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William Burkitt (1650-1703) on Romans 2:1-5

June 23, 2009

Burkitt:

THEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doest the same things.

Lest the Jews should swell and be puffed up with pride, by hearing what the apostle said in the former chapter, of the detestable wickedness of the Gentiles, and the heavy displeasure of God against them for the same, St. Paul in this chapter pronounces the Jews to be guilty of the same sins, of which he had accused the Gentiles, affirming that the Jews had offended as much against the law of Moses, as the Gentiles had offended against the law of nature; and consequently their censuring and judging others, when they did the same thing themselves, would render them totally inexcusable at God’s tribunal: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, that Judges another, and by doing the same things condemns thyself. Learn hence, 1. That it is too usual and common a practice to condemn that sin in another which men practice themselves. 2. That when persons commit themselves the sins which they censure and condemn in others, they are totally inexcusable, and pronounce sentence against themselves.

2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth, against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

As if the apostle had said. We that are Jew know, by the light of the scripture, what the Gentiles knew imperfectly by the light of nature, that the just God judges uprightly, according to truth, and not according to appearance. It is equitable that he should, and certain that he will, deal with men according to his word, and reward every man according to his work. Think not then, O Jew! who judges the Gentiles for doing such things against the law of Moses, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God, which they have so severely felt. Learn hence. That such is

God’s hatred against sin, and such is the impartiality of his justice towards sinners, that no offenders can expect escaping the judgment of God for presumptuous sinning, Think thou, O man, that thou shall escape the judgment of God? No affection, or nearness of relation, can blind God, or put out the eye of his justice. If Gentile or Jew sin together, they shall suffer together 5 for there is no respect of persons with God: God will judge men in truth and righteousness, and condemn every sinner, whatever his knowledge or profession be. Learn, 2. That no man’s zeal in condemning sin in others will justify or save him, if he lives in sin himself: Think not, O man, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God.

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart. treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

Observe here, 1. The indulgent carriage of Almighty God towards poor sinners, discovered in the vast expense of the riches of his goodness and bounty upon them, and in the patient exercise of his forbearance and long-suffering towards them. Observe, 2. The gracious end and design of God in this expense of his goodness, and in the exercise of his patience and forbearance ; namely, To lead sinners to repentance. The end of goodness is to oblige and engage persons to love and serve their benefactor; this is the most natural and unconstrained consequence that the mind of man can infer from God’s bounty and sparing mercy: The goodness of God leads to repentance. Observe, 3. The unanswerable and undue returns which sinners make to God for the exercise of so much goodness and forbearance towards them: they despise the riches of his goodness and long-suffering. They despise it by being unthankful for it, and not improving of it; and by misimproving or sinning against it, they melt the mercies of God into bullets, and shoot them at the breast of the Almighty. Observe, 4. The sad and fatal consequence of these undue returns made to God by sinners: hereby they treasure up wrath against the day of-wrath. As if the apostle had said, “The more patience God expends upon thee, if perverted and abused by thee, the greater wrath is treasured up for thee; which, the longer it has been treasured up, will break forth the more fiercely and violently to consume thee.” Observe, 5. The description given by the apostle of the day of judgment; he calls it, a revelation of the righteous judgment of God. The judgment of God is righteous now, but it is not always revealed and openly made manifest now; therefore a time shall come, when there shall be a revelation of his righteous judgment fully. From the whole, note, 1. That the goodness of God is a natural and genuine motive to repentance. 2. That not to be persuaded by, is in God’s account to despise, his goodness. Note, 3. That this despising of goodness by delaying our repentance, is the treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath. As sinners have treasures of sin, so God has treasures of wrath for sinners. Note, lastly, That the day of judgment will be a day of revelation, a day in which the righteousness of God’s proceedings shall be universally manifested and magnified: then will all the divine attributes be conspicuously glorified; his wonderful clemency sweetly displayed; his exact justice terribly demonstrated; his perfect wisdom clearly unfolded; all the knotty intricacies of providence wisely resolved; all the mysterious depths of divine counsels fully discovered; and the injured honor and glory of Almighty God visibly cleared and repaired, to the joyful satisfaction of all good men, and to the dreadful consternation and confusion of the wicked and impenitent world: O how well might the apostle call this day. The revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

William Burkitt, Expository Notes With Practical Observations on the New Testament (Philadelphia: Published by Thomas Wardle, 1835), 2:13-14. [Some spelling modernized, italics original, and underlining mine.]

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