The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 14

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

 ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTER 13
Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle devotes this chapter to the removal of a practical cause of some differences that existed between the Jewish and Gentile converts. Many among the former; not fully instructed in the faith, were inordinately attached to certain portions of the ceremonial law of Moses: and among the rest, they could not be brought to give up the distinction which the law made between clean and unclean meats, and thus abstained from partaking of the latter description of food. These observances were tolerated in the converted Jews, until such time as they should be more fully instructed, in accommodation to their weakness, and for the purpose of “burying the Synagogue with honour.”—(St Augustine). The same indulgence was never extended to the converts from Paganism (as is seen, Epistle to Galatians). The tolerated observance of these ceremonial ordinances was made the occasion of differences among the early converts. The Gentile despised the Jew for so doing, and had no regard to his weak conscience; while the Jew censured the other party as violating the law. In order to effect a reconciliation, the Apostle first recommends the Gentiles to instruct the Jews (verse 1); and, after stating the cause of difference (Rom 14:2), he recommends them to abstain from despising or condemning one another (Rom 14:3); to leave such judgments to God (Rom 14:4). And after giving another example of a cause of difference (Rom 14:5), he shows, that both may follow whatever opinion they please on the subject; that neither should be judged, since both intend the glory of God, as well in this point (Rom 14:6-7), as in all the other actions of their lives (Rom 14:8-9); and that all judgment belongs to Christ, to whom, therefore, it should be left (Rom 14:10-13). Having, in the preceding part of the chapter, cautioned the weak against unjust judgments, he now cautions the better instructed against giving scandal; he tells them to respect the consciences of their weaker brethren, and not induce them to commit sin, and violate conscience, by their example (Rom 14:13–22). He, finally, exhorts the weak not to act contrary to conscience, but in all their actions to have an undoubted conviction of the lawfulness of what they were about doing (Rom 14:23).

COMMENTARY ON ROMANS CHAPTER 14
Text in pruple indiocates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 14:1. Among the other duties of fraternal charity, you who are better instructed in the doctrines of faith, should take into friendly intercourse, with the view of charitably instructing them, such of your brethren as are still weak, and not yet fully instructed in the faith; and you should forbear contending in argument and acrimonious reasonings.

“Weak in faith,” i.e., not fully instructed in faith or with respect to the abrogation of the ceremonial law. “Take unto you,” i.e., admit to free and friendly intercourse, in order charitably to instruct him. “Not in disputes about thoughts,” μη εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμων, i.e., forbear disputing with him, and perplexing him by your untimely reasonings, lest you might increase his doubts, and drive him to apostacy.

Rom 14:2. As an example of the subject of weak faith, to which I refer, take the following case: One man fully instructed in the faith is firmly persuaded that it is perfectly lawful for him to partake of all kinds of meats; while another, not so well instructed, partakes of herbs, lest he might eat of anything prohibited by the law of Moses.

“But he that is weak, let him eat herbs.” In Greek, we have the indicative mood, εσθιει, “eats herbs;” and this reading is the more probable; for, in this verse the Apostle is only adducing an instance of the cause of disputes, and of the matter of weakness in faith, in regard to which, he points out, in the next verse, the duties of each party. “Eat herbs;” those among the Jews who were not sufficiently grounded in the Christian faith, in order the more securely to avoid the violation of the law respecting the distinction of clean and unclean meats, contented themselves with partaking of herbs, in which no distinction was made by the law.

Rom 14:3. Now, the man who, in the enjoyment of his Christian liberty, partakes of everything set before him, should not despise his weaker brother, who abstaining from meats, owing to the weakness of his faith, feeds on herbs; and, on the other hand, the man who abstains should not judge him that partakes of all kinds of meats; for, the Lord has accepted him, and made him partake of his holy religion.

The Apostle, after stating the case in dispute, endeavours to reconcile both parties, by telling those who, from a full knowledge of the Christian faith, and of the exemption from all ceremonial ordinances which it conferred, partook of all kinds of meats, not to despise their less instructed brethren who abstained from certain meats, from an impression that these ceremonial ordinances were to be continued; on the other hand, he tells such as abstained, to forbear from judging of the others as violators of the law. From the words of this verse Estius infers, that the question in dispute was not between the Jews and Gentiles—for, how could the Jews for an instant, suppose that the converted Gentiles were sinning in not observing a law (the Law of Moses) which they never received?—but between the well-instructed, and the imperfectly instructed, or weak-minded among the Jewish converts themselves. The common opinion of commentators, however, is, that it was between the converts from among the Jews and Gentiles these disputes had existed; and that it is the converted Jews on one side, and the converted Gentiles on the other, the Apostle addresses; no doubt, the same reasons adduced with reference to the converted Gentiles, will apply to the well-instructed among the Jews also, who did not sufficiently respect the consciences of their weaker brethren. The reason adduced by Estius would only prove, that those who were “weak in faith,” were very imperfectly instructed in the Christian religion; and owing to this, it is not to be wondered at, if regarding the Mosaic ceremonies as a part of Christianity, they should erroneously suppose all converts from whatever quarter, to be bound by them. “For God hath taken him to him,” i.e., has taken him as his servant and worshipper, and has made him a sharer in the blessings of his religion. He is, therefore, God’s, and it belongs to God alone to judge him.

Rom 14:4. But who art thou to assume the right of passing sentence of condemnation on the servant of another? He shall stand or fall by the sentence of his own master; but he shall stand, i.e., he shall be acquitted and succeed in judgment; because God, who is his master, has power and clemency to absolve him.

He urges the reason referred to in the preceding words, “God has taken him;” he is God’s servant. What right, therefore, hast thou to sit in judgment on another’s servant? You have no authority whatsover for this. He has his own master to judge him; to him “he standeth,” i.e., he shall be acquitted by him, and shall come off victorious in the cause; or, “falleth,” be worsted and condemned in the cause. “But he shall stand,” i.e., he shall be acquitted and come off victorious; “for God is able,” &c.: under the word “able” is included not only ability or power, but clemency, and a will to acquit him. Why, therefore, should any one presume to condemn the servant whom God acquits and absolves?

It has been already remarked that the Jewish converts were permitted to retain the use of the Mosaic ceremonies; but, no such indulgence was ever allowed the converts from Paganism.

Rom 14:5. The distinction of days affords another example of the matter to which I refer; for, the man of weak and imperfect faith makes a distinction between one day and another, for religious purposes; while another, better instructed, judges all days to be alike for such purposes. This should not weaken concord amongst you. Let each one follow the full persuasion of his own judgment in this matter.

Another example of the legal observances which was the occasion of dissensions, is the distinction of festival days, as in use among the Jews, such as Sabbath days, New Moons, Passover, Pentecost. To these the Apostle refers in his Epistle to the Galatians 4:10, as forming part of the first elements of Jewish infancy. Some Commentators, and among the rest, A’Lapide, say, that by “days” here are meant not festival days, as above, but days of fasting and abstinence. So that here there is only a more diffuse explanation of the foregoing example of Jewish ceremonial ordinances. In the former example, he refers to perpetual abstinence from certain meats; in this, to abstinence from certain kinds of food, on particular days (v.g.), from leavened bread during the octave of the Pasch. “For one,” the Greek reading in the Codex Vaticanus is έις μεν, “indeed one,” and this is the more probable reading, as the Apostle is here only stating another case in dispute. “Let every man abound in his own sense.” The Greek word for “abound,” πληροφορεισθω, means, to have a fulness, which must be determined from the subject matter to which in each particular case it refers; here, it refers to the fulness of conviction and firm persuasion of the lawfulness of his line of conduct. It means, “let each person follow in this matter the full conviction of his own judgment.” I said, in this matter, because the Apostle is treating of feasts and abstinences, instituted by the Mosaic law, and abrogated by Christ, but still permitted to be observed on the part of the Jewish converts for a time. It is only in reference to this matter that the words, “let each one abound,” &c., are used by the Apostle. But in reference to fasts or festivals instituted by the Christian Church, the Apostle would never have left it optional with the faithful to attend to them or not: he would have commanded them strictly to observe them, as he did in reference to the decrees of the Apostles.—(Acts 16:4). The same is clearly deducible from the doctrine laid down by him in the preceding chapter, when treating of the obligations of such as are subject to others.

Rom 14:6. The man who distinguishes one day from another, does so for the glory of God (and the man who observes all days alike, has the same object in view); and the man who partakes of all means promiscuously, does so for the glory of the Lord, for he gives thanks to God for the food of which he partakes; and the man who abstains, does so from religious motives, for the glory of the Lord; and he in like manner, gives God thanks for the food which he regards as permitted to him, or for the gift of abstinence.

“He that regardeth the day,” i.e., distinguishes one day from another for the purpose of religious worship, “regardeth it unto the Lord,” i.e., does so with reference to the will of the Lord. In the common Greek we have these words added, and he who regardeth not the day, regardeth it not unto the Lord, the meaning of which is quite clear from the opposite clause. The words are wanting in the chief MSS. Beelen thinks them genuine, and fully warranted by the negative placed after the affirmative form of expression in reference “to eating,” in the following part. “And he that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth thanks to God” for the food he receives, and the Christian liberty which exempts him from the yoke of Jewish ceremonies. In the words, “giveth thanks there” is an allusion to the practice among the Jews of giving thanks before and after meals, a custom sanctioned by the example of our Divine Redeemer (Matt. 15:26; Mark 8:14; Luke 22; John 6), and universally and at all times observed in the Church.—(1 Tim. 4). “And he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not,” i.e., he is to be presumed to have the glory of God in view, “and giveth thanks to God,” for this gift of abstinence, or, for the food of another description which he receives; and it is to this latter meaning that the words are restricted by Estius, who remarks that the Apostle does not say, as in the preceding “for he giveth,” &c., but, “and he giveth thanks,” as if to say, he refers this act of abstinence to the glory of God, who looks not only to our actions but also to our intentions; “and he gives God thanks,” for the other food permitted to him. From this passage we are to infer, that unless in matters clearly and manifestly sinful, no one is to be condemned by us, but rather excused on the grounds of good intention.

Rom 14:7. Both of them bless God and give him thanks; or, none of us, after our call to Christianity, is to live or die for his own advantage or glory, but for the glory of the Lord, whose servants we are become.

The Apostle proves that they both refer their actions, in each case, to God; no wonder, he says, that particular actions should have reference to God, when our entire life, and death itself, are subservient to his glory, and should be referred to this end by all Christians, who, by their very profession, are become the servants of God,

Rom 14:8. For, whether we live, we live for the glory of the Lord, or whether we die, we die for the glory of the Lord, and in obedience to his will. Whether, therefore, we are living or dead, we are the Lord’s who ransomed us by the effusion of his most precious blood.

We live and die unto the Lord, who made us his own, and to whom, therefore, we should consecrate our life, death, and all that we have. “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s,” who paid the heavy price of his own most precious blood for us. As slaves, therefore, have nothing of their own—all they possess belongs to their master—so we, the servants, and purchased slaves of God, have nothing of our own; our life, death, and entire being, all belong to Christ.

Rom 14:9. For, unto this end, has Christ died, and thus paid the price of our ransom, and risen from the dead to lead a glorious and immortal life, that he should exercise dominion over the living and the dead.

He assigns a reason, why we should live and die unto Christ, and refer our all to his glory. “For, unto this end Christ died, and rose again.” In the Greek it is, “Christ died, and rose again,” and has lived again. In some readings, as in the one from which our Vulgate is taken, this latter clause is omitted. In others (v.g.), in the Codex Vaticanus, the middle member of the sentence, “and rose again,” is omitted: it runs thus, και απεθανεν και εζησεν, died and lived. The sense is, however, fully expressed in ours. “That he might be Lord both of the living and of the dead.” Christ, from the instant of his incarnation, had this dominion. To him “was given all power in heaven and on earth,” i.e., over the whole Church, militant and triumphant; but, it was only after his death and resurrection, that he was to exercise his dominion, “that he might be Lord of the dead and the living,” i.e., of us, while in this world and in the next. The Apostle places “the living” after “the dead” to show that this perfect dominion is to regard such as live a life of glory in the future world; for, it is in the elect, that his reign of glory will be conspicuous.

Rom 14:10. Since, then, we are all the purchased servants of Christ, why shouldst thou, who abstainest, judge thy brother, as guilty of violating the law, when in the exercise of his Christian liberty he partakes of every kind of meat? and, on the other hand, why shouldst thou, who exerciseth this Christian liberty, despise as ignorant and weak-minded, thy brother, who, from weakness of faith, abstains from certain meats? You have no authority for doing so; you are only usurping the function of Christ, before whose tribunal we shall be placed for judgment.

No one should judge his neighbour. This is the peculiar province of Christ, and no one should despise his brother, since we know not what judgment an infinitely just and righteous judge may pass on him; perhaps, the very matter for which we despise him, may be the subject matter of his reward. Let us recollect the tremendous judgment of God, and it will be the best check on our rash judgments.

Rom 14:11. For, it is of Christ, as supreme judge of all, we are to understand the words of the Prophet Isaiah 45:23: I swear by my life (saith the Lord) that every knee shall be bent before me as Supreme Lord and Sovereign Judge, and every tongue shall confess me to be their God by whom alone they shall swear.

These words are taken from Isaiah 45:23. There is some slight variation from the Hebrew and Septuagint, but very little difference in the sense. In place of, “I live,” it is in the Septuagint, “I swear by myself.” However, the former expression is equivalent in sense to the latter; for, as it was an ordinary kind of oath among the Jews to swear, “the Lord liveth;” so, is God often introduced in SS. Scripture, swearing by himself in the words, “I live,” Num 14; Isa, 49; Ezek 14, &c. (“saith the Lord”), are added by the Apostle himself. “Every knee;” after these words, in some Greek copies, are added, of things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, but they are rejected by critics. “Every tongue shall confess to God.” In Isaias it is, “and every tongue shall swear by God;” or, as in the Hebrew, “shall swear,” which is a homage to his sovereign truth. This power Christ possessed over the good and bad at his first coming; but it shall be fully exercised and perfected only at his second coming. The prophet speaks in the name of the supreme Jehovah; St. Paul, by applying these words to Christ declares his divinity.

Rom 14:12. Each one, therefore, shall be presented before the judgment seat of a most just and righteous Sovereign Judge, to give an account for himself and not for others, over whom he has no charge.

“For himself” (in Greek, περι ἑαυτοῦ, “of himself,”) not to any other, but “to God,” the supreme and sovereign Judge. In the preceding verse, there is a forcible proof of the divinity of Christ. Since it is to prove that Christ is sovereign Judge, before whom all shall appear (verse 10), that he adduces this testimony from Isaias, which shows that adoration shall be paid him; moreover, he calls him “God” in this verse.

Rom 14:13. We should not, therefore, form unfavourable judgments regarding each other; but you should rather resolve on this, not to place an obstacle or stumbling-block in the way of your neighbour’s salvation.

As, then, each one is to render an account of himself, let us forbear from judging or condemning each other. “But judge this rather,” i.e., determine and resolve upon this, “not to put a stumbling-block or a scandal in your brother’s way.” The words “stumbling-block “and “scandal” refer to the same thing, viz., whatever may be the occasion, whether it be word, deed, or omission, of the spiritual fall and ruin of our neighbour. In the Codex Vaticanus, the word “stumbling-block,” προσκομμα, is omitted. In the preceding part of the chapter, the Apostle principally addresses himself to the weak; he addresses himself in the remaining portion to the well-instructed, whether converted Jews or Gentiles, and cautions them against giving an occasion of scandal to their weaker brethren, whose infirm consciences he bids them to respect.

Rom 14:14. So far as I am myself concerned, I know for certain, and I am most firmly persuaded from the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, that no food is unclean of its own nature. But still it happens accidentally that food is unclean, for him who, through ignorance, thinks it to be such; see, then, the great caution with which we should use our gospel liberty in presence of the weak or ignorant.

“In the Lord Jesus,” i.e., by the teaching of Jesus Christ himself, “that nothing is unclean of itself, δἰ αὑτοῦ; in the Codex Vaticanus δἰ ἑαυτοῦ; in some readings it is, “that nothing is unclean by him,” δἰ αὐτου, without the aspirate, and this is the reading followed by the Vulgate, per ipsum, i.e., by his religion, in which all distinctions of this kind are abolished. The former reading, which is the more common, has reference to the false opinions entertained by certain Jews, who, not fully acquainted with the nature of the prohibition of the law, thought that the law forbade the use of certain meats as being of their own nature unclean; both readings are true. “But to him that esteemeth,” i.e., to the man who, from an erroneous conscience, believes “anything to be unclean, it is unclean,” and prohibited; hence, the others should take care not to provoke him by their example to commit an act which, from ignorance, he believes to be sinful; for by performing it, he sins.

Rom 14:15. But if your weaker brother, thinking certain kinds of food to be unclean, sees you partake of them, and is, therefore, troubled with either rash judgment regarding you, or with remorse of conscience for having partaken of such food, after your example, with a conviction of its sinfulness, you no longer observe fraternal charity. Do not so far undervalue your brother, for whom Christ died, as to give occasion to his spiritual ruin on account of your food.

If in consequence of seeing you eat meat, your brother “is grieved,” i.e., is impelled to rash judgment, or is induced to act against conscience by your example, and so to incur remorse; or, perhaps, in consequence of being perplexed with doubts, to relapse into Judaism; “thou walkest not,” &c., i.e., thou sinnest against fraternal charity. “Destroy not him with thy meat,” i.e., by taking meats under circumstances, in which it shall be to him an occasion of sin, “for whom Christ died,” i.e., whom Christ valued so highly, as to die for him. Hence, Christ died for more than the elect.

Rom 14:16. Let not, then, our holy religion be subjected to the blasphemies and reproaches of those who are without, on account of your contentions and divisions about eating or abstaining from certain meats.

“Our good,” in Greek, ὑμῶν τὸ ἀγαθον, “your good.” The meaning is the same. By “our good “some understand the advantage and blessing of Christian liberty which we enjoy. “Be evil spoken of,” βλασφημεισθω, by the weak and infirm brethren, who, seeing us avail ourselves of this liberty, in certain circumstances, judge us as violating the law; others understand by it the Christian religion (as in Paraphrase).

Rom 14:17. For, true religion, by which God reigns in our hearts, and on account of which he prepares for us a kingdom in heaven, does not consist in the choice of meat and drink; but in innocency of morals resulting from the observance of God’s Law; in cultivating peace with our neighbour; and in spiritual joy which always accompanies a good conscience.

The Christian religion, by which God reigns in our hearts, &c., does not consist in the exercise of one’s right to partake of all kinds of meat, &c., or in the choice and selection of meat and drink, but in “justice,” whereby the law of God is observed. “Peace,” has reference to our neighbour; “and joy in the Holy Ghost,” i.e., true spiritual joy, resulting from the observance of God’s law, and from the cultivation of peace with our neighbour, a joy which the Holy Ghost pours into the hearts of the truly peaceful and devout.

There is not the slightest ground for objection here against the merit of abstinence prescribed by the Catholic Church. 1st. The Apostle does not depreciate the merit of abstinence at all; it is of the use of meat and drink he speaks, and not of abstinence from them, 2ndly. The Apostle in the entire chapter, is only referring to the abstinence prescribed by the ceremonial law of the Jews. 3rdly. Although the use of food be not of itself sinful, nor abstinence from it of itself meritorious; still, the Apostle would not hold that when this abstinence is commanded by legitimate and competent authority, it would not be so, as is clear from the case of Adam. And that the Church has power to command abstinence in certain cases, is clear from the conduct of the Apostles, in the First Council of Jerusalem, prohibiting the use of Idolothytes—a matter in itself indifferent—to the inhabitants of Antioch and of the adjoining countries.

Rom 14:18. For, whosoever, serves Christ in the cultivation of these virtues, pleases God, and receives the approbation of good men.

“He that in this.” The common Greek has, in these, i.e., in the cultivation of these virtues of true piety towards God, peace towards our neighbour, spiritual joy, wherewith to console our neighbour, instead of irritating him by contentions. The chief MSS. support the Vulgate, and have ἐν τούτω: such a person “pleaseth God,” &c.

Rom 14:19. Let us, therefore, diligently cultivate what things soever tend to promote peace; and let us carefully attend to such things as serve to advance mutual edification.

“And keep the things that are of edification one towards another.” The word “keep” is not in the Greek. We only have in it, “Let us follow after the things that are of peace, and the things that are of edification,” &c. The word “edification” is a metaphorical expression, well adapted to convey the benefits of good example given to our neighbour; for, Christians are the temples of the Holy Ghost; every act or word, therefore, that promotes their spiritual advancement, builds up and conserves this edifice of sanctity, founded by the Holy Ghost. Two things in particular promote this, viz., teaching and example.—(See 1 Cor. 8:1).

Rom 14:20. Beware, then, of destroying, on account of food, the spiritual edifice of God; that is to say, your infirm brother, in whom God dwells by his grace. I admit that, both of their own nature and by the law, all kinds of food are clean; still the man who partakes of this food, in circumstances where his doing so is an obstacle, and a source of scandal to his weak brethren, commits sin by the act.

“Destroy not the work of God,” i.e., do not spiritually ruin by inducing him to commit sin, your infirm brother, in whom God resides as in his temple, and whom he prepared for this by his grace. “Destroy him not for meat,” i.e., by availing yourself of your perfect right to partake of food in circumstances where he may be induced to follow your example in violation of his conscience, which, although erroneous, it would be sinful for him to violate. “But it is evil,” i.e., it is a sinful act on his part “who eateth with offence,” i.e., he commits a sin, who without necessity, performs an act otherwise licit, in circumstances where another is led to violate conscience, and thus to commit sin, after his example.

Rom 14:21. It is a matter of duty, or, it is far better to abstain from eating meat, and from drinking wine, and from doing anything else, which may prove the occasion of stumbling or falling to your brother, and which may serve to make him more perplexed, and weaker in faith.

“It is good,” may mean, it is a matter of strict duty to abstain from meat and wine, or “anything else,” i.e., from doing anything else “whereby thy brother is offended.” Some versions have “offends.” i.e., impinges or stumbles against some obstacle; the Greek, προσκοπτει, admits of this latter construction. “Or scandalized,” means the same as the preceding term, in perhaps a more aggravated form, so as to fall, by either rash judgments, or by imitating, in eating meats, the better instructed; or doing anything else in itself lawful, which they may still, from ignorance, repute unlawful. In such a case they sin, since it is always sinful to act against conscience, even when erroneous; the only remedy is, to correct such a conscience. “Or made weak,” perplexed in faith, and tempted to abandon it altogether by apostacy. In such a case the well instructed are bound by the law of charity to respect the consciences of their weaker brethren, when the advantage they obtain is not necessary for them, and not to be compared with the loss it entails on their neighbour.

Rom 14:22. You may tell me that from the teaching of your religion, you have a firm and undoubted conviction, that all meats are clean, and that you may lawfully partake of them indiscriminately. Keep this conviction within yourself, and in the presence of God; and do not proclaim it aloud to the spiritual detriment of your neighbour. Happy is the man who does not condemn himself interiorly, in that which he approves of, and adopts in his conduct exteriorly (by violating his conscience, either from the force of bad example, or from any other motive whatsoever).

“Hast thou faith?” Some read these words declaratively, “thou hast faith.” There is no difference in sense. The Apostle addresses the well instructed, who knew from the principles of his faith, that all things were clean; and who, therefore, might say, he had a right to act upon this faith. By “faith” is not meant so much a belief in revealed truths, as a firm conviction of the lawfulness of a certain course, although in the present instance, the former followed from the latter; the firm conviction that all things were clean, flowed from the firmness of Christian faith. “Have it to thyself,” &c. There are times when it is a matter of duty to proclaim our Christian faith; but when we are not interrogated by competent authority, and no good, but, on the contrary, evil would result from declaring it—for instance, if there were a probable danger of our denying it, in case of torture, or, should contempt and blasphemies follow—then it would be unlawful to “profess it,” as St. Cyprian assures us.—(Epist. 83).

“Blesseth is he that condemneth not,” &c. These words are addressed to the weak brother, who violates his conscience, and does exteriorly what he thinks to be unlawful; in such a case, he commits sin by acting against his conscience.

Rom 14:23. But he who doubts (whether it be lawful for him to eat or not), if he eat in such a state of conscience, is guilty of sin, and is exposed to condemnation nay, condemned in his own judgment; because his act is not in accordance with the certain dictates of his conscience; or, because he does not act with a firm persuasion, that he is acting well. But, whatever is done against the dictates of conscience, or without a firm conviction that it is lawful, is a sin.

“He that decerneth.” (In Greek, διακρινομενος, doubts or fluctuates), “because not of faith,’ his act does not proceed from a firm conviction and full persuasion that it is lawful, so long as he is in this state of doubt. By “faith” here, and verse 22, is meant, not divine faith; but a practical faith or firm persuasion regarding the lawfulness of an action. “For all that is not faith is sin.” Whoever, therefore, acts with a dubious conscience commits sin. Before a man performs any act, he should resolve his doubts into a certainty, by some reflex judgment, as is always done by the advocates of Probabilism. They never allow one to act on a proximately probable or dubious conscience. By a reflex principle (v.g.), that the obligation of law is doubtful, and, therefore, not binding at all, Lex dubia non obligat, &c., they render the conscience, which was remotely probable and dubious, unhesitating, and practically certain, before performing the action; and hence, they act in every case from “faith,” in the sense required here by the Apostle.

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