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ROMANS xi. 6.
— .f the first Fruit be Holy, the Lump is also Holy / and if the Root be H$ly, so are the branches.
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THE Jews, as they were the most remarkable people upon earth in many respects, sb particularly in this; that they preserved the pedigreesof their several tribes and families, with a more scrupulous and religious exactness, than any. other nation in the world. . This tare was infused into them, and many Ways .cultivated by God himself, in order to ascertain the descent of the Meffi ih, when he came, and to prove that he was, as the prophets had foretold he should be, of the tribe of Judah and of the lineage of David.
, That tribe, indeed, was most concerned, on this account, to preserve their genealogy entire. However, other tribes there were (for instance, Ephraim) which, though not entitled to this distinguishing honours yet set up their pretences to it; and all of them, even without such a particular claim, had great reason to glory in their common descent from .ibraham, Isiac, and Jacob\ the peculiar favourites of heaven, to whom the promise of the blessed Seed was severally made. All of them therefore studioufly cheriihed the memory of their honourable extraction, and carefully preserved the evidences of it.
The example of St. Paul is a proof, that there zeal, in this cafe, was laudable. For even he himself, who was the apostle of the Gentiles, in Voi. II. 'Y those those very epistles which he wrote to the Gentileconverts (particularly to those of Rome; the proudest part of the heathen world, and who had entertained the most contemptuous opinionof the Jews) fails not to magnify the great priviledge of his birth, and highly to value himself upon it. Twice we sind him, not only boasting of his parentage, as an Israelite at large, but particularizing his descent from the tribe of Benjamins Rom. xi. t. Phil. iii. 5. He often and amply declares the great advantage *, which belonged to the feed of ibiahim, as such; "to whom (as he speaksf) pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose arc the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came." And though, " as concerning the gospel, they were" he fays, now enemies through unbelief, yet still he asfirms, that, "as touching the election," or as the elect people of God, "they are beloved for the fathers fakes." Rom. xi. 28. And on this foundation he builds an ar-, gument of great importance; for the general conversion of the Jews to the faith of Christy when once "the fulness of the Gentiles" was come in r Then, he fays God would " provoke the Jews to emulation so that they, seeing the univerfal reception of the gospel by the heathen, should be induced, at length, to believe in Christ, as /ihraham did, and, following his faith, should likewise share his reward: "For, if the sirst-fruit be holy^
* Rom. iii. 1, *. f R°m. ix 4, J.
the the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
By "the sirst-fruit" and "the root," in these words, we are to understand the three great progenitors of the Jews, Abrahim, Ilauc, and Jicob 1 ■chiefly the sirst of them, who, being eminently holy and dear to God, should derive a blesiing to his posterity on that account, and prevail at last, to have them also accepted as holy, and instated in the favour of God. For, as the whole Lump, or Mass of corn, under the law, was hallowed by the Heave-Offering * of the First-Fruits dedi• cated to God; as the branches partake of the vigour and virtues of the root from which they spring; so the great body of the Jews are accepted in ibraham, and fanctisied by their descent from him. They cannot, therefore, be sinally rejected; but shall, in God's good time, be admitted to partake of all the privileges and benesits which belong to that facred alliance.
A nd this they shall attain to, partly in virtue •of the promise made by God, when he entered •into the covenant with Abraham; and partly also •in virtue of those principles of piety and good3iess, which they derived from their ancestors, and srom the holy law of God, committed to their custody; principles, which though they might be obscured and buried for a time, yet would afterwards spring up, and bring forth fruit; qualifying the heirs of promise for those hleffings, to which God had ordained them.
* Num iv. 10 where the wor')» $vpap.x and x.xaf^ti, used 4y the apostle, ave likewise employed^
Y % All
All this I apprehend to be within the intention of the apostle's discourse. For the holiness he speaks of may be taken in a twofold fense; either for that external and relative holiness, which belongs to persons, or tilings, offered to God, and appropriated particularly to his honour and service; or for those internal graces and qualities of mind, which fanctity our natures, and render us habitually holy. Both these St. Paul seems to point at, in the words before us; and hath, therefore, purposely (if I mistake not) illustrated his argument by two such instances, as refer distinctly to each of them: For the holiness of the sirstfruits and the lump, is an holiness merely os institution, outward, and nominal, whereas by the holiness of the root and the branches, is to be understood an holiness of nature, inherent, and real. So that the apostle's meaning in this passage may, after this manner, be more clearly represented and fully expressed: '* That the he*' line/s of the patriarchs should, in both senses of "that word, extend itself to their progeny, and "should one day visibly rest on all the tribes of "Israel: who, as by virtue of their relation to "Abraham, they were still nearly related to God, "and particularly dear to him; so shouid they likewise inherit, and in God's appointed time, "exert the faith and virtues of Abraham ; and, ■ "by that means, render rhemfelves every way ob"jects of the divine favour and benediction:" ,c For if the sirst-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy so are the branches."
The words therefore that I have chosen, will
asford me a very natural occasion os discoursing (in a way suitable to the design os this annual assembly) concerning the great advantages and blessings to which the sons of the clergy are entitles, as the holy posterity of holy parents: especially, if it can be shewn, that the apostle's way of reasoning' was not consined to the oeconomy and Iution of the Jews, but is of equal force also under the Christian dispenfation. And of this I need produce no other proof than that single passage of the fame apostle, in his sirst epistle to the Corinthians, vii. 14. where he pronounces the children of such parents as were, one of them a Christian, and the other an unbeliever, to be clean and holy, on the account of the faith aud holiness even of one of those parents. "For the unbelieving hufband" (fays he) ** is fanctisied by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is fanctisied by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." By the holiness of the children, here mentioned, I understand the near relation in -which they stood to God, as born from a believing parent, and the right which, on the account, they had to be admitted into that Christian covenant by baptism. But, however this holiness be understood, 'tis very plain, that it implies some peculiar advantage, some extraordinary privilege, which belonged to these children; and as plain, that they were entitled to that advantage and privilege (whatever it was) on the account of their parentage. And therefore the reasoning made use of by St. Paul in the text, holds equally with regard to 'Jews and Chr jliuns; and will accord