HOLY APOSTLE PAUL,
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
at these critical times, and accumulated
methods, exhibited for a sample, as
well as for a touch-stone,
BY DAVID HOLLAZ,
Minister in Gunthersberg, Back Pomerania,
CHARLESTON, (S. C.)
Printed by John Hoff, no. 6, brqad street.
IN these few sheets, dear reader, you will find two things, both good and of moment. First, The true sense, chief contents and faith of the whole Epistle of Paul to the Romans, and I might almost say of the whole Holy Scriptures, (that is to say, as far as it concerns the fundamental truths of our salvation.) Secondly, The correct and sure order of Salvation, as Paul himself taught it at his time.
It suits as well to the Order of Grace, as to the Road for Pilgrims, for the Method of Paul according to the honest intention and insight of the author, is the sample and also the touch-stone of both.
May the Lord give the rich light and powers of his Holy Spirit, for the proper understanding and wholesome use thereof. Amen!
M. J. G. K.
Gortiz, 15th February, 1744.
THE FIRST CHAPTER.
Of the unconverted state of raw sinners, and worldly wise.
PAUL preaches the gospel of Christ without fear, and in it true justice or justification, for the awakening and better foundation of faith, vs. 16. But he showeth, first, that the wrath of God is revealed against the unrighteousness of the Heathens, as well as the Jews; and that God concludes these, yea, all merely natural men in unbelief or sin convinces them powerfully thereof by the word, and pushes them hard, only and for the single purpose, that he might have mercy upon them all, Chap, xi, 32.
And in this manner Paul convinces, first the people, who are without the revealed word of truth, and do not mind it, (to wit, the heathens) that although some of them think themselves particularly wise, and on account of their Philosophy more sensible than the common people, that they are nevertheless, the greatest fools, vs. 22, because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, vs. 28, but were indeed full of pride, vanity and darkness, vs. 21. Others showed sufficiently their state by their wicked and wild life — but as they acted contrary to the conviction of their own conscience, they would be condemned by their own thoughts. But that they were both, (the wise and naturally moral Heathens, as well as the publicly wicked people amongst them) in a wretched state, and that the wrath of God remains over them, about them, and in them, because they believe not in Jesus.
The Heathens of that time, are the type of those Christians, so called, amongst us, who separate themselves from the word, and do not mind it at all. And the Jews are the type of those, who have much to do with the word and the works of the external worship; but never turn heartily to Christ.
THE SECOND CHAPTER.
Of the unconverted state of the self-pious and just.
Paul afterwards speaks of those people who accepted the word, and approved of the things, and gained some knowledge and instruction therefrom, vs. 18, and exercised and urged themselves in many duties and works; — (they were at that time Jews,) that it was not good to rest thereupon, vs 17, satisfied with themselves, full of own justice, and at the same time took upon themselves to teach others, vs. 19, whereby they obstructed their own true conversion, in as much as they did not perceive, that the law is spiritual, ch. vii, and urges a much more profound knowledge of sins, than the more external show thereof; and that idolatry, theft, &x. although not shown externally, are inwardly there.
He teaches further, that the law manifests even to unbelievers an inward enmity towards God, and the hypocrisy of a corrupted heart; and demands the inward obedience, yea, that it even demands the hereditary justice, and the greatest, even angelic purity of heart; that one single wicked thought, one rising lust damns us, although we may in every other respect have observed ever so many things, which have been commanded us. And in this manner, (says he) is every mouth stopped, and all the world becomes guilty before God, Chap, iii, 19.
THE THIRD CHAPTER.
Of Conversion and Faith.
Paul teaches further, that these latter (to wit: the Jews, and in our day all unconverted Christians) have the advantage of the heathens, vs, 1, in that they have the word as the means of grace among them, vs. 2, but they must give credit to this word, vs 4, and suffer their misery to be discovered to them thereby, vs. 20. According to the natural state of the soul, they had no advantage, because they belonged to the lost and damned sinners, vs. 9. No knowledge, duties or deeds, can justify us, or reconcile us with God. vs. 20. We are and remain lost sinners, unless we obtain a better justice — we want grace, justice, forgiveness, in short everything, v. 13. We therefore want a Saviour and Redeemer, and faith in him. Without him we should never make out by the law, we may ever so much excuse ourselves or promise amendment; or do else what we can — the judgment remains, you are damned! and we never should get done.
If we are now lively convinced thereof, there is no occasion before grace and before faith, to torment ourselves with own amendments, or to try it with fresh resolutions, promises and breaking off — without Jesus it is impossible, ch. viii, 3, although we have sufficient reason sincerely to acknowledge all sinful doings, and heartily to repent and observe the same, v. 20, but, nevertheless, this is necessary, that we become right poor, a sinner, who feels, that he wants grace, v. 23, a poor sinner, who perceives that he wants not only this or the other, but everything. This is the evangelical point in our conversion, the necessary order or state of mind for faith and grace. In such poorness, and under the humiliating sensation thereof, when neither we nor any other creature can help us, we must fly straight to the bloody Redeemer, and cry with inward signs and supplications: “Have mercy upon me!” for by his blood alone we can be justified. To this throne of grace the Father directs us, vs. 25, the cover propitiation covers both tables of the law. Grace goes above and before right. There, even there, when we lie in the dust before the bleeding Saviour, grace, justification, vs. 23, 26, even faith. Acts xvii, 31, is proffered and extended to us in the word with the blood — and to accept such grace in our extreme misery and poverty, with a hearty desire and confidence for our pacification is called believing.
THE FOURTH CHAPTER.
Of own justice as an obstacle to faith.
And because a man does not choose to appear so naked, poor, sinful and miserable before God, but wishes to bring something along, and perform some works, and would wish to be first better and more pious; (which is nevertheless not possible before faith and forgiveness) he must consider and reject the own-justice and inclination to it, as enemies to his true peace, and with Paul estimate the same an injury, and learn to forget his best things — inasmuch as neither the justice of all men, nor of all angels can be of any help to us, but we as wicked criminals, that have been condemned to die, are only pardoned and forgiven out of mercy, on account of the bloody satisfaction of Christ. And so is Abraham justified by faith, although at that time there was no law given yet.
In this matter we cannot by any means conciliate our reason, which presents man, scruples and doubts, and stumbles at the word upon which we are founded, 1 Pet. ii, 8. She is an enemy to our faith, (as we usually sing; “reason militates against faith.”) She wants everything visible and liable to the touch, before she will believe; and therefore by her further difficulties, furnishes farther food for unbelief. Therefore we are not to give ear to our reason, especially in matters of faith, not confabulate with flesh and blood, but fall to, and believe most conscientiously what God has promised, vs. 21, viz, that he without any cooperation and justice of ours, will give us everything out of mercy, for the sake of the blood of Christ, vs. 16, and this, even this he can perform; therefore we should venture upon the word and hope, as there is nothing before our eyes to hope, nor look upon how dead and torpid our state is, vs 19, but believe, that God can raise the dead, make the blind see, the unclean clean, and consequently also the wicked justified, vs. 5. So we give glory to God, vs. 20. So we shall experience, that he will glorify us in his mercy.
THE FIFTH CHAPTER.
Of experience and the greatness of grace.
When now the humbled sinner rests and ventures the whole hope, peace and salvation of his soul, 1 Pet. i, 13, in the word of the atoning propitiation, and in faith on Christ; he will become justified before God, through this faith, vs. 1, finds rest and peace, has by this faith, through his Saviour access to all grace, a free application thereof, and raises a living hope of eternal life; because we know the great love of God towards us poor sinners, vs, 5, that Christ has died for the ungodly, is shed abroad in hearts like a stream, and thereby has affixed the seal to faith. He now experiences, that God has loved him the worst of sinners, even an enemy; and he is thereby now likewise assured, that God loves him now much more, as a child reconciled by the blood of Jesus, vs. 10.
He sees further, that grace and mercy extend to all sinners and children of Adam, and that by the grace and righteousness of one, Jesus Christ, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life, vs 18. God gave the law, that sin should become powerful, that every one at the time of his awaking, should experience something of it; but that in no one the sin could become so powerful for condemnation, but what grace might show itself much more powerful, not only to procure peace, but also a new life, vs. 20, unless it be, that a man himself despise and neglect this grace, Heb. xii, 25.
THE SIXTH CHAPTER.
That where there is grace sin cannot reign.
But Paul does not forget to observe, that this great grace, gives no liberty for the service of sin; but that in the same blood of Jesus, wherein we have found life and forgiveness, we likewise must die off from sin, that we become dead, deaf, blind, and averse to its charms, which is also the object of our baptism. Under grace it is much less permitted to sin, as it was not permitted under the law, vs. 15. It is rather a great blessing, to be liberated from the unhappy slavery of sin. Everything goes now different. As formerly unbelief produced fruit in all our members, to death; so now faith and grace produce quite different fruits, to wit: fruits of life and sanctification, vs. 22.
THE SEVENTH CHAPTER
Of the legal situation of awakened souls, and how they, as much troubled, are pardoned.
But because so many souls, who have been awakened to a sense of misery, do not go straight (according to the third chapter) as poor, lost and heavy burdened sinners, to the throne of grace in the blood, that they might obtain mercy, Heb. iv, 16, which is the nearest way to grace, but suffer themselves to be prevented by the threat of the law, which should urge them to Christ, and detained by so many own works, and willful struggles with sin, and go through so many turnings therefore says Paul, we are bound to the law, as man and wife are bound to one another. Now as death makes a separation between man and wife, so here the death of Christ, into which we enter through faith, makes a separation from the law, and from all its demands and curses. The law lasts only until Christ and faith, Gal. iii, 23, 24, then it has an end, Rom. x, 4. As soon as we enter into the death and blood of Christ, we are dead to the law, we hear no longer its curses and thunderings; with the forcing it is also at an end; and all its pretensions for payment or condemnation fall away entirely, as our surety has perfectly Satisfied it.
Paul says further, how it generally goes with souls, that are awakened, but are yet under the law. (How the unconverted abuse the law for their own justification, he shows in chap. 2.) Before the awakening, when we do not mind the law much, or at least not make a proper use of it, we know not much of sin, or at least take only the coarsest vices for sin; of lust and inward corruptness of the heart, we know nothing, vs, 7. At the awakening the law becomes clear, 2 Cor ix, 3, the sin alive, sinful, powerful; then we feel nothing but death and faintness, vs. 10. The law demands a punctual and perfect obedience, it extends even to thoughts — but it gives no strength, but works only by its urging all kinds of concupiscence, vs. 8. It can produce only a knowledge of sin — but it cannot enliven — then it goes as though we wanted to be pious and cannot. Then we take fresh resolutions, we vow to God frequently amendment, curse our sins, and nevertheless repeat the same over again, vs. 10, and so we become the longer the worse, and through our own labor, tired and afflicted, Matt, xi, faint, and must nevertheless at last, as there is nowhere else any counsel or assistance to be had, as a poor miserable sinner deserving death, vs. 24, fly to the throne of grace, that is, to grace and the redemption of the blood of Jesus, and surrender entirely to grace — then it goes immediately quite differently; we obtain like the first, chap. 3, forgiveness, justice, peace and a new life, and praise God’s mercy.
THE EIGHTH CHAPTER.
Of the blessedness of the believers against sin, flesh, law,
world, death and the devil.
Hereby we can see, how blessed it is, to surrender entirely to one’s Saviour and his mercy, to unite in faith with him, to dwell in his wounds, to live in his death, and to know nothing but the crucified Jesus, to cleave to him, to found one’s self upon nothing else, to glory in nothing else, and to live in nothing else, but in Jesus!
Such souls are, First, liberated from all accusation and condemnation, by the forgiveness of all their sins, — Nothing can condemn them, because God does not condemn them, but pronounces them blessed; the law cannot condemn them, for that is bought off, and satisfied in Christ, and will the devil and the world condemn them? then is Immanuel here, vs. 34.
Secondly, They are free from the dominion of sin, although they have yet the flesh and inward sin in them. For where there is forgiveness, there is also life and strength. They are made free from the law of sin and death (from the dominion of innate sin) by the word or the law of the spirit of life, vs. 2; What was impossible for them to do in their legal state, that is now effected in them through the gospel of Christ, vs. 3, 4. so that they are now spiritually minded, and walk no longer after the impulses of the flesh, as enemies of God, but find a pleasure and taste in spiritual things, and are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God and have life and peace.
Thirdly, They must die, and the body must decay, then is the risen Jesus their chief, and they have as members his spirit, who will rebuild their decayed and rotten huts, transfigured out of the dust.
Fourthly, If the legal and slavish fear should venture any attacks upon their faith, and try to smother the filial spirit; then the testimony of the spirit, of their being children, and of their grace and salvation, manifests itself in them.
Fifthly, As they must live yet in this wicked world, and it seems to be contrary to their salvation, that among manifold sufferings, they must experience as one of the greatest, to see so much vanity and folly of men, much against their will, and with an honest mind perceive in themselves yet many faults and defects, whereupon in deep humiliation, they sigh for their dissolution; then the Holy Spirit supports them in all weaknesses and arouses numberless sighs.
Sixthly, If the devil and the wicked world, want to instigate in many different ways, something to our injury, the Lord knows how to direct, that it must work for our good in many ways, vs. 28.
Seventhly, If it depends at last upon perseverance, we know that grace called us, grace justified us, and therefore, that grace also will preserve us, God certainly will continue his work in us, vs. 29, 30. If we even must yet suffer persecution and tribulation with the good, vs. 35, were all the principalities and legions of hell against us, vs. 38, (and who knows, what may all happen to us yet, if we live any longer.) We shall conquer all by faith, if only the mercy and atoning love of our Saviour, is always before our eyes. For whoever will not willfully fall off, him, neither death, nor the devil can force out of the state of grace.
THE NINTH CHAPTER.
That only a few get saved, is the fault of men themselves.
When we are now penetrated by this grace and happiness; O, how we wish, that not only those who belong to us, but also the whole world should participate therein! We must confess, that with all our happiness, this is yet wanting, that others are not yet quite blessed and pardoned, vs. 3. We acknowledge also with great humility, that we find no worthiness in ourselves, nor any foundation or cause of a preference before others, as we are by nature equally miserable and sinful with others, nor can take anything to ourselves in the cause of salvation, vs. 12, but praise the mercy of God, who calls, converts and pardons us.
And so we see, that the Lord has yet mercy upon so many souls, nor does exclude others from his grace, but shows them those pardoned for a pattern, 1 Tim. i, 16, to induce them also to accept his word and grace; further that God does not over-hurry the most hardened minds, but gives them time and room, that he lets them stand one year after the other, (as may be seen of Pharoah, vs. 17.) Yea, generally he bears all those, who will not suffer themselves to be prepared with other souls to glory, but harden themselves, and by their own fault become more apt, capable and prepared for damnation, with the greatest patience and forbearance, before he shows his wrath, vs. 22, 23, and that it is a reckless judgment against God, as if he was doing wrong, that he condemns those, who nevertheless harden themselves willfully against his word and grace, vs. 20. But we most heartily rejoice, when we hear from so many places, that the Lord here and there has yet mercy upon some souls, who formerly did not belong to the people of God; and we pray that there might be as many as the sands of the sea, although a remnant should only be saved, vs. 27. At the same time we confess with the most heart felt pity, that this is likewise a cause, that many good meaning minds, rest upon these and other external works, or seek something there; as they stop at the means, at the mere external works, and do not apply them properly. Therefore it happens, that they do not suffer themselves to be brought to the true poorness of spirit, to the simplicity in faith, and foundation upon Christ, and therefore do not participate of the grace and justice, which is to be found only in him,
THE TENTH CHAPTER.
An instruction to obtain faith.
Paul gives the following instruction to obtain such faith: We must renounce with all our heart, all own-justice, to become justified and saved by anything, but by Christ and the faith in him, and out of mercy, and forget our best things; Phil, iii. Submit to the mere and sure mercy, vs. 3, nor suffer ourselves to be deterred by the law, vs. 4, nor detain ourselves by own works, and amendments, vs. 5, nor wait for something extraordinary, vs. 6, but suffer ourselves to be awakened under hearty supplications, vs. 13, through the word to faith, vs. 17, because this is the principal error, (a) to seek grace in anything else but Jesus, and (b) to attempt to obtain faith and assurance by anything else but the word, in the workings of the Holy Spirit, but both without prayer. That the greater part do not obtain faith and grace, the cause is: God must extend to them his hands in vain through the word, they will not be directed, but contradict the word, vs. 28.
THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER.
How we are to apply the justice and mercy of God.
When we see now so many poor people walk about in blindness and unbelief, and but few arrive with us at grace, we have to avoid, that we do not lay the blame upon God, as if he cast away any one unconditionally, vs. 1, but at the paucity of those who have obtained grace. We must think, that nevertheless, many thousands are converted, who remain unknown to us in this life, vs. 4, but generally it is the fault of man himself, who will not comply with the ordinances and ways of God, vs. 6, 7, and thereby themselves occasion, that grace is withdrawn from them, vs. 8. If we now observe this, we certainly have cause to bow down our hearts, and it should serve us for a greater estimation and preservation; and also for the praise of God, vs. 7, and by no means elevate ourselves above them — for whatever we have, it is only by mere goodness; vs. 20, but if we see some fall again and recede, we must walk in holy fear, vs. 22, and hope that many who do not believe yet, nor will be converted yet, may yet before their exit out of the world come to it, and obtain mercy, vs. 30, and consider that God in his mercy, will glorify himself by the conversion of Jews and heathens vs. 23. 29, 31. Then we shall better be able to account for the paucity of those that get saved, and perceive therein the severity and goodness of God, his unsearchable judgments, and his ways past finding out, vs. 33, and we admire and adore them as holy and just, and at the same time as pure goodness and truth, vs. 34, 35, 36.
THE TWELFTH CHAPTER.
Of the conduct of the faithful to the end of the letter.
To those now, who have obtained grace and faith, Paul gives some admonitions for their conduct amongst, and towards one another. There shall we deliver ourselves up as a living sacrifice acceptable to the Lord, vs. l, not ape and conform with the children of the world, but suffer ourselves to be altered and renewed by grace, more and more, in mind and conduct, vs. 2, not out of self-love, hold ourselves in estimation, vs. 3, which is a great obstacle to the union and connexion of the children of God vs. 4. Further we shall love other good souls as our members, vs. 5, 10, be ready to serve others, condescend to men of low estate, vs. 16, be not wise in our own conceit, show love and mercy to our enemies, vs. 17, &c.
THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER.
The external order and conditions in the world, we let remain in the Lord, and give tribute, honor and fear to whom it is due, but love to all, vs. 8, and conduct generally and in every respect as a child of light.
THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER.
As knowledge and faith are not alike, we let in external things, which are not against the word of God, (to which among other things may be reckoned matrimonial affairs) other good souls stand to the Lord according to their conscience, and pretend not to lord it over other people’s faith, (present conviction) and conscience, but for ourselves we try to give nobody any offence.
THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER.
But here we must always beware, that we are not taken up too much with pleasing ourselves, whereby all communion with other believers is disturbed, when we want to appear, and think to have something particular, not just before the world, but before other children of God. — This is not the mind of Christ. The most beautiful flowers readily suffer others of a lesser quality, to stand along side of them.
THE SIXTEENTH CHAPTER.
This unanimity we must preserve, with all that are converted, and stand with us upon the same ground, although in immaterial things they may have a different knowledge. If there are only three children of God together, the knowledge of things is already different. We shall not strive about words, 2 Tim. 2, 14, if the substance is not denied. The one speaks of penitence, another calls it conversion, a third says, poor sinners. What one calls duties, the other calls happiness, because we find ourselves well with it. Let every one have herein his liberty, if only the truth does not suffer. We must not set any particular value, nor seek anything particular in such words, if only the true explanation, according to the word of truth, is not denied. The kingdom of God does not consist in words. Nature can this also, she can express, speak and write many things very exact and orthodox. Words give only occasion to disputes. The kingdom of God is in power, 1 Cor. iv, 20, but those who err in fundamental doctrines, and that willfully, and most on account of a spiritual pride want to know something particular before others — those who deny the propitiation or justice of Christ, or his adoration, or infringe upon the ground or the order of salvation, occasion disunion and offence by their own fault, and seek not what is Christ’s but their own, although they talk ever so fair — these particularly we must avoid, vs. 17. 18. May the Lord crush Satan and the beginner of disturbances, soon under the feet of the children of God. Amen!