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continued to the last; not sought by him, but attending him, as the shadow and concomitant of his merit.
By the greatness of his capacity he was qualified for the highest stations in life, and might have shone therein: but it is as glorious to despise great things, as to seek and obtain them. Merit is an intrinsic thing, and depends not upon outward advantages: nor is his at all the less for chusing to serve God, and abiding in the way most agreeable to his own judgment, and endeavouring to be useful among those christians, who were much of the same mind with himself; to whom he has been an ornament, and will be a lasting honour.
The relation that has subsisted between this excellent person and us, is now dissolved and broken by the stroke of death and it becomes us to submit our wills to the divine will and pleasure, and to acquiesce in this afflictive and discouraging event. But there are also other duties incumbent on us. It is a direction of the apostle: "Remember them that have had the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God: and considering the end of their conversation," their steadfastness and perseverance, "follow their faith," Heb. xiii. 7. There is honour and respect due to the memory of such: and we ought likewise to imitate their virtues. We should recollect the instructions that have been given us, and continue to follow and obey them. We are to be thankful for the blessing we have enjoyed; and are also to consider, that we have had a talent, of which we must give an account. If we shall be able to give a good account in the end, this will be joyful to those who have been our guides and instructors, and to ourselves. Both they and we shall, then, receive a full reward.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE AN ARGUMENT FOR THE TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
ON ROMANS xi. 11.
I say then, have they stumbled, that they should fall? God forbid. But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Rom. xi. 11.
IN this context the apostle discourseth of an affecting scene of things, the reception of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews; the former a just occasion of much joy, the latter of like grief and concern: that they, who had been long favoured and distinguished by religious privileges, should fall from them: and, when others received marks of divine favour, and indeed pressed in for a share in spiritual blessings, they should be offended at it.
St. Paul has a long argument upon these points in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of this epistle to the Romans. He enters upon it at the beginning of the ninth chapter in these words: "I say the truth in Christ, and lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow of heart. For I could wish :" I am almost ready to wish. He does not say, that he actually wisheth it. "For I could wish," says he, "that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came:" and it concludes with a pious acknowledgment, and humble adoration of the wisdom and equity of Divine Providence; though these and other events in this world appear to us, for a time, strange and surprising. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To whom be glory for ever."
My chief design at this time is to observe some advantages, which christians have in their argument for the truth of their religion, from the present afflictive circumstances, and low estate of the Jewish people and nation.
"I say then, have they stumbled, that they should fall?” As if the apostle had said: But by this their present re'jection, which I have been speaking of, do I intend to say, that they have so stumbled, as to fall; that is, so as never 'to rise again, and never to be again restored to prosperous circumstances, as a people?'
Or, according to another interpretation: Do I by what 'I have said intend to intimate, that all of them should fall, ' and none believe, and partake of the blessings of the Mes'siah's kingdom, and the divine favour?'
"God forbid:" or, which would be better, and more proper: by no means, or far be it: for the name of God never is in the original phrase, by which this emphatical negative is expressed. No, by no means: that is not the case, that none of the natural posterity of Jacob should believe, and come into the privileges of the Messiah's 'kingdom.'
"But through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them unto jealousy." But by the 'Jewish people now generally rejecting the Messiah, it 'has so happened, that salvation has been conveyed unto 'the Gentiles: and herein there is not only a benefit to them, ' in their salvation, but also to the Jews: for by the Gentiles embracing the gospel proposed to them, and coming to partake of religious privileges, the Jewish people will be provoked to emulation: more of them will now believe, and be accepted of God, than if the gospel had not been preached to and received by the Gentiles.
When therefore I speak, as I have done, concerning the 'offence taken by the Jews against Jesus and his gospel, and concerning the divine displeasure against them upon 'that account; I do not intend to insinuate, that the poste'rity of Jacob are totally and absolutely excluded; or to 'deny, that such of them, who now, or at any time hereafter, 'shall believe, will be received and approved.'
The sense I have given of this text is confirmed by what the apostle says at the beginning of this chapter, where also, in the course of his argument, he has these like words: "I say then, has God cast away his people? By no means. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin," Rom. xi. 1. I reckon myself a proof "to the contrary, and that God is willing to receive any of
his ancient people the Jews, who believe in Jesus, and • obey the revelation made by him.' Then instancing in the number of true Israelites, servants and worshippers of God in the time of Elijah, no less than seven thousand; though the apostasy was so general, that Elijah thought he was left alone, he adds: "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace," Rom. xi. 5. Indeed the Jewish people by generally rejecting the gospel of Christ, preached to them with divine authority, had generally excluded themselves from the privileges of God's people, having refused to accept the blessings offered to them. What then should be done? Was the Messiah of God to have no people when the Jews rejected him? It was not fit. Since therefore they now show great reluctance to that kind proposal, the gospel shall be preached to the Gentiles, who will hear and receive it: and when they have received it, they will be of use to the Jewish people: for they will provoke them to jealousy, and all good men among them will be disposed to receive the Messiah, and from time to time will be brought into his kingdom: till at length, possibly, there shall be a general conversion of them, and that very much owing to the profession of true religion made by Gentiles. So the fall of the Jews has been the Gentiles' salvation: the Jews rejecting the Messiah hastened the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles: and the Gentiles receiving and maintaining the gospel will provoke the Jews to emulation, and excite them to receive it, that they also may partake in the divine favour and the marks of it.
So the apostle argues in this and following verses: "But through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them unto jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?" that is, their general conversion, or a more numerous conversion of them, than has yet been. "For I speak unto you, Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles; I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them for if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" Rom. xi. 11-15. Again: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (lest ye should be wise in your own conceit,) that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in and so all Israel shall be saved," ver. 25, 26.
"For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet now have obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy: for God has concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all," Rom. xi. 30-32. There are therefore two things spoken of in these and divers other verses of this chapter: an advantage accruing to the Gentiles through the unbelief and rejection of the Jews: an advantage accruing to the Jews through the belief and reception of the Gentiles.
It is the first point chiefly upon which I shall insist, and in the following method.
I. I shall observe the present state of things with regard to christians, the followers of Jesus, and the Jews who reject him.
II. I shall show what advantages christians have in the argument for the truth of their religion from the present state of things in the world.
III. I intend to mention some remarks and observations upon this subject.
I. In the first place I would observe the present state of things in the world, both with regard to christians; the followers of Jesus; and the Jews who reject him.
And the case is very obvious, such as every one is able to perceive, upon a little thought and consideration.
There are now great numbers of men in the world, in various kingdoms, states, and governments, in countries near and afar off, professing faith in Jesus as the Christ, who are not the natural descendants of Abraham, and the ancient patriarchs.
These people called christians, of Gentile stock and original, declare themselves worshippers of the one living and true God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who delivered the law by Moses, and often spake unto the children of Israel by the prophets.
And as they are worshippers of the one true God, they are likewise free from all that kind of idolatry which once prevailed universally in the world, and into which the Jewish people themselves formerly were often seduced and perverted. They worship not, as gods, the sun, or the moon, or the stars: nor Baal, nor Saturn, nor any other of the gods of the people of the East, or of the Egyptians, or of the Greeks and Romans, or of any of the countries of the Barbarians in the northern parts of the world.
Nor are they only worshippers of the one living and true