but life from the dead?  And if the
firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the
branches.  But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being
a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker
with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree; glory not over
the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the
root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off,
that I might be grafted in.  Well; by their unbelief they were broken
off, and thou standest by thy faith.  Be not highminded, but fear: for
{74} if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare
thee.  Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that
fell, severity; but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in
his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if
they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is
able to graft them in again.  For if thou wast cut out of that which is
by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a
good olive tree: how much more shall these, which are the natural
_branches_, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye
be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen
Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel
shall be saved, even as it is written,

  There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer;
  He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
  And this is my covenant unto them,
  When I shall take away their sins.

As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching
the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.  For the gifts
and the calling of God are without repentance.  For as ye in time past
were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their
disobedience, even so have these also now been disobedient, that by the
mercy shewn to you they also may now obtain mercy.  For God hath shut
up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past tracing out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his
counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed
{75} unto him again?  For of him, and through him, and unto him, are
all things.  To him be the glory for ever.  Amen.

1.  There is a true patriotism which must at times be content to wear
the guise of disloyalty; and not even Jeremiah 'weakening the hands of
the men of war[8]' in the conflict with the power of Babylon, while all
the time his very heart was bleeding for Jerusalem, presents a more
pathetic and moving picture of such patriotism than does St. Paul as he
here shows himself to us.  While he was shaking off the dust of his
feet, as he left the synagogues to turn to the Gentiles, while he was
throwing all his tremendous energy into the apostolate of the nations,
and vindicating their cause, even to fierceness, against the narrowness
of his own nation, all the time the thought which buoyed him up was
that when the catholic church had become an established fact--when it
should have become plain, even to Jewish eyes, that the elect people of
God is now a fraternity of all nations, and not their own race
only--then it could not fail to happen, that the members of the ancient
people, finding themselves in their turn 'alienated,' 'strangers,' and
'far off,' while {76} they knew so well, and needed so deeply, the
fellowship of the covenant, should be stimulated to resume their former
privileges.  Surely then at last Israel 'should remember her way and be
ashamed,' and 'receive' her Gentile 'sisters,' though they had been to
her as 'Sodom and Samaria,' and though they were now given to her for
'daughters, but not by her covenant'--not by any means on her own
terms[9].  All the time that St. Paul is fighting Judaism and
vindicating Catholicism, laying down the lines of the great church of
the nations, this is the vision that cheers him--an Israel, penitent,
humbled, worshipping the Christ whom she had crucified, and therefore
welcomed back again with the honour due to her great memories and her
inextinguishable vocation.  But we notice by the way, as throwing an
unmistakable light on the circumstances of Roman Christianity, that
while St. Paul thus shows his own Jewish feeling, he speaks to the
Roman Christian as in the mass Gentile[10].

2.  If so miserable an event, one so revolting to the divine heart, as
the apostasy of Israel, had yet in the determinate counsel and
foreknowledge of God been overruled so as to {77} become the occasion
for the calling of the Gentiles, it must needs be, St. Paul argues,
that an event so dear to the heart of God as the recovery of Israel,
would have a result even more blessed, nothing less than 'life from the
dead.'  What does this last expression mean?  Does St. Paul mean that
when once the chosen people was recovered into a really catholic
church, there would be no further delay--the consummation would be
reached, the resurrection of the dead which is to accompany the
(second) coming of the Christ would take place at once?  This thought
would be very natural to St. Paul, and thoroughly agreeable to the old
Messianic expectation; and it would give, as nothing else gives so
well, the needed climax to the sentence.  Moreover it cannot be said
that the idea of the resurrection was not intimately associated among
Christians with the return of the Christ in glory.  But, on the other
hand, nowhere else does St. Paul speak of 'the resurrection' so
absolutely and without explanation as the goal of all things; and, if
he had meant so to speak of it here, he would surely have said '_the_
resurrection,' and not used the vaguer expression 'life from the dead.'
As he has used this we must interpret it in terms {78} of Ezekiel's
vision[11]: the recovery of Israel will be nothing less than a case of
dead men coming to life again, of dry bones revivified.  The only
drawback to this interpretation is--what need not trouble us much--the
failure of rhetorical climax.  This revival of dead Israel is hardly a
greater thing than the reconciliation of an alienated world.  And,
though it would improve the rhetorical climax to interpret the phrase
as meaning that the whole catholic church would have new life put into
it by Israel's recovery, and though we should expect this idea to prove
true, yet I do not think it is natural to introduce it here.

3.  St. Paul's language--'beloved for the fathers' sake,' 'if the root
be holy, so are the branches'--comes very close to the current Jewish
language about 'the merits of the fathers,' and yet is deeply
distinguished from it.  The Jews as represented in the Talmud--and the
belief goes back to St. Paul's time[12]--believed that no prayer was so
effective as that which was offered in the name of 'the fathers.'
Thus: 'How many prayers did Elijah speak on Mount Carmel that fire
might fall from heaven, and he was not heard; but when he mentioned
{79} the name of the dead, and called Jehovah the God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, then at once he was heard.  So was it in the case of Moses.
When the Israelites had accomplished that bad work, Moses stood up and
spoke for their justification forty days and forty nights, and was not
heard.  But when he mentioned the dead, he was at once heard....
Therefore as the living vine supports itself on a dead stock (i.e.
grows out of a stock dry and seemingly dead), so Israel lives and
supports itself on the fathers since they are dead[13].'  The
individual Israelite, moreover, could supply his own deficiencies in
righteousness out of the treasury of merits which belonged to him in
virtue of his descent from the common fathers of the race, or the holy
progenitors of his own family.  In other words the Israelites in
various ways and senses depended for salvation on having 'Abraham to
their father.'  And it has already appeared sufficiently how dangerous
this belief was; and how utterly St. Paul, like Ezekiel[14] and John
{80} the Baptist before him, repudiated this idea of genealogical and
traditional merit as a ground of confidence before God.

On the other hand, this belief in the transference of merit was based
on a true idea of the organic unity of the race.  The Jewish race was
bound up into one with its great progenitors; and it is these men who
are its true representatives.  They show what their race can be and is
meant to be, and along what lines it is meant to move.  Their election
and walk with God laid a consecration on all who came after them; as
St. Paul elsewhere says that the children of a Christian parent in a
mixed marriage are holy, i.e. have a consecration laid upon them by
their partly Christian parentage[15].  The patriarchs exhibit Israel as
God means it to be.  And God, so to speak, cannot forget that every
Israelite is a child of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and that in their
faith and religion lies his possibility and his glory.

Thus stated, the idea of the 'communion of saints' in the Jewish race
is nothing else than a ground of hope, and a stimulus to recovery.  And
the idea admits at once of being transferred to the catholic Israel, as
in fact its Jewish {81} parody has, at certain periods, been only too
fully and fatally transferred.  I say, the true idea admits of being
transferred.  We belong to the same body as the apostles and martyrs,
the virgins and saints, the Jewish patriarchs and prophets also.  Their
possibilities are ours.  Their God is our God for ever and ever.  And
God looks on us as in one body with them.  We too are beloved for these
our fathers' sakes.  And they too, we cannot doubt, are conscious of
our fellowship with them, and if we are trying to live in the same
spirit with them, we must believe, all the limitations of our knowledge
notwithstanding, that they are supporting and helping us, as in Christ
our sympathetic advocates and allies.

4.  The metaphor of the olive and the grafting is intelligible enough
without explanation.  We know how often the olive and the vine are
taken in the Old Testament and in other Jewish writings--as in the
passage just quoted from the Talmud--for a symbol of Israel; we must
frankly recognize that St. Paul, apparently in forgetfulness and not by
design, accommodates the physical process of grafting to its spiritual
counterpart; for in physical fact, of course, the ingrafted shoot
(which represents the Gentiles), {82} and not the stock upon which it
is grafted (which represents the Jews), would determine the character
and produce of the tree: but when this is once recognized it may be
forgotten, and the metaphor is as intelligible to us as if the physical
process of grafting were really as St. Paul represents it.

5.  As we read the words, 'And so all Israel shall be saved,' we cannot
help asking ourselves--Does St. Paul mean us to believe this of all
Israelites without exception, or even of Israel in general with an
absolute necessity?  I think the answer should be a negative in both
cases[16].  Just above St. Paul says, looking at the matter from the
side of Israel, 'They also, _if they continue not in unbelief_, shall
be grafted in.'  Here he is looking at the matter from the side of God.
It lies in the divine purpose that the establishment of the catholic
church, and the experience of alienation on the part of the Jews,
should stimulate them to regain their ancient privileges on a new
basis; 'and so,' looking at the matter from the point of view of the
divine intention, 'all Israel shall be saved.'  Just below, from the
same point of view, it is stated to be God's purpose {83} 'to have
mercy upon all men.'  But, in interpreting this latter passage, we are
doing violence to what St. Paul says elsewhere with emphatic
distinctness, if we imagine that he asserts that all individual men
without exception shall ultimately attain the end of their being and
the fellowship of God.  In these passages, as elsewhere, St. Paul looks
at things from two points of view, without attempting to present us
with a harmony of them.  From one point of view we have spread out
before us the 'mystery,' or revealed secret of God, and discern the
purpose of His love working on, and finding its opportunities even in
the gravest moral disasters.  From the other point of view we detect
human wilfulness, able in a measure, but never completely or on the
whole, to baffle and thwart the divine purpose.  St. Paul, I say, is
content to recognize both points of view, and not to hold them in
complete combination.  He uses the perception of the divine purpose--in
this case, the recovery of the Jews--as a motive for hope and
thankfulness and renewed energy; but he does not, apparently, ask
himself the metaphysical questions whether God foreknows how particular
individuals or groups of men will act, or, if we must say that God does
so foreknow how each {84} man will act, how this is reconcilable with
his moral freedom.  He is content to adore the divine purpose, and rest
upon it; and recognize, on the other hand, the thwarting power of human

From the point of view of God's patiently loving purpose, then, a great
and fresh opportunity is being prepared for the recovery of the whole
of Israel, when 'the times of the Gentiles' are fulfilled and the
Church stands really catholic before their eyes.  Just in the same way,
in the larger field of all mankind, the purpose of God is at work
through all rejections, and all judgements of hardening, to convince
all men of their need of God, and so prepare their hearts 'that he
might have mercy upon all.'  But from the other point of view God
respects human freedom.  Thus over against the divine purpose stands
the ambiguous human 'if'--'if they continue not in their unbelief.'

This ambiguous human element is a prominent feature in Old Testament
prophecy, though there too the thwarting power of man's perverseness is
limited.  If not in one way then in another, if not through one set of
agents then through others--on the whole the purpose of God finds its
sure way to accomplishment.


      *      *      *      *      *

_Retrospect over the argument_

And now that we have given all the pains we can to entering into the
spirit of these chapters, may we not say that they have become no
longer repellent but deeply attractive?  Where could we find a more
liberating outlook over the wide purpose of God in redeeming the world?
Sin is a stern fact, and demands stern dealing to overcome it by moral
discipline.  Men of all sorts must be brought to realize their need of
God, utterly to expel the false dream of independence, and humbly to
welcome the unmerited bounty of the divine 'mercy,' the free gift of
pardon and new life.  This then is the way in which the fundamental
purpose of God for man shows itself in a world of sin; it is by a
discipline preparing men to welcome a divine mercy of which they have
learnt to know their need.  'That he may have mercy upon all'--this is
the generous end upon which all the divine dealings with men converge.
The Jews by one kind of discipline while they still were standing
together as the elect people of God, and by another when, having
rejected the Christ and fallen out of their religious leadership, they
were to be stirred to {86} jealousy by the spectacle of a divine
fellowship from which they were excluded: the Gentiles by a different
sort of discipline, and each separate race by its own; nay more, every
individual, Jew and Greek, Englishman or Hindoo, by a distinctive
personal chastening, in as many ways as man is various and God is
resourceful: all men are so to be dealt with as that all men shall be
brought to confess themselves to be as they are in God's sight, and
surrender themselves to Him to be refashioned after the divine image.
Through all national and personal vocations realized, by which human
character is educated: through all national and personal humiliations,
which are divine judgements by which human character is corrected and
made docile: God's untiring patience and forbearance, in sternness and
in love, works on to the one universal end--that He might have mercy
upon all.  The uttermost and most pitiable collapse, even the imminence
of death itself, may be, nay certainly in God's intention is, His
remedy for human wilfulness: a means by which--

  'God unmakes but to remake the soul
  He else made first in vain, which must not be[17].'

{87} --must not be, that is, so far as the resourcefulness of divine
love, going all lengths short of destroying the fundamental moral
choice of the soul, can avail to prevent it.  This teaching of St. Paul
suggests a wonderful way of reading human history, and inspires us with
the right sort of patience and hopefulness in our attitude towards the
wider problems of missionary work and our own dealings with
individuals.  The races to whose conversion we would fain minister seem
so immovable and so indifferent.  The men and women whom we would fain
help seem so hardened or so weak.  But 'the gifts and callings of God'
within them and about them, 'are without repentance.'  God's remedies
for them are not yet exhausted.  We therefore have a right to hope and
labour on, 'never despairing[18].'

And where is a nobler presentation to be found than here of the idea of
divine election?  That in the great household of the world there are
magnificent and (comparatively, at least) ignominious vocations among
races and individuals; {88} that some men are born for the top, and
other men for the bottom of society; that there are 'honourable' and
'dishonourable' limbs in the body of humanity, the latter fulfilling
their necessary function no less than the former, is an indisputable
fact.  It is no use challenging it, any more than any other fundamental
law of the universe.  And, if we can see why certain races and certain
individuals are fitted for certain tasks, yet on the whole we can
advance but a very little way in seeing the reason of human
inequalities as in fact they exist.  All that lies in the inscrutable
and free counsels of God, and the responsibility is--in spite of the
modifying effects of human sin--ultimately His[19].  But in St. Paul's
treatment of it, the recognition of the fact that God works universal
ends through selected races and individuals, is robbed of all that
ministers to pride and narrowness in the elect, or to hopelessness and
a sense of injustice in the rest.

The New Testament writers in general would teach us that with God is no
respect of persons; {89} so that the lowest vocation may result in the
highest glory, where it is faithfully fulfilled, and the highest
vocation, misused, in the deepest degradation; but St. Paul in
particular makes us feel the humbling responsibility which attaches
necessarily to any state of election.  The Jews failed because they
lacked the faith and docility which would have enabled them to
correspond to God's larger leading.  The time came when God who had,
'through the Jews, prepared the Christ for the world,' had also,
'through the Gentiles, prepared the world for Christ'; but the Jews
were ready neither to welcome the Christ, nor to 'receive' the world.
Thus the richest ministry ever vouchsafed to a race was waiting for the
Jews, and they proved false to it, because they had turned their
privileges into an occasion for pride and selfishness, and would not
learn the new truth or rise to the new opportunity.

Here is a serious warning to the 'elect' of every age.  How often has
the church at large, or a national church, refused the call to
expansion, and lost some rich part of its heritage because it was
self-satisfied, and therefore blind?  How often does a 'good catholic'
fail to recognize that he is utterly misusing the gifts of grace, {90}
if his Catholicism does not mean a generous and self-sacrificing desire
to win the lost and save the world?  How often has the profession of
being 'saved' put an end to spiritual growth and the struggle with sin?
How many religious orders and societies have lived on the reputation of
the past, and appeared to fancy that the achievements of their
founders--'the merits of the fathers'--would justify the apathy and
carelessness of those who had inherited an honourable name?  Indeed, to
whatever we are elect--whether national, or ecclesiastical, or personal
privileges--the temptation dogs us to rest on our inherited merits and
have no open ear to the guiding voice of God, as it calls us to fresh
ventures and renewed sacrifices, like those which laid the basis of the
position of which we now make our empty or insolent boast.  But thus to
evade the uncomfortable requirements of the present by an appeal to the
achievements of the past--whether it be the past of catholic tradition
or 'the Reformation settlement'--is to expose ourselves inevitably to
divine condemnation.

Those who keep the open ear are the 'remnant' in every age and church
and nation.  They are the men who refuse to 'make the word of God {91}
of none effect,' because of the blinding, deadening force of social
tradition.  They are alive and awake to 'buy up the opportunity,' as it
presents itself.  And for such St. Paul's teaching, inherited from the
prophets, of the function of the remnant is full of encouragement.  The
Bible is a book contemptuous of majorities.  The mass of men,
conventional, easily satisfied, self-centred, accomplish nothing,
redeem and regenerate nothing.  But those who have ears to hear have
every motive, though they be few in number, to live at the highest
level possible, and believe to the full that the purpose of God can be
realized.  God's purpose can work, and has in history worked, through
small minorities, through single individuals.  They are the true
representatives of their church, their nation, their class.  And when
the inner history of any epoch comes to be known, while the inert mass
of people, 'important' or 'unimportant,' is lost in the dim background,
they will be seen distinctive in the foreground: the real movement of
God in history, the real witness of the truth, the real spiritual
succession of the kingdom of God, will be seen to have been carried on
through them for the enriching of the whole world.

I would add two reflections on subordinate, {92} but still important
points.  It is the function of the catholic church to let its light so
shine before men that it shall 'provoke to jealousy,' by the manifest
presence of God in the midst of it, the ancient and now alienated
people, the Jews.  At the moment, with the anti-semite cry strong
throughout Europe, and on the morrow of the 'affaire Dreyfus,' these
words ring with a bitter irony.  And in our own East London how utterly
unlikely it is that the spectacle of our Christianity should make the
Jews feel that Christian society cannot but be divine!  Indeed, the
unfulfilled debt Christendom owes to the Jews is appalling.  That
ancient and indomitable race retains, with all its faults, its
close-knitting sense of brotherhood, its faith, its frugality, its
industry, its patience, its heroism.  We are meant to show it the
greater glories of the New Covenant, the splendour of the purity, the
unworldliness, the expansiveness, the love of the brotherhood of
Christ.  And we do show it--what?  Is there that in our common
Christianity, as they see it, which should obviously make Judaism
ashamed of itself?  Could St. Paul, looking at our Christendom, have
expected 'all Israel to be saved' by the spectacle of a catholic
church?  These are considerations {93} which indeed should drive us to
bitter penitence and earnest prayer.

Finally, before we leave these chapters, we shall do well to look
steadily at St. Paul's habit of mind in dealing with antithetic or
complementary truths.  No one could believe with a more glorious
conviction than St. Paul in the dominance of the purpose of God in the
world: in the certainty of the accomplishment of what God has
predestined.  If the very rejection of the Christ by the Jews was
turned into an opportunity for the conversion of the Gentiles, what
crime can be too great for the divine wisdom to overrule it for good?
No one, on the other hand, could realize more deeply the responsibility
which lies upon men: their strange power to correspond with God, or
partly thwart His purpose for them and through them.  My point is only
this: he is true to both sides of an antithesis, even though the exact
relationship and interworking of the twin truths is necessarily and
finally obscure.  He refuses to be one-sided at the requirement of an
incomplete human logic.  It has been often pointed out, and in many
directions, how prone we all are to take up with one side of
truth--with predestination or free-will, with the divinity or the
manhood {94} of Christ, with the unity or the trinity of the Godhead,
with sacraments or conversion, with authority or personal judgement;
and if we are intellectually disposed, we call our one-sidedness 'being
logical.'  But we had better let St. Paul teach us once for all that
impartiality is a greater thing than this cheap logic; even as Church
history teaches us that a sharp-witted but one-sided zeal for truth is
one main cause of bitterness, narrowness, and schism.

[1] I follow, by preference, the paragraphs of the R.V., unless there
is very strong reason to the contrary.

[2] Cf. 2 Cor. v. 19, 'God was in Christ reconciling the world unto

[3] Num. xv. 20, 21.

[4] 'The Lord called thy name A green olive tree.'  Jer. xi. 16; Hos.
xiv. 6.

[5] On 'mystery,' see _Ephesians_, p. 73.  It means a divine secret
disclosed to the elect.

[6] Isa. lix. 20, according to the Greek, and xxvii. 9.  Cf. Ezek.
xxxvi. 25, 26.

[7] Isa. xl. 13.  Cf. Job xxxviii. 4; xli. 11; Wisd. ix. 13.

[8] Jer. xxxviii. 4.

[9] Ezek. xvi. 61.

[10] See above, vol. i. 3.

[11] Ezek. xxxvii.

[12] See my _Ephesians_, pp. 258 ff.

[13] Quoted, with much other illustrative matter, by Weber, _l.c._, pp.
293 ff.  The fancy is based on 1 Kings xix. 36; Exod. xxxii. 13.  Cf.
on Cant. i. 5, 'I am black but comely'--'The congregation of Israel
speaks: I am black through mine own works, but lovely through the works
of my fathers.'

[14] Ezek. xiv. 14.

[15] 1 Cor. vii. 14.

[16] 'All Israel,' in 1 Kings xii. 1, 2 Chron. xii. 1, Dan. ix. 11,
means 'Israel in general.'

[17] These words (which in their full sense seem to go beyond what we
have a right to say) occur in Browning's _Ring and the Book_.  It is
the Pope's final reflection, when he condemns Guido to death, that his
execution may be the one chance for his spiritual recovery--

  'In the main criminal I see no chance
  Except in such a suddenness of fate.'

[18] Luke vi. 35, or 'despairing of no man,' marg. R.V.

[19] We hold, therefore, with regard to the lots of men in this world,
exactly the opposite of what Plato suggested under the impulse of the
doctrine of transmigration, 'It is the man's own choice, God is



_Practical Exhortation._

We must almost all of us, in climbing some high hill, have experienced
the necessity for two distinct efforts, the second more or less
unanticipated.  We started to climb to the apparent summit, only to
find, when we got there, that it was no real summit at all, but a
prominent spur, and that a second climb was required of us before we
were really at the top.  An intellectual experience not unlike this is
the lot of the student of the Epistle to the Romans.  The apparent
climax of the epistle is the end of chapter viii, and the student at
starting expects his brain to be chiefly taxed in following the closely
knit argument which is to lead him thither.  But he reaches it only to
find another like effort of mind required of him in grasping the
meaning of the section (chapters ix-xi) in which St. Paul is occupied
in justifying God's dealings with the chosen people.  But now,
intellectually speaking, his work is almost over.  {96} As the climber,
seated on the summit of the hill when at last it is gained, lets his
eye range over a rich and wide prospect, and takes in its vastness and
variety, or traces below him the delightful descent: so it is with the
reader of this epistle who has entered sincerely into the spirit of St.
Paul.  His intellectual scruples as to the divine dealings have been
just laid to rest; before that his mind had been convinced, and his
heart and will attracted and won, by the unfolding of the divine
righteousness, that is to say of the free grace and love of God.  And
now, proportionate to the greatness of the effort by which this
satisfaction of intellect and heart and will has been won, is the joy
of expansion which remains--the joy of the surrendered mind in
appreciating all that is practically possible for it in the light of
the love of God.  'I will run the way of thy commandments, because thou
dost enlarge my heart,' that is, expand it with a sense of liberty and
joy[1].  'All things are ours,' if but once in completeness of
self-surrendering faith 'we are Christ's' as assuredly 'Christ is
God's[2].'  'I can do all things in Christ that strengtheneth me[3].'

[1] Ps. cxix. 32.  See Driver's _Parallel Psalter_, Oxford (1898).

[2] 1 Cor. iii. 21-3.

[3] Phil. iv. 13.



_Self-surrender in response to God._

And first of all the general attitude of mind is defined, which it
befits us to adopt towards God as He has now revealed Himself to us.
It is the response of entire self-surrender--the response of sacrifice
to sacrifice.  St. Paul 'beseeches,' or rather 'encourages,' or
'summons' the Roman Christians, using for his motive power[1] all the
rich store of divine compassions which he has just been occupied in
disclosing or explaining to them, to make the only response really
possible to such an exhibition of divine love; and that is to present
themselves in sacrifice to God.  What God asks is not dead victims but
living men, in body as well as spirit consecrated to His service and
rendered acceptable in His sight: and this sort of self-oblation, {98}
on the pattern of Christ, is the only reasonable sort of divine service
for man to offer.  The transitory world, to which such an ideal is
quite alien, is indeed all around them, but they are not to suffer
themselves to be assimilated to its fleeting fashion.  Their whole
point of view is changed and become new; and this must result in so
thorough a transformation of their old worldly ways of thinking that a
new inward light will shine in their hearts, and they will be able to
discriminate and see what God's will is, and so to follow the way of

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, _which_ is
your reasonable service.  And be not fashioned according to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove
what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

This short paragraph is full of meaning, and is profoundly
characteristic of St. Paul in thought and language.

The 'therefore' is one of the great transitional 'therefores[2]' by
which St. Paul shows his constant sense of the inter-connexion of
doctrine and life: the doctrine passing by a clear logic into the
practical life, and the life drawing all its {99} practical motives
from the realities disclosed in the doctrine.  It is truly nothing
whatever but shallowness and 'shortness of thought' which can suffer us
to imagine that the Christian character--I do not say all morality, but
the Christian character--could long survive the Christian creed.

And the character of this summary exhortation shows us that any idea of
a faith which stops short of moral identification with its object is
utterly alien to St. Paul's mind.  Faith is no true Christian faith, if
it is content to receive from the Father, or from Christ, a gift which
leaves it still outside the life of God.  The faith which Christ
inspires asks for and receives nothing less than real fellowship in His
divine and human life, and that life is, in its joys as well as its
sorrows, a life of self-surrender, of sacrifice.  Thus the Christian
only welcomes the gift of pardon through Christ's sacrifice in order to
be admitted into the freedom of the dedicated life in Christ, which is
the life of sacrifice.  It is the sort of sacrifice (as St. Paul's
language indicates) which is as different as possible from any such
asceticism as is prompted by contempt of the flesh or the body, or
refusal of joy, or love of death.  It is sacrifice which seeks to
cultivate {100} into full vitality every faculty of body as well as of
mind (and that in an active society or brotherhood), in order to
consecrate all we are or can be to the service of God, and so realize
in conscious correspondence with the divine will the rational worship
for humanity.

St. Paul's words here about a 'living' as opposed to a bloody, and a
'rational' as opposed to an animal sacrifice, may be the basis on which
the eucharist, the Christian worship 'in spirit and in truth,' was
often called in early times the 'reasonable' and 'bloodless
sacrifice[3].'  And whether this be the case or no, at any rate we must
relearn the lesson that St. Augustine is for ever insisting upon, that
the eucharistic sacrifice essentially involves and implies the offering
of the Church as the body of Christ, {101} that is, the offering of
ourselves as members of the body; and we may feel profoundly thankful
that, in our service of Holy Communion, this truth has been restored to
its proper prominence, after having been, in the pre-Reformation
service, almost ignored.  'And here we offer and present unto thee, O
Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and
lively sacrifice unto thee.'  In this prayer is really the climax of
our sacrificial worship[4].

The true service of God is intelligent correspondence with the divine
will--this is perfection; and to correspond with the divine will we
must be able to know it: and this is what we can do if we are true to
the principle of our new birth, and suffer it _radically and
permanently to transform_ us and our point of view (for nothing less
than this is carried by St. Paul's expression rendered 'transform').
Negatively, this means that we must maintain our separateness from the
worldly world, to which we died at our baptism--the world of human
society as it devotes itself to its business and its pleasures, {102}
leaving God out of account[5].  For if the worldly world is suffered to
_fashion us in accordance with its shallow and transitory show_ (this
is the idea conveyed by the word rendered 'fashion'), we shall be
blinded to what our regeneration ought to have made plain to us.

[1] For the use of 'by,' cf. xv. 30; 1 Cor. i. 10 ('through' is the
same word); 2 Cor. x. 1.

[2] See further, _Ephes._ pp. 172 ff.

[3] It is more likely, however, that the phrases 'rational worship' and
'bloodless sacrifice' had an earlier Jewish origin.  They occur in _The
Testament of the XII Patriarchs_, which is apparently a Jewish document
christianized.  There the _angels_ are said (_Levi._ 3) to 'offer to
the Lord a rational odour of sweet savour and a bloodless offering.'
Philo also, as Mr. Conybeare points out to me, in several passages
describes the true sacrifices as 'bloodless': and by bloodless
sacrifices he means either the meal offerings as opposed to the animal
sacrifices (_De Anim. Sacrif._ ed. Mangey ii. 250), or truly spiritual
acts as opposed to merely outward (_De Ebreitate_, i. p. 370, cf. ii.
254).  These two ideas run easily into one another, and the earliest
uses of the expression 'bloodless sacrifice' for the eucharist have a
similar ambiguity.

[4] See further, p. 179.  I may be allowed to express the earnest
desire that we might have liberty in our Church to read _both_ of the
Post-Communion Prayers, which seem supplementary rather than
alternative to one another.

[5] See _Ephes._ p. 92.



_The community spirit._

And when St. Paul, justifying himself here, as before and later on, by
the special divine favour which has made him the apostle of the
Gentiles[1], proceeds to develop his exhortation, it appears that with
him, as with St. James[2], the form in which 'divine service' shows
itself must be love of the brethren.  To be called into the body of
Christ--the society which is bound into one by His life and spirit--is
to be called to social service, that is, to live a community life, and
to cultivate the virtues which make true community life possible and
healthy.  Of these the first is humility, which in this connexion means
the viewing oneself in all things as one truly is, as a part of a
whole.  Of the faith by which the whole body lives, a share, but only
{104} a share, belongs to each member--a certain measure of faith--and
he must not strain beyond it.  But he is diligently to make the best of
his faculty, and do the work for which his special gift qualifies him,
in due subordination to the welfare of the whole, whether it be
inspired preaching, or ordinary teaching, or the distribution of alms,
or presidency, or some other form of helping others which is his
special function.  Besides humility there are other virtues which make
the life of a community healthy and happy, and St. Paul enumerates
them, as they occur to his mind, in no defined order or completeness.
There must be sincerity in love, that is in considering and seeking the
real interest of others; there must be the righteous severity which
keeps the moral atmosphere free from taint; there must be tenderness of
feeling, which makes the community a real family of brothers; and an
absence of all self-assertion, or desire for personal prominence; and
thorough industry; and spiritual zeal; and devotion to God's service;
and the cheerfulness which Christian hope inspires; and the ready
endurance of affliction; and close application to prayer; and a love
for giving whenever fellow Christians need; and an eagerness to
entertain them when they are {105} travelling--for 'the community'
embraces, not one church only, but 'all the churches.'

Nay in a wider sense the community extends itself to all mankind, even
those who persecute[3] them.  According to his Lord's precepts, the
Christian is only to bless his persecutors.  Generally he is to be, in
the deep, original sense, sympathetic with his fellow men everywhere in
their joys and sorrows, and (to return to the Christian community) he
is to seek to let it be pervaded by an impartial kindness; and, not
thinking himself a superior person suited only for superior affairs, he
is to let the current of ordinary human needs bear him along.  He is
not to set undue store on his own opinions[4]; he is utterly to banish
the spirit of retaliation; he is deliberately to plan so to live as
that his life shall prove, not a stumblingblock, but a moral attraction
to men in general[5]; he is never to quarrel with any one if he can
possibly help it; he is completely to suppress his resentment {106}
when he is wronged, and simply to leave the matter to the wrath of God,
as indeed the law would have him do[6]; so that, by his very meekness
and returning good for evil, he may, according to the wise man's
saying, heap burning shame upon his enemy, like coals of fire[7].  Evil
is all around the Christian, and it is a strong man armed; but the
Christian has with him the forces of good which are yet stronger, and
by no passive withdrawal, but by the active exercise of good, he is to
win the victory over evil.

For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is
among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;
but so to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to
each man a measure of faith.  For even as we have many members in one
body, and all the members have not the same office: so we, who are
many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another.
And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us,
whether prophecy, _let us prophesy_ according to the proportion of our
faith; or ministry, _let us give ourselves_ to our ministry; or he that
teacheth, to his teaching; or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he
that giveth, _let him do it_ with liberality; he that ruleth, with
diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be
without hypocrisy.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is
good.  In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another;
in honour preferring one another; in diligence not slothful; {107}
fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in
tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer; communicating to the
necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.  Bless them that
persecute you; bless, and curse not.  Rejoice with them that rejoice;
weep with them that weep.  Be of the same mind one toward another.  Set
not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly.
Be not wise in your own conceits.  Render to no man evil for evil.
Take thought for things honourable in the sight of all men.  If it be
possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.  Avenge
not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord.  But if
thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in
so doing thou shall heap coals of fire upon his head.  Be not overcome
of evil, but overcome evil with good.

(1) It is the idea of corporate life which dominates all this
exhortation.  No writing in the New Testament has done more than the
Epistle to the Romans to strengthen the sense of spiritual
individuality, and to rouse the individual spirit to protest, as it
protested in Luther, against spiritual tyranny.  But it is a complete
mistake to suppose that the epistle is individualistic in tendency.
The life into which the individual's faith in Jesus admits him is the
life of a community, and its virtues are the virtues of community life.
The strengthened individuality is to go to enrich an organized society.


This is expressed in the familiar metaphor of the body which had been
employed in non-Christian thought before St. Paul identified it with
himself and Christianity by the vigorous and profound use which he made
of it[8].  The Christian community is a body bound together in a common
life by a common inspiring presence and spirit.  The divine grace and
good favour of Christ shows itself in special 'gifts' (in the Greek
this word 'charisma' expresses a particular embodiment of the general
grace, 'charis,' of God); and no individual member is without his
special endowment.  It is not a few officers of the community who are
gifted, but all; and all are to co-operate in the common life and work.
Of gifts there are various sorts which we hear of in the New Testament.
There are the official gifts, the result of what we call ordination, as
the gift which was 'in' Timothy 'by the laying on of hands.'  And those
among the Christians at Rome, who 'presided' and 'ministered,' would
have been, we should suppose, official presbyters or 'bishops,' and
deacons.  But the Roman Christians hardly constituted yet an organized
church, and we cannot tell whence such officers of {109} the community
received their appointment.  There is no ground for a positive
assertion of any kind[9].  Again we hear of special gifts, such as
powers of healing, speaking with tongues and prophesying, which
sometimes accompanied the bestowal of the Spirit, through the laying on
of hands which was given to all.  And the gift of prophesying among the
Roman Christians may have been a gift of this kind.  But St. Paul is
perhaps writing with the circumstances of the Corinthian church, rather
than those of the Roman Christians, in his mind; and we can gather but
little about the exact condition of things at the capital.  Once more,
St. Paul uses the word 'gifts' for more personal and moral endowments,
as for the bent of mind which leads men, under divine guidance, towards
celibacy or marriage[10].  But in this place he is not distinguishing.
He is hardly speaking in view of any special circumstances at Rome.  He
is but emphasizing the fact which is the basis of all the life of
Christians everywhere--the fact that each individual member of the body
has a special gift, and a special function for the good of the whole
body, by which the gift is to express itself.  What every individual
Christian has to do, {110} then, is to realize his own gift and
correspond to it.  The gift involves a certain 'measure of faith.'  The
faith of each individual Christian is the same in its basis.  It holds
him in spiritual allegiance to the same Lord, and in confession of the
same elemental creed.  But, besides this, it involves a special
insight, which is the peculiar endowment of the individual.  There is
something which each man can realize and impart, as no one else is
qualified to do.  The Church is the poorer if he holds back or fails to
stir up this gift of his own, and on the other hand he incurs the peril
of presumption if he ventures beyond it.  Even the inspired man, the
prophet, must prophesy within the limits of what his own special
proportion of faith enables him to perceive and grasp[11], even though
another prophet with a larger faith might rightly say what he may not
venture upon.  'Let each man be fully {111} persuaded in his own mind.'
For any assertion which goes beyond what the faith of the individual
enables him to be convinced of, is for him 'sin.'  We greatly need this
exhortation to-day.  The convictions of many are vague and uncertain,
and their teaching without heart or force, because, like parrots, they
catch up and repeat what others may have insight enough to warrant
their asserting, but they have not.  To correspond with one's own
personal gift of faith is to realize one's vocation; and, by the
development of the individual points of view, inside the common
'tradition,' the fullness and richness of the corporate faith is

The cohesion of the body lies in each one's realizing his own gift, and
also reverencing that of others.  Here is humility.  Humility is not
self-contempt, or cringing to others.  To realize one's own gift, one's
own relation to God, gives to each man a dignity, a power to stand
upright and face the world.  The sovereign Master and Giver has given
me my own life and my own gifts.  He is responsible for the existence
which He gave me, and I am not to shame Him by shrinking from making
the best of it.  But also humility is, in all relations, truth about
ourselves.  It is truth about ourselves as regards God, who {112} is
simply the giver of whatever we have and are; and it is truth about
ourselves as regards our fellow men--our own gifts being justly
appraised only when they are regarded as means of serving the body as a
whole, without any self-aggrandizement, with a due respect to the gifts
of others, and even a positive will to let them have higher place than

Indeed we shall do well to meditate deeply on this.  What good work is
there which is not in more or less continual danger of suffering, or
even being abandoned, because fellow Christians, zealous fellow
Christians, will plainly, and it must be wilfully, yield to the
ambition to be first: will not be content to be second or third: will
not do the unobtrusive work: will think 'How can I shine,' rather than
'How can I serve'?  In fact, how very unwilling we are to recognize, in
our ideals of education, and in our theory of grown life, that
ambition, in the strict sense of the word--the desire to obtain
distinction for ourselves, as distinct from the desire to serve--is not
a motive which Christianity can sanction, or from which it can hope for
a blessing.

We linger lovingly, wistfully, on the picture of the corporate life of
a Christian community.  Has it vanished from the earth, this real
fraternal {113} living, 'high and low, rich and poor, one with
another,' each supplementing the deficiencies of the other, and
receiving of their fullness?  May we not do something more than we are
doing to realize it in our congregations or parishes?  Is nearly enough
emphasis laid on the _social_ relationship of each congregation of
fellow worshippers or each local church?

Dimly through the mist of ages in old churchwardens' accounts, in the
rare instances where they have been preserved from days before the
Reformation, we discern what a really fraternal, self-governing and
mutually co-operative community the mediaeval English parish was.  Let
me extract a few sentences from the excellent preface[12] which Bishop
Hobhouse prefixed to an edition of the surviving _Churchwardens'
Accounts_ of a number of Somersetshire parishes.

'The (parish) community was completely organized with a constitution
which recognized the rights of the whole and of every adult member to a
voice in self-government, but kept the self-governing community under a
system of inspection and (if need should be) restraint from central
authority.'  'The whole adult population were accounted parishioners,
and had an equal voice {114} when assembled for consultation under the
rector.  Seeing that both sexes served the office of warden, there can
be no doubt that both had a vote.'

The strongly existing spirit of good will and pride in the parish
church found all the necessary funds for the maintaining of the church
and the services, and for the provision of often a sumptuous and rich
treasury of ornaments.  The needs of the Church were met generally by
the local industry of 'such as were wise-hearted'--builders,
carpenters, workers in gold and silver, bell-founders, embroiderers,
writers, illuminators, book-binders, and others.

Hard by the church the church-house was the centre of the popular
recreations of the holy day or holiday.

The parish elected and paid its own officers, except the rector, and
the affairs and ornaments of the church, even in part the arrangement
of the services, were under the government, not of the rector, but of
the parish meeting, of which he was president, under the restraining
hand of the rural dean and archdeacon.

The support of the poor or disabled was a wholly voluntary matter.
'The brotherhood tie was so strongly realized by the community, that
{115} the weaker ones were succoured by the stronger as out of a family

'All the tendency of the feudal system, working through the machinery
of the manorial court, was to _keep the people down_.  All the tendency
of the parochial system, working through the parish council, holding
its assemblies in the churches, where the people met on equal terms as
children and servants of the living God, and members of one body in
Christ Jesus, was to _lift the people up_.'  In these assemblies there
was no distinction between lord and vassal, high and low, rich and
poor; in them the people learnt the worth of being free.  Here were the
schools in which, in the slow course of centuries, they were
disciplined to self-help, self-reliance and self-respect[13].

No doubt these descriptions of mediaeval parish life represent an ideal
very imperfectly realized.  But is it not an ideal we need to recover?
Is there not a call for Church reform, both moral and formal, to
restore to us the community life of our parishes, and fill St. Paul's
language again with its primary and natural meaning?

[1] See i. 5, 11-15; xv. 15-17.

[2] Jas. i. 17.

[3] The word is the same as St. Paul has just used to describe the
eager 'pursuit' of opportunities of hospitality by the Christian.  He
'pursues' opportunities of doing good, while he is himself 'pursued' by
enemies to do him evil.

[4] Cf. xi. 25, and Prov. iii. 7.

[5] Prov. iii. 4 LXX.  'Provide things honourable in the sight of the
Lord and of man.'

[6] Deut. xxxii. 35.

[7] Prov. xxv. 21.

[8] The truth, however, which underlies the metaphor of the body is, we
may say, equally present in all the New Testament writers.

[9] See, however, p. 196.

[10] 1 Cor. vii. 7.

[11] Dr. Liddon, with many others, interprets 'according to the
proportion of _the_ faith,' i.e. according to 'the majestic proportion
of the (objective) faith.'  This is the characteristically Latin, as
against the Greek, interpretation, and the Greek is certainly to be
preferred, because 'according to the proportion of our faith' follows
naturally upon 'according as ... the measure of faith' just above;
indeed 'faith' in this context can hardly have assigned to it without
violence the objective meaning which, however, in the context of the
Pastoral Epistles it no doubt frequently bears.  Cf. app. note A, p.

[12] _Somersetshire Records_, vol. iv, 1890.

[13] Dr. Jessop, 'Parish Life in England before the Great Pillage,'
_Nineteenth Century_, Jan. 1898, p. 55; cf. also Dom Gasquet on 'The
Layman in the Mediaeval Period,' _Tablet_, Sept. 2, 1899.



_The Christians and the imperial power._

It is possible that the thought of the innocent victim of injustice and
wrong waiting upon the divine wrath, brings to St. Paul's mind the idea
of the State which exists to represent divine justice in the world, and
minister divine wrath on behalf of the innocent.  But, whether this
particular connexion of thought was really in St. Paul's mind or no, at
any rate the previous section has made it plain that the 'love of the
brethren' must extend itself to become a right relation to all men,
whether Christians or not[1].  In particular, therefore, the relation
of the Christians to the imperial authority could not fail to be a
matter which required attention and apostolic counsel.  The Jews, whose
theocratic {117} principles made submission to government by 'the
uncircumcised' at least a real abandonment of a religious ideal[2], had
always an instinctive tendency to rebellion; and the Christian church
built upon Judaism might easily have inherited this instinct.  The
catholic church of the new covenant, might have claimed to be a
theocracy like that of the old.  Especially at Rome, where the Jews
were a vast and formidable body who had recently given trouble and been
expelled[3], the attitude of the Christians, who were identified with
them, might easily be misunderstood.  Or on the other hand the Jews
themselves, at Rome as at Thessalonica[4], might represent the
Christians as disloyal to Caesar.  Moreover, apart from all unjustified
slanders, the spirit of the 'fifth monarchy men' has seldom been
altogether absent from periods of Christian enthusiasm; and the
restless and undisciplined {118} tendencies at Thessalonica[5], which
the mistaken expectation of the immediate second coming of Christ had
encouraged, were a sign that Christians might easily find it difficult
to settle down as good citizens in the great empire of the world.

St. Paul therefore, here and elsewhere, would make it quite plain that
the catholic church, if it is like the ancient Israel, is like it only
as it was in exile--when the children of Israel were bidden to be good
citizens of the Babylonian empire, and to seek the peace of the city
whither God had caused them to be carried away captive, and to pray
unto the Lord for it, for in the peace thereof they should have
peace[6].  Thus the Church was not a theocracy, but a 'settlement of
strangers and exiles[7],' waiting for the visible establishment of the
kingdom or city of God, and meanwhile maintaining a polity or ordered
social life of their own, but on a voluntary and catholic (or
non-national) basis.  Therefore, so long as God maintains 'the present
world,' they must be good citizens of whatever earthly state they
happen to live under.  On this basis, then, St. Paul reminds each
single person {119} of the duty of political loyalty.  The earthly
state is of God's establishing, as well as the kingdom of Christ, and
fulfils a divine purpose with divine authority.  It exists to suppress
moral outrage and lawlessness[8], to maintain justice and right.  Its
officers are God's ministers (as truly as the officers of the Church,
though in a different order), and must be obeyed accordingly, under
peril not only of civil punishment for disobedience, but under peril of
divine judgement also, and as a matter of conscience.  The good man,
and therefore the good Christian, has nothing to fear from the empire
or its officers.  And he will readily, and as a matter of conscience,
pay his tribute as a subject, and his taxes as a citizen, to the proper
authorities, and give to each imperial officer the respect which is his

Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no
power but of God; and the _powers_ that be are ordained of God.
Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of
God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgement.
For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil.  And
wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do {120} that which is good,
and thou shalt have praise from the same: for he is a minister of God
to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he
beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger
for wrath to him that doeth evil.  Wherefore _ye_ must needs be in
subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience
sake.  For for this cause ye pay tribute also; for they are ministers
of God's service, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render
to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute _is due_; custom to whom
custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Our Lord, by His whole bearing towards Jewish nationalism and by His
clear prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, as well as by His
particular injunction to 'render unto Caesar the things that were
Caesar's,' had made it evident to His disciples that the sceptre had
departed from Judah, and had determined the attitude of Christians
towards the empire.  They could not indeed be as other inhabitants of
the empire, for they were waiting, and praying, and working, for the
visible establishment of a city and kingdom of God on earth--little as
either the 'times and seasons,' or the character and manner, of that
city and kingdom had been revealed to them.  Thus the Roman empire
could not but be in their eyes a kingdom of this world destined for
overthrow.  But it was by the methods of meekness, and by purely
spiritual weapons, that the kingdom of {121} God was to come, and the
great overthrow, whatever it should prove to be, was to be effected.
This at least was certain; and meanwhile the Roman empire represented
the divine principle of authority and order, and must be obeyed.

St. Paul no doubt had, more than any other apostle, a real feeling for
the empire and the city of which he was a citizen.  Moreover, he saw in
the organization of the empire a great framework and vehicle for the
establishment and spread of the catholic church.  And hitherto
certainly (at least, since the fatal moment of Pilate's weakness) the
Church had continually experienced the assistance of the imperial
authorities.  It was a misused _spiritual_ authority, before which the
protest had to be made, 'We must obey God rather than man[9].'  It was
the Jewish authorities who persecuted the Church.  It was the Jewish
king who put James to death.  At Paphos, Thessalonica, Corinth,
Ephesus, the imperial authorities had been more or less friendly, and
even at Philippi they had been reduced to an attitude of apology by the
bare mention of Roman citizenship.  St. Paul's experiences, therefore,
had prepared him to 'appeal unto Caesar,' and to expect justice {122}
and freedom for himself and his cause.  Even the beginnings of the
experience of imperial hostility and persecution did not quash or even
weaken this attitude in St. Peter[10].  St. Peter and St. Paul idealize
the empire almost as if it could do no wrong, and the righteous had
nothing to fear from it.  Of course, when this expectation had been
rudely shattered--when the imperial authority had come chiefly to mean
the persecution of the saints--an opposite sort of idealism takes
place, and Rome appears as the great 'beast' of violence in the
Apocalypse of John.  Both idealizations represent truth--the truth of
what the State is meant to be on the one side, and of what it may
become on the other.  But after considerable experience of persecution,
Clement of Rome is still full of admiration for the divine order of the
imperial rule, and recognizes the duty of obedience to his 'rulers and
governors upon earth,' side by side with the duty of obedience to
'God's almighty and most excellent name'; and as it is God who has
given the rulers their authority, he prays for grace to submit to them,
and offers rich prayer for their welfare and that of the empire.  And
the spirit lived on in the Christian {123} church through all the
persecutions, and the apologists for Christianity loved to protest
their loyalty to the empire, and to think of their church as 'the soul
of the world,' maintaining it by prayer and virtue in the midst of
impiety and corruption.

In England this passage has often been put to two conspicuously
unjustifiable uses.  First, it was the stronghold of the maintainers of
'the divine right of kings' and of 'passive obedience.'  In reality it
asserts the divine right of civil authority, but not of any particular
kind of civil authority.  Indeed the government of the empire was still
nominally a republic in its fundamental forms, though it was becoming a
despotism in fact.  And supposing the senate and people had--as is of
course conceivable--reasserted their authority over their 'emperors,'
or military officers, the Christian doctrine of divine right would have
afforded no guidance as to which of the claimants to authority had the
divine will on its side.  What is barely asserted is the divine right
of the existing civil authority, democratic or regal.  And while our
passage exalts the normal duty of obedience, it suggests no answer to
the question--Is there not a point where a government so manifestly
fails to {124} maintain the divine order in the world, or to represent
the will of God and the best interests of the people, that it deserves
to be put an end to?  At such a point Christianity can only serve to
reinforce the natural instincts of justice and right.

And again, the words, 'the powers that be are ordained of God:
therefore he that resisteth the power withstandeth the ordinance of
God,' have often been used in England to justify a claim on behalf of
the State to coerce and govern the Church and the consciences of men in
spiritual matters.  But such an idea is utterly alien to the mind of
the New Testament.  In the matters which concern our spiritual
salvation, the authority which is to discipline and control us is the
binding and loosing, absolving and retaining, authority which is
entrusted not to the State, but to the Church.  Attempts are recorded
in history on the part of the State to crush out the Church, and on the
part of the Church to usurp the authority of the State and use its
weapons.  Such attempts, we trust, belong to past history.  An attempt,
too, specially identified with England, has been made to identify a
national Church and State as only different aspects of the same
society, so that the government of the national Church can be more
{125} or less fused in that of the State.  But whatever may be said of
such an attempt in the past, in our modern England the plain facts of
the political and religious situation are flatly repugnant to it; and
there can evidently be no reasonable religious government in the Church
of England till it is conducted again in obedience to the fundamental
Christian principle that our national and local Church is part of a
great catholic society, which Christ endowed with an independent
spiritual authority, and a law and constitution and ministers of its
own.  The State may need an established national church as much as ever
to enable it to fulfil its highest functions, but any 'Establishment'
in these days must be consistent with the fullest recognition of the
spiritual and political liberties of those members of the State who
belong to other religious bodies, and also must be based upon
recognition that the Church and State are fundamentally distinct, and
relatively independent societies.

But it behoves us Churchmen, not only to assert the spiritual liberties
of the Church, but also to realize a great deal more fully than we do,
the divine authority of the civil ministers and civil laws in their own
department.  The State {126} exists to embody and represent in the
world the divine justice, which is to be the basis of the government of
men.  Its ministers--magistrates, legislators, officers of justice--are
'God's ministers': laws which are passed by the State in fulfilment of
its divine mission--laws intended to maintain the health and prosperity
of the people as a whole--have a divine sanction; and we Churchmen can
only be what the Church should be, 'the soul of the world,' if we make
it a matter of conscience, a great deal more deliberately than it is at
present with most of us, to aid vigorously in the administration of the
good laws which already exist, national and municipal, and to promote
intelligently and enthusiastically the purposes of civil government by
helping towards better laws; so that our government, as a whole, may
become a continually completer image of the equitable and impartial
righteousness of God.

[1] Cf. 2 Pet. i. 7, 'In your love of the brethren supply love,' i.e.
let the temper bred inside the closer bond of Christian fellowship
extend itself universally.

[2] Deut. xvii. 15, 'Thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, which
is not thy brother.'

[3] Acts xviii. 2.  'Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from
Rome,' cf. Suetonius, Claud. 25.  'The Jews who had been persistently
breaking into disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ?) he
expelled from Rome.'  We cannot certainly explain these words, but St.
Paul knew all about the occurrence from Priscilla and Aquila, whom the
expulsion had brought across his path at Corinth.

[4] Acts xvii. 7.

[5] 1 Thess. iv. 11; v. 14; 2 Thess. iii. 6.

[6] Jer. xxix. 7; cf. 1 Tim. ii. 2.

[7] 1 Pet. i. 11.  The word for such a 'settlement of strangers,'
_paroecia_, has become, by a suggestive history, our 'parish.'

[8] Cf. 2 Thess. ii. 6.  'That which restraineth' the outbreak of
lawlessness is (almost certainly) the empire, and 'he that restraineth'
(ver. 7) the emperor.

[9] Acts v. 29.

[10] 1 Pet. ii. 13-17.



_The summary debt._

Christians are willingly to pay tribute and tax as a debt, a thing due
in God's sight to His ministers.  But this obligation is a specimen of
innumerable obligations which we owe to our 'neighbours'--debts only
limited by human need.  And the Christian is to take a wide view of his
obligations, and to let there be no legitimate claim upon him
unfulfilled, no debt unpaid, except the one which a man ought always to
be paying and still to be owing, for it is infinite--the debt of love.
Here, in loving each other man with the same real regard to his
personal interests as we devote to our own, is the satisfaction of the
moral law.  All the particular 'commandments'--those of the Second
Table, and any other there may be--are comprehended in this one.  For
love can do no harm to any other, and can therefore break no


Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his
neighbour hath fulfilled the law.  For this, Thou shalt not commit
adultery, Thou shall not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not
covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this
word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Love worketh
no ill to his neighbour: love therefore is the fulfilment of the law.

St. Paul gives here a very noticeable expansion to the idea of not
being in debt.  In its literal sense we have all of us a horror of it,
at least in theory.

  'No debtor's hands are clean
  However white they be.'

We must both let that theoretic horror of debt dominate our practice in
money matters, and also expand our idea of 'debts.'  According to
Christ's teaching, the priest and Levite did not pay their debt to
their Samaritan neighbour, because they thought him a stranger with no
claim on them.  Dives ignored his rich man's debt to Lazarus.  Of those
who are to appear on the left hand of Christ's judgement-seat, each
will be condemned because he never realized his debt to Christ in the
persons of all those who had needs to which he might have ministered.
St. Paul, as an apostle, acknowledged his debt {129} to all the Gentile
world[1], and we members of a church, catholic in idea, but as yet so
far from catholic in fact--we Englishmen, members of an imperial and
spreading race, responsible for the name of Christ all over the
world--have a portentous and lamentably unfulfilled debt to the races
of Africa and India, and to the whole world.

We can all think of manifold debts--to the lonely whom we might visit,
the misunderstood whom we might sympathize with, the ignorant whom we
might teach, the weak and oppressed whom we might support and combine,
the sinful whom we might convert and establish in good living; so many
debts to family and friends; so many debts to Englishmen and fellow
Christians, to Africans and Asiatics.  Is it not bewildering even to
attempt to realize our debts?  And yet, let a man make a beginning, and
all will be well.  Let him steadily set himself to behave towards those
whom he employs or those who employ him, towards his domestic servants
or his masters, towards railway porters and shop assistants and others
who minister to his convenience, as being men and women with the same
right to courteous treatment, and to a real opportunity to {130} make
the best of themselves, as he has himself; let him steadily refuse to
'exploit' those immediately concerned with him, or treat them as merely
means to his ends or instruments of his convenience; let him thus
realize his debts to his nearest 'neighbours,' and the whole idea of
humanity, of brotherhood, will be deepened and made real to him.
Serving the few, he will come to serve the many.  His prayers will go
before his actions, and enlarge their scope.  He will get a habit of
considerateness and thoughtfulness for others, as belonging to Christ,
which will express itself habitually towards all, and especially the
weak.  His 'neighbour' will come to mean, as in our Lord's parable and
in St. Paul's expression in this place, any 'other man[2].'  And in our
days when the old personal relations of masters to workers have been so
largely merged in the relation of companies to unions or to men and
women in masses, we shall never allow ourselves to forget that
combinations are combinations of individuals, and that neither
individual responsibility, nor responsibility for the individual, can
be obliterated by union or by numbers.

St. Paul, we notice, is here plainly {131} reproducing our Lord's
saying about love and the law[3]; and he would seem to have the
teaching of the parable about the Good Samaritan in his mind; as in the
previous section the saying 'Render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar's,' and in the end of the preceding one (xii. 14, 19) the
prohibition of vengeance and the injunction of love to enemies in the
Sermon on the Mount.  St. Paul's ethical teaching is in fact found to
be throughout based on our Lord's, whether our Lord's words were with
him in a written form or came to him simply in the oral tradition.

And we do well to remember, as we read this familiar passage, that here
is the centre and kernel of Christianity.  It is the revelation of a
new and universal duty, based on a revealed relationship of all men to
a common Father: the duty which lies upon all men of loving all men,
because God loves all men with a father's love, or rather because God
is love, and only by the life of love can we share His fellowship[4].
The {132} Christian 'enthusiasm for humanity' has thus its roots in a
disclosure of the character of God, and of His mind towards every man.

[1] Rom. i. 14.

[2] ver. 8, 'his neighbours': margin, 'the other.'

[3] Matt. xxii. 40; cf. Gal. v. 14, and James ii. 8.

[4] It has been commonly said that Christianity almost created a new
word to express the new duty.  But this now appears not to be strictly
the case.  _Agape_, love, is a word unknown indeed to classical
writers, but it is found in the popular speech of Alexandria in the
second century B.C.  See Deissmann, _Bibelstudien_ (Marburg, 1895), p.
80.  (I was referred to this work by Dr. Bernard, _Pastoral Epistles_,
p. 24.)  Hence, i.e. from the popular speech of Greek Egypt, it passed
into the Greek Bible and so into Christianity.



_The approach of the day._

And the motive for paying our debts, in this wide sense, is that we
must 'agree with our adversary quickly, while we are with him in the
way,' for the day of account is at hand.  This worldly world lies
asleep to the spiritual realities, but its short night--the time of
darkness--is nearly over.  The great deliverance is nearer to us than
when we first became Christians.  The day of the Lord is almost
dawning.  Let us see to it then that all that is only fit for the
darkness is stripped off us: that we are suitably equipped for the day,
so that when it suddenly dawns it shall not put us to shame.  Sensual
lusts and loveless passions indulged--gross sins, such as none of the
Christian communities had quite got rid of--will appear improper
conduct indeed when the sun rises.  And there is only one garment
proper for the day; it is the garment of Christ's righteousness, or
rather of Christ Himself, with whom we must invest {134} ourselves.  As
for our lower nature, it is to be our servant merely--not a master,
whose clamorous demands we are to study to satisfy.

'And this, knowing the season, that now it is high time for you to
awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we
_first_ believed.  The night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let
us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the
armour of light.  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in revelling
and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and
jealousy.  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision
for the flesh, to _fulfil_ the lusts _thereof_.

St. Paul, no doubt, was still in eager expectation of the immediate
second coming of Christ; and that expectation has proved mistaken.  Now
our Lord plainly did not mean His disciples to know when His judgement
was to be made manifest, and St. Paul apparently recognized this[1], so
that his immediate anticipation of the end can never have been part of
his faith--never more than the reflection of the eager desire which
filled the heart of the Church.  On the other hand, our Lord did mean
His disciples to go on expecting Him.  Thus {135} St. Paul's admonition
is as applicable now as ever.  The future of the world and of each
nation and institution is precarious: things which seem solid and
strong may crumble and melt; how soon God is to make plain His
judgements, in part or on the whole, we do not know; when each one of
us is to pass by death to the great account we do not know.  There is
no reasonable attitude towards the unknown coming of judgement except
to be ready, and, though the darkness of the alienated and godless
world is all around us, to live as children of the light eagerly
expecting the dawning of the day[2].

And to meet Christ we must be like Christ.  And to be like Christ we
must be in Christ, clothed with His righteousness, invested with His
new nature, fighting with the weapons of His victorious manhood.  The
'evil' which is in ourselves, the unregulated flesh, we can only
'overcome with good'--the good which is Jesus Himself: for it is no
longer we that live in our bare selves, but Christ that liveth in us.
We are baptized into Him, we possess His spirit, we eat His flesh and
drink His blood.  What remains is practically to clothe ourselves in
{136} Him[3], appropriating and drawing out into ourselves by acts of
our will His very present help in trouble.  So can we become like Him,
and be fitted to see Him as He is[4].

This passage played a memorable part in St. Augustine's life; for when
the child's voice had bidden him 'open and read,' these were the words
upon which he opened, and which sealed his conversion to the faith he
served so nobly--'not in rioting and drunkenness, ... but put ye on the
Lord Jesus Christ.'  'I had no wish,' he tells us, 'to read any
further, nor was there any need.  For immediately at the end of this
sentence, as if a light of certainty had been poured into my heart, all
the shadows of doubt were scattered[5].'

[1] 1 Thess. v. 1: 'The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the
night.'  To know this is to have answer enough to questions about the
times and seasons of the coming (v. 1).

[2] It is interesting to compare this passage with the closely similar
one of Thess. v. 1-4.  Cf. Eph. v. 14 ff.; vi. 11.

[3] Christ is 'put on' in baptism by all, Gal. iii. 27; but we all
still need to appropriate what we have received, and so 'put Him on'
for ourselves; cf. Eph. iv. 24; Col. iii. 12.

[4] See app. note G, p. 238, for an admirable prayer by Jeremy Taylor
based on this thought.

[5] _Conf._ viii. 12.



_Mutual toleration._

St. Paul's practical exhortations show no definite scheme, but flow out
of one another in a natural sequence.  He began with the fundamental
moral disposition required by life in the Christian community (xii).
He proceeded to the relation between the Christian community and the
government of the world outside (xiii. 1-7).  This led him to lay brief
and vigorous emphasis upon the universal range of Christian obligation
(8-10), and the motive which is to make Christians zealous in rising to
its fulfilment (11-14).  Now[1] he comes back to the difficulties which
arise among Christians--the difficulties in actually living together as
members of the same community--difficulties on those small points of
religious observance which seem so unimportant {138} in the abstract,
and which, in the actual experience of intercourse, prove to be so
terribly important, and so easily give rise to a 'crisis in the
Church.'  How were the reasonably-minded majority[2], who thought that
all kinds of food were morally indifferent, to behave towards the
scrupulous who would only eat vegetables?  How were those Christians,
who recognized no distinction between one day and another, to behave
towards people who still held the mind of the writer of Ecclesiasticus,
that 'some days God had exalted and hallowed, and some he had made
ordinary days[3]'?

The problem of 'lawful meats' had often been before the early
Christians.  It could not but have been so, seeing that those among
them, who had passed under Jewish influences had been brought under a
system in which the distinction between clean and unclean meats had
been rigorously observed.  True, our Lord had 'made all meats
clean[4],' as He had opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
And the vision which reassured St. Peter on the {139} latter point, and
forbade him 'to call any man common or unclean[5],' was expressed in a
form which implied that the same principle would apply to food.  But
this fundamental catholic principle, in its sharp opposition to Jewish
particularism, was not accepted without a struggle at every point.  How
hotly, for a time, the struggle raged, we dimly perceive in the
narrative of the Acts, and especially in St. Paul's Epistle to the
Galatians[6].  But at the Jerusalem conference the fundamental catholic
principle was unmistakably reaffirmed.  Gentiles were to be admitted to
brotherhood without circumcision or the keeping of the law.  Henceforth
then the reactionaries had no ground to stand on.  The law of clean and
unclean meats had gone with the rest of the Jewish laws.  But while the
Gentiles won a complete victory on the main principle, they were
required by the apostolic council to make concessions to Jewish habits
in eating, such as could not affect the main principle.  They were to
eat meat killed in the Jewish manner, with the blood thoroughly drained
out.  This in itself would probably exclude them from {140} the Gentile
shambles, where also much of the meat which was for sale would have
been offered to idols[7].  By the observance of such a concession,
then, Jew and Gentile were to live and eat together in peace.

The actual enactment of the Jerusalem conference had a limited
application to the Gentile Christians of Antioch and Syria and
Cilicia[8].  But the principle was a vital and universal one: to hold
firm the catholic or 'indifferentist' principle, but to make
concessions for love's sake and to facilitate mutual fellowship.  And
this same principle St. Paul soon had reason to apply again at Corinth.
There the problem was not--How could Jew and Gentile live and eat
together? but How far could Gentiles, who had become Christians,
associate with Gentiles who were still adherents of the old religion,
and eat their meats?  St. Paul, in answering this question for the
Corinthians, strongly asserts the indifferentist principle--that meat
of all kinds is God's gift and good, and that it can have contracted no
moral pollution through any idolatrous ceremony to which it has been
subjected.  No questions, therefore, are to be asked as to its
antecedents.  In this physical sense meats which had been {141} offered
to idols might be freely eaten.  But when such eating could do harm,
when, for instance, one man points out to another that a particular
portion of food has been part of a sacrifice, and it is plain he will
be scandalized by the eating of it, then the other must abstain[9],
restricting his own lawful liberty for charity and Christian
brotherhood's sake.

Now St. Paul had heard of a new form of the old difficulty at Rome[10].
There was a Jewish asceticism--similar to what is found frequently
among orientals, and was practised in Europe among the
Pythagoreans--which required men to abstain from animal food altogether
and from wine.  Such was probably the rule of the Essenes in
Palestine[11], as of the Therapeutae in Egypt, and such was, according
to a very early authority, the rule of St. James, the Lord's brother.
Such a practice, then, had found favour among a minority of Christians
at Rome.  And {142} St. Paul in the passage we are now to study, in
principle plainly approves of the indifferentist practice of the
majority.  He knows, and _is persuaded in the Lord Jesus_, that nothing
is unclean of itself.  It is, he implies, a weak and unduly scrupulous
conscience which makes men vegetarians.  But, on the other hand, this
weaker brother--this man with less clear perception of Christian
principle in the matter--must in no way be alienated.  He is to be made
welcome.  There is no obligation upon him to eat meat.  God laid no
such requirement upon him when he became a Christian.  'God received
him.'  The Church must continue the like liberality, and not even seek
to pronounce judgement in the matter.  In life and death each man is
Christ's servant, and is responsible to God for what he does or does
not do.  Therefore let each man simply be faithful to his own
conscience before God in this matter, so that whatever he eats he can
'say his grace,' or 'give thanks,' with a good conscience; and let him
be respectfully tolerant of his brother's practice--the strong not
despising the weak, nor the weak judging and condemning the strong.

So far for liberty.  But if, by using our liberty to eat meat, we are
found to run a risk of really {143} troubling our brother, or even
(what is worse) leading him to act against his conscience and eat what
he feels he ought not[12], then we must abstain.  This becomes matter
of character and peaceable fellowship and spiritual joy, and these are
the really material things in the kingdom of God.  Sooner than do
injury to this really divine cause, sooner than be a hindrance to his
brother, the Christian had better willingly abstain altogether from
flesh and wine too.

In passing St. Paul had noticed another indifferent matter besides the
eating of meats.  It was the observance of days.  St. Paul undoubtedly
considered that all distinction of high days and common days, all
distinction of the sabbath from other days, had been in principle
abolished by Christianity.  For Gentile Christians, like the Galatians,
to be 'observing (Jewish) days, and months, and seasons, and
years[13],' is to show a miserable disposition to fall back upon a
superannuated legal idea of religion--to fall back from the religion of
the Spirit to the religion of the letter; from the substance to the
{144} shadow.  For the Christian, in fundamental principle, there are
no 'sacred days,' for all days are indifferently sacred.  As instructed
Christian men could eat all meats, so they could regard all days as on
the same level in God's sight.  But all Christians had not the full
perception of principle.  Among the Galatians, indeed, the tendency to
observe days is viewed more severely as part of a general reactionary
tendency.  But at Rome it appears to have represented simply the
practice of a harmless, if imperfectly enlightened, minority, and St.
Paul merely ranks it among things indifferent, which are to be frankly
tolerated.  It is to be purely left to the individual conscience.

With these preliminary explanations--which in this case will serve our
purpose better than an analysis--we can read this section without
experiencing any great difficulty.

But him that is weak in faith receive ye, _yet_ not to doubtful
disputations[14].  One man hath faith to eat all things: but he that is
weak eateth herbs.  Let not him that eateth set at nought him that
eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth: for
God hath {145} received him.  Who art thou that judgest the servant of
another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth.  Yea, he shall be made
to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand.  One man esteemeth
one day above another: another esteemeth every day _alike_.  Let each
man be fully assured in his own mind.  He that regardeth the day,
regardeth it unto the Lord: and he that eateth, eateth unto the Lord,
for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, unto the Lord he
eateth not, and giveth God thanks.  For none of us liveth to himself,
and none dieth to himself.  For whether we live, we live unto the Lord;
or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or
die, we are the Lord's.  For to this end Christ died, and lived
_again_, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.  But
thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or thou again, why dost thou set
at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgement-seat
of God.  For it is written,

  As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow,
  And every tongue shall confess to God[15].

So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge ye this
rather, that no man put a stumblingblock in his brother's way, or an
occasion of falling.  I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that
nothing is unclean of itself: save that to him who accounteth anything
to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  For if because of meat thy
brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love.  Destroy not with
thy meat him for whom Christ died.  Let not then your good be evil
spoken of: for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that herein
{146} serveth Christ is well-pleasing to God, and approved of men.  So
then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things
whereby we may edify one another.  Overthrow not for meat's sake the
work of God.  All things indeed are clean; howbeit it is evil for that
man who eateth with offence.  It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink
wine, nor _to do anything_ whereby thy brother stumbleth.  The faith
which thou hast, have thou to thyself before God.  Happy is he that
judgeth not himself in that which he approveth.  But he that doubteth
is condemned if he eat, because _he eateth_ not of faith; and
whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

1.  According to St. Paul a catholic church ought to mean a tolerant
church, and a 'good catholic' a large-hearted Christian.  If men of all
races, with all sorts of traditional instincts and habits, were to live
together in close social cohesion in the Christian community--and that
was essential--this must involve much mutual forbearance, much
self-restraint, and deliberate toleration of differences[16].  St. Paul
plainly not merely uses, but loves, the language of toleration.  'One
man eateth, another man eateth not,' 'One man esteemeth one day above
another; another esteemeth every day alike.  Let each man be fully
assured in his own mind,' 'Receive ye him ... not with a view to
decisions of disputed questions.'  Thoroughly in St. Paul's spirit is
{147} the familiar saying 'in necessary things unity: in those less
than necessary liberty: in all things charity[17].'

In necessary things unity.  To St. Paul this principle meant a clear
limit to toleration.  There is a common teaching which lies at the
basis of the Church which must not be interfered with, which is
strictly necessary.  'Though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach
unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him
be anathema[18].'  'How say some among you that there is no
resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead,
neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised,
then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain[19].'  Plainly
there is an essential fundamental creed which must not be trifled with.
The same is true about the moral law.  In respect of that also the
Christian body must exercise upon its members the severity of
judgement[20], that 'he that hath done' the evil deed 'might be taken
away from among them,' or excommunicated.  Once more, we cannot
conceive St. Paul making the necessity of visible unity a secondary
consideration[21], nor {148} the recognition of the authority of the
apostolic ministry which is to be the centre of unity, nor the
sacraments, which again are not only means of divine grace to the
individual but instruments and bonds of unity.  Nor again would St.
Paul undervalue the spirit of obedience to the rules of the Church.  He
hates the spirit of heresy or separatism.  'We have no such custom,' he
would say to the recalcitrant, 'neither the churches of God[22].'  Once
again, St. Paul is prepared to let everything turn on even a small and
unessential point, if that point has become the symbol of a vital
principle for good or evil.  Thus, in itself, 'circumcision was
nothing,' but when among the Galatians the practice of it came to mean
a practical Judaizing--a practical abandonment of the fundamental
Christian principle--then 'Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye
receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing[23].'

Here, then, are St. Paul's essentials, as to which he is intolerant--a
fundamental tradition of faith and morals: the maintenance of the unity
of the body by means of the apostolic stewardship, and through the 'one
baptism,' and the 'one loaf': and the spirit of due subordination {149}
which is necessary to corporate life.  But in a spirit very unlike what
has at times become prevalent in the Church, he would clearly minimize
the action of authority, and leave large room for the free movement of
conscience in Christians.  'Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be
thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, even this
shall God reveal unto you: only, whereunto we have already attained, by
that same _rule_ let us walk[24].'

Surely it is not very difficult to apply this spirit of St. Paul to our
own time, in view of those subordinate points which excite such deep
animosities.  Men are by fundamental disposition, in great measure,
ritualist or puritan, ecclesiastically or individually minded,
disciplinarian or mystical.  And the Church should lay on all a certain
common law of doctrine and morals and worship, sufficient to keep them
all together in one body.  But, consistently with the coherence of the
body, why should there not be both an ornate and a bare ritual of
worship, both societies of strict observance and individual freedom,
and a wide field of open questions in which we do not even expect
'decisions of doubts'?  Instead of my own reflections on this {150}
subject I will ask my readers' attention to the following extracts from
a suggestive book[25].

'At all times there are those to whom what we may call the minor
symbolism of ritual is far from being as helpful as it is to others.
There is the greatest diversity here.  Modes of worship, which repel
one man as bleak and bare, attract another by their very simplicity.
The diversity is so natural and so obvious that it calls for neither
apology nor explanation; yet it is easily strained into a cause of

'St. Paul is speaking of strong brethren and of weak; of those who need
earthly guides and of those who do not; of those who attach high value
to rules and forms and helps; and of those for whom ordinances have but
little significance; of mystics and disciplinarians.'

'Again, do we not still want a scientific theology?  I mean a theology
which should do what any scientific treatise does.  It should lay down
clearly and plainly the essential conditions of unity, and as regards
the unessential should content itself with saying, "Here men differ;
one thinks thus, another thus." ... Ask yourself, What is it that will
carry me, being {151} what I am, to heaven?  What is it will carry my
brother here, who is so unlike me, to heaven?  What is it that will
carry us both to heaven?  There you will find the essential.'

St. Paul, we observe, lays great stress upon honesty of conscience.  He
wishes men, even in small matters, seriously to cultivate a conscience
of what is right, as men should do who even in small things expect a
divine judgement; and seriously also to cultivate the faculty of not
interfering with their brother's conscience.  ('Hast thou faith?  Have
it to thyself.'  Do not parade your superior enlightenment.)  He is
greatly afraid of people leading others, or being led for mere
agreement's sake, to do what their own conscience does not justify.
And to do even a good thing because another does it whom we want to be
like, without ourselves feeling sure it is good, or with a doubtful
conscience[26], this, St. Paul says, is sin.  This warning we really
need to lay to heart in our age, when fashion is such a very strong
force in religion.  This individual follows that individual and
'supposes it must be all right, as every one seems to do it'; this
congregation follows that {152} congregation in adopting a popular
practice, without its real basis and justification being considered.
But fashion and the influence of members is a great danger in religion.
'Let every man be fully assured in his own mind.'  'Whatever is not of
faith is sin[27].'

2.  Plainly, when St. Paul wrote his epistles, there was no observance
of a Sabbath obligatory upon Christians[28].  But was there none of
Sunday?  'The first day of the week' was already 'the Lord's day,' so
far as that Christians who could not meet to 'break the bread' every
day, met on that day specially to commemorate the death of their risen
Lord till He should come again[29].  It was already sufficiently
distinctive for St. Paul to name it as the appropriate day for laying
by alms for the poor[30].  But these special observances of it were not
obligatory.  Christians, when they could meet every day, might make
their eucharist every day.  No such observance of Sunday was yet
enjoined as was incompatible with regarding {153} all days of the week
alike.  Nothing less than this can satisfy St. Paul's words.  In
principle, as Bishop Lightfoot said[31], 'the kingdom of Christ has no
sacred days or seasons, because every time alike is holy.'

Yet the bishop adds, 'appointed days are indispensable to her
efficiency.'  This was soon found to be the case.  Probably before the
end of the first century, the _Didache_ mentions not only the
observance of Sunday by the eucharistic service, but the observance
also of the Wednesday and Friday fasts.  Clement, about the same date,
strongly emphasizes the principle of order in place and time, as still
belonging to Christian worship.  'They, therefore, that make their
offering at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed.'  The
Canons of Hippolytus show that by the end of the second century there
must have been a great development of ecclesiastical regulations, so
far restraining the individual {154} liberty of the earliest days, and
that, as far as we know, without protest or sense of alarm.  Nor need
St. Paul have been in opposition to such church rules.  The spirit of
regulation is strong in him[32].  On the other hand, there is no doubt
that the Church has not generally, one might say has hardly ever, been
conscious, as St. Paul was, of the danger of religious regulations as
such.  It is so much easier to keep certain rules than to acquire and
maintain a certain mind and spirit and principle of action.  In the
history of the Church St. Paul, we feel, would very often have been
saying, 'I am afraid of you: the rules are good in themselves, but
there are dangers attaching to all rules of which you seem to be quite
unconscious.  There is a lower sort of religion of forms and
observances, and you may fall back into it as easily as the Galatians.'

But after all, rules for living religiously, private or ecclesiastical,
are, we all know, invaluable, and practically necessary.  A man or a
church that should attempt to dispense with them would come to
disaster.  It is very difficult to fathom the depth of the mischief
that has come {155} about in the corporate social life of the Church of
England, through the neglect of the surely moderate amount of
regulation which was provided for us by the Prayer Book in the way of
festival and fast days and of daily service.  To keep a few simple,
intelligible, religious rules all together gives almost as much as a
common creed the feeling of social coherence.  Even the extremest
Paulinist need have no fear so long as the ecclesiastical regulations
do not reach the point of becoming a burden--so long as no one could be
in danger of priding himself on 'acquiring merit' by their mere
observance; and so long also as the principle is kept clearly in view
that 'the rules were made for man and not man for the rules.'  But I do
not think there can be any reasonable doubt that St. Paul would
repudiate the idea that any rules of worship and observance, other than
those which are necessarily involved in the administration of the
sacraments, can obtain by prescription a right to permanence.  'They
may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and
men's manners.'  They were made for man; and the Church or the
churches--with due regard to mutual fellowship--can modify or abolish


3.  'Overthrow not for meat's sake the work of God.'  'It is good not
to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother
stumbleth.'  'Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to stumble, I will
eat no flesh for evermore, that I make not my brother to stumble[33].'
Here is the right principle of 'total abstinence' which does not deny
the legitimate use of what it yet permanently abandons for love's sake.
St. Paul would have Timothy use a little wine when it was for his
health's sake, but when health was not in question, he would have all
men ask, not how much liberty in this or that is lawful for them, but
how they can avoid causing offence--how they can do most good.  This
principle admits of application in many directions.  For instance, it
may be very hard to determine why certain minor forms of gambling are
wrong, or whether they are positively wrong.  But St. Paul would have
the other question asked--Can it be denied that the best way to avoid
leading my brother into one of the most common dangers of our time, is
to keep altogether free from a habit which in any case can do no good
to body or mind?


4.  Here, as in x. 7, St. Paul touches upon the descent into Hades, and
indicates the purpose of it.  'For this end Christ died, that He might
be Lord of the dead.'  It might have been imagined that the dim realms
of the dead were outside the jurisdiction of Christ--that the dead have
no king--that the kingdom of redemption does not include them.  To
obviate such an idea, to show the universality of His realm, Christ
went down among the dead.

5.  In many places of the New Testament there is mention of the
thanksgiving before food--the Christian's 'saying grace.'  Whether he
eat flesh or vegetables he 'giveth God thanks[34].'  And the word used
is the word which, in its substantive form, is 'eucharist.'  And indeed
there is meaning in this.  The thankful reception by the Christian of
the ordinary bread of his daily life as coming from God, touched his
common meals with something of the glory of divine communion; and the
eucharist in its turn {158} is the common blessing and breaking of the
bread, raised by the Holy Spirit to a higher power and consecrated to
become the vehicle of the bread of life[35].

[1] Possibly his mind passes by a natural reaction from the thought of
sensual licentiousness (xiii. 13) to that of unenlightened asceticism.

[2] It is implied (xiv. 1; xv. 1 and 7) that the strong-minded brethren
were in the ascendant.  It is them chiefly to whom St. Paul addresses

[3] Ecclus. xxxiii. 9.

[4] Mark vii. 19.

[5] Acts x. 28.

[6] The matter of 'eating with the Gentiles' was prominent, cf. ii. 12.

[7] 1 Cor. x. 25.

[8] Acts xv. 23.

[9] 1 Cor. viii, and x. 23-33.

[10] The exact point--abstaining from all flesh meat--is so different
from what had presented itself at Corinth that there must be a
particular reference to Roman circumstances, of which St. Paul was
probably informed by Priscilla and Aquila.

[11] This seems to follow from Philo's statement that they did not make
animal sacrifices: and from Josephus' description of their way of life
as Pythagorean.

[12] Cf. 1 Cor. viii. 10.

[13] Gal. iv. 10; cf. Col. ii. 16, 17: 'Let no man therefore judge you
in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a
sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is

[14] Or _for decisions of doubts_, marg.  This, or something like this,
is the right meaning; cf. Hebr. v. 14: 'for decision between good and
evil.'  1 Cor. xii. 10: 'discernings of spirits,' i.e. decisions as to
their true character.

[15] From Isa. xlv. 33.

[16] Cf. Ephes. pp. 271 f.

[17] See app. note H, p. 239.

[18] Gal. i. 8.

[19] 1 Cor. xv. 12, 13.

[20] 1 Cor. v. 6

[21] Cf. Ephes. p. 126.

[22] 1 Cor. xi. 16.

[23] Gal. v. 2.

[24] Phil. iii. 15, 16.

[25] _Unity in Diversity_, by Charles Bigg, D.D. (Longmans, 1899), pp.
84, 85, 95.

[26] 'Whatever is not of faith is sin--that is whatever is against
conscience.'  Aquinas, quoted in _S. and H. in loc._

[27] Cf. xii. 6: 'Let us prophesy according to the proportion of our

[28] Col. ii. 16: 'Let no man judge you in respect of a sabbath day.'

[29] This is probably implied in Acts xx. 7.

[30] 1 Cor. xvi. 1.

[31] _Philippians_, on 'the Christian Ministry,' p. 181.  The language
in the immediate context I cannot make my own.  But the statement
quoted is surely true.  And to this day I suppose, for those living in
religious communities and similar institutions, there is very little
practical difference between Sundays and week-days.  This almost
complete absence of distinction, however, must always come about, if it
is to be legitimate, by raising the week-days to the spiritual level of
the Sundays, and not by the opposite process.

[32] Especially in the Pastoral Epistles: but also in the epistles to
the Thessalonians and Corinthians.

[33] 1 Cor. viii. 13.

[34] Cf. 1 Cor. x. 30: 'Why am I evil spoken of for that for which I
give thanks.'  1 Tim. iv. 3, 4: 'Meats, which God created to be
received with thanksgiving....  For every creature of God is good ...
if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified through the
word of God and prayer.  Cf. Acts xxvii. 35: 'And when he had taken
bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all: and he brake it,
and began to eat.'

[35] Matt. xxvi. 26; cf. Luke xxiv. 30.


DIVISION V.  § 7.  CHAPTER XV. 1-13.

_Unselfish forbearance and inclusiveness._

It was essential, as has been said, that men whose prejudices and
instincts were different should live in the same church and eat at the
same love feast.  This would require a large-hearted and unselfish
self-control.  Formerly, as in Syria and Palestine, it was the Jews who
occupied the position of vantage in the Christian communities, and were
not disposed to tolerate the ways of the Gentiles.  Now the tables are
turned, and the Gentiles are in the majority.  The danger is now that
those whose instincts are Gentile should bear hardly upon the minority
whose prejudices are more or less Jewish.  Such St. Paul anticipates,
or knows from Priscilla and Aquila, will be the danger among the Roman
Christians.  Formerly Judaic narrowness had been a formidable danger.
It had developed a most perilous heresy, and St. Paul had dealt with it
as a deadly poison.  Now what remained {160} of Jewish feeling was a
weakness to be generously borne with.  It affords St. Paul an
opportunity of falling back on the general principle, that the measure
of Christian strength and full-grown manhood is the readiness to bear
the weaknesses of others.

To be told he must not use his normal liberty, must not eat his usual
meal or drink his usual cup of wine, because it might scandalize some
Christian with the ascetic prejudices of an Essene, or even induce him
to do the same against his own conscience--to be told this was annoying
to a man who held the 'strong' Christian conviction that all kinds of
food were indifferently allowable.  The weak scruple of his brother
Christian had become an annoying burden of self-denial and
self-restraint laid on himself.  But this, St. Paul says, is how
Christian strength--whether it be the moral strength of clear
convictions, or any other sort of faculty[1]--must show itself, in
readiness to suffer on account of other people's deficiencies, in not
resenting the restraints they lay on us, in not expecting to do as we
please, but being {161} ready to accommodate ourselves to our
neighbour's tastes where it is for his good.  That is what our great
example did.  Plainly His whole human life was putting Himself under
the restraints which our weaknesses and narrownesses and slownesses
laid on Him.  The righteous man in the psalm complains that he has to
bear all the reproaches of God which impatient and rebellious
Israelites might utter; and that is the picture of Christ bearing our
infirmities.  (The reproaches which fell on Him were for the very
largeness of His love; 'because He received sinners,' and because He
received them on the Sabbaths as well as on other days.  They were
reproaches of God, like Jonah's, because He was too forbearing, too

Then St. Paul pauses a moment to justify his use of the Psalms.  These
ancient scriptures did not fulfil their purpose in their own time, or
for the old covenant.  God intended them for Christians.  Their
teaching is what they need.  The burdens of life are so many, its
requirements upon their patience so constant, that they find it hard to
maintain their hope.  Yet what is the Old Testament so full of?
Lessons of endurance and words of encouragement.  The encouragement and
endurance then, which they gain from {162} the Old Testament, are to
help them to maintain Christian hope.  They must not lose heart.  The
end is a great one: it is the maintenance of a united spirit in the
Church, such as Christ can approve, such as can express itself in a
really unanimous adoration of Him whom Christ recognized as His God and
Father.  May the God who inspires endurance and encouragement, grant
them not to fail in this great end!

Here is the central requirement, then, which a catholic church lays on
them.  It is to be unselfishly inclusive, to welcome into fellowship
people who are not naturally to their taste.  Our Lord did not
scrutinize us men, but received us, of whatever sort we were, that God
might be glorified in human brotherhood.  He vindicated the truth of
God by fulfilling the covenant of circumcision: first, to confirm the
promises given to the fathers of Israel[2]; and, secondly, to enlarge
the compass of Israel, so that the Gentiles too might share its
blessings, out of God's pure mercy apart from any promises.  And this
also--the fellowship of Jew and Gentile--was matter of ancient
prediction by psalmist {163} and prophet.  The Roman Christians must
not therefore let themselves be discouraged because they have a
difficult task to fulfil.  And the apostle prays that God, the inspirer
of hope, may fill them with such a rich sense of the blessings of
believing in Him, that His Spirit, dwelling in them, may make hope to
abound in their hearts.

Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and
not to please ourselves.  Let each one of us please his neighbour for
that which is good, unto edifying.  For Christ also pleased not
himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached
thee fell upon me.  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were
written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of
the scriptures we might have hope.  Now the God of patience and of
comfort grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to
Christ Jesus: that with one accord ye may with one mouth glorify the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Wherefore receive ye one
another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God.  For I
say that Christ hath been made a minister of the circumcision for the
truth of God, that he might confirm the promises _given_ unto the
fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it
is written,

  Therefore will I give praise unto thee among the Gentiles,
  And sing unto thy name.

And again he saith,

  Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.


And again,

  Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles;
  And let all the peoples praise him.

And again, Isaiah saith,

  There shall be the root of Jesse,
  And he that ariseth to rule over the Gentiles;
  On him shall the Gentiles hope.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that
ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Ghost.

1.  The connexion of thought in this passage is undoubtedly somewhat
obscure.  But we know to-day, as well as ever, how difficult it is to
bear with what is disagreeable to us in others, with what seem to us
their deficiencies, without breaking real Christian brotherhood and
co-operation.  And we know also that where we are possessed by an
enthusiasm for brotherhood such as inspired the early Christians, the
divisions which small differences tend to produce are peculiarly
discouraging, because they suggest that real brotherhood is impossible
where men are so differently constituted.  We ought not, therefore, to
be at a loss to see why St. Paul should pass so easily from speaking of
divisions among Christians to speak of the grounds of patience and
encouragement and hope.  The Christian hope is--in substantial
part--the hope {165} of a really catholic church--a real brotherhood
among people of different races, classes, tastes, and habits; and it is
this great hope which, even in St. Paul's day, was continually
suffering discouragement and continually needed reinforcing.  And the
reinforcement must be 'supernatural.'  It is the divine love of the
Spirit possessing us which alone can give it vigour.  When we are full
of the divine consolation, then it is that we are least inclined to be
critical, and most disposed 'to receive one another, as Christ also
received us, to the glory of God.'  For this is the thought we are to
have constantly in view, when we find people 'aggravating'--Christ
received us, and made the best of those whom 'God gave him,' in spite
of the infinite annoyances which we men, even the apostles, caused Him;
He dealt with us with infinite patience; He made us welcome; He
'received us.'

In fact, the reason why the connexion of thought in this passage seems
obscure to us, is probably in part that we have ceased to think of the
real fellowship of the naturally unlike--fellowship in all that makes
up human life--as a necessary part of the Christian religion.  But to
St. Paul there was no Christianity without the reality of catholic


2.  St. Paul here, as in writing to the Corinthians[3], shows himself
specially anxious that Gentile Christians should not think they could
make light of the Old Testament, or imagine that 'Christ was the end of
the law' in any such sense as would make the books of the old covenant
superfluous under the new.  Their value, he insists, remains permanent.
When he is writing to the Corinthians, he finds it in the moral
warnings--the warnings of divine judgement upon the chosen people--of
which the history is full.  In this epistle he is thinking chiefly of
the lessons of 'endurance' and divine 'encouragements,' which histories
and prophets provide.  In his epistle to Timothy[4] he thinks of the
books as instruments by the use of which the minister or representative
of God may become fully educated and equipped for all the purposes of
moral supervision and discipline.  They can thus educate and equip him,
St. Paul {167} teaches, because they were originally written under the
influence of a divine inspiration; but it is only when faith has
finally attained its true object in Jesus Christ that their real
meaning becomes apparent.  And this last principle is implied in almost
all his use of the Old Testament.

It is a comfort to perceive that none of the elements of permanent
value, which St. Paul discerns in the Old Testament, are the least
likely to be affected by reasonable criticism of its documents.  Its
history, critically read, does not become less truly pregnant with
moral warnings or lessons of endurance.  The encouragements of the
prophets are in no respect reduced in force when they are brought into
right relation to their own times.  The whole library of books is, at
least, as capable of educating and equipping the minister of Christ as
ever.  Their inspiration is still obvious, when it is interpreted
candidly in view of all the facts.  And still they can only be rightly
regarded when they are looked upon as various elements in a progress
which has Christ for its goal.

In his use of particular passages in the Old Testament St. Paul here
shows himself as free as ever, but with the same fundamental {168}
adherence to the true tendency of the Old Testament as a whole.  In
quoting Ps. lxix. 9 (ver. 3) he is seeing in the afflicted righteous
man a type of Christ.  This psalm is constantly cited in the New
Testament with the same reference[5].  It has been supposed[6] that St.
Paul here adopts a cry addressed _to God_ by the righteous sufferer in
the psalm, and represents it as addressed by Christ _to his brother
man_.  'The reproaches aimed at thee, my despised brother, have fallen
upon me.'  But, as I have tried to show in the analysis above, this
supposition is not needed.  Christ is represented appealing to God for
succour, because He utterly refuses to take the line of self-pleasing;
but bears all that men's impatience of God lays upon Him--all their
'wild and weak complaining.'  And it is suggestive to remember, with
Origen, that it was Christ's 'receiving of sinners and eating with
them,' receiving them on the Sabbath as well as other days, that
chiefly brought on Him the reproaches of men.  This was probably in St.
Paul's mind.

In Ps. xviii. 49 (quoted ver. 9) the victorious {169} king declares
that he will praise God for his victory 'among the nations.'  St. Paul
applies this to Christ, whose victory among the nations means their
redemption--their becoming His people.

In Deut. xxxii. 43 (ver. 10) 'the nations are invited to congratulate
Israel on possessing a God like Jehovah, who will effectually take up
His people's cause.  Such an invitation addressed to the nations (cf.
Isa. xlii. 10-12; Ps. xlvii. 2, lxvii. 1-7, &c.) involves implicitly
the prophetic truth that God's dealings with Israel have indirectly an
interest and importance for the world at large[7].'  This is still more
plainly implied in Ps. cxvii. 1 (ver. 11).

Isa. xi. 10 (ver. 12) is quoted from the Greek Bible, which is
paraphrastic; but the Hebrew also asserts that the messianic king of
David's line is to be a 'signal to the nations,' and that they are to
'resort to him' as to an oracle or place of refuge[8].

[1] We are all 'strong' in some respect, Origen remarks, so that 'ye
that are strong bear the infirmities of the weak' comes to be as broad
a precept as 'bear ye one another's burdens.'

[2] Cf. Gal. iv. 4, 5: 'Christ, born of a woman, born under the law,
that he might redeem them which were under the law, that we (Jews and
Gentiles) might receive the adoption of sons.'

[3] 1 Cor. x. ii: 'These things happened unto them (the Jews in the
Wilderness) by way of example; and they were written for our
admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.'

[4] 2 Tim. iii. 15-17.  'Sacred writings which are able to make thee
wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  Every
scripture inspired by God _is_ also profitable for teaching, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness:
that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every
good work.'

[5] Cf. above, xi. 9; in the Gospels, Matt. xxvii. 34; John ii. 17;
xix. 28; also Acts i. 20.

[6] See _S. and H. in loc._

[7] Driver, _in loc._

[8] Cheyne, _in loc._




The long letter is almost ended.  St. Paul has developed the meaning of
the revelation of the divine righteousness.  He has vindicated the ways
of God to the Jews.  He has drawn out sufficiently the moral
conclusions from God's mercy to mankind.  Now he has only to secure
again his good terms with the Roman Christians--which he does with the
same tact and the same anxiety as at the beginning[1],--to explain his
movements, to send his greetings to individuals, and to bid farewell.

[1] Vol. i. p. 53.


DIVISION VI.  § 1.  CHAPTER XV. 14-33.

_His excuse for writing and his hope of coming._

St. Paul is very anxious not to be understood as if, while giving the
Christians at Rome these exhortations which we have just been reading,
he stood in any doubt himself of their goodness of heart and full grasp
of Christian principles, or of their fitness to admonish one another.
He has only been bold to put them in mind of what they already knew,
because of the priestly commission on behalf of his Lord towards all
the Gentiles, which the divine grace has bestowed upon him as apostle
of the Gentiles.  The gospel entrusted to him requires him as a priest
to prepare and offer sacrifice; and the sacrifice which he is to
prepare, which the consecration of the indwelling Spirit alone can make
acceptable, is that of the whole Gentile world.  The extent to which
this great charge laid upon him has been fulfilled, gives him good
reason for {172} boasting as he stands before God--not in himself, but
in Christ Jesus.  His work has been a pioneer's work.  He has made it
his ambition purely to lay foundations.  Taking words of Isaiah[1] for
his motto, he had resolved to go nowhere where any other had been
before him to make Christ known.  But in that free and open area of a
yet unevangelized world, Christ had worked through him to bring the
Gentiles to His obedience, and had accompanied his preaching with
evidences of miraculous power and with the strong manifestations of the
Spirit.  So that in the result the work of proclaiming the gospel had
been accomplished, starting from Jerusalem, in an extending circuit[2]
or irregular progress, as far as Illyria.

This world-wide mission would give St. Paul his title to visit Rome[3].
But its very greatness has hitherto hindered him.  Now however he is
hoping to satisfy the desire that has so long possessed him, and to pay
them a visit of some length on his way to Spain.  That is to say, he
hopes to come to them when the task is over {173} which is immediately
occupying him.  The good will of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia
has shown itself in a collection of money for the poor Christians at
Jerusalem.  This is really the payment of a debt to those to whom they
owe their fellowship in Christ's salvation.  When then St. Paul has
handed over this collection, and secured to its recipients this fruit
of his mission, he hopes to pass to Spain by way of Rome; and again, as
in his introduction[4], he expresses his confidence that at Rome, as
elsewhere, the fullness of the rich gifts of Christ will accompany his

Meanwhile he makes his urgent request, by their allegiance to Christ
and their fellowship in the spirit of love, that they will join with
him in wrestling with God in prayer for the success of his present
undertaking--that he may escape the danger to which he is exposed from
the hostility of the unbelieving Jews, and that the gift, as ministered
by him, may not prove unacceptable to the Jerusalem church; so that he
may get happily to Rome and find repose there with them.  And he prays
for the blessing of the God of peace upon all of them.


And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye yourselves
are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish
one another.  But I write the more boldly unto you in some measure, as
putting you again in remembrance, because of the grace that was given
me of God, that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the
Gentiles, ministering[5] the gospel of God, that the offering up of the
Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
I have therefore my glorying in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to
God.  For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which
Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word
and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy
Ghost; so that from Jerusalem, and round about even unto Illyricum, I
have fully preached the gospel of Christ; yea, making it my aim so to
preach the gospel, not where Christ was _already_ named, that I might
not build upon another man's foundation; but, as it is written,

  They shall see, to whom no tidings of him came,
  And they who have not heard shall understand.

Wherefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you: but
now, having no more any place in these regions, and having these many
years a longing to come unto you, whensoever I go unto Spain (for I
hope to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward
by you, if first in some measure I shall have been satisfied with your
company)--but now, _I say_, I go unto Jerusalem, ministering unto the
saints.  For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to
make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints that are at
Jerusalem.  Yea, it hath been their good pleasure; and their debtors
they are.  For if the Gentiles have been {175} made partakers of their
spiritual things, they owe it _to them_ also to minister unto them in
carnal things.  When therefore I have accomplished this, and have
sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by you unto Spain.  And I know
that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing
of Christ.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love
of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God
for me; that I may be delivered from them that are disobedient in
Judaea, and _that_ my ministration which _I have_ for Jerusalem may be
acceptable to the saints; that I may come unto you in joy through the
will of God, and together with you find rest.  Now the God of peace be
with you all.  Amen.

1.  St. Paul has a habit of representing those he writes to in the best
light[6].  But the words 'full of goodness,' 'filled with all
knowledge,' 'able to admonish,' are no idle compliments.  It is not too
much to suggest that St. Paul, as he sees the high part which the
church of the capital must play in the world, perceives also, in what
he hears of the Roman Christians, evidences of the spirit which will
enable them to fulfil it.  And history verifies the apostle's
anticipation.  The letter of the Roman church to the Corinthians, which
passes under Clement's name, and was written some forty years after
{176} this letter of St. Paul's, is the very embodiment of the spirit
of goodness, knowledge, and power to admonish.  The princely generosity
of the Roman church in all directions was proverbial in the second
century[7].  If it did not become as distinguished as Alexandria in
theological science, it did become a chief centre of theological
orthodoxy and government.  And the repeated evidences we gain that
rigorists, from Hippolytus to Novatian, were so dissatisfied with the
policy of the Roman bishops as to separate themselves from their
communion, give us good reason to believe that the internal policy of
this church was, within just limits, liberal and tolerant.

2.  St. Paul here describes his apostolic commission in priestly
language.  'The sacrificial terminology is far more marked in the
original than it can be in a translation[8].'  The word for 'minister
of Christ Jesus' is a technical word for priest in the Greek Old
Testament[9].  The word translated 'ministering' means 'offering
sacrifice.'  (That which St. Paul describes {177} himself as offering
in sacrifice is not the gospel, as our translation might imply: the
gospel assigns the sphere of the sacrifice[10], but the sacrifice he
has to offer is that of the Gentile world, in Christ, consecrated to be
a fit sacrifice by the Spirit.)  The phrase also, 'in things pertaining
to God' (cf. Hebr. ii. 17), is appropriate to the priest as he stands
before God.  'But this is all symbolical language,' it is said.  That
depends on what we take as the standard of reality in the sacrificing
priesthood.  If Christ is the standard of priesthood, and His method of
making sacrifice the standard method, then St. Paul's account of his
priestliness is not appreciably metaphorical, except so far as metaphor
belongs to all earthly expressions of heavenly realities; it is rather
true to say that the Jewish or heathen priest, with his material
victims, was but the dim shadow of a true priest.

The point is that the true Christian idea of sacrifice makes the
substance of it to be always persons returning to God the life He gave
them.  If we must offer sacrifices of money and fruits of the earth,
that is because we cannot offer ourselves without our bodies[11], or
our bodies {178} without the material supplies on which they depend.
'All things come of God, and of His own do we give Him.'  And all our
labour and prayer for others must be an offering of them, or a
preparation to offer them[12], to God; which again is only our
assisting them to offer themselves.  And all this offering in sacrifice
of ourselves and others is rendered possible by the one effectual
sacrifice, through which alone we and all men have access to the
Father.  It takes place 'in Christ Jesus,' who, 'through eternal Spirit
offered _himself_ without spot to God.'  There, at the head of all, is
the sacrifice of the person, and that person the Son of Man, who can
take up into His very life and sacrifice even all mankind.  Throughout
it is a sacrifice of persons, or of things only as appertaining to
persons.  This is the fundamental Christian idea, and this at the
bottom necessarily forbids us to separate the thing offered from the
person offering, the victim from the priest.  The priest is the victim,
for what he offers is himself.

It is this idea of sacrifice which is realized in the eucharist.  The
eucharist is the central sacrifice of the Christian body.  It is to
start {179} with a presentation of material things, bread and wine of
the fruits of the earth, with alms and other offerings it may be: and
these oblations are accompanied with prayers and symbolic rites.  But
all is done that both by word and act the One Sacrifice may be
commemorated and pleaded.  The outward rite but finds its meaning and
justification in that--the sacrifice of the Person.  Again we can only
take part in it with any spiritual reality by becoming ourselves
sharers of His sacrifice--ourselves the sacrifice we offer.  'And
here,' we cry, 'we offer and present unto Thee ourselves.'  We men, St.
Augustine does not scruple to say, are the body of Christ, which is
offered in that sacrifice[13].  And a quite new light is shed on
intercessory prayer, in the eucharist and in the rest of life, when we
view it as St. Paul would have us view it, as a presenting in sacrifice
before God those for whom we pray, according to the true idea of them
which the sanctification of the Spirit would make possible and actual.
And a quite new light is shed upon all work for others, when we regard
it as the preparing of such a sacrifice for the Holy Spirit to

From a different point of view St. Paul's {180} conception of his
mission as the priest of the Gentile world, might well suggest
reflections to the Church of England.  If a Christian nation in the
providence of God is to overrun the world and possess the nations not
yet Christian, it goes with a mission entrusted to it by God.  Its
mission may be expressed, according to St. Paul's idea, as that of
evangelizing the world, but also as that of preparing the heathen
nations to be offered to God.  It is the return of all humanity to
Himself that God desires, and we are to be the ministers of this
perfected offering.  It strikes us with profound humiliation to realize
how 'far fetched' St. Paul's idea would appear to-day to the mass of
our nation, which, more than any other, is called by circumstances to
an apostolate of the world.

3.  St. Paul speaks, here and in many places elsewhere, of his grounds
for 'glorying,' or rather 'boasting[14],' in what Christ has wrought
through him, and of his 'being ambitious' to preach only where no one
had been before him[15].  And in reading such passages the question
{181} sometimes arises in Christian minds--was there, after all, a
strain of egotism unsubdued in St. Paul's character?  Now no doubt,
unlike other apostles whose writings remain in the New Testament, St.
Paul had that sort of passionately personal and individual nature which
easily passes into spiritual egotism.  This at least is discernible in
his epistles.  It is also true that the necessity which lay so long
upon him of vindicating his own apostolic authority, makes it necessary
for him at times to talk about himself and his experiences and his
personal methods in a way that to some minds suggests egotism; and
there is no obligation upon us to maintain that St. Paul was perfect.
But we only understand these passages aright when we remember that
there runs through them all a conscious irony.  The basis of St. Paul's
whole theology was the denial of any possible ground for a man to boast
in himself.  'Where is boasting? it is excluded.'  'He that boasteth,
let him boast in the Lord.'  It is Christ who 'leads St. Paul in' His
'triumph.'  What he boasts of is not his own, but Christ's.  Of course,
this sort of language very easily admits of self-deception.  St. Paul
shows himself conscious of its danger[16].  But there can {182} be no
question of the vehement sincerity of St. Paul in repudiating any
homage to himself which seemed to put him in the place of Christ, or to
substitute the teacher for his message[17].  And where his personal
gifts of intellect might most easily have shone, he had determined to
abjure all 'the wisdom of men' in the method of his preaching[18].  It
is remarkable again that as soon as ever the real peril from Judaism
was over in the Church, St. Paul drops his anti-Judaistic polemic, and
all that brings the personal element into prominence.  He is absolutely
free from the charge of pursuing his advantage so as to magnify a
personal victory.  The more thoroughly we grow to know St. Paul, the
more, I think, we feel that his profession is true that he will 'boast'
only 'in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ'; and that truly the world,
with all its personal ambitions, had been for him nailed to the cross
and killed[19].

But what exactly was it that St. Paul had to 'boast' that Christ had
wrought through him?

He had, he says, accomplished the preaching of the gospel in an
irregular circuit from Jerusalem to Illyria.  After he had made a
beginning of Christian preaching at Damascus, he {183} had, in fact,
shared the apostolic preaching at Jerusalem (Acts ix. 29), but his own
special work began at Tarsus, or rather at Antioch.  After that he had
'fulfilled the proclamation of the gospel,' so far, that is to say, as
it belonged to the apostolic office, by founding churches in a
gradually enlarging circuit, especially in the chief centres, as the
narrative of the Acts shows us, till travelling by the Egnatian way he
would have come within sight of the Illyrian mountains at
Thessalonica[20].  He may even have entered Illyria when the Acts
vaguely describes him as going to Macedonia and then 'passing through
those parts[21]'; but the expression in this epistle does not require
this.  It is sufficient that the border of Illyria, through which the
Egnatian way led to Rome, had been so far his nearest point to the

St. Paul certainly implies that Rome was included in his province of
work, and that he owed them a yet unpaid debt[22].  This must surely
mean, according to St. Paul's principle, that no other of the greater
apostles had yet evangelized them or founded the church there[23].
{184} Rome was no other man's foundation.  But none the less, the
elements of a church had collected there.  The gospel was being
preached there by 'apostles' from among his own circle.  And St. Paul,
for this reason, does not contemplate any permanent stay with the
Romans, but regards Rome only as a place where he can rest and refresh
himself, as well as supply deficiencies in the spiritual equipment of
the church there, before he passes further west to the untouched region
of Spain.  St. Paul, we see plainly enough, had no power to foresee the
future.  But after the long residence at Rome during his first
captivity, which he did not the least anticipate, did he, we ask,
actually get to Spain?  There is certainly no good reason to say he did
not, for his movements are, in the main, unknown to us in the last
period of his life; and on the other hand in Clement's letter to the
Corinthians, written within the first century, he is said to have
passed before his martyrdom to 'the limits of the west'--the extreme
west--which is certainly most naturally interpreted of Spain[24].

4.  St. Paul speaks of having wrought 'signs and wonders.'  The two
words are habitually {185} combined in the New Testament.  The word
'wonders' describes the miraculous and astonishing character of the
events, while 'signs' indicates that moral witness and significance
which distinguishes Christian miracles from vulgar portents.  We read
of St. Paul working miracles in the Acts.  What he says here, and
elsewhere[25], implies that they were frequently worked, and especially
at Corinth, where no such events are recorded in the history.  What it
is important for us to recognize is, that St. Paul so plainly and
repeatedly appeals, in the face of those who could bear witness, to the
fact that he himself had power given to him to work miracles, as if it
were indisputable.

5.  St. Paul tells us that he had it specially laid upon him by the
apostles of the circumcision that he was to 'remember the poor,' i.e.
the poor Christians at Jerusalem; where poverty was specially rife,
because, as we should gather, the wealthier Jews had held aloof from
Christianity[26].  And this, he adds, was the very thing he himself was
zealous to do[27].  How much it was in his mind, both the Acts and his
own epistles bear witness.  We hear much in {186} the epistles to the
Corinthians[28] of the collection made in the churches of Macedonia and
Achaia.  Not only was this expression of Gentile good will intended to
conciliate the half-alienated and suspicious Jewish Christians of
Jerusalem, but the acceptance of the gift at St. Paul's hands, as the
fruit of his own labour, was to diminish their suspicion of himself.
St. Paul was at pains to prevent any suspicion attaching to his
administration of this bounty, and at every point we perceive how much
trouble he took about the matter.  But, hopeful and zealous as he was
about this work of charity, he did not underrate its dangers.  His
urgent request for the Roman Christians' prayers in this passage, and
his readiness to meet his death, if need be, at Jerusalem, as expressed
in the narrative of the Acts, show us that he knew the danger he was
incurring from the fierce hostility of the Jerusalem Jews.

6.  This passage about the collection[29], coupled with the allusion to
Cenchreae, the port of Corinth, at the beginning of the next chapter,
and the allusion to the Corinthian Gaius as St. Paul's host[30], enable
us to fix the occasion of {187} the writing of this epistle exactly at
the moment recorded in Acts xx. 3--the end of his three months'
residence in Greece.  We also gather from the Acts[31], as well as from
this epistle, that it was his intention at that period, when he had
paid his visit to Jerusalem, to go to Rome.  Once more we know from the
Acts[32] that Sosipater and Timothy were with him at this point, and
they join in the greetings of the epistle[33].  So that all the
indications taken together fix with wonderful accuracy the exact point
when the epistle was written[34].

7.  We do well to note the word used by St. Paul in asking the Roman
Christians' prayers.  He begs them to 'strive together' with him in
their prayers.  This word is a derivative of that which describes our
Lord's 'agony' in prayer; and Origen's comment upon it is this: 'Hardly
any one can pray without some idle and alien thought coming into his
mind, and leading off and interrupting the intended direction of his
mind to God....  And, therefore, prayer is a great striving (_agon_,
wrestling), so that the fixed direction of the soul towards God may
{188} be maintained, in spite of the enemies which interfere and seek
to scatter the sense of prayer; so that one who prays may justly say,
with St. Paul, "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course."'

[1] lii. 15, according to the Greek.

[2] 'Round about,' literally 'in a circle,' as opposed to a straight
course; cf. Mark vi. 6, 'round about the villages.'

[3] Cf. i. 13-16.

[4] i. 11.

[5] '_Ministering in sacrifice_' marg.

[6] Cf. the opening of 1 Cor., a letter which contains on the whole so
much blame.

[7] Euseb. _H. E._ iv. 23.

[8] Sanday, _Conception of Priesthood_ (Longmans), p. 89.

[9] Like 'agape' (see above, p. 131, n. 2) so this word 'liturgus'
appears to have been adopted in its priestly sense by the Greek
translators of the Bible from the current Greek of Alexandria, cf.
Deissmann, _Bibelstudien_, pp. 137 f.

[10] Cf. _S. and H. in loc._  'Making sacrifice as a priest under the

[11] Cf. xii. x.

[12] Col. i. 28: 'Teaching every man ... that we may present every
man,' i.e. present him in sacrifice.

[13] For his repeated statements see app. note I. p. 240.

[14] Cf. 1 Cor. ix. 15; xv. 31; 2 Cor. i. 14; vii. 4, 14; viii. 24; ix.
3; x. 8, 13; xi. 10, 16-xii. 9; Phil. ii. 16; 1 Thess. ii. 19.  These
passages are worth examining in connexion.

[15] Cf. 2 Cor. x. 15, 16.

[16] See 2 Cor. xi. 17; xii. 1.

[17] 1 Cor. i. 13 ff.

[18] 1 Cor. ii. 1-5.

[19] Gal. vi. 14.

[20] See _S. and H. in loc._

[21] Acts xx. 2.

[22] i. 14, 15.

[23] Not Peter therefore, though he was doubtless afterwards at Rome.

[24] _Ad Cor._ 5, see Lightfoot _in loc._

[25] 2 Cor. xii. 13.

[26] Cf. Jas. ii. 5, 6.

[27] Gal. ii. 10.

[28] 1 Cor. xvi. 1-4; 2 Cor. viii, ix.

[29] Cf. Acts xxiv. 17.

[30] Rom. xvi. 23.  Cf. 1 Cor. i. 14, which shows us a Gaius at
Corinth.  Cf. the allusion to Erastus in the same verse, coupled with 2
Tim. iv. 20.

[31] Acts xix. 21.

[32] Acts xx. 4.

[33] Rom. xvi. 21.

[34] See further, on the purpose of the epistle, vol. i. pp. 4 ff.



_A commendation._

One strong link among Christians of different towns, constraining them
to remember that their brotherhood did not depend on physical nearness
or personal acquaintance, lay in the 'letters of commendation' from one
local church to another, which the Christian traveller carried with
him.  And here we have an example of such a letter given by St. Paul to
the Corinthian deaconess, Phoebe, who was probably the bearer of his
letter to the Roman Christians.

I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant[1] of the church
that is at Cenchreae: that ye receive her in the Lord, worthily of the
saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever matter she may have need
of you: for she herself also hath been a succourer of many, and of mine
own self.

The necessity of instructing women inquirers or catechumens, visiting
them at their homes, preparing them for baptism, attending to their
{190} unclothing and reclothing at the font, and looking after them
afterwards, forced upon the Church the institution of an order of
deaconesses, side by side with the deacons and for similar purposes.
Pliny found these female officers among the Christians in Bithynia in
the beginning of the second century, and there is no reason why already
at this date the female order should not have existed[2].  'Here we
learn,' says Origen on this passage, 'that female ministers are
recognized in the Church.'

Phoebe is also called a succourer or 'patroness' of Christians,
including St. Paul, which suggests a woman of wealth and influence.  If
so, we have here an example of wealth, not asserting itself but
devoting itself to service, according to our Lord's teaching: 'He that
is greatest among you shall be your servant (deacon)'; 'I am in the
midst of you as he that serveth (the deacon)[3].'  Such an one is to be
received in a manner 'worthy of the saints,' the consecrated family of
God, and to be allowed to lack nothing which the Roman Christians can
supply her with.

[1] Or _deaconess_, as margin.

[2] See on this subject Deaconess Cecilia Robinson, _The Ministry of
Deaconesses_ (Methuen, 1898), and Bernard, _Pastoral Epistles_, p. 59.
With Lightfoot, he interprets 1 Tim. iii. 11 of deaconesses rather than
of the wives of the deacons.

[3] Matt, xxiii. 11; Luke xxii. 37.



_Personal greetings._

Then St. Paul, according to his custom, winds up his epistle with
personal greetings.  In this case they are sent to the individual
Christians, among those who from various parts of the empire had
collected at Rome, whose names his memory--so retentive of personal
relationships--enabled him to recall.

Salute Prisca and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, who for my
life laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but
also all the churches of the Gentiles: and _salute_ the church that is
in their house.  Salute Epaenetus my beloved, who is the firstfruits of
Asia unto Christ.  Salute Mary, who bestowed much labour on you.
Salute Andronicus and Junias[1], my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners,
who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before
me.  Salute Ampliatus my beloved in the Lord.  Salute Urbanus our
fellow-worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.  Salute Apelles the
approved in Christ.  Salute them which are {192} of the _household_ of
Aristobulus.  Salute Herodion my kinsman.  Salute them of the
_household_ of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.  Salute Tryphaena and
Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord.  Salute Persis the beloved, which
laboured much in the Lord.  Salute Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and
his mother and mine.  Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas,
Hermas, and the brethren that are with them.  Salute Philologus and
Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints that are
with them.  Salute one another with a holy kiss.  All the churches of
Christ salute you.

1.  Aquila, a Pontic Jew, had resided in Rome, doubtless in pursuit of
his business as a tent-maker; but the edict of Claudius had compelled
him to quit the capital in common with his brethren, and he had taken
refuge at Corinth with his wife Prisca (as St. Paul calls her), or
Priscilla (according to St. Luke[2]); and there, shortly after their
arrival, St. Paul had found them, made their acquaintance, and combined
with them in a common trade.  To this was possibly due their conversion
to Christianity.  When St. Paul left Corinth, they accompanied him to
Ephesus, and remained there when he left for Jerusalem; their
influential position in the Christian community being indicated to us
by their dealings with so important a teacher as {193} Apollos.  When
St. Paul had returned to Ephesus, and was writing his First Epistle to
the Corinthians, their house was the centre for a Christian
congregation[3].  It was possibly during the Ephesian disturbances that
they risked their lives, or 'laid down their own necks' for St. Paul.
Whether on account of this peril incurred, or for whatever reason, they
returned, as they were now free to do, to Rome.  The Epistle to the
Romans follows the First Epistle to the Corinthians by not more than a
year, and it finds Prisca and Aquila established at Rome, with a church
meeting at their house.  Probably they had been St. Paul's informants
as to affairs among the Roman Christians.  A good many years
afterwards, when St. Paul was writing his Second Epistle to Timothy[4],
we hear of them again at Ephesus.  So much travelling as we find in
their life was not unusual in the Roman empire, and perhaps least of
all among the Jews.

The fact that Priscilla is generally mentioned before her husband, both
by St. Paul and St.  Luke[5], as if she were more important, combined
with (1) a tradition which connects her with the {194} _titulus_ (or
parish-church) _Priscae_ at Rome, (2) evidence connecting the
_Coemeterium Priscillae_ with the Acilian gens,--has led some scholars
to believe that Priscilla was a noble Roman lady married to a Jewish
husband.  But the evidence is not cogent, and it is more likely that
both she and her husband owed their Roman names to being freedmen[6].
It was probably her prominence among the Christians which led to her
name preceding that of her husband.  We need only think of Phoebe and
Priscilla to understand how influential women were in the earliest
Christian churches.

'The church (which met) at their house' is a significant phrase[7].
The wealthier Christians, or those whose houses were commodious, turned
them into churches, where the neighbouring Christians met for worship,
love feast and eucharist.  Several of the oldest churches {195} in Rome
grew in this manner out of private houses.

2.  St. Paul's brief characterizations of individuals are full of
personal memory and tenderness--'my beloved, who is the firstfruits of
Asia unto Christ[8],' 'who bestowed much labour on you,' 'my kinsmen
(i.e. Jews) and fellow prisoners (on some occasion which we cannot fix,
but which St. Paul remembers), who also were in Christ before me,' 'our
fellow worker,' 'the man approved in Christ,' who has been tried and
found not wanting, 'his mother and mine.'  St. Paul, notwithstanding
his wide ecclesiastical plans and theological labours, as he thought no
pains too much to bestow on the details of his scheme for collecting
Gentile money for the needs of poor Jews, so also never lets great
designs obscure the memory of persons and their intricate relations to

3.  Andronicus and Junias (or junianus) are 'of note among the
apostles.'  There are other indications that the term 'apostle' was not
confined to the twelve.  Not St. Paul only, but Barnabas also, and the
Lord's brother, were included in it.  Later, in the _Didache_, we find
it used in a wide but somewhat dim sense, for the {196} chief teachers
of the Church who were not settled in particular churches[9].
Nevertheless, this passage describing two men of unknown names as
'conspicuous among the apostles' is surprising.  Probably the real
requirement for sharing the title of apostle was to have received
commission from the Lord (as 'other seventy' did besides the Twelve),
and to have seen Him after His resurrection.  These two--'early
disciples' as St. Paul tells us--may have fulfilled these requirements.
They were Jews like himself, who with him had laboured and suffered.
They would be centres of authority among the Christians at Rome[10]:
and possibly to the laying on of their hands other brethren at Rome who
'ruled' or 'taught' or 'ministered' owed their qualifying gift.

Chrysostom takes the second name to be a woman's--Junia; and expresses
his astonishment at finding a woman thought worthy of the title of an

4.  'Them that are of the household of Aristobulus.'  This Aristobulus
was very probably the {197} grandson of Herod the Great, who lived and
died at Rome in a private station, and whose 'household' would
naturally include many Jews and orientals.  The following name of a Jew
suggests connexion with the Herods.

5.  'Rufus' may very likely be the son of Simon of Cyrene, whom St.
Mark, writing probably at Rome, refers to as well known[11].

6.  'A holy kiss.'  'It was from this and similar words,' says Origen,
'that it has been handed down as a custom in the Church that after the
prayer the brethren should welcome one another with a kiss.'  He goes
on to urge that this ritual kiss should be neither unchaste nor without
real feeling.

7.  'All the churches of Christ salute you.'  This unique phrase is
probably used, as Dr. Hort suggests, to express how 'the church of Rome
was an object of love and respect to Jewish and Gentile churches alike.'

[1] Or _Junia_ (a woman's name), as margin.

[2] See the readings of Rom. xvi. 3; 1 Cor. xvi. 19; 2 Tim. iv. 19 (in
R. V. which is probably right); and of Acts xviii. 2, 18, 26.

[3] 1 Cor. xvi. 19.

[4] 2 Tim. iv. 19.

[5] Twice out of three mentions in each case.

[6] Perhaps both freedmen of the same member of the Acilian gens.  For
Priscus or Prisca (or Priscilla) was a favourite cognomen in the gens,
and the nomen itself was commonly written Aquilius.  This nomen a male
slave, when freed, would have borne (besides his own name and his
master's praenomen); and a female could have borne the cognomen Prisca
or Priscilla.  '[Greek] _Akúlios_ could be corrupted into {Greek]
_Akúlas_, the Greek form of a different name Aquila.

[7] Cf. Acts xii. 12; Col. iv. 15; Philem. 2.  See _S. and H. in loc._

[8] Cf. 1 Cor. xvi. 15.

[9] The term 'apostle' is also used in 2 Cor. viii. 23, Phil. ii. 25,
apparently in the sense of messenger.

[10] Others, including Liddon, would translate 'highly esteemed among,
i.e. _by_, the apostles' but this is not probable.

[11] Mark xv. 21.



_Final warning._

Something occurred before the letter to the Romans was concluded and
dispatched to make St. Paul insert a final warning against false
teachers, who were causing divisions and perverting the gospel as all
Christians had at first received it, in the interests of their personal
aggrandizement.  St. Paul makes a brief but vigorous appeal to the
Romans to be true to their first obedience, and maintain their
reputation unsullied.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which are causing the divisions
and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned:
and turn away from them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord
Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they
beguile the hearts of the innocent.  For your obedience is come abroad
unto all men.  I rejoice therefore over you: but I would have you wise
unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil.  And the
God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


This abrupt insertion strongly reminds us of the Epistle to the
Galatians (see i. 7-9, vi. 13), and of the similar outburst in the
Epistle to the Philippians (iii. 1-3).  St. Paul believed that such
Judaizing teaching was inconsistent with the fundamental Christian
'tradition.'  He does not imply that Rome was already corrupted, but he
scents danger.



_Salutations from St. Paul's companions._

Timothy my fellow-worker saluteth you; and Lucius and Jason and
Sosipater, my kinsmen.  I Tertius, who write the epistle, salute you in
the Lord.  Gaius my host, and of the whole church, saluteth you.
Erastus the treasurer of the city saluteth you, and Quartus the brother.

Most of these persons are very probably otherwise known to us.  Leaving
aside the well-known Timothy, we find a Lucius of Cyrene among the
prophets in Acts xiii. 1[1]; a Jason at Thessalonica, as St. Paul's
host, in Acts xvii. 5 ff; a Sopater (or Sosipater) of Beroea, Acts xx.
4.  Gaius was one of the few whom St. Paul had baptized at Corinth (1
Cor. i. 14), and the Christian church, it appears, met at his house.
Erastus, the treasurer of Corinth, is probably the man mentioned in 2
Tim. iv. 20.

[1] And closely associated with St. Paul.



_Final Doxology._

Now to him that is able to stablish you according to my gospel and the
preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery
which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is
manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the
commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto
obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to
whom[1] be the glory for ever.  Amen.

There is no idea in this doxology with which this epistle has not made
us familiar in substance.  We have been led to think of the gospel, now
proclaimed and entrusted to St. Paul, as the disclosure of a divine
purpose long working secretly: we have been bidden to adore the
unfathomable resourcefulness of the wisdom of God: we have been
constantly referred to the {202} testimony borne by law and prophets to
the gospels: we have been made familiar with the object of the
evangelical preaching, as being to secure 'the obedience of faith among
all the nations.'  And a particular phrase in an epistle written about
the same time[2]--'We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the
wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds
unto our glory, which ... unto us God revealed by his Spirit,'--is
strikingly parallel to the beginning of the doxology.  At the same time
the elaborate richness of the style, as well as many of the ideas,
reminds us irresistibly of the Epistle to the Ephesians[3].  This,
coupled with the fact that there is considerable authority for placing
the doxology at the end of chap. xiv, has led some scholars to adopt
the idea--accepted and elaborated by Dr. Lightfoot--that St. Paul first
wrote the epistle down to xvi. 23, as his Epistle to the Romans, and
subsequently, perhaps during one of his sojourns at Rome, turned it
into a circular letter, omitting for this purpose the last two
chapters, with their personal matter, and adding the doxology in {203}
the rich manner of the Epistle to the Ephesians.  Subsequently the
doxology would have been added also to the complete epistle.  There are
many difficulties in such a theory.  Especially why should the
beginning of chap. xv be cut off from the end of chap. xiv, when there
is no break in thought?  But I do not pursue the subject here[4], for
it would be out of place, and alien to our practical purpose.  There is
no ground for doubting that the whole of what we receive as the epistle
was written by St. Paul; and no ground for thinking that any part of
the whole, down to xvi. 23, was not found in the letter as originally
carried by Phoebe; but it cannot be denied that some mystery, not
easily solved, hangs about the manifold and interrupted conclusions of
the epistle; and that the rich style of the doxology is somewhat unlike
both the rest of the epistle, and the other epistles of this period.
However, whether or no it was written at a later date, at least it
forms a splendid summing up of what is probably the greatest and most
influential letter ever written.

And there is no teaching which we more {204} urgently need to-day than
the teaching of this epistle.  Whether the need be to expand our
personal religion into social service, and also to reinvigorate our
social service with the power of personal religion; or so to reassert
the divine authority of the Church as never to forget that it depends
for its vitality upon personally converted hearts; or to teach men to
remember the inexorable severity of divine judgement, as well as the
depth of the divine compassion; or to rebuke the shallowness which
attempts to separate Christian character from Christian doctrine; or to
harmonize individual freedom with the social claim; or to impart to
self-sacrifice the spirit of humility and gladness and indomitable
hope; or at once to exalt and restrict the function of the State; or to
emphasize the true grounds and limits of toleration in a catholic
church--whatever, one may almost say, be the need to which the special
deficiencies and perils of our church and age give rise, or of which at
the moment we are most conscious, the teaching of St. Paul in this
epistle is found to meet it full face.

Truly we may thank God with a continually growing gratitude for the
gift to us of a letter so inexhaustibly full of spiritual wealth, and
so complete in its provision for the whole of life.

[1] If we retain the words 'to whom' the grammar of the sentence breaks
down, but the object to whom praise is ascribed is probably the Father.

[2] 1 Cor. ii. 7, 10.

[3] See especially Eph. iii. 1-13.  Cf. also 2 Tim. i. 9-11; Titus i.
2, 3.

[4] It is fully treated in Lightfoot's _Biblical Essays_ (Macmillan,
1894), pp. 287 ff, by Lightfoot himself and Hort from different points
of view, and by S. and H., pp. lxxxv. ff.



NOTE A.  See vol. i. p. 59.


The history of the original Hebrew and Greek words for believing or
faith, is very interesting.  The Hebrew verb ('aman') means 'to prop'
or 'support'[1].  Now (1) a form of this verb means 'to be supported,'
hence 'to be firm,' hence '_to be trustworthy_'; (2) another form of
the verb means 'to support oneself on,' and hence '_to trust_,' '_to
believe_.'  From (1) comes the Hebrew substantive ('emunah') meaning
'faithfulness,' 'trustworthiness,' which is used, as elsewhere, so also
in Habakkuk ii. 4.  In that passage it is revealed to the prophet,
that, while the apparently overwhelming wave of Chaldaean barbarism
rolls over him and passes away, 'the just man shall live (or save his
life) by his faithfulness.'  But this faithfulness of the righteous
Israelite means a faithful holding on through the dark days to the word
of God as to a secure ground of confidence; and thus the substantive
used in this place in the Greek Bible ('pistis') tends to pass into the
meaning which it mostly, though not always[2], has in the New
Testament--a meaning derived {206} not from form (1) but from form (2)
of the Hebrew verb mentioned above (which however had no corresponding
substantive)--trust or faith in the word and promise of another,
especially God or Christ; or, still more characteristically, trust in
_the person_ of Christ and so of God.

Even under this heading of belief or trust the range of the word's
meaning is considerable.  In one passage of St. James' Epistle it is a
bare intellectual recognition of the truth of things, without any moral
value ('the devils also believe' that God is one, James ii. 19).  More
often it is that confidence in the divine word or promise, by which the
good man, in lack of present evidence, sustains his courage or his
prayer and wins his victory over the world: so especially in Hebr. xi,
Luke xviii. 8, James ii. 23, 2 Cor. v. 7, 1 John v. 4.  But its most
characteristic use, as said above, is what first appears in the
Gospels.  The person of Jesus is there represented as eliciting from
men a supreme trust in His power to heal diseases, and also to satisfy
that deeper human need of which the disease is an outward symbol.  And
this power of Jesus to heal men in body and soul is seen in the Gospels
to depend upon the extent of their faith: 'Thy faith hath saved thee;'
'According to thy faith be it unto thee.'  Thus Jesus Christ appears
constantly as inspiring, requiring, and rewarding faith in Himself, and
that as the manifested Son of God, e.g. John xiv. 1.  This is 'the
faith which is through Him,' i.e. which He produces; and which as
'faith in His name' remains the characteristic Christian quality when
He is gone from sight (Acts iii. 16).  'The faith' in the Acts (vi. 7,
xiii. 8, xiv. 22, &c.) means this Christian attitude towards the unseen
but living and energizing Christ.

Thus when St. Paul came to believe in Jesus Christ, 'faith in
Jesus,'--as meaning not merely acceptance of His claim or of His word
or of His grace, but {207} whole-hearted devotion to His person, entire
self-surrender or self-committal to Christ or God in Christ--became the
dominant note of his new state: 'I know him whom I have believed, and I
am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto
him against that day' (2 Tim. i. 12[3]).  And this same devotion to
Christ becomes, in St. Paul's theology, in its various stages, the only
ground of man's acceptance with God.  And though he uses 'faith' in a
morally lower sense, as distinct from love--the faith which qualifies
for miracles (1 Cor. xiii. 2)--yet in his characteristic sense of the
term it involves the deepest love towards its divine object[4].

Naturally, as faith is thus _the_ characteristic of Christianity, and
this faith in a person involves a belief about Him--His divine sonship,
His resurrection, His mission of the Spirit--so 'the faith' comes to
mean (objectively) that which the Christian believes, or his creed; and
this sense of the word appears almost in the Acts, in Gal. i. 23, and
in Eph. iv. 5, and certainly in the Pastoral Epistles frequently (see
Dr. Bernard in _Camb. Gr. Test._ on 1 Tim. i. 19) and St. Jude's
Epistle, verse 2.

[1] We are familiar with the derived adverb of confirmation, 'Amen.'

[2] In Rom. iii. 3, Matt, xxiii. 23, it is still used for

[3] In spite of Ellicott, Holtzmann, and Bernard, I believe this to be
the true rendering, and not that of the R.V. margin.

[4] On the development of the principle of faith in the soul, see vol.
i. pp. 29, 30; and on its naturalness, in the highest sense, for man,
see pp. 21, 22.

NOTE B.  See vol. i. p. 103.


There is no word for conscience in the Old Testament.  'The
conception,' says Delitzsch (_Bibl. Psychology_, Clark's {208} trans.,
p. 160), 'is not yet impressed upon it.'  And he accounts for this by
quoting, 'The positive law took away its significance from the natural
moral consciousness.'  The Jews, that is--like other nations at certain
stages of their history--lived so constantly under the detailed
guidance of a law believed to be divine, that there was not much room
for reflection as to the right and wrong of things.  For the idea of
conscience to develop, the will of God must be less clearly and
decisively pronounced as to the details of conduct.  There was,
however, of course among the Jews, in proportion to their belief in a
clear divine law, the consciousness of having done wrong; and on this
account a man's 'heart' is described as 'privy to' an offence, and as
'reproaching' or 'smiting' him: see 1 Kings ii. 44, Job xxvii. 6[1], 1
Sam. xxiv. 5, xxv. 31, 2 Sam. xxiv. 10.  Here is the root of the idea
of conscience, i.e. of something in the man behind his surface self,
reflecting upon what he has done, a self behind himself acquitting or
condemning him, and so anticipating the divine judgement.  For, as
stated above[2], this was in the main the Stoic doctrine of conscience,
and it was among them that the idea was first developed.  Conscience
was conceived of as that in man which lay behind his working self and
reflected on his actions _after they were done_, bringing them into the
light of the 'law of nature' or universal divine law for man.  There is
thus, as it were, in each man a double self, or double consciousness
(_conscientia_), so that one can reflect upon himself, and pass
judgement on his own actions.

It is in this sense of a self-judging faculty in all men reflecting on
what they have done, anticipating a divine {209} judgement, that the
idea of conscience was acclimatized among the Jews.  Thus, in Wisdom
xvii. 11, we read, 'For wickedness, condemned by a witness within, is a
coward thing, and being pressed hard by conscience, always forecasteth
the worst lot.'  In St. John viii. 9, according to one reading, the
Jews are 'convicted by their own conscience.'  So St. Paul, in the
passage discussed above (ii. 15), seems to distinguish the subsequent
reflective 'conscience' from the previous informing reason, 'the effect
(equivalent) of the law written in their hearts.'  And in most of the
passages of the New Testament, this meaning of conscience--the faculty
by which we sit in judgement on what we have already done--is
sufficient.  But sometimes, as also among the Stoics[3], the word
passes into meaning the positive directing faculty, as when (1 Cor.
viii. 10) a man's 'conscience' is said to be 'emboldened' to adopt a
new practice, or (Hebr. ix. 14) to be cleansed for positive service.
Moreover, though it is an individual faculty (see Rom. ii. 15), and
exists primarily to pass judgement on one's own actions only, yet
perforce it must also look without and condemn or approve the actions
of others (2 Cor. iv. 2, v. 11).

St. Paul also brings into notice that our conscience is a faculty for
the condition of which we are responsible.  It is not the voice of God,
but a faculty capable of reflecting His voice, if it be well guarded.
Thus you may have a 'weak' or a 'strong,' i.e. a more or less
enlightened, conscience (1 Cor. viii).  And a man may 'defile' his
'mind and conscience,' i.e. he may corrupt his moral reason and powers
of moral self-judgement (Tit. i. 15).  {210} Then the 'conscience' may
become hardened and 'seared' (1 Tim. iv. 2), so that 'the light that is
in' men becomes itself 'darkness' according to our Lord's warning (St.
Matt. vi. 23).  And there is nothing which is more necessary at the
present day than to remind men that they are not 'safe' because they
are not acting against their conscience, unless they are also
constantly at pains to enlighten their conscience and keep it in the
light, by the help of the best moral thought of their time, the
guidance of the Church and the word of God.  Our conscience, if it is
rightly to reassure us by its witness, must, like St. Paul's
conscience, bear its witness 'in the Holy Ghost' (Rom. ix. 1).

With us moderns 'conscience' has generally the wider meaning of the
whole practical moral consciousness.  It enjoins as well as judges, and
is occupied with the present and the future, as well as with the past.

[1] In LXX [Greek] _ou gàr súnoida emautô átopa práxas_.

[2] Vol. i. p. 103, n. 2.

[3] e.g. when conscience was described by Epictetus as the grown man's
inward tutor [pedagogue], which must obviously mean that it is to
instruct as well as reprove.

NOTE C.  See vol. i. p. 129.


There is no doubt that there has been within the last forty years a
great, and in large measure legitimate, reaction from the
old--mediaeval and Calvinist--teaching about hell.  But one who reads
the early chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, or the Gospels, or
other parts of the New Testament, in view of this reaction, will
probably feel an uncomfortable sense that it has gone too far.  It is
worth while then to try and discriminate.

To put the matter in as brief a summary as befits a note, I should hold
that the reaction has been legitimate so far as it has involved a
repudiation of--


(1) the Calvinist doctrine that God has created some men, no matter
whether many or few, inevitably doomed to everlasting misery.  This
doctrine is flat contrary to some particular statements of the New
Testament (as to its general spirit) and is only a misunderstanding of
others (see above, pp. 8, 29).

(2) any such crude idea of the divine judgement as that God condemns
men for merely _external_ reasons, e.g. because in fact, apart from any
question of will, they were not baptized, or remained pagans or
heretics.  Such a conception is quite inadequate, for the divine
judgement penetrates to the heart.  God is a father: He is absolutely
equitable: He judges men in the light of their opportunities.  He will
reject none whose will is not set to evil.  'This is the judgement that
... men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were
evil' (John iii. 19).

(3) the tendency to exaggerate what is revealed to us, and what,
therefore, we can say we _know_ about the state of man after death.
Thus (_a_) there is nothing really revealed to us as to the relative
proportions of saved and lost.  (_b_) It is certain that we only _know_
of a probation for man here and now--'Now is the accepted time--now is
the day of salvation.'  And the absolutely equitable Father may see the
conditions of an adequate probation equally in every man's earthly lot.
It is therefore foolish to entertain, or encourage any one else to
entertain, an expectation of any other state of probation except that
which we certainly have here in this world.  'It is appointed unto men
once to die, and after that the judgement.'  But if St. Peter could
speak (as of a familiar subject) of the 'gospel' as having been
'preached' by our Lord's human spirit in Hades 'to the dead,' i.e. to
those who had perished in their wickedness under the divine judgement
of the flood: and preached with the intention {212} that _the judgement
might be turned into a blessing and means of spiritual life_--and he
certainly does speak thus (1 Peter iv. 6, cf. iii. 19): I do not see
how we can deny the possibility at any period, or in the case of any
person, of an unfulfilled probation being accomplished beyond death.
(_c_) Careful attention to the origin of the doctrine of the necessary
immortality or indestructibility of each human soul, as stated for
instance by Augustine and Aquinas[1], will probably convince us that it
was no part of the original Christian message, or of really catholic
doctrine[2].  It was rather a speculation of Platonism taking
possession of the Church.  And this consideration leaves open
possibilities of the ultimate extinction of personal consciousness in
the lost, which Augustinianism somewhat rudely, closed.

But to have convicted our forefathers of going, in certain parts of
their teaching, beyond what was certainly revealed, affords no
justification for doing the same ourselves in an opposite extreme; by
asserting for example positively (_a_) that almost all men will be
'saved'; or (_b_) that there is probation to be looked for beyond
death; or (_c_) that the souls of 'the lost' will be at the last
extinguished.  These positive positions are no more justified than
those of our forefathers which we have deprecated.  We must recognize
the limits of positive knowledge.

And when we have come to the end of what a legitimate reaction from the
teaching of our forefathers restores to us, in the direction of a
'larger hope,' we are still face to {213} face with the fact of
'eternal judgement.'  Men, as far as their individual destinies are
concerned, are passing towards one of two ends, not towards one only--a
divine judgement of approval _or_ of condemnation; and both judgements
are represented as final and irreversible; and they are the inevitable
outcome of the moral law by which our probation is realized--that
voluntary acts form habits, and habits stereotype into a fixed
character.  It is foolish to look to the process or moment of death for
redemption from sin; for death, as far as we know, only transplants us
with the character we have made for ourselves, and with continuous
consciousness, into the unknown world; so that if in this life we have
unfitted ourselves for God, we must find it out beyond death, and know
there the full meaning of our awful miscalculation here.  And the
awakening of the 'lost' to what they have cast away--to the meaning of
irreversible self-exclusion from the presence of God--is imaged as
unspeakably awful; and their state is pictured in metaphors and phrases
descriptive both of torment and finality--'outer darkness,' 'gnawing
worm,' 'unquenchable fire,' 'eternal punishment,' 'eternal sin,' 'sin
which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in that which
is to come,' eternal 'death,' or exclusion from eternal life, 'eternal
ruin,' 'wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish.'

In face of all these sayings, it seems to me indisputable that
'universalism'--the teaching that there are to be none finally lost--is
an instance of wilfulness.  To speak of that which lies beyond death,
even in the case of the worst and most impenitent criminal, as a place

  'Where God unmakes but to remake the soul
  He else made first in vain--which must not be,'

is, I cannot but feel, in flat contradiction to the whole tone of the
New Testament.


It is no doubt true that there is in the New Testament an expectation
of a final unity of the whole universe in God, and that we find it hard
to conceive the relation of lost souls in hell to this final unity.
Certainly all legitimate avenues of dim conjecture that a very limited
revelation allows to be kept open, ought to be kept open.  Certainly we
know in part--the partialness of our knowledge can hardly be
exaggerated.  But we must be true to both elements in what is disclosed
to us; and Dr. Martineau has reminded us[3] how deeply 'the belief in a
separate heaven and hell, and a corresponding distribution of men into
only two classes of good and bad, friends and enemies of God,' though
'at first sight nothing can appear more unnatural and defiant of all
fact,' is yet bound up with 'the inward look' of moral evil and the
fundamental reality of moral choice.  In fact it seems to be true to
say that a really Christian Theism, and a really Christian doctrine of
human freedom, are inseparable from the belief in the possibility of
wilful sin leading to final ruin.

'It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgement';
and this judgement in the case of those of us who have wilfully
hardened themselves, or remained loveless and love-rejecters, in face
of the real offer of God to man in Christ Jesus, is a divine
condemnation which takes effect in an eternal punishment, the
bitterness as well as the justice of which the soul realizes, and
which--if it does not necessarily mean an everlasting continuance of
personal consciousness--is yet final and irreversible, and unspeakably

[1] _Summa_, pars. 1, qu. 75, art. 6, 'Respondeo dicendum, quod necesse
est dicere, animam humanam, quam dicimus intellectivum principium, esse

[2] See Dr. Agar Beet's _Last Things_ (Hodder and Stoughton, 1898), pp.
194 ff, and Gladstone's _Studies Subsidiary to Butler_ (Oxford, 1896),
part ii. pp. 260 ff.

[3] See _Types of Ethical Theory_ (Oxford, 1885), ii. pp. 60 ff.

[4] The only passage in the New Testament which strongly suggests an
_everlasting_ persistence of personal consciousness of pain, is Rev.
xx. 10, 'Shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.'  This is
explicit enough.  But I am persuaded that all the numbers and
expressions for periods of time in the Apocalypse are strictly
symbolical.  'A thousand years,' 'forty and two months,' 'three days
and a half,' 'day and night for ever and ever,' are expressions which
have to be translated into some moral equivalent before they can be
made the basis of literal teaching.  Thus 'day and night for ever and
ever' describes in a picture the _completeness_ of the final overthrow
and the anguish of the enemies of the Lamb.  The symbolical character
of the expression is further indicated by 'the beast' and 'the false
prophet'--themselves symbolical figures--being with the devil the
subjects of the torment.

Some will say that the deterrent effect of the doctrine of hell depends
upon its being held to be a state of strictly endless conscious
torment.  I do not believe this is the case.  The language of the New
Testament is full enough of deterrent horror if we are faithful to it.
And after all, this is all we have a right to be.


NOTE D.  See vol. i. pp. 143 ff.


I have endeavoured above to sketch the positive conception of the
Atonement, as St. Paul seems to put it before us.  Christ inaugurates
the church of the new covenant, the new life of union with God.  He
lays its basis in a great act of reparation to the righteousness of
God, which 'the old Adam' had continually outraged.  This act of
reparation lies in a moral sacrifice of obedience, carried to the
extreme point by the shedding of His blood.  This is the great
propitiation in virtue of which God is enabled, without moral
misunderstanding, to forgive freely the sins of any one who comes in
faith to unite himself to Christ, and set him free to begin the new

The subject is a divine 'mystery,' and we shall never adequately probe
it.  Nay more, one man's thought will rightly seem inadequate to
another, who has gained, or thinks he has gained, some special avenue
of insight into {216} the divine depths.  But when we pass from special
points of view, which are necessarily more or less individual, and can
never become certainties for men in general--when we pass on to the
ground of what should be the common church belief, the statement of the
original revelation, it is not, it seems to me, liable to any of the
familiar moral objections, or indeed a subject of any special
difficulty.  The difficulties experienced by the moral consciousness of
our age have been due to gross and unnecessary misunderstandings, of
which the following are, perhaps, the most considerable.

(1) The propitiation has become separated from the new life, for which
it merely prepares the way.  It has been elevated, with disastrous
moral results, from a means to an end.  Christ's work _for us_ has been
treated apart from His work _in us_, in which alone it is realized.  He
alone can act _for_ all men, because He only can be their new life
within.  But on this see vol. i. pp. 141 f, and _Ephes._ pp. 54 ff.

(2) The idea of injustice has been introduced into the 'transaction' of
the Atonement, and has been the most fruitful source of
difficulty;--but quite unnecessarily.  There is a story that when
Edward VI was a child, and deserved punishment, another boy was taken
and whipped in his place.  This monstrously unjust transaction has been
taken by Christian teachers as an illustration of the Atonement; and it
is truly an illustration of the Atonement as they misconceived it.  But
the misconception is gratuitous: there is no real resemblance in the
two cases.  For first, what is represented to us in the New Testament
is not that Jesus Christ, an innocent person, was punished, without
reference to His own will, by a God who thus showed Himself indifferent
as to whom He punished so long as some one suffered.  But He, being
Himself very God, the Son of the Father, the administrator of the {217}
moral law and judge of the world, of His own will became man, and
suffered what the sin of the world laid upon Him, in order that He
might lift the world out of sin.  Voluntary self-sacrifice for others
is at least not to be described as injustice.  At least we rejoice to
recognize that God accepts such self-sacrifice.  It is to vicarious
self-sacrifice like our Lord's that the human race owes the greater
part of whatever moral progress it has hitherto made.

Secondly, God is not represented as imposing any specially devised
punishment on His only Son in our nature.  As the matter is stated in
the New Testament, He required of Him obedience, the obedience proper
to man; and, if we regard sympathy with our fellow men as a part of our
duty to God, we may say obedience only.  Thus, 'Lo, I come to do thy
will, O God' is the one cry of the Christ.  In His simple acceptance of
the whole of human duty lies the moral essence and value of His
sacrifice.  All the physical and mental sufferings of Christ came out
of His fulfilment of the human ideal, Godward and manward, and were
involved in it.  He died because obedience to the terms of His
mission--'the word of truth, and meekness, and righteousness'--in a
world of sin such as this is, involved dying.  'He was obedient'
without reserve--'unto death, even the death of the cross[1].'  The
value of the bloodshedding lies in this, so far as Scripture enables us
to judge--that it represents utter obedience under conditions which
human sin, the sin of Jews and Gentiles, laid upon Him: and it was in
this sense, which does not leave out of consideration the mental
torment caused to His sinless spirit by contact with sin[2], that He
'bare our sins in his body {218} on the tree,' and that 'the Lord made
to light on him the iniquity of us all.'  What is ascribed to the
Father is that He 'spared not' His only Son by miraculously exempting
Him from the consequences of His mission; and that He foresaw,
overruled, and used for His own wise and loving purposes the sin of

Thirdly and lastly, the Christ (as represented in the New Testament)
did not suffer in order that we might be let off the punishment for our
own sins, but in order to bring us to God.  'By his stripes we
are'--not excused punishment, but--'healed.'  In fact, there are two
distinguishable punishments for sin.  There is the spiritual
punishment, which is involved in being morally alienated from God,
which may become irreversible and eternal, but which is gone when the
moral alienation is gone.  From this Christ delivers us in making us at
one again with the Father, but He Himself did not endure it.  God
forbid that we should imagine such a thing!  Besides this there is the
temporal penalty which our sins bring as inevitable consequences upon
ourselves and upon the race.  All these consequences of human sin the
sinless Christ bore for us, but not that we might be let off {219}
bearing them.  We must bear them too--both the death of the body and
the chastisement of particular sins.  Christ bore the punishment of
sins that were not His own, in order that in our case the punishments
of sins which are our own might, through His bringing us back to God,
be converted into healing chastisements and gracious penances.  The
record of God's dealings with His saints is still, as in Ps. xcix. 8,
that they are heard, forgiven and punished.

How gratuitously then the idea of injustice has been introduced into
the doctrine of Christ's sacrifice for us becomes evident when once it
is brought within the scriptural limits.  Christ suffered voluntarily.
He suffered simply what was involved in becoming man in a world of sin.
He suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us
back to God, that so we might have grace to bear our own sufferings and
share His.

This alone, it seems to me, is what the New Testament certainly
teaches.  And the matter of most importance is that, ridding our minds
of distracting and often needless difficulties, we should drink in,
with heart and intelligence alike, the full force of what is certainly
part of the Gospel--the doctrine of the one, full, perfect, and
sufficient atonement with the Father, won for us by the self-sacrifice
of the Christ.

[1] Phil. ii. 8; Hebr. x. 5-9.

[2] The perfect Man perfectly realized the misery and horror of the
sins on behalf of which He suffered.  How much is involved in this in
the way of detailed realization of each individual sin of each
individual sinner, is a matter on which we have no clear grounds for
exact statement.

[3] I believe that nothing more than this is really suggested by
Scripture.  The phrase, 'made _sin_ for us' (2 Cor. v. 21), means, I
believe, according to the clear use of the word in the LXX, 'made a
_sin-offering_ for us.'  The same words in the Hebrew stand for sin and
sin-offering, and the use of the Greek follows: see especially (in LXX)
Lev. iv. 31, 'It is the sin (= sin-offering) of the assembly;' 24, 'It
(the goat) is a sin;' 29, 'He shall lay his hand upon the head of the
sin;' vi. 25, 'This is the law of the sin'; viii. 14, 'The bullock of
the sin.'  Cf. Hos. iv. 8, &c.

NOTE E.  See vol. i. p. 196.


There is a wide-spread and popular notion that a marked contradiction
exists between the biological theory {220} of evolution and the
Christian doctrine of the Fall, which may be stated and examined under
several heads:--

I.--'According to the theory of evolution man began his career at the
bottom, emerging from purely animal life, and slowly struggled upwards
to his present level of attainment.  According to the Christian
doctrine, on the contrary, he was created perfect, and then
subsequently fell into sin and accompanying misery.  Thus, according to
one theory, man began at the bottom; according to the other, he began
at the top.'

Now there is no doubt that when so stated the evidence is all in favour
of the scientific point of view, and against the Christian.  But such a
contrast requires the greatest modification on both sides before it can
be taken as truly representing the facts.  Thus, it is not the case
that the Bible suggests that man was created perfect, i.e. perfectly
developed, and that his later course has been simply the effect of the
Fall, i.e. a downward course.  Leaving first out of account Gen. i-iii,
we notice that the Bible is conspicuously, and in marked contrast to
the religious books of other nations, the book of development.  It
looks continuously and systematically forward, not backward, for the
perfecting of man.  It traces the beginning of civilization in Abel,
the keeper of sheep, Cain, the tiller of the ground, in Jabal, 'the
father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle,' in Jubal, the father
of music, 'of all such as handle the harp and pipe,' in Tubal Cain, the
first forger of brass and iron work; it indicates the origin of
religious worship (in some sense) at the time of Enoch, and the origin
of building with the tower of Babel.  The names of Noah, Abraham,
Moses, Samuel, David, &c., represent stages of advance along the line
of a chosen people; and later on it appears also that upon the chosen
people centres a hope for all nations, and a purpose is discovered in
universal history.  The special {221} intellectual qualities of various
races or civilizations, as of Egypt and Tyre, are recognized by some of
the prophets, and recognized as part of a divine purpose for the
world[1].  The Bible then is the book of development; it looks forward,
not backward.  But it is also true that all this development is
represented as having been (we may say) a second-best thing.  It has
not been according to God's first purpose.  There has been a great and
continual hindrance, which has consisted in a persistent rebellion or
sin on man's part against God; and this again has had its root in a
certain perversion of the heart of mankind which is regarded as
approximately universal.  If we now take into account again the first
three chapters of Genesis (which, however, have left much less trace
than is commonly supposed in the Old Testament as a whole[2]) we find
that they describe an original act of rebellion on the part of the
first human pair, which is there spoken of as at least entailing
external consequences of a penal sort upon their descendants--that is
death, pain, and the loss of Paradise; and that later, especially in
the teaching of St. Paul, the universal moral flaw in human nature
(original sin) is also represented as having its source in this initial
act of rebellion.

Sin is therefore, according to our Christian scriptures, something
unnatural to man: the violation of his nature by his rebellion; and it
is a continual element of deterioration.  But the idea that man was
created perfect, i.e. so as not to need development, is not suggested.
No doubt theologians, from the age of Augustine down to recent times,
have done something more than suggest it.  Thus Robert South supposes
that 'an Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the
rudiments of Paradise'; and Milton implanted the idea in the {222}
imagination of Englishmen; but it is in no way suggested by the Bible,
and was expressly repudiated by the earliest Christian theologians in
east and west.  Thus, in answer to the question whether Adam was formed
perfect or imperfect, Clement of Alexandria replied, 'They shall learn
from us that he was not perfect in respect of his creation, but in a
fit condition to receive virtue.'  And Irenaeus says that it was in the
power of God to make men perfect from the beginning, but that such an
initial perfection would be contrary to the law of human nature, which
is the law of gradual growth[3].  We must therefore modify the
statement of Christian doctrine from which we started, thus:--_Man has
been slowly led, or has slowly developed, towards the divine ideal of
his Creator; but his actual development has been much less rapid and
constant than it might have been, owing to the fact of sin from which
he might have been free_.

Now, can it be fairly said that science can take any legitimate
exception to such a statement?  The progress of man which
anthropological science discloses is very broken, very partial; if
development of some sort is universal, progress is very rare, distinct
deterioration not uncommon.  Science, like poetry and philosophy, must
bear witness to the disappointing element in human nature, of which He
was so conscious of whom it is said that 'He did not trust himself to
man, because he needed not that any one should bear witness concerning
man, for he himself knew what was in man'--the sad secret of human
untrustworthiness and unsatisfactoriness[4].

Again, can science assert that this actual development of man, so
thwarted and tainted and partial, has been the only possible
development, and that there could not have been a better?  If it cannot
say this, there is in the {223} general view of human progress and
deterioration no antagonism between religion and science.

II.--But it may be said, 'Science certainly does say that the actual
development of man has been the only possible development.  Science
excludes the idea of sin in the sense of something which need not have
happened, because it excludes the idea of freedom or contingency
altogether.  Good and bad characters are like good and bad apples--mere
facts of natural growth'; or more suggestively, 'Sin (so called) is
only the survival of brute instincts, which, from a higher condition of
evolution, men have come to be ashamed of.'

It cannot be made too emphatic that here is the real battle-ground of
religion and science to-day, though the fact is often concealed in
popular controversy.  _I do not believe there is any real difficulty in
adjusting sufficiently the relations of religion and science as to the
Fall when once the idea of sin has been admitted--that is, the idea of
free, responsible action, with its correlative, the possibility of
wrong action which might have been avoided_.  Christian and other
teachers have, no doubt, often failed to see how limited human freedom
is, but they have never been wrong in asserting that the reality of
freedom within limits is essential to Christianity and morality.  Sin
is not a mere fact of nature.  It is a perversion which ought not to
have been.  This subject is not what is directly before us now; but the
heart of the controversy is here; and I will make the following very
brief remarks upon it.

(1) A theory that cannot be put into practice, or a theory that cannot
account for the facts, is a false or at least inadequate theory.  Now
the theory of necessary determinism cannot be put into practice.  To
believe that our own conduct is not really under our own control--that
the idea of responsibility is at bottom an illusion--is to destroy the
basis of human life and education.  Even {224} the holders of the
theory admit that it must be kept out of sight in practice.

Further, it is a theory that cannot account for the facts--viz. for the
existence of the universal sense of responsibility; and the application
to human action of moral blame and praise, which penetrates the whole
of thought and language, and which holds too large a place in human
life to be a delusion.  We are not ashamed of a physical accident, but
we are ashamed of telling a lie.  And this difference is fundamental
and based on reality.

(2) The Christian assumption may be stated as follows: granted that we
cannot increase the sum of force which passes from external sources
into our system, and passes out again in manifold forms of human
action, yet within certain limits we can direct it for good or
evil--i.e. the 'voluntary' part of a man's action may be determined
from below, so to speak, by purely animal motives, or by rational and
spiritual motives.  In the latter case, the action is of the proper
human quality, and stamps a rational and spiritual character upon all
that falls within its range.  In the former case, it may be truly
regarded as a survival of the physical instincts of animal progenitors,
and no doubt it emerges as a part of the physical order of the world.
But, considered as human action, it represents a lapse, a culpable
subordination of the higher to the lower in our nature, a violation of
the law proper to manhood[5].  This is the point.  St. John says, 'All
sin is lawlessness,' and (by the exact form of expression which he
uses) he implies also that all lawlessness is sin.  Here, and here only
where voluntary action begins, do you see violation of law, and
therefore, within limits, a disturbance of the divine order--something
which ought to have been otherwise.


(3) The belief that the moral evil of our nature does not properly
belong to our nature but is its violation, and that if once the will be
set right it can be remedied, has been the secret of the moral strength
of Christianity.  Christianity has said to all men, However corrupted
your nature, the corruption does not essentially belong to you.  Give
your wills to God, and, if slowly, yet surely, if not fully in this
world, then beyond it, all can be set right.  'According to thy faith
be it unto thee.'  And the practical power of this appeal, shows its
agreement with reality.

(4) On the other hand, it cannot be claimed that the theory is contrary
to any real scientific _knowledge_; for biology confesses that it knows
very little as to the actual methods by which force is redistributed in
human action.  It is contrary only to some large and unverifiable
assumptions--assumptions which ignore the abstract character of
biological psychology, as of other sciences.

Now granted this reality of free voluntary action, it will hardly be
denied that history discloses to us a practically universal prevalence
of sin[6], in the present and in the past; and we can hardly fail to
perceive, lying behind actual sins, a tendency to sin--what Shelley
calls 'the ineradicable taint of sin,' a perverse inclination inhering
in the stock of our manhood, which is what theology calls original sin.

III.--But here a more modern objection occurs.  Christianity assumes
that this moral flaw or taint, weakness or grossness, in human nature
is the outcome of actual transgressions, in other words that original
sin is due to actual sin, whereas the tendency of recent biological
science is to deny that acquired characters can be inherited, and
therefore to deny that any acts of any man or men could have any effect
on the congenital moral nature of their descendants; the taint or fault
in {226} human nature, must be a taint or fault in that original
substance which what is called man derived from his pre-human ancestry.
To this I reply:--This is no doubt the view which Professor Weismann
has made more or less prevalent.  The substance of heredity
('germ-plasm') is taken to be a substance _per se_, which has always
occupied a special 'sphere' of its own, without any contact with that
of 'somatoplasm' further than is required for its lodgement or
nutrition; hence it can never be in any degree modified as to its
hereditary qualities by use-inheritance.  It has been absolutely
continuous 'since the first origin of life.'

But this doctrine does not appear yet to have assumed a fixed form[7];
and in its extreme or absolute form it is highly disputable, and
rejected by large sections of biologists.  Professor Haeckel[8]
declares contemptuously that he should feel it more reasonable to
accept the Mosaic account of special creations!  The late Mr. Romanes,
after summing up the evidence on both sides without any contempt,
decides: 'No one is thus far entitled to conclude against the possible
transmission of acquired characters[9].'  Again, 'that this substance
of heredity is largely continuous and highly stable, I see many and
cogent reasons for believing.  But that this substance has been
uninterruptedly continuous since the origin of life, or absolutely
stable since the origin of sexual propagation, I see even more and
better reasons for disbelieving[10].'  And he remarks[11], 'I doubt not
Weismann {227} himself would be the first to allow that his theory of
heredity encounters greater difficulties in the domain of ethics than
in any other--unless indeed, it be that of religion.'

I ought to add, in view of the apparently improbable event of the
doctrine of Weismann becoming in its absolute form the accepted
doctrine of biologists, that of course it only concerns the material
organism.  No one who is not a materialist would deny the _possibility_
of the character of the parent modifying at its very root that of the
child, without even the smallest conceivable modification of the
physical organism; because in the origination of a spiritual
personality, and in the link which binds it to the antecedent
personalities to which it owes its being, there is that which lies
outside the purview of biological science.  There _may_ be an
inheritance of sinful tendencies derived from sinful acts in the region
of the spiritual personality, even if no physical transmission is

However it be explained, it appears to be the case that Christianity is
bound to maintain the position that in the region of moral character
there is, in fact, a solidarity in humanity.  We are bound together.
Our acts, as they form our own character, do somehow or other, however
slightly, modify the characters of our descendants for good or evil.
And this modification of the tendencies of the race by the acts of
individuals may have been more marked at the beginning than it is

On the other hand Christianity is not in any way interested in denying
that man derives a physical heritage of habits and tendencies from a
pre-human ancestry.  All I imagine that Christianity is interested in
affirming is this--that when the animal organism became the
dwelling-place of the human spirit (so to speak) that human spirit
might have taken one of two courses.  It {228} might have followed the
path of the divine will; and in that case human development would have
represented a steady and gradual spiritualizing of the animal nature
reaching on towards perfection.  It might have taken, on the other
hand, and did in fact take (more or less), the line of wilful
disobedience.  And the moral effects of this wilfulness and
disobedience from the beginning onwards have been felt from parent to
son.  So that the springs of human conduct have been weakened and
perverted, and no man has started without some bias in the wrong
direction which would not have been there if his ancestors for many
generations had been true to God.

It is worth noticing in passing that 'original sin' is not a fixed
quantity derived from one lapse of the original man, but is a moral
weakness continually reinforced by every actual transgression, and, on
the other hand, reduced in force by moral resistance and self-control.
Individuals start at very different levels of depravity.  Only it would
appear that practically in no man but One is there any reason to
believe the fundamental nature immaculate.

IV.--But it will be said 'You have not yet touched upon a big central
contradiction between religion and science.  According to the Christian
doctrine mankind is derived from a single specifically human pair, made
human by a special inspiration of the Divine Spirit.  According to the
theory of evolution, a certain species of apes under specially
favourable conditions gradually advanced to become what might be called
man, though of a very low type.'  To this I am inclined to make reply
thus: Christianity is really bound up with maintaining four
positions--(1) the reality of moral freedom; (2) the fact of sin,
properly so called as distinct from imperfection; (3) its practical
universality, at least as an inherited tendency; and (4) the unity of
the human race in such {229} sense that the same postulates may be made
with regard to all men, and the same capacity for moral redemption
(more or less) assumed to be in them.  Now, as regards the first three
of these positions enough has been said already, and the last of them
does not appear to be at present in dispute between science and
religion.  St. Paul says, 'God made of one' (or 'of one blood,' for
this reading is possibly right) 'every nation of men' (Acts xvii. 26).
And of one blood, if not of one individual, all men are, according to
the present conclusions of biological science.  A recent work on
ethnology, by Mr. Keane (Cambridge Geographical Series), speaks
thus:--'The hominidae are not separately evolved in an absolute
sense--i.e. from so many different anthropoid precursors, but the
present primary divisions are separately evolved from so many different
pleistocene precursors, themselves evolved through a single pliocene
prototype from a single anthropoid precursor[12].'

It does not seem to me, then, that Christianity is really bound up with
anything more than the unity of the human race, which science also
strongly asserts.  But to pass from these positions, which may be
regarded as certain, to something more conjectural (apart from any
question of the literary character of Genesis iii), we may argue thus:
Sin is a fact having the same character universally in human history,
though the sense of sin has varied greatly, reaching back as far as
human history extends.  This would lead us to suppose that it goes back
to the roots of the race.  It suggests some original {230} fall, some
tainting of the race in its origin.  I do not see, then, anything
absurd or contrary to evidence in such a hypothesis as this.--The
Divine Spirit is assumed to be at work in all the development of the
world.  The 'laws of nature' are but His methods.  At a certain moment
a new thing had emerged in the universe hitherto inorganic.  It was the
fact of life.  It was new[13].  But it was in continuity with what had
gone before.  This principle of life had its great development,
vegetable and animal.  It had attained a form in certain anthropoid
apes such as we are familiar with in men.  Suppose then that the Divine
Spirit breathes Himself, again in a new way, into one single pair or
group of these anthropoid animals.  There is lodged in them for the
first time a germ of spiritual consciousness, continuous with animal
intelligence, and yet distinct from it.  From this pair or group
humanity has its origin.  If they and their offspring had been true to
their spiritual capacities the animal nature would have been more
rapidly spiritualized in motives and tendencies.
Development--physical, moral, spiritual--would have been steady and
glorious.  Whereas there was a fall at the very root of our humanity;
and the fall was repeated and reiterated and renewed, and the
development of our manhood was tainted and spoiled.  There was a lapse
into approximately animal condition, which is dimly known to us as
primitive savagery.  So that the condition of savage man is a parody of
what God intended man in his undeveloped stages to be, just as the
condition of civilized man in London and Paris is a parody of what God
intended developed man to come to.  And there have been long and dreary
epochs when men have {231} seemed to lose almost all human ideals and
divine aspirations; when, in St. Paul's phrase, they were 'alive
without the law,' living a physical life unvisited by the remorse
consequent upon any knowledge of better things.  And there have been,
on the other hand, epochs and special occasions of spiritual
opportunity and spiritual restorations.  And so, on the whole, side by
side with the continually deteriorating effect of sin, has gone on the
slow process of redemption, the undoing of the evil of sin and the
realization of the divine purpose for man.  Such an idea of human
history, partly only hypothetical, partly assured, conflicts with no
scientific ethnology, and is but a restatement of old-fashioned
Christianity in all that has religious importance.

V.--Of course, in all this I am assuming that the doctrine of sin and
of the Fall in its true importance has a much securer basis than the
supposition that Genesis iii is literal history.  The doctrine of the
Fall is, as I have said, not separable from the doctrine of sin, or the
doctrine of sin from that of moral freedom.  It rests upon the broad
basis of human experience, especially upon Christian experience, which
is bound up with its reality.  Most of all it rests, for Christians, on
the teaching of Christ.  For Christ's teaching and action postulate
throughout the doctrine of sin.  But that doctrine in its turn goes
back upon the Old Testament, which is full of the truth that the evils
of human nature are due, not to its essential constitution, but to
man's wilfulness and its results; that the disordering force in human
nature has been moral, the force of sin; that human history represents
in one aspect a fall from a divine purpose, a fall constantly
reiterated and renewed in acts of disobedience.  These constant acts of
disobedience are in part caused by an evil heart in human nature, and
this in its turn exhibits the fruits of past sins.  Granted this, {232}
the story in Genesis iii, whether it be historical or whether (as not
only many modern Christians, but some of the greatest of early
Christians, have thought) it be not an historical account of a single
event, but a generalized account of what is continually happening, has,
at any rate, vital spiritual truth.  The character of its inspiration
is apparent.  Teach a child what sin is, first of all on the ground of
general Christian experience and the teaching of Christ, and then read
to it the story of Genesis iii, and the child must perforce recognize
the truth in a form in which it cannot be forgotten.  There in that
story all the main points of truth as to the meaning of sin are
suggested, and the main sources of error precluded.  Sin is not our
nature, but wilfulness; sin is disobedience to the divine law, the
refusal of trust in God; there is such a thing as being tempted to sin,
and yielding to it, and then finding that we have been deceived, being
conscience-stricken and fearing to face God; and the curse of our
manhood springs from nowhere ultimately but our own evil heart.  And if
our sins lay us under an outward discipline, which is God's punishment,
yet in the very discipline lies the hope of our recovery.  God the
destroyer is also the God who promises redemption.  Thus all that we
most need to know about God and man, about obedience and disobedience,
about temptation, about the blessing and the cursing of human nature,
about conscience good and bad, is to be found in the story of Genesis
iii, written in language suitable to the childhood of the individual
and of the race.

VI.--But once more, and for the last time, the biologist will reply,
'You are not going to get off so easily.  The fact of physical death is
inextricably interwoven into the structural growth of the world long
before men appeared.  But Christianity regards it as a mere consequence
of human sin.'  This is not the case.  Long before science {233} had
investigated the early history of life on our globe, Christian teachers
both in East and in West--St. Augustine as well as St. Athanasius--had
taught that death is the law of physical nature, that it had been in
the world before man, and that 'man was by nature mortal,' because, as
being animal, he was subject to death.  How, then, do they interpret
the language of Scripture?  In this way: They hold that if man had been
true to his spiritual nature, the supernatural life, the life in God,
would have blunted the forces of corruption, and lifted him into a
higher and immortal state.

Certainly, in some sense, death, as we know it, for man, is regarded,
especially in the New Testament, as the penalty of sin.  But then what
do we mean by death?  If sin is said to have introduced human death,
Christ is constantly said to have abolished it.  'This is the bread
that cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.'
'Whosoever believeth on me shall never die.'  'Christ Jesus abolished
death.'  Sin, then, we may suppose, only introduced death in some sense
such as that in which Christ abolished it.  Christ has not abolished
the physical transition from this world to the invisible world, but He
has robbed it of its terror, its sting, its misery.  Apart from sin we
may suppose man would not have died; that is, he would never have had
that horrible experience which he has called death.  There would have
been only some transition full of a glorious hope from one state of
being to another.

We are again in the region of conjecture.  All that I am here
interested in asserting is that Christianity never has held to the
position that human sin first introduced death _into the world_.  What
it has taught is that _human_ death, as men have known it, with its
horror and its misery, has represented not God's intention for man, but
the curse of sin.


VII.--Now I have endeavoured to face and meet the points which are
urged in the name of science against the Christian doctrine of the
Fall.  I have endeavoured to point out that what is essential to
Christianity is to believe in the reality of moral freedom, and the
consequent reality of sin, as something which need not have been in the
individual, or in the race considered as a unity.  This is all that
Christianity is really pledged to maintain.  In maintaining this we are
maintaining what is absolutely essential to the moral well-being of the
race, and, moreover, what has the deepest roots in man's moral
experience and in the teaching of Christ.  In holding this we hold the
doctrine of the Fall, a doctrine, that is, that man's condition has
been throughout a parody of the divine intention, owing to the fact of
sin tainting and spoiling his development from the root.  But
Christianity is not in any kind of way pledged against the doctrine of
development, only against the doctrine which no reasonable science can
hold, that the actual development of man has been the best or only
possible one.  Nor, I have urged, can it be reasonably said that the
Christian doctrine of sin and of the Fall is bound up with one
particular interpretation of Genesis iii.  All, then, that we must
admit in the way of collision between Christianity and science is, on
the one hand, that Christianity is not intended to teach men science,
and that when there is any great advance in human knowledge it takes a
little while for Christianity to extricate itself from the meshes of
the language and ideas belonging to one stage of scientific knowledge,
and to assimilate the terms and ideas of the new.  But, on the other
hand, there is perennial and necessary warfare between Christianity and
materialistic science, or a science which denies the reality of moral
freedom.  And as to Christianity giving up what is proper to its own
ground--its teaching about {235} freedom and sin and the Fall, and
God's purpose for man, and the love shown in his redemption--to give up
this is to give up what is the best and deepest motive of human
progress, and what is most surely certificated by the witness of Christ
and the spiritual experience of Christendom.  Indeed all schemes of
human improvement are shallow and inadequate, which do not deal with
man as what, in fact, he has been proved to be, a sinful, that is a
fallen, being, needing not only education but redemption.

Before leaving this attempt to show that there is no necessary conflict
between biological and theological science, it is important to call the
attention of the intelligent public to the fact that what formerly
appeared to be the solid consistency of the 'Darwinian' creed, has been
broken up into a state not far removed from chaos.  It has become
apparent how very little way has really been made towards showing what
have been the actual factors in evolution--how the fact of evolution
through variation has actually occurred.  Thus Mr. Bateson[14] remarks,
'If the study of variation can serve no other end, it may make us
remember that the complexity of the problem of specific difference is
hardly less now than it was when Darwin first showed that natural
history is a problem, and no vain riddle.'  What is the cause of
variations occurring?  What law do they exhibit in their occurrence?
Do variations occur with a certain degree of sudden completeness[15]?
Or how are we to {236} explain the maintenance of variations, which in
a more developed stage are to be very useful, before they can be shown
to be useful at all?  What is the place held in evolution by 'natural
selection'?  What, if any, the place held by use-inheritance?  Is the
factor of 'mimicry,' supported by Darwin, an important or even real
factor in evolution?  What is to be the issue of the controversy
between the biologist and the physicist on the question of the time
required for organic development?  Are we to suppose that organic
development at the beginning proceeded very much more rapidly than at a
later stage?  Or even that it exhibited laws of which we have no
experience now, such as would admit of a 'natural' development of life
out of what is not living?  All these, and many more questions, appear
to be so completely open that, granted the general theory of continuous
evolution as against special creation, hardly anything as regards the
factors or causes of evolution can be said to be scientifically
settled.  Thus on such subjects as the origin of the human race, its
exact relation to an animal ancestry, and the right interpretation of
the fact of sin, {237} before science can make demands on theology,
there must be more agreement in her own camp.

[1] See especially Ezekiel xxviii, xxxi.

[2] See vol. i. p. 193.

[3] Clem. Alex. _Strom_, vi. 12. 96; Iren. _c. Haer._ iv. 38.

[4] See also above, vol. i. pp. 78, 79.

[5] On the meaning of 'freedom of will,' see vol. i. pp. 230 ff.

[6] See above, vol. i. pp. 80-1.

[7] Romanes, _Examination of Weismannism_ (Longmans, 1893), pp. 61-70,

[8] _The Last Link_ (Black, 1899), p. 79.

[9] Romanes, _Darwin and after Darwin_ (Longmans, 1895), ii. p. 279.

[10] _Examination of Weismannism_, pp. 114, 115.

[11] _Darwin and after Darwin_, ii. p. 90.

[12] See also in Haeckel, _Last Link_, p. 148: 'We assume the single
monophyletic origin of mankind at one place, in one district'; and
passages cited above, vol. i. p. 196, n. 1.  The science of comparative
religions also suggests the same conclusion.  Everywhere common
underlying religious needs and tendencies appear.  Acts xvii. 27 is
justified by a comparison of religions.

[13] It must not be left out of sight that the idea of life as
naturally derived from what was inorganic, has not yet been made to
appear even scientifically probable, in view of the evidence.

[14] W. Bateson, _Materials for the Study of Variations, treated with
especial regard to discontinuity in the origin of species_ (Macmillan,
1894), p. xii.

[15] Biologists are now apparently more disposed than formerly to admit
the sudden appearance of considerable and important modifications and
rapid developments.  Cf. Haeckel, _l. c._ p. 144, and Bateson, p. 568.
He concludes that 'discontinuity of species results from discontinuity
of variation.'  'The existence,' he says, 'of sudden and discontinuous
variation, the existence, that is to say, of new forms having from
their first beginning more or less of the kind of perfection which we
associate with normality, is a fact that disposes, once and for all, of
the attempt to interpret all perfection and definiteness of form as the
work of selection.  The study of variation leads us into the presence
of whole classes of phenomena that are plainly incapable of such
interpretation.'  This relative perfection of variations at starting
Mr. Bateson attributes in great measure to the principle of 'symmetry,'
or 'repetition of parts' in living things.  An organism is symmetrical,
and thus what happens in one of many similar organs repeats itself
normally in all the others.  Change in one part is not an isolated
fact, but there is 'similarity and simultaneity of change.'

NOTE F.  See vol. i. p. 215.


The following passage in the Didache, c. 7, is of the plainest
importance for the history of this matter: 'If thou have not living
[i.e. running] water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not
in cold, then in warm.  And if thou have not either [in sufficient
amount for baptism, i.e. immersion in the water] pour forth water
thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Ghost.'
Cf. Dr. Taylor, _Teaching of the Twelve Apostles_ (Cambridge, 1886), p.
52: 'The primitive mode of baptism was by immersion.  According to the
Jewish rite a ring on the finger, a band confining the hair, or
anything that in the least degree broke the continuity of contact with
the water, was held to invalidate the act.  The Greek word "baptize,"
like the Hebrew _tabol_, means to dip: to "baptize" a ship is to _sink_
it.  The construction [in the above passage of the Didache] "baptize
_into_ other water," points to immersion, as likewise does Hermas, when
he writes (_Simil._ 9): "They go down therefore into the water dead,
and come up living;" and Barnabas (chap. xi): "Herein he saith that we
go down into the water laden with sins and filthiness, and come up
bearing fruit in our heart, and having our fear and our hope towards
Jesus in the Spirit."  This was still the normal way of administering
the rite, but it was no longer insisted upon as necessary: {238} "_If
thou have not either_," not enough of "living" or "other" water for
immersion, "_pour water thrice upon the head_," &c.'

NOTE G.  See vol. ii. p. 136.


O holy and almighty God, Father of mercies, Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Son of Thy love and eternal mercies, I adore and praise and
glorify Thy infinite and unspeakable love and wisdom; who hast sent Thy
Son from the bosom of felicities to take upon Him our nature and our
misery and our guilt, and hast made the Son of God to become the Son of
Man, that we might become the sons of God and partakers of the divine
nature; since Thou hast so exalted human nature be pleased also to
sanctify my person, that by a conformity to the humility and laws and
sufferings of my dearest Saviour I may be united to His Spirit, and be
made all one with the most holy Jesus.  Amen.

O holy and eternal Jesus, who didst pity mankind lying in his blood and
sin and misery, and didst choose our sadnesses and sorrows that Thou
mightest make us to partake of Thy felicities; Let Thine eyes pity me,
Thy hands support me, Thy holy feet tread down all the difficulties in
my way to heaven; let me dwell in Thy heart, be instructed with Thy
wisdom, moved by Thy affections, choose with Thy will, and be clothed
with Thy righteousness; that in the day of judgement I may be found
having on Thy garments, sealed with Thy impression; and that, bearing
upon every faculty and member the character of {239} my elder Brother,
I may not be cast out with strangers and unbelievers.  Amen.

O holy and ever blessed Spirit, who didst overshadow the Holy
Virgin-mother of our Lord, and caused her to conceive by a miraculous
and mysterious manner; be pleased to overshadow my soul, and enlighten
my spirit, that I may conceive the holy Jesus in my heart, and may bear
Him in my mind, and may grow up to the fullness of the stature of
Christ, to be a perfect man in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

To God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; to the eternal Son that
was incarnate and born of a virgin; to the Spirit of the Father and the
Son, be all honour and glory, worship and adoration, now and for ever.
Amen.--Jeremy Taylor, _Holy Living_; see his _Works_, vol. iii. p. 238.

NOTE H.  See vol. ii. p. 147.


The expression 'In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in
omnibus caritas' is cited by Richard Baxter in the dedication of _On
the True and Only Way of Concord of all Christian Churches_, 1679,
thus, 'I once more quote you the pacificator's old and despised words.'
But the pacificator appears to be no one older than a Protestant who
wrote (1620 to 1640), under the name of Rupertus Meldenius, a
_Paraenesis votiva pro pace ecclesiae ad theologos Augustanae
Confessionis_.  In the Paraenesis occurs the sentence 'si nos
servaremus in necessariis unitatem, in non necessariis libertatem, in
utrisque caritatem optimo certe loco essent res nostrae.'  See A. P.
Stanley in _Macmillan_, {240} Sep., 1875, referring to G. C. F. Lücke,
_Ueber das Alter, den Verfasser, die ursprüngliche Fonn und den wahren
Sinn des kirchlichen Friedensspruchs_: 'in necessariis unitas &c.,'
Göttingen, 1850.

This information was supplied me in correction of a mistaken
attribution of the saying of which I was guilty in a sermon; and has
been verified for me by Mr. Arthur Hirtzel.  The saying has been
commonly attributed to St. Augustine, and indeed the matter of it is
thoroughly in his spirit; cf. my _Ephesians_, p. 272; and see also _De
Gen. ad litt._, viii. 5: 'Melius est dubitare de occultis quam litigare
de incertis.'  _De Civ. Dei_, xix. 18: 'qua [i.e. faith in scripture]
salva atque certa, de quibusdam rebus quas neque sensu, neque ratione
percepimus, neque nobis per Scripturam canonicam claruerunt, nec per
testes, quibus non credere absurdum est, in nostram notitiam
pervenerunt, sine iusta reprehensione dubitamus.'

NOTE I.  See vol. ii. p. 179.


The following passages are full of interest:--_De Civ. D._ x. 6: 'So
that the whole redeemed city, that is the congregation and society of
the saints, is offered as a universal sacrifice to God by the High
Priest, who offered nothing less than Himself in suffering for us, so
that we might become the body of so glorious a head, according to that
'form of a servant' which He had taken.  For it was this (our human
nature) that He offered, in this that He was offered, because it is in
respect of this that He is mediator, priest and sacrifice.'  Then after
a reference to Rom. xii. 1-6 {241} he continues, 'This is the Christian
sacrifice: the "many" become "one body in Christ."  And it is this that
the Church celebrates by means of the sacrament of the altar, familiar
to the faithful, where it is shown to her that in what she offers she
herself is offered.'  And x. 20: Of Christ's perfect sacrifice of
Himself 'He willed the Church's sacrifice to be a daily sacrament.  For
as she is the body of Him the head, she learns through Him to offer up
herself.'  Again xix. 23: 'God's most glorious and best sacrifice is we
ourselves, that is His city, of which we celebrate the mystery in our
oblations, which are known to the faithful.'  Cf. xxii. 10: 'The
sacrifice itself is the body of Christ, which is not offered to them
(the martyrs), for they themselves also are it' (quia hoc sunt et
ipsi).  Cf. _Serm._ 227: 'If you have well received (the body of Christ
in the sacrament) you are what you have received ... He willed us to be
His sacrifice.'

In all this we have a very plain and much forgotten teaching.  But we
must not misunderstand St. Augustine's use of apparently exclusive
language--as if the sacrifice of ourselves was the only sacrifice
offered in the eucharist.  The sacrifice of the Church is offered up
through Christ.  Thus he also speaks of the celebration of the
eucharist (on the occasion of his mother's death, _Conf._ ix. 12) in
the phrase 'the sacrifice of our ransom (pretii nostri) was offered for

We do well to remember by the way that in _De Civ._ x. 5, 6, St.
Augustine twice over defines what he means by sacrifice thus: 'A true
sacrifice is everything that is done in order that we may by a holy
fellowship inhere in God.'



_A Series of Simple Expositions_


_Portions of the New Testament_








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