on Romans 3 :18
There is no fear of God before their eyes - This completes their bad character; they are downright atheists, at least practically such. They fear not God's judgments, although his eye is upon them in their evil ways. There is not one article of what is charged against the Jews and Gentiles here that may not be found justified by the histories of both, in the most ample manner. And what was true of them in those primitive times is true of them still. With very little variation, these are the evils in which the vast mass of mankind delight and live. Look especially at men in a state of warfare; look at the nations of Europe, who enjoy most of the light of God; see what has taken place among them from 1792 to 1814; see what destruction of millions, and what misery of hundreds of millions, have been the consequence of Satanic excitement in fallen, ferocious passions! O Sin, what hast thou done! How many myriads of souls hast thou hurried, unprepared, into the eternal world! Who, among men or angels, can estimate the greatness of this calamity! this butchery of souls! What widows, what orphans, are left to deplore their sacrificed husbands and parents, and their own consequent wretchedness! And whence sprang all this? From that, whence come all wars and fightings; the evil desires of men; the lust of dominion; the insatiable thirst for money; and the desire to be sole and independent. This is the sin that ruined our first parents, expelled them from paradise, and which has descended to all their posterity; and proves fully, incontestably proves, that we are their legitimate offspring; the fallen progeny of fallen parents; children in whose ways are destruction and misery; in whose heart there is no faith; and before whose eyes there is nothing of the fear of God.
on Romans 3 :18
There is no fear of God - Psalm 36:1. The word "fear" here denotes "reverence, awe, veneration." There is no such regard or reverence for the character, authority, and honor 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 favor of God. The only thing that will be effectual in restraining people from sin, will be a regard to the honor 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 favorable 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 favorable 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 pagan? We are prepared thus to credit all that is said in Rom. i., 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 of 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 raised up to forfeited "glory, honor, and immortality."
on Romans 3 :18
3:18 The fear of God is not before their eyes - Much less is the love of God in their heart. Psalm 36:1.