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Romans 3:1-8 - Homilies By T.f. Lockyer

Religious advantages, their use and abuse.

If the Gentile and the Jew shall alike come under judgment according to their works, of what profit was the election of the Jew, and his endowment with spiritual privileges? This leads to the question of religious advantages, their use and abuse.

I. USE . The very name, "religious advantage," which springs so readily to the lips, attests the profit of being a people called of God. This profit is manifold, and in the forefront stands the fact that they have the living utterances of God amongst them.

1. For themselves. Who shall estimate the strength and sanctity accruing to individual, domestic, and national life from the contact of that living will?

2. For others. "Intrusted." To grasp at our own good not the chiefest felicity of life. And the Jew was God's chosen messenger to the nations. Oh, the honour! A nation of preachers, re-uttering the words of that living voice! But how sadly they had misconceived their calling!

II. ABUSE . Instead of heralding God's will among the nations, they learned to hate all who were not of themselves; and, instead of embracing God's will for themselves, they relied on mere knowledge, and lived in sin. Then were God's words made void? was there no gospel for them? and, because of their unfaithfulness, were the Gentiles to be unsaved?

1. God's truth in spite of man's falseness. They resisted his will, but the will remained firm and strong; they neglected his promises, hut the promises remained faithful; they rejected his Christ, but he was nevertheless the Christ of the Jews and of all the world. Over against their unholy conduct the holiness of God shone spotless and supreme.

2. God's truth through man's falseness. If man will not yield to God, God will make even man's disobedience ministrant to his own purposes. So they rejected the Christ; and his death was the world's life. They would not live by him; and "by their fail salvation came unto the Gentiles." Perhaps sooner than would otherwise have been; perhaps more effectually. So were they, all unknowing, drawing the chariot of his kingdom; so, even now, is the "wrath of man" made to "praise" him.

3. God's truth in condemnation of man's falseness. Might they not say, "If God's holiness shines the more brightly in contrast with my unholiness, if God's purposes are more effectually worked out by reason of my perverseness and sin, shall I not therefore be approved rather than condemned? Nay, shall I not even make my lie to abound that his truth may abound? Such are the jesuitries of every age; such is the utter untruth of the heart of man. But man is a witness against himself; and therefore the apostle almost disdains reply. "Man! if the overruling of evil for good were ground of acquittal, then would all be acquitted; if evil were thereby justified, it might be therefore deliberately wrought! Let the conscience of each speak out against such utter immorality; let the acknowledged fact of a final judgment teach the futility of such a plea. The condemnation of the condemned is just!" So does he shear away their vain pleas, and the case for their arraignment is complete. It only remains that, for Jew and Gentile, the express testimony of God's Word be adduced, as supplementary of the moral considerations of Romans 1:1-32 . and 2., and all the world will be shown guilty before God.

Our Christian privileges, are they used or abused by us? Oh, let us take to heart those words, "Not every one that saith to me," etc. ( Matthew 7:21-23 ).—T.F.L.

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