Verse 36. "For of him, &c." - This is so far from being the case, for ex autou, OF him, as the original designer and author; and diĘ autou, BY him, as the prime and efficient cause; and eiv auton, TO him, as the ultimate end for the manifestation of his eternal glory and goodness, are all things in universal nature, through the whole compass of time and eternity.
The Emperor Marcus Antoninus (eiv eauton lib. iv.), has a saying very much like this of St. Paul, which it is very probable he borrowed from this epistle to the Romans. Speaking of nature, whom he addresses as God, he says, w fusiv ek sou panta, en soi panta, eiv se panta; O, Nature! OF thee are all things; IN thee are all things; TO thee are all things. Several of the Gentile philosophers had expressions of the same import, as may be seen in Wetstein's quotations.
"To whom be glory" - And let him have the praise of all his works, from the hearts and mouths of all his intelligent creatures, for ever-throughout all the generations of men. Amen-so be it! Let this be established for ever! I. THE apostle considers the designs of God inscrutable, and his mode of governing the world incomprehensible. His designs, schemes, and ends are all infinite, and consequently unfathomable. It is impossible to account for the dispensations either of his justice or mercy. He does things under both these characters which far surpass the comprehension of men. But though his dispensations are a great deep, yet they are never self-contradictory: though they far surpass our reason, yet they never contradict reason; nor are they ever opposite to those ideas which God has implanted in man, of goodness, justice, mercy, and truth. But it is worthy of remark, that we can more easily account for the dispensations of his justice than we can for the dispensations of his mercy. We can every where see ten thousand reasons why he should display his justice; but scarcely can we find one reason why he should display his mercy. And yet, these displays of mercy for which we can scarcely find a reason, are infinitely greater and more numerous than his displays of justice, for which the reasons are, in a vast variety of cases, as obvious as they are multiplied. The sacrifice of Christ is certainly an infinite reason why God should extend, as he does, his mercy to all men; but Jesus Christ is the gift of God's love: who can account for the love that gave him to redeem a fallen world? The Jews have fallen under the displeasure of Divine justice: why they should be objects of this displeasure is at once seen in their ingratitude, disobedience, unbelief, and rebellion. But a most especial providence has watched over them, and preserved them in all their dispersions for 1700 years: who can account for this? Again, these very persons have a most positive promise of a future deliverance, both great and glorious: why should this be? The Gentile world was long left without a Divine revelation, while the Jews enjoyed one: who can account for this? The Jews are now cast out of favour, in a certain sense, and the reasons of it are sufficiently obvious; and the Gentiles, without any apparent reason, are taken into favour. In all these things his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out! II. Once more: Let it be remarked that, although God is every where promising and bestowing the greatest and most ennobling privileges, together with an eternal and ineffable glory, for which we can give no reason but his own endless goodness, through the death of his Son; yet, in no case does he remove those privileges, nor exclude from this glory, but where the reasons are most obvious to the meanest capacity.
III. This epistle has been thought by some to afford proofs that God, by an eternal decree, had predestinated to eternal perdition millions of millions of human souls before they had any existence, except in his own purpose, and for no other reason but his sovereign pleasure! But such a decree can be no more found in this book, than such a disposition in the mind of Him who is the perfection, as he is the model, of wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, and truth. May God save the reader from profaning his name, by suppositions at once so monstrous and absurd!