THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE ROMANS.
We now enter upon the epistolary part of the New Testament, concerning which it may be profit.
able to make sosta previous remarks.—The epistles are letters, written either to individuals, to
particular churches, or to sereral churches; or they are catholic epistles, that is, circular letters
to the churches in general. It is supposed that they were all written by one or other of the apos-
tles; and, excepting the epistle to the Hebrews, and the epistles ascribed to John, each has the
name of an apostle prefixed to it. The apostle Paul's name is affixed to thirteen epistles, and the
epistle to the Hebrews has generally been ascribed to him: that of Peter, to two; those of James
and Jude, to one each. Now, if they were actually written by the apostles, what shadow of rea-
son can there be in the opinion, which numbers maintain, that they are not to be considered as
of equal authority with the gospels? The gospels indeed record the words and actions of Christ;
but the human testimony, by which these words and actions were recorded, might even be thought
inferior to that of the epistles; for neither Mark nor Luke were apostles: and we have as full
proof that the epistles were divinely inspired, as that the gospels were. Various reasons may be
assigned, why many truths should be more obscurely delivered, during our Lord's ministry than
afterwards, of which he gave several intimations: ( Notes, Matl. 10:27,28, v. 27. Luke 12:49–53.
John 16:12,13.) and where are we to look for the full and explicit declarations of the whole
counsel of God,” but in the writings of those, whom the Lord Jesus selected as the depositaries
of his truths; to whom he gave “the keys of the kingdom of heaven;" to whom he promised to
give the Holy Spirit, “to teach them all things, and lead them into all truth;” and whom he sent"
to make known his gospel, even as the Father had sent him?" (Notes, Matt. 16:19. John 14:25,
26. 20:19–23, vv. 21–23.) If the doctrine of the apostles was the unadulterated and entire truth
of God, and altogether of divine authority, as they preached it; why should it not be so when they
committed it to writing? and if it was not the unadulterated entire truth, but either redundant or
defective; then Christianity was corrupted or mutilated, even from the first. It must also be ob-
served, that it is impossible, that we can know what the apostles preached, except from what they
themselves wrote, or what others wrote concerning them: and can we suppose that their own
writings are of less authority, than the writings of others on the same subject? If there be any
ground for making this distinction, between the gospels and the apostolical writings, how is the
church “built on the foundation of apostles and prophets?” (Notes, Eph. 2:19–22.° Rev. 21:9—
21, n. 14.) Hence then it follows, that what the apostles have delivered in these epistles, as
necessary to be believed or done by Christians, must be as necessary to be believed and prac-
'tised in order to salvation, as what was personally taught by Christ himself, and is contained in
'the gospels.' Whilby.
Most of the epistles, especially those of St. Paul, were written to those churches, the planting of
which is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: and the history so entirely coincides with them,
even in the most minute particulars, and evidently without the least design or aim at coincidence;
that the more carefully they are examined, and compared with the history, the more evident will
it appear, that both are indisputably genuine. This has been clearly shewn by the learned Dr.
Paley, in bis Hora Paulince: and I am decidedly of opinion, that all the genius, sagacity, and care
of any number of the most able men who ever lived, would be absolutely insufficient to forge a
history, and a number of epistles, so manifestly frank, artless, and often immethodical; and yet to
make the one so completely to confirin the other. If ever books had such internal evidence of
being genuine, that no reasonable man, after a diligent examination of them, could doubt of it