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THE DUTIES WE OWE TO OUR FELLOW - MEN, BOTH
I am debtor, both to the Greeks, and to the Bar"barians ; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
That the Apostle considered himself a debtor to the Jews, still more than to the Greeks, or to the Barbarians, he deemed it unnecessary, on this occasion, to affirm. It was among the Jews at Damascus, that his apostolic energies were first developed ; and when, with difficulty, he effected his escape from their murderous fury, he repaired to Jerusalem, in order to promote, among his brethren according to the flesh, the faith which he had before endeavoured to subvert. Throughout the entire extent of his missionary career, embracing a circuit from Jerusalem even to
* This discourse was first delivered before the Home Missionary. Society, at their last Anniversary, and was printed at their request. It is here reprinted with the omission of a few passages which belonged exclusively to that occasion.
Illyricum, it was his first object, to enter the synagogue, wherever a synagogue was to be found, that, by reasoning out of the scriptures which the Jews themselves acknowledged, he might establish in their hearts the conviction, that Jesus was the Christ. To Israelites by descent, the precedence is assigned by the Apostle, in immediate connexion with my text--" I am debtor, both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For 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.” By the Greek, in opposition to the Jew, is to be understood the Gentile, of whatever nation he might be, of whatever religion, of whatever order of intellectual character. This was the acceptation of the term most familiar to the mind of a Hebrew. But there was another acceptation of the term, more familiar to the minds of the Greeks themselves. To them, the term denoted-not the opposite to the word Jew, but the opposite to the word Barbarian; for the appellation Barbarian, they were accustomed to attach to all of every nation, who were not versed (as the well-educated among the Romans were) in their own refined and polished language. The declaration, then,
of the Apostle, is to this effect:"I am a debtor, not to the Jews only, but also to the Gentiles; and not only to the Gentiles, who are distinguished by their learning, and their science, but to those also who are unlettered and untaught, of every country, and of every tribe, and of every tongue.'
Do you, then, ask whence originated in his mind this holy and diffusive benevolence? The reply is, that motives, of most impulsive power, were acting with effect on his conscience and his heart. He felt the motive, arising from the force of brotherhood, binding him by the feelings of affectionate fraternity, not to the Jew only, but also to the Greek, and even to the Barbarian, of every colour, and of every caste; constraining him to love all men, and to honour all men, because “ God hath made, of one blood, all that dwell on the face of the earth.” He felt the motive, arising out of the design and the efficacy of the great atoning sacrifice, offered--not to expiate the sins of one nation only, but to take away the sin of the world; in order that the throne of God and of the Lamb, might be encircled by a rejoicing and an adoring multitude, which no man can number, of
every kindred and tongue and people and nation. He felt the motive, arising out of the authoritative commission of the Saviour, when about' to ascend to his glory :-“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
He felt the motive, arising out of the assurance of Him who cannot lie, that He would “ his Spirit upon all flesh; so that, wherever the gospel of Christ should be preached, the Spirit of Christ should operate, as the Spirit of light and life. . Deep, therefore, and firm, was his persuasion, that in all the varieties of intellectual and moral culture, prevailing among men, there was nothing to deter - nothing to discourage an ambassador of Christ. Full well he knew, that without that Spirit, fruitless would be his mission, even to any of the descendants of Abraham; but, that with that Spirit, even among the most uncultivated, and the most unpromising barbarians," he should gather fruit unto life eternal.” He was not, in any instance, ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because he knew it to be “the power of God, unto salvation, to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
But still, perhaps, you ask the reason of that forcible peculiarity of representation, which gives a character to the text. You ask the origin, and the justification, of that feeling of actual debt-of absolute and positive obligation, of which the Apostle was conscious, and which goes so far beyond the feeling of mere benevolence ;---that feeling of debt, to those whom he had never seen, whom he had never injured, and from whom he
had received no communication of good, to authorise a claim. The very possession of the heavenly treasure contained in the gospel of salvation, he viewed as constituting a debt, actually due from him, both to the Greek and to the Barbarian; which, therefore, it was his imperative duty, to the utmost possible extent, promptly to discharge. And is not this feeling, só intense, and so influential, to be traced to the sense of the debt which he owed to that divine and beloved Saviour, who had ransomed him from death eternal, by his own most precious blood; and thus constrained him, by all the excitements of grateful and adoring love, to live, not unto himself, but' unto the glory of his redeeming and reigning Lord, to whom he owed his every joy, his every hope !
And how much, my christian brother, “owest thou unto thy Lord ?" Died he not for thee“ the just for the unjust”-on the cursed tree? Rose he not again from the dead, for thy justification before the dread tribunal ! Pleads he not for thee, the virtue of his blood, and the merit of his righteousness ? - Reigns he not for thee, over all creatures and all worlds ? Owest thou not to his most gracious and compassionate interposition, the blotting out of thy numberless offences, and the cancelling of that fearful debt, the smallest part of which, throughout eternity, thou couldst never pay? Dost ithou now stand