ROMANS by Robert Haldane
Published by Banner of Truth. Hardback, 729 pp, £14.95.
Available from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom, 133 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6LE
THIS commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, since it was first published in 1835, has been favourably reviewed by Thomas Chalmers, C. H. Spurgeon, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and many others. Dr Chalmers “strongly recommended it”, Spurgeon put it in “the first rank of commentaries”, and in a foreword to the 1958 edition Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones commends it as having “great warmth of spirit” and praises it for its “practical application”. This edition is a reprint of the ninth edition of 1874. The fact that the Banner of Truth has reprinted it five times since 1958 bears witness to its continuing usefulness.
Haldane states: “The doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ is established by the Apostle in the former part of the Epistle. But it is a doctrine which in all ages has been offensive to the carnal heart . . . It lays the pride of man in the dust, pouring contempt upon his boasted strength and casting down all the lofty imagination of his own excellence and good works. In this Epistle the grace of the gospel is reckoned the only safe and sure foundation of practical virtue. Paul is often ignorantly accused of teaching principles subversive of morality but in the latter part of this Epistle he is fervent in establishing the necessity of holiness of life and conduct, as he had previously been earnest in establishing the great doctrine of justification by faith.”
“The Gospel,” he adds, “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,’ because in it is revealed the righteousness of God’. Unless such a righteousness had been provided, all men must have suffered the punishment due to sin . . . These are the great truths which the Apostle immediately proceeds to unfold. And as they stand connected with every part of that salvation which God has prepared, he is led to exhibit a most animating and consolatory view of the whole plan of mercy, which proclaims glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men’.”
The following quotations will give, we trust, a savour of the content of this volume. Commenting on Romans 9:15, Haldane writes, “What is the ground on which the Apostle here rests his denial that there is unrighteousness with God? He makes no defence or apology for God, attempts no metaphysical distinctions, but rests solely on the authority of Scripture. He produces the testimony of God to Moses, declaring the same truth that he himself affirms. This is quite enough for Christians. It is not wise in them, as is often the case, to adopt a mode of vindicating God’s procedure, so very different from what He Himself employs. How many go about to justify God, and thereby bring God to the bar of man! From the defences of Scripture doctrine, often resorted to, it might be supposed that God was on trial before men, rather than that all shall stand before Him, and that the will of God is supreme justice. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’, that is, I will have mercy on whom I please: I will bestow My favours, or withhold them, as seemeth to Me good.’ God by this declaration proves that He is a debtor to none; that every blessing bestowed upon the elect flows from gratuitous love, and is freely granted to whom He pleases. The answer, then, of the Apostle amounts to this, that what is recorded concerning God’s loving Jacob and hating Esau is in nothing different from His usual mode of procedure towards men, but is entirely consistent with the whole plan of His government. All men are lost and guilty in Adam; it is of mercy that any are saved; and God declares that He will have mercy, or not, upon men according to His own good pleasure.”
It has been said that the Epistle to the Romans had taught Haldane “the sovereignty of God, the corruption of man and the perfection of that righteousness which is provided and appointed for the salvation of believers”. These, and the other great doctrines which this epistle contains, he handles judiciously, scripturally, and to the satisfaction and profit, we believe, of serious students of the Word of God. It is a volume which opens up some of the most precious teaching of Scripture, and should be dipped into frequently. We heartily commend it.
-Rev. D. J. MacDonald
THE AUTHORISED VERSION by G. W. Anderson and D. E. Anderson
The Trinitarian Bible Society, Tyndale House, Dorset Road, London, SW19 3NN.
Booklet, 12 pages, 30p. Obtainable from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom., Glasgow.
SUB-TITLED, What today’s Christian needs to know about the KJV, this booklet concisely and clearly shows the excellence of the Authorised Version of the Scriptures in comparison with modern versions. It does so under such headings as “The Superiority of the Text”, “Principles of Translation”, “Doctrinal Distinctiveness” and “Absence of Modern Embellishments”.
The authors underline the godliness of the AV translators, their scholarship, and the role of the church in the translating of the AV, the result being a most accurate translation. On the other hand many modern translations in English are not done under the watchful eye of the church but under the auspices of publishing companies. “The church, . . .has abdicated her role as guardian of the Bible and has turned such responsibility over to hirelings who market various, conflicting translations to the confusion and disarray of the church.”
As the authors rightly say, the AV has “timeless excellence”. “The Authorised Version, with its majestic English style, and its reverence for the original Author, communicates not only the words and thoughts, but power and boldness, so needed by the twentieth century church.”