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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 18

Verse 18. There is no fear of God. Ps 36:1. The word fear here denotes reverence, awe, veneration. There is no such regard or reverence for the character, authority, and honour of God, as to restrain them from crime. Their conduct shows that they are not withheld from the commission of iniquity by any regard to the fear or favour of God. The only thing that will be effectual in restraining men from sin, will be a regard to the honour and law of God.

In regard to these quotations from the Old Testament, we may make the following remarks:

(1.) They fully establish the position of the apostle, that the nation, as such, was far from being righteous, or that they could be justified by their own works. By quotations from no less than six distinct places in their own writings, referring to different periods of their history, he shows what the character of the nation was. And as this was the characteristic of those times, it followed that a Jew could not hope to be saved simply because he was a Jew. He needed, as much as the Gentile, the benefit of some other plan of salvation.

(2.) These passages show us how to use the Old Testament, and the facts of ancient history. They are to be adduced not as showing directly what the character of man is now, but to show what human nature is. They demonstrate what man is when under the most favourable circumstances; in different situations; and at different periods of the world. The concurrence of past facts shows what the race is. And as past facts are uniform; as man thus far, in the most favourable circumstances, has been sinful; it follows that this is the characteristic of man everywhere. It is settled by the facts of the world, just as any other characteristic of man is settled by the uniform occurrence of facts in all circumstances and times. Ancient facts, and quotations of Scripture, therefore, are to be adduced as proofs of the tendency of human nature. So Paul used them; and so it is lawful for us to use them.

(3.) It may be observed, further, that the apostle has given a view of human depravity which is very striking. He does not confine it to one faculty of the mind, or to one set of actions; he specifies each member and each faculty as being perverse, and inclined to evil. The depravity extends to all the departments of action. The tongue, the mouth, the feet, the lips, are all involved in it; all are perverted, and all become the occasion of the commission of sin. The entire man is corrupt; and the painful description extends to every department of action.

(4.) If such was the character of the Jewish nation under all its advantages, what must have been the character of the heathen? We are prepared thus to credit all that is said in Ro 1 and elsewhere, of the sad state of the pagan world.

(5.) What a melancholy view we have thus of human nature. From whatever quarter we contemplate it, we come to the same conclusion. Whatever record we examine, whatever history we read; whatever time or period we contemplate, we find the same facts, and are forced to the same conclusion. All are involved in sin, and are polluted, and ruined, and helpless. Over these ruins we should sit down and weep, and lift our eyes with gratitude to the God or mercy, that he has pitied us in our low estate, and has devised a plan by which. "these ruins may be built again," and lost, fallen man be rinsed up to forfeited "glory, honour, and immortality."

{w} "There is no fear of God" Ps 36:1

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