« הקודםהמשך »
privilege of birth, on no relation to the greatest and best of men. May we seek to be inserted into the family of God, by his adopting love in Christ Jesus, and to maintain the lively exercise of faith; without which no child of Abraham was ever acceptable to God, and with which none of the children of strangers have ever failed of a share in his mercy and favour.
The sovereign choice of some to peculiar privileges, to which none had claiin,
and the appointment of some among many criminals, to exemplary frunishments, consistent with reason and scripture. Ch. ix. 1424.
14 TAE have seen that the posterity of Ishmael and of Esau were
VV cut off from the promises of God. What therefore shall 15 we say? Is there unrighteousness in God? God forbid ! For he
saith to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomsoever I will have mercy, and will compassionate whomsoever I please to compassionate (Gen. xxv. 23.) Esau, after he had sold his birth-right, ran
eagerly to obtain his father's blessing, yet it was bestowed upon Jacob. 16 It is not therefore you see of hirn that willeth, nor of him that 17 runneth, but of God that shewerh mercy. Moreover the scrip
ture saith to Pharaoh (Ex. ix. 16.) “ For this cause have I raised : thee up, that I may shew forth my power in thee, and that my 18 name may be celebrated through all the earth.” So then he hath 19 mercy on whom he will, and he hardeneth whom he will*. -But
thou wilt say to me, if God acts thus, why doth he then find fault ? 20 who hath resisted his will ? Nay, but, О man, who art thou who
enterest into a debate with God ? Shall the thing formed say unto 21 him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the
potter power over his clay, out of the same mass to make one ves22 sel to honour, and another to dishonour? What if God resolving
to manifest his wrath, and to make known his power, hath endur
ed with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruc23 tion? And what is, that he may make known the riches of his
glory on the vessels of his mercy, he long endureth those, whom 24 he hath previously prepared to glory ? even us, whom he hath
called, not only of the Jews, but of the Gentiles. Shall he make an apology to thee () man, that dealing thus mercifully with some of Jacob's race, [while he justly rejected others he hath added to their number some from Gentile nations ? Know thy place, and acquiesce in humble silence,
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn from the memorable section which we have now been reading, humbly to adore the righteousness and holiness of God, in all the most amazing displays of his sovereignty, which we are sure are
* When God is said to harden Pharaoh's heart, that he should not let Israel go, it only means, that he took such measures as he knew would be attended with that effect.
always consistent with it. Let us own his right to confer on whom he pleaseth, those favours which none of us can pretend to have deserved ; and adore his wonderful goodness, in choosing to exercise mercij and compassion on any of the children of men, yea on many, who must own themselves in the number of those who had the least claim to it. He hath of his mere goodness given us those privileges, as Christians, and as Protestants, which he hath with-held from most nations under heaven. And if we improve them aright, we have undoubtedly reason to look upon ourselves as vessels of mercy whom he is preparing for eternal glory. Let us adore his distinguishing favour to us, and arrogate nothing to ourselves. It is nciiler of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy, and worketh in us both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure.
Long did his patience wait on us; and let that patience be for ever adored. It shall be glorified even in those that perish : for he is so far from destroying innocent creatures, by a mere arbitrary act of power and terror, that he endureth with much long-suffering, those who by their own incorrigible wickedness prove vessels of wrath, and whom the whole assembled world shall confess fitted for the destruction to which they shall finally be consigned. That after long abuse of mercy they are hardened, and perhaps after long hardness are at length destroyed; yea that some of the vilest of men are exalted by providence to a station that makes their crimes conspicuous, as those of Pharaoh, till at length he shows forth his power the more awfully, and maketh his name the more illustrious by their ruin, is certainly consistent with that justice which the Judge of the whole earth will never violate. But if in tracing subjects of this kind, difficulties arise beyond the stretch of our feeble thought, let us remember that we are men, and let us not dare to reply against God. Retiring into our own ignorance and weakness, as those that are less than nothing and vanity, before him, let us dread by any arrogant censure to offend him who has so uncontroulable a power over us. As clay in the hand of the protter, so are we in the hand of the Lord our God. Let us acquiesce in the form he has given us, in the rank he has assigned us; and instead of perplexing ourselves about those secrets of his counsels, which it is impossible for us to penetrate, let us endeavour to purify ourselves from whatever would displease him ; that so we may, in our respective stations, be vessels of honour, fit for the use of our Master now, and entitled to the promise of being acknowledged as his, in that glorious day when he shall make up his jewels.
The admission of the Gentiles to the privileges of God's peculiar people, when Israel should be rejected, was foretold both by Hosea and Isaiahı. Cl3. ix. 25, 8c.
V E who are Jews need not be surprised at God's calling Gen
1 tiles by the grace of the gospel, and appointing impenitent Jews to be monuments of his wrath, since there are so many hints of 25 it in the divine oracles. As in Hosea (i. 10.) he hath also said,
.“ I will call them my people, who were not my people ; and her, 26 beloved, which was not beloved : and it shall come to pass, that
in the place, where it was said to them, Ye are not my people, 27 there shall they be called the sons of the living God.” Also
Isaiah crieth concerning Israel (x. 22.) “ Though the number of
the children of Israel.be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant only 28 shall be saved. For the Lord is finishing and cutting short his
account in righteousness ; for the Lord will make a short account 29 upon the earth.” Isaiah hath also formerly said (i. 9.) « Except
the Lord of hosts had left us a seed, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been made like to Gomorrah :" So that you see, it is no unexampled thing that the main body of the Jewish
nation should revolt from God, and become the object of his soré dis30 pleasure. What shall we then say in the conclusion of the argu
ment? Surely this : That the Gentiles, who pursued not after
righteousness, have now attained to righteousness, even the right31 eousness which is by faith. But Israel, pursuing the law of 32 righteousness, hath not attained the law of righteousness. And
wherefore did they not? Because they did not pursue it by faith,
but as by the works of the law. For they stumbled and fell at 33 that stone of ofience which lay in their way. As it is written,
« Behold I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence: and every one who believeth in him, shall not be ashamed.” Is. viii. 14. xxviii, 16.
REFLECTIONS. How can we sinners of the Gentiles ever sufficiently acknowledge the goodness of God to us, in calling us to that full participation of gospel-blessings which we enjoy! That in our native lands, where the name of the true God was so long unknown, we should have the honour of being called his children ! O that we may indeed be so, not only by an external profession, but by regenerating grace ! May we be of that remnant, that little remnant, which shall be saved, when numbers countless as the sand of the sea, which had only the name of God's Israel, shall perish, even in the day when his work shall be cut short in righteousness !-Blessed be God that there is a seed remaining. It is the preservation of the people among which it is found, and had it not been found among us, we had probably long since been made a seat of desolation. May it increase in the rising age ! that the pledges of our continued peace and prosperity may be more assured, till our peace be like a river, and our salvation like the waves of the sea.
It will be so, if we be awakened seriously to inquire how we may be justified before God, and seek that invaluable blessing in the way here pointed out; if we seek it, not as by the works of the law, but by faith in Christ, as the Lord our righteousness. He hath, in this respect, been to many a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. May divine grace teach us the necessity of building upon him, of resting upon bim the whole stress of our eternal hopes. Then shall they not sink
into disappointment and ruin ; then shall we not flee away ashamed in that awful day, when the hail shall steep away the refuge of lica, and the waters of that final deluge of divine wrath shall overflow every hiding-place, but that which God hath prepared for us in his own Son.
That God hath offered salvation on the same equitable and gracious terms
to all ; though Israel, by a bigoted attachment to their own law, rejected it. Ch. X. 1—13.
I PRETHREN, the affectionate desire of my heart, and my sup.
D plication before God concerning Israel, is for its salvation. 2 For I testify of them, that they have a very ardent zeal for God; 3 but it is not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant
of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God 4 exhibited in his Son. For Christ is the end or scope of the law for 5 righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth
the righteousness, which is by the law, when he saith, « The man 6 who doth them, shall live by them.” (Lev. xviii. 5.) But the
righteousness which is by faith speaketh thus, (Deut. xxx. 11.)
“ Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven?” that is 7 to conduct Christ down with him from thence : “ Or, Who shall
descend into the deep?" that is, to bring Christ again from among 8 the dead (as I may accommodate those words of Moses). But
what saith he afterwards ? (v. 14.).“ The word is nigh unto thee,
even in thy mouth, and in thine heart.” And that is the case with 9 the word of faith, which we preach : for if thou confess with thy
mouth Jesus the Lord, and believe in thy heart that God hath 10 raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart
man believeth to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is Il made to salvation. For the forecited scripture saith, “Every one 12 that believeth in him, shall not be ashamed.” For there is no dif
ference between Jew and Greek. For the same Lord of all dis13 playeth his riches and bounty to all that call upon him. For (as
the prophet Joel testifies, ii. 32.) whosoever shall invoke the name of the Lord, shall be saved.
REFLECTIONS. Let our hearts, after the example of St. Paul here before us, be overflowing with love and compassion to our brethren ; and let us be earnestly interceding with God for their salvation. Where we sec a zeal for God, let us pay all due regard to it, and compassionate that ignorance which may sometimes be mingled with it ; especially if it affect so important an article as that of our becoming righteous before God by a better righteousness than our own. Let us pray that God would teach us, and would enable us, according to our respective situations, in a proper manner to teach others, that Christ is indeed the end of the law, of all the laws which God ever gave to fallen man for righia eousnes8 ; all were intended to convince men of their need of coming to him, that righteousness and life may be obtained.
Great reason have we to adore the divine goodness, and to congratulate ourselves, and one another, upon our great happiness in this respect, that God hath given us a revelation, so obvious and intelligible in all the grand points of it. We have indeed no necessity, no temptation to say, Who shall go up into heaven ? or, Who shall descend into the deep? or, Who, like the industrious, but bewildered, sages of antiquity, shall cross the seas, to bring that knowledge from distant countries, which is wanting in our own? The word is nigh to us : It is indeed in our mouth : () that it may be in our heart too. We know a descending, a risen Redeemer. He still visits us in his gospel, still preaches in our assemblies, and stretches out a gentle and compassionate hand, to lead us in the way to happiness. May our profession of faith in him be cordial; and then it will be open and courageous, whatever sacrifices we may be called to make. Believing on him, we shall not be ashamed ; calling on his name, we shall be saved ; though we can meet with nothing but despair from a dispensation, that saith, The man who perfectly doth these precepts, shall live by them.
That the gospel had been widely diffused through the Gentile world ; though
according to the prophecies, the Jews had rejected it. Ch. x. 14, &c. .
14 THEREFORE, since salvation is promised to all that call upon
1 the name of the Lord, attend to the inference, to justify us in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. For how shall they call on him, on whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe
on him, of whom they have not heard ? And how shall they hear 15 without a preacher? And how should they preach (who sustain that
character 7 except they be sent ? Without such a commission, we should never have thought of carrying to the Gentiles those glad tidings, which should be we welcome to all that hear them. As it is written. “ () how beautiful are the feet of those, who bring the
good tidings of peace ? who bring the good tidings of good things?” 16 18. lii. 7. But all have not obeyed or received the gospel. For 17 Isaiah saith (liii. 1.) “ Lord, who hath believed our report ?” Faith
indeed cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word or express com28 mand of God. But I say, though many have rejected the gospel,
Have they not heard il ? Verily I may say of the preachers of it, what David dues of the celestial luminaries (Ps. xix. 4.) “ their
voice is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end 19 of the world.” But I further say, Hath not Israel known that this
should be the case ? For first Moses saith, “I will raise your jeal
ousy by those who were not a nation, and your anger with a foolish 20 people (Deut. xxxii. 21.) And Isaiah hath the boldness to say
(Ixv. 1, 2.) “ I was found of them, that sought me not; I was 21 made manifest to them, that inquired not for me." Whereas with