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  • The Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul Cannot Help Using Phrases Which Bespeak the Justice of God, Even When He is Eulogizing the Mercies of the Gospel. Marcion Particularly Hard in Mutilation of This Epistle. Yet Our Author Argues on Common Ground. The Judgment at Last Will Be in Accordance with the Gospel. The Justified by Faith Exhorted to Have Peace with God. The Administration of the Old and the New Dispensations in One and the Same Hand.

    Chapter XIII.—The Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul Cannot Help Using Phrases Which Bespeak the Justice of God, Even When He is Eulogizing the Mercies of the Gospel. Marcion Particularly Hard in Mutilation of This Epistle. Yet Our Author Argues on Common Ground. The Judgment at Last Will Be in Accordance with the Gospel. The Justified by Faith Exhorted to Have Peace with God. The Administration of the Old and the New Dispensations in One and the Same Hand.

    Since my little work is approaching its termination,5785

    5785 Profligatur.

    I must treat but briefly the points which still occur, whilst those which have so often turned up must be put aside. I regret still to have to contend about the law—after I have so often proved that its replacement (by the gospel)5786

    5786 Concessionem.

    affords no argument for another god, predicted as it was indeed in Christ, and in the Creator’s own plans5787

    5787 Apud Creatorem.

    ordained for His Christ. (But I must revert to that discussion) so far as (the apostle leads me, for) this very epistle looks very much as if it abrogated5788

    5788 Excludere.

    the law. We have, however, often shown before now that God is declared by the apostle to be a Judge; and that in the Judge is implied an Avenger; and in the Avenger, the Creator. And so in the passage where he says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel (of Christ): for it is the power of god unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith,”5789

    5789 Rom. i. 16, 17.

    he undoubtedly ascribes both the gospel and salvation to Him whom (in accordance with our heretic’s own distinction) I have called the just God, not the good one. It is He who removes (men) from confidence in the law to faith in the gospel—that is to say,5790

    5790 Utique.

    His own law and His own gospel. When, again, he declares that “the wrath (of God) is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness,”5791

    5791 Rom. i. 18.

    (I ask) the wrath of what God? Of the Creator certainly. The truth, therefore, will be His, whose is also the wrath, which has to be revealed to avenge the truth. Likewise, when adding, “We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth,”5792

    5792 Rom. ii. 2.

    he both vindicated that wrath from which comes this judgment for the truth, and at the same time afforded another proof that the truth emanates from the same God whose wrath he attested, by witnessing to His judgment. Marcion’s averment is quite a different matter, that5793

    5793 Aliud est si.

    the Creator in anger avenges Himself on the truth of the rival god which had been detained in unrighteousness. But what serious gaps Marcion has made in this epistle especially, by withdrawing whole passages at his will, will be clear from the unmutilated text of our own copy.5794

    5794 Nostri instrumenti.

    It is enough for my purpose to accept in evidence of its truth what he has seen fit to leave unerased, strange instances as they are also of his negligence and blindness. If, then, God will judge the secrets of men—both of those who have sinned in the law, and of those who have sinned without law (inasmuch as they who know not the law yet do by nature the things contained in the law)5795

    5795 Rom. ii. 12–16.

    —surely the God who shall judge is He to whom belong both the law, and that nature which is the rule5796

    5796 Instar legis: “which is as good as a law to them,” etc.

    to them who know not the law. But how will He conduct this judgment?  “According to my gospel,” says (the apostle), “by (Jesus) Christ.”5797

    5797 Rom. ii. 16.

    So that both the gospel and Christ must be His, to whom appertain the law and the nature which are to be vindicated by the gospel and Christ—even at that judgment of God which, as he previously said, was to be according to truth.5798

    5798 Rom. ii. 2.

    The wrath, therefore, which is to vindicate truth, can only be revealed from heaven by the God of wrath;5799

    5799 Rom. i. 18.

    so that this sentence, which is quite in accordance with that previous one wherein the judgment is declared to be the Creator’s,5800

    5800 See the remarks on verses 16 and 17 above.

    cannot possibly be ascribed to another god who is not a judge, and is incapable of wrath. It is only consistent in Him amongst whose attributes are found the judgment and the wrath of which I am speaking, and to whom of necessity must also appertain the media whereby these attributes are to be carried into effect, even the gospel and Christ. Hence his invective against the transgressors of the law, who teach that men should not steal, and yet practise theft themselves.5801

    5801 Rom. ii. 21.

    (This invective he utters) in perfect homage5802

    5802 Ut homo.

    to the law of God, not as if he meant to censure the Creator Himself with having commanded5803

    5803 Ex. iii. 22.

    a fraud to be practised against the Egyptians to get their gold and silver at the very time when He was forbidding men to steal,5804

    5804 Ex. xx. 15; see above, book iv. chap. xxiv. p. 387.

    —adopting such methods as they are apt (shamelessly) to charge upon Him in other particulars also. Are we then to suppose5805

    5805 Scilicet verebatur.

    that the apostle abstained through fear from openly calumniating God, from whom notwithstanding He did not hesitate to withdraw men? Well, but he had gone so far in his censure of the Jews, as to point against them the denunciation of the prophet, “Through you the name of God is blasphemed (among the Gentiles).”5806

    5806 Rom. ii. 24.

    But how absurd, that he should himself blaspheme Him for blaspheming whom he upbraids them as evil-doers! He prefers even circumcision of heart to neglect of it in the flesh. Now it is quite within the purpose of the God of the law that circumcision should be that of the heart, not in the flesh; in the spirit, and not in the letter.5807

    5807 Rom. ii. 29.

    Since this is the circumcision recommended by Jeremiah: “Circumcise (yourselves to the Lord, and take away) the foreskins of your heart;”5808

    5808 Jer. iv. 4.

    and even of Moses: “Circumcise, therefore, the hardness of your heart,”5809

    5809 Deut. x. 16 (Sept.).

    —the Spirit which circumcises the heart will proceed from Him who prescribed the letter also which clips5810

    5810 Metens.

    the flesh; and “the Jew which is one inwardly” will be a subject of the self-same God as he also is who is “a Jew outwardly;”5811

    5811 Rom. ii. 28.

    because the apostle would have preferred not to have mentioned a Jew at all, unless he were a servant of the God of the Jews. It was once5812

    5812 Tunc.

    the law; now it is “the righteousness of God which is by the faith of (Jesus) Christ.”5813

    5813 Rom. iii. 21, 22.

    What means this distinction? Has your god been subserving the interests of the Creator’s dispensation, by affording time to Him and to His law? Is the “Now” in the hands of Him to whom belonged the “Then”? Surely, then, the law was His, whose is now the righteousness of God. It is a distinction of dispensations, not of gods.  He enjoins those who are justified by faith in Christ and not by the law to have peace with God.5814

    5814 Tertullian, by the word “enjoins” (monet), seems to have read the passage in Rom. v. 1 in the hortatory sense with ἔχωμεν, “let us have peace with God.” If so, his authority must be added to that exceedingly strong ms. authority which Dean Alford (Greek Test. in loc.) regrets to find overpowering the received reading of ἔχομεν, “we have,” etc. We subjoin Alford’s critical note in support of the ἔχωμεν, which (with Lachmann) he yet admits into his more recent text: “AB (originally) CDKLfh (originally) m 17 latt (including F-lat); of the versions the older Syriac (Peschito) (and Copt;of the fathers, Chrysostom, Cyril, Theodoret, Damascene, Thephylact, Œcumenius, Rufinus, Pelagius, Orosius, Augustine, Cassiodorus,” before whom I would insert Tertullian, and the Codex Sinaiticus, in its original state; although, like its great rival in authority, the Codex Vaticanus, it afterwards received the reading ἔχομεν. These second readings of these mss., and the later Syriac (Philoxenian), with Epiphanius, Didymus, and Sedulius, are the almost only authorities quoted for the received text.  [Dr. H. over-estimates the “rival” Codices.]

    With what God? Him whose enemies we have never, in any dispensation,5815

    5815 Nusquam.

    been? Or Him against whom we have rebelled, both in relation to His written law and His law of nature? Now, as peace is only possible towards Him with whom there once was war, we shall be both justified by Him, and to Him also will belong the Christ, in whom we are justified by faith, and through whom alone God’s5816

    5816 Ejus.

    enemies can ever be reduced to peace.  “Moreover,” says he, “the law entered, that the offence might abound.”5817

    5817 Rom. v. 20.

    And wherefore this? “In order,” he says, “that (where sin abounded), grace might much more abound.”5818

    5818 Rom. v. 20.

    Whose grace, if not of that God from whom also came the law? Unless it be, forsooth, that5819

    5819 Nisi si: an ironical particle.

    the Creator intercalated His law for the mere purpose of5820

    5820 Ideo ut.

    producing some employment for the grace of a rival god, an enemy to Himself (I had almost said, a god unknown to Him), “that as sin had” in His own dispensation5821

    5821 Apud ipsum.

    reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto (eternal) life by Jesus Christ,”5822

    5822 Rom. v. 21.

    His own antagonist! For this (I suppose it was, that) the law of the Creator had “concluded all under sin,”5823

    5823 Gal. iii. 22.

    and had brought in “all the world as guilty (before God),” and had “stopped every mouth,”5824

    5824 Rom. iii. 19.

    so that none could glory through it, in order that grace might be maintained to the glory of the Christ, not of the Creator, but of Marcion! I may here anticipate a remark about the substance of Christ, in the prospect of a question which will now turn up. For he says that “we are dead to the law.”5825

    5825 Rom. vii. 4; also Gal. ii. 19. This (although a quotation) is here a Marcionite argument; but there is no need to suppose, with Pamelius, that Marcion tampers with Rom. vi. 2. Oehler also supposes that this is the passage quoted. But no doubt it is a correct quotation from the seventh chapter, as we have indicated.

    It may be contended that Christ’s body is indeed a body, but not exactly5826

    5826 Statim (or, perhaps, in respect of the derivation), “firmly” or “stedfastly.”

    flesh. Now, whatever may be the substance, since he mentions “the body of Christ,”5827

    5827 Ejus.

    whom he immediately after states to have been “raised from the dead,”5828

    5828 Rom. vii. 4.

    none other body can be understood than that of the flesh,5829

    5829 In this argument Tertullian applies with good effect the terms “flesh” and “body,” making the first [which he elsewhere calls the “terrena materia” of our nature (ad Uxor. i. 4)] the proof of the reality of the second, in opposition to Marcion’s Docetic error. “Σὰρξ is not = σῶμα, but as in John i. 14, the material of which man is in the body compounded” (Alford).

    in respect of which the law was called (the law) of death.5830

    5830 Compare the first part of ver. 4 with vers. 5 and 6 and viii. 2; 3.

    But, behold, he bears testimony to the law, and excuses it on the ground of sin:  “What shall we say, therefore? Is the law sin? God forbid.”5831

    5831 Rom. vii. 7.

    Fie on you, Marcion. “God forbid!”  (See how) the apostle recoils from all impeachment of the law. I, however, have no acquaintance with sin except through the law.5832

    5832 This, which is really the second clause of Rom. vii. 7, seems to be here put as a Marcionite argument of disparagement to the law.

    But how high an encomium of the law (do we obtain) from this fact, that by it there comes to light the latent presence of sin!5833

    5833 Per quam liquuit delictum latere: a playful paradox, in the manner of our author, between liquere and latere.

    It was not the law, therefore, which led me astray, but “sin, taking occasion by the commandment.”5834

    5834 Rom. vii. 8.

    Why then do you, (O Marcion,) impute to the God of the law what His apostle dares not impute even to the law itself? Nay, he adds a climax: “The law is holy, and its commandment just and good.”5835

    5835 Rom. vii. 13.

    Now if he thus reverences the Creator’s law, I am at a loss to know how he can destroy the Creator Himself. Who can draw a distinction, and say that there are two gods, one just and the other good, when He ought to be believed to be both one and the other, whose commandment is both “just and good?” Then, again, when affirming the law to be “spiritual”5836

    5836 Rom. vii. 14.

    he thereby implies that it is prophetic, and that it is figurative. Now from even this circumstance I am bound to conclude that Christ was predicted by the law but figuratively, so that indeed He could not be recognised by all the Jews.


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