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relation to Israel, he there saith, “ All the day long have I stretched out mine hands to a disobedient, and gainsaying people.” So that, you see, I assert only what the profiheis plainly foretold.
REFLECTIONS. Blessed be God for the preaching of the gospel, so absolutely necessary to that faith without which we can have no well-grounded hope of salvation. Blessed be God therefore for the mission of his ministers, and for his abundant goodness in sending them to us sinners of the Gentiles. Let us give them a respectful and attentive hearing, and say, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that preach salvation, that publish peace ! And let us take great care, that we do not only speak respectfully of their doctrine, but that we comply with the purposes of their embassy. It is matter of continual joy to reflect, not only that God hath afforded to all men such means of attaining divine knowledge, by the intimations of it which he hath given in the constitutions of the heavenly bodies, and in the whole frame of visible nature ; but also, that he hath sent the express messages of grace to so many millions, in the extensive publication of his gospel. Let us rejoice in the spread it hath already had ; and let us earnestly and daily pray, that the voice of those divine messengers that proclaim it, may go forth unto all the earth, and their words reach in a literal sense to the remotest ends of our habitable world. Let us pray, that wherever the word of God hath a free course, it may be more abundantly glorified ; and that its ministers may not have so much reason to say, Who hath believed our report? and to complain of stretching out their hands all the day long to a disobedient and gainsaying people. Exert, O Lord, thine almighty arm, make it bare in the sight of all nations. Shed abroad thy saving influences on the hearts of multitudes, that they may believe, and turn unto the Lord! May the great Saviour of his Israel be found of those that seek him noi, and by the surprising condescensions of his grace, may he manifest himself to those that do not inquire after him. And may his ancient people not only be provoked to anger, but awakened to emulation too; and put in their claim for those blessings which God has by his Son vouchsafed to offer to all the Gentiles.
That though the rejection of Israel be general, it is not total; there being a
number of believers among them. Ch. xi. 1-10.
I P UT though I speak thus of the calling in of the Gentiles, do I
D say then, that God hath entirely rejected his people ? God * forbid ! For I also am an Israelite myself, of the seed of Abraham, 2 of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not rejected those of his peo
ple, whom he foreknew, but hath still a chosen seed. Know you
not what the scripture saith in the story of Elijah (1 Kings xix. 3 14.) when he pleadeth with God against Israel, saying, “ Lord
they have slain thy prophets, and they have digged up thine altars ; 4 and I am left alone, and they seek my life ?” But what saith the
divine 'oracle to him? “I have reserved unto myself seven thou5 sand men, who have not bowed the knee before Baal.” And so
also in the present time, there is a remnant according to the elec6 tion of grace. And if it be of grace, then it is no more of works,
else grace is no longer grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace, else work is no longer work. But to return : 7 What then do we conclude but this, that Israel hath not obtained that
justification which it hath sought : but the election hath obtained
it ; whereas the rest were blinded by their own fatal prejudices. 8 According as it is written (Is. xxix, 10.) “ God hath given them a
spirit of slumbering ; eyes that they should not see, and ears 9 that they should not hear unto this day.” And David hath said,
« Let their table become a snare, and a trap, and an occasion of 10 stumbling, and a recompence to them. Let their eyes be dark
ened, that they may not see, and keep their backs, continually bent down under a perpetual weight of sorrows, as a just punishment for rejecting so easy a yoke.” (Ps. Ixix, 22.).
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn from the answer of God to Elijah, when he thought himself left alone, and knew nothing of the seven thousand which God had reserved ; to encourage ourselves in a secret hope, that there may be much more goodness in the world than we are particularly aware of. The numbers of those that constitute the invisible church, are unknown to us, but they are known to God. They are all registered in the book of his remembrance, as they are all reserved unto himself by his grace ; nor shall his people whom he hath foreknown be cast away. May we be of that blessed number ; and may the degeneracy, which we see so prevalent around us, animate us to a holy zeal, to hold fast our own integrity : yea, to seize the accasion of approy. ing it in a more acceptable manner, from a circumstance, in every other view, greatly to be lamented.
Let us often reflect upon this great and important truth so frequent. Jy inculcated upon us in the word of God, that it is to his grace, and not to any works of our own, that we are to ascribe our acceptance with him. And let the ministers of Christ be ready, after the example of the apostle, sometimes to turn, as it were, out of the way, to dwell a little on a thought, at once so humbling, and so reviving.
We see the miserable circumstances of God's ancient Israel, given up to a spirit of slumber, 10 blind eyes, and to deaf ears. O let us take heed that we do not imitate their obstinacy and folly ; lest God make our own wickedness our destruction; lest he send a curse upon us, and curse our blessings, so that our table should become a snare to us, our temporal enjoyments, or our spiritual privileges. Lord, let us often say, Give us any plaguc, rather than the plague of the heart ; and bow down our backs under any load of affliction, rather than that which shall at last crush those who have refused to accept of thy gospel, and to take upon their shoulders, the light burden which a gracious Saviour would lay upon them.
That the rejection of Israel is not final ; but that the Jewish nation shall as
length be brought into the church of Christ. Ch. xi. 11—24. I D o I then say of the Jervish nation, they have 80 stumbled,
that they should fall into irrecoverable ruin? God forbid ! But by this fall of theirs, salvation is come to the Gentiles to provoke 12 them to a holy emulation of sharing the same benefils. But if their
fall be the richies of the world, and their diminution the riches of
the Gentiles ; how much more their fulness : the bringing in the 13 whole body of the Jewish nation*?-For I now speak to you Gen
tiles, as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, and I extol this my 14 office ; that I may excite to emulation them, who are dear as 15 my own flesh, and may save some of them. For if their re
jection were the reconciliation of so great a part of the heathen
world, what will the reception of them be but life from the 16 dead ? For if the first fruit be holy, so is the lump; and if the 17 root be holy, the branches are likewise sot. For if some of the
branches were broken off, and thou, o Gentile, being a wild olive,
wert grafted in among them, and art with them partaker of the 18 root and fatness of the good olive; boast not thyself against the na
tural branches ; and, if thou boastest, remember that thou bearest 19 not the root, but the root thee. Wilt thou therefore object and say, 20 The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in ? Well;
but remember they were broken off for their infidelity, and thou
standest in their place only through faith. Be not high-minded 21 then, but fear. For if God spared not the branches, which were
according to nature, neither will he by any means spare thee, 22 if thou resemble them in unbelief. Behold therefore the goodness
and severity of God! Towards them that fell, indeed, severity !
but to thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness. . Else thou 23 also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in
their unbelief, shall be grafted on again : for God is certainly 24 able again to ingraft them. For if thou wert cut off from the
olive-tree, which was naturally wild, and contrary to the process of nature, wert grafted on the good olive-tree ; how much more shall they, who are the natural branches, be grafted on their own olive, and restored to the frivileges of their birth-right ?
REFLECTIONS. Let us set ourselves seriously to pause upon the conduct of God towards the Jews and Gentiles in that part of it which the apostle here describes, and rejoice with trembling in it. Let us reflect on the
* This event, with the restoration of them to their own land, will afford such a demonstration of the truth of revelation, as will be the means of a more extensive propagation of the gospel, and of recovering multitudes who had rejected it. N. B. v. 13, 14. are a parenthesis.
† 9.d. I look upon the conversion of some few of the Jewish nation as an earnest of the conversion of all the rest; and the rather when I consider bow dear to God the Patriarchs were, from whom they descended.
divine severity to them, and the divine goodness to us. What immense goodness! That we should be taken from that wretched condition in which we were utterly ignorant of the great author and end of our being; of the nature of true happiness, and the way of obtaining it; that we and our offspring might be grafted on the good stock, be called to the most important of those privileges and hopes with which the seed of Abraham were honoured and enriched. We partake of the fatness of the good olive; may our fruit abound to the honour of God, to the benefit of mankind. Let us cherish the most be. nevolent and tender disposition towards the house of Israel, to whose spiritual privileges we are raised; and let us earnestly pray that they may be awakened to emulation : especially as their fulness is to be the richness of the Gentiles, and the receiving them again, as life from the dead to the languishing and decaying charch.
In the mean time, as the gospel comes to us in so awful a manner, vindicated from the contempt of former despisers, let us solemnly charge upon our souls this lesson of holy caution, these salutary words: (O that they may be continually present to our thoughts !) Be not high-minded, but fear: whatever our privileges, whatever our experiences are, whatever our confidence may be, let us dwell upon the thought ; for there is no Christian upon earth that hath not reason to fear, in proportion to the degree in which he feels his thoughts towering on high, and grows into any conceit of himself. Daily let us recollect what we were in our natural estate ; and what, with all our improvements and attainments, we should immediately be, if God should forsake us. Let us pray therefore that we may continue in God's goodness: and whoever may continue to fall from it, let us not glory ; but rather mourn over them, and pray for their recovery and salvation to that God who is able to recover from the most obstinate infidelity and impenitence, and 10 graft on not only foreign branches, but what may seem yet more wonderful, those that have appeared more than twice dead.
The future conversion of the Jews, whose obstinacy, in the mean time, is over
ruled to display the unscarchable wisdom of God. Ch. xi. 25, &c.
25 D RETHREN [of the Gentiles] I would not have you to be ig
D norant of what respects this mystery, (lest you should have too high an opinion of yourselves) that blindness is in part happen
ed unto Israel, till the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in ; 26 and so shall all Israel be saved. As it is written, “A deliverer
shall come out of Sion, and he shall turn away impiety from Ja27 cob: and this is my covenant with them, when I shall take away 28 their sins *.” With respect to the gospel, they are enemies for
* Isa. lix. 20. This text in the Heb. seems different from the sense in which it is here quoted. But if Christ be foretold as a Deliverer to the Jews, it is sufficiently to the purpose. Yet the lxx. agrees better with the words of the quotation.
your sakes who are received in their stead ; but as for the election,
the chosen remnant, they are beloved for their fathers sakes, that 29 some of their seed may always continue in covenant : For the gifts
and calling of God are not to be repented of: the doth not resume 30' his gifts, nor retract his calls. As then ye Gentiles were once dis
obedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by means of their 31 disobedience; so they also, having been disobedient on occasion of
your finding mercy, shall also at length obtain the mercy they en32 vied you. For God hath at different times shut up all under diso33 bedience, that he might have mercy on all.-O the depths of the
riches, and wisdom, and knowledge of God! How unsearchable
are his judgments! and his ways such as cannot be traced out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his 35 counsellor? Who, whether Jew or Greek, hath first given any
thing to him? Let him make out the claim, and it shall be repaid 36 him again. For of him, and through him, and for him are all
things. To him be glory for ever! Amen*.
REFLECTIONS. Let our whole souls be engaged to glorify this great and blessed God, from whom, and through whom we, and all creatures exist. O that it may be our eternal employment to render adoration, and blessing, and glory to him! To him, whose counsels none can trace : to him, who hath prevented us all with the blessings of his goodness ; so that, far from being able to confer any obligation on him, for which we should pretend to demand a recompense, on the contrary, we must own, that the more we are enabled and animated to do for him, the more indeed are we obliged to him. We cannot pretend to have known the mind of the Lord in all its extent, or to have been admitted into his secret counsels. He is continually doing marvellous things, which we know not : yet surely we know enough to admire and adore. We know enough to cry out in raptures of delightful surprise, the depth of the riches, both of his wisdom and goodness!-One instance, though but one of many, we have here before us, in his mysterious conduct towards Jews and Gentiles ; in which, occurrences that seem the most unaccountable, and indeed the most lamentable, are over-ruled by God to answer most benevolent purposes : That the sin of the Jews should be the salvation of the Gentiles, and yet the mercy shewn to the Gentiles, in its consequences the salvation of the Jews ; and so both should be concluded under sin, that God might more illustriously have mercy on both !
O that the blessed time were come, when all Israel shall be saved : when the Deliverer, wlto is long since come out of Sion, shall turn away iniquity from Jacob; and the fulness of the Gentiles come in, so that from the rising to the going down of the sun, the Lord shall be one, and his name one. Our faith waits the glorious event, and may perhaps wait it cven to the end of life. But a generation to be born shall see it : for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Let our
* Here ends the argumentative part of the epistle.