An Honourable Class
Romans 1:7
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Describe Rome, and compare it with our modern cities. The metropolis of the world, with two millions of people in about sixteen square miles; every trade, nationality, and religion represented there. The apostle knew the strategic importance of a Christian stronghold in Rome. What a mighty influence might radiate thence to every quarter of the globe! To energize the heart of the empire was to quicken with Christian life the whole world.

I. A SPECIAL CLASS SINGLED OUT. The "all" in Rome are restricted by the subsequent designations. It is useless to ignore the New Testament line of distinction. Men are distinguished by their relationship to the gospel, not by their social standing or intellectual ability, but by their moral qualifications, as possessors of good hearts which have received the seed of the kingdom. To speak of Christians is to mark them off from all besides, as a straight stick differentiates crooked ones. Would Christ send his messengers to our houses as to those "who are worthy"? This distinction creates a bond of union. The superficial diversities amongst the followers of Christ are merged in the one great feature of similarity. All are "one" in Christ Jesus, whether they live in the East or the West End, in the great rooms of a palace or the attic of a lodging-house. And in the primitive Church, as to-day, the uniting power of the gospel was a striking proof of its Divine origin - that he who made the key to fit so many hearts was the same who first constructed those human wards. If Christ appeared to-day, it would be as when a magnet is introduced into a box of iron filings; the affinity of his people would be discovered by their instant attraction to him, and the closer they pressed to him the nearer they would draw to one another. Christianity is healthful socialism.

II. THEIR HAPPY CONDITION. "Beloved of God." The Almighty is good to all his creatures; he "is great, and despiseth not any;" his sunshine and rain benefit all indiscriminately. Jesus weeping over Jerusalem exemplified God's infinite pity towards rebellious subjects, sorrowing over their distresses and grieved at their sins. But the love of the text is that of complacency, where God can rest in his love with satisfaction, rejoicing in the renewed nature and the evidences of restored sonship. Love must bet strongest and most delightful when reciprocated by its object, as the mirror increases light by reflection. It is an animating designation; for men need love as plants need sunshine and warmth. The loneliest heart may be cheered by the assurance of the Divine paternal affection. It is an ennobling love. Many a man has risen through love to the height of his capacity; his powers have been stimulated and developed. How strong for noble deeds must those be who think of the mighty heart of God pulsating to the rhythm of their feeble souls! Stunted lives may blossom and grow fruitful under the "light of his countenance," seeking to live worthy of his wondrous love. It implies the well-being of those loved. Not necessarily exemption from hardship and trial, not miraculous interposition every day; but unfailing guidance and succour, and the certainty of a blessed issue to all events. Our God never intended us to dwell all our lives in suspense concerning our relationship to him, but to come out into the unclouded day by accepting his declarations, and we honour him when we arm our breasts with these magnificent truths as with triple steel against all vexation, and flood our dwelling with the benignant splendour of his promises.

III. THEIR DIGNIFIED VOCATION. "Called to be saints." The word "called" has become so theological that to enter into its meaning with any freshness we must strip it of its technical clothing. A man's calling is his occupation in life - that by which he earns his livelihood. The main business of the Christian is to cultivate holiness. He is set apart, like the priest, with anointing oil for the service of God. This aim is in no wise incompatible with the fulfilment of his ordinary worldly avocation. Every situation is adapted to the pursuit of holiness, disciplining the soul, calling for endurance or activity. The saint is separate from sinners, not by reason of bodily absence, but through his consecrated thought and endeavour and behaviour. The same action may be performed from higher motives and with a regard to vaster issues. The saints are furnished with all requisite aids to holiness. The written Word, the Spirit, the house of prayer, - these are all helps to a godly life. We are not set to make bricks without straw. The manner of our call enforces the obligation to sainthood. We have been called by Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, our Pattern and Power, who called the disciples by the sea-shore, and Matthew at the toll-bar; and his summons reaches us from his cross of anguish, and from his throne of victory on high. The title of "saints" is expressly assigned to the followers of Christ, and it behoves us to walk worthy of our high calling and of the name by which we are called. Mistrust disowns such high, grand titles; faith claims and justifies them. Will not some respond to Christ's call to-day? "Harden not your hearts, if ye should hear his voice." - S.R.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

WEB: to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Inspiring Energy of a Divine Call
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