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these words, is to exhort the believing Gentiles not to despise and reproach thc rejected and unbelieving Jews: and he draws an argument from the condition of the Gentiles, both past and present: in their past condition they were like a wild olivetree; in their present condition they were grafted into the true olive. Here note, Tiiat by the olive tree we understand the visible church of God; by the root he means Abraham, he was the root of the olive-tree, the Jewish church. But how so t Ant. Not the root by way of communication, but in a way of administration; not by way of communication, as if either Jew or Gentile did receive any sap of spiritual life from him, as branches receive a natural life from the root; for thus Christ alone is the root of the church. But Abraham was the root of the olive-tree in a way of administration, the Lord calling him forth as the first man with whom he was pleased to treat, and enter into covenant with. Again, by the fatness of the olive-tree, we are to understand all outward privileges and ordinances, all spiritual benefits and blessings, which belong to the Jewish church. By the branches of the olive-tree, we are to understand the members of the Jewish church; and by the wild olive, the Gentile world. Now though the Gentiles, through rich grace, were instated in the privileges of the Jews, yet the apostle foresaw, that instead of thankfulness to God for the favours received from him, they would be puffed up with pride, and accordingly be advises them not to be highminded, but fear; as if he had said," O ye Gentiles, your state is high, let your hearts be bumble. The Jews are fallen; and unless you walk in holy fear, you cannot stand: unbelief ruined them, take heed that pride doth not ruin you; for the just and holy God is no respecter of persons. He that spared not the natural branches, will no more spare thee." From the whole learn, 1. That man is naturally a very proud creature; and although he has nothing but what he has freely received, yet is prone to boast. 2. That man is especially apt to magnify himself, and to glory over those who are fallen before him, either into sin, or under affliction, 3. That the best preservative from falling, is humility and holy fear. If ever we stand in the day of trial, it is the fear of falling must enable us to stand. Take heed you do not fall, by thinking it is impossible to fall. Be not high-minded, but fear. Timor
tuns, sccuritas tua; Thy holy fear will keep thee from falling', when others' security and presumption will lay them on the ground. Let not a man that stands on the top of a tree boast of his height, but look to his hold.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God : on them which fell, severity ; but toward thee, goodness; if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou shall also be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in : for God is able to graft' them in again. 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olivetree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive-tree?
Our apostle, in these and the following verses, proceeds in his exhortation to the Gentiles, not to insult over the rejected Jews, but to carry it towards them with great modesty and christian humility; and he useth several arguments by way of motive to excite and quicken them thereunto. The two first are drawn from the severity of God in cutting off the Jews, and the goodness and bounty of God in calling of the Gentiles: Behold the goodness and severity of God, Sfc. Justice and mercy, goodness and severity, are attributes or qualities eminently found in God; and contrary only in their effects upon men. The same God is merciful and severe, with respect to different persons and different qualifications. All mercy is not a virtue, but that which is consistent with other perfections of wisdom and righteousness. The next argument is taken from the condition upon which the Gentiles hold their present standing in the favour and grace of God; namely, If they continue in his goodness; that is, if they walk worthy of this favour from God, and suitably to such a kind and gracious dispensation; otherwise they, the Gentiles, shall be cut off and cast away, as well as the stubborn and unbelieving Jews. The Lord is with a people only whilst they are with him; if they serve and seek him, he will be found of them; but if they forsake him, he will cast them off for ever. The next argument to suppress arrogancy and pride in the Gentiles, and to prevent their insulting over the fallen Jews, is taken from the hopes of the Jews' restoration; which the apostle proves to be both possible and probable. They shall be grafted in, (f they abide not in unbelief; for God is able to graff them in again. As if the apostle had said," The same God that rejected them, is able to restore them, and re-ingraff them; the only obstacle is their unbelief, and this God is also able to remove," Lastly, He shows the probability as well as the possibility of the Jews' conversion; namely, because God had done that which was more unlikely already, to wit, in graffing the Gentiles, who were wild olives, into the true olive, which was more difficult and unlikely than to graff in the Jews again, which were natural branches. The argument runs thus: " If the Gentiles, which were a kind of wild olive-branches, were grafted into a good olive-tree, (the church of God,) which is contrary to nature, seeing men use to graff a good scion into a wild stock, and not a wild scion into a good stock; how much more shall the Jews, which are the natural branches of the good olive, be grafted again into their own olive-tree, to which they formerly did belong! The one is according to the order of nature, but the other is against and contrary to nature." Learn hence, How improbable and unlikely, how difficult and impossible soever, the conversion and calling of the Jews to the christian religion may seem to us, it is neither contrary to right reason nor true faith. The greatest obstacle in the way of the Jews' conversion to christianity, it is to be feared, lies in the wicked and scandalous lives of those that call themselves christians.
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits ; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved : as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Here the apostle fully proves, that the rejection of the Jews was neither total nor final ; not total, because blindness in part
only, happened unto Israel; that is, part of the Jews only are left in unbelief, and under the power of spiritual blindness. Nor is their rejection filial, but for a time only; namely, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: that is, till the Gentile churches be advanced to an honourable state and fulness. And then all the Israel of God, the faithful seed of Abraham, and the main body of the Jews, shall make up the catholic church, and be saved from their unbelief; according to that gracious promise, Isa. lix. 20, 21. The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob: and this is my covenant with them, My Spirit shall not depart from thy seed, nor thy seed's seed, from henceforth and forever. Learn hence, That there shall be a general calling of the Jews to the faith of the gospel before Christ's second coming, is not only possible and probable, but infallible, sure, and certain, and that from the prophecies and predictions of the prophets of God; let us therefore believe it firmly, pray for it fervently, and live in the expectation of it continually
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Here we have two farther arguments to prove the general conversion of the Jews: the first is taken from the dignity of the Jews, they being the ancient people of God, whose father Abraham he chose, and made his first covenant with him and his seed; and therefore as to making the election of that nation to be an holy people to himself, they are beloved by God for their father's sake ; that is, for the sake of Abraham their holy progenitor, who had the honour to be called the friend of God. Though grace descends not from parent to child, yet many times the children of godly parents are very large sharers in outward privileges and blessings for their gracious parents' sake. The Jews here are said to be beloved of God for their father Abraham's sake, whilst for their unbelief and contempt of the gospel, they had rendered themselves the deserved object of God's hatred. The second argument is drawn from the immutability and unchangeable nature of God; His gifts and callings are without rcpcntancc: that is, although the Jews have rendered themselves unworthy of the favour of God, yet the covenant having been once made with their fathers, and they having had the honour to be his special and peculiar people, God will never repent of his kindness to them, nor of his covenant made with them; but will certainly restore them to their former privileges and happy state; for the gifts ami catling of God are -without repentance. Take the words relatively, and the note is this, ,* That the gifts and calling of God, whereby he was pleased to adopt the posterity of Abraham, and to engage himself by covenant to them, are inviolable, and such as shall never be reversed or repented of." Observe lastly, The sad and deplorable condition which the Jews are at present in and under; they are enemies to the gospel. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sate; that is, because you Gentiles receive the gospel, therefore the Jews reject it, and for that reason are rejected by God. But this happened well to the poor Gentiles; for upon the Jews' refusal, the gospel was brought the sooner to the Gentiles, and they were converted by it.
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Here we hare the conclusion of the apostle's argument to prove the conversion and calling of the Jews towards the end of the world. The argument is drawn from a comparison of equals: "If God, after a long time of disobedience, receive the Gentiles to mercy, he will also, after a long time of infidelity, receive the Jews to mercy. If God hath called the Gentiles to his grace after long idolatry, though God never promised to be their God, how much more will he recall his covenant-people from their infidelity in his own appointed time?" So that the argument is from the less to the greater: If the infidelity of the Jews was an occasion of mercy to the Gentiles, much more shall the mercy showed to the Gentiles be an occasion of mercy to the Jews; and consequently their present infidelity shall be no obstacle to their conversion afterward.
32 For God hath concluded them
all in unbelief, that lie might have mercy upon all.
That is, " Almighty God hath in wisdom and righteousness suffered both Jews and Gentiles successively, for some time, to remain under the power of unbelief and disobedience, that so he might in his own time fulfil the great counsel of his goodness, in showing undeserved mercy unto all, both Jew and Gentile." Now from all the foregoing arguments, for the calling of the Jews, summed up together in this chapter, we may collect and gather, that the conversion of the Jewish nation to the christian faith, has good foundation in the holy scriptures, and has been the received doctrine of the church of Christ in all ages of thechurch.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God I How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Here the apostle concludes the chapter with an awful admiration at the depth of the abundant grace and goodness of God in bearing with the infidelity of the Jews, and the obstinacy of the Gentiles; as also of his unsearchable wisdom in making first the rejection of the Jews a mean of calling the Gentiles, and then working upon the obstinate Jews by his mercy unto the Gentiles. By judgments here, some understand the degreesanddetermioationsof God's will; by ways, the administration of his providence, in order to the execution of those decrees: both which are secret, unsearchable, and unfathomable. There arc mysteries of providence, as well as mysteries of faith, and both of them transcend our human understanding.
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
As if the apostle had said, " No creature ever did, or ever can pierce into the mind of God, nor ever was called to be of his council. No creature ever did or can advise him, nor can any creature challenge God, as if he were indebted to him. Who ever gave any thing to God that he did not first receive from him? Or who can merit any thing at his hands, seeing he owes us
nothing' And if so, who hath reason to complain that God deals hardly with the Jews, in rejecting them, and preferring the Gentiles before them? Surely Almighty God may dispense a favour to some, which he owes to none." Learn hence, That in those discriminating favours which God dispenses towards some of the children of men, no other reason can be assigned but his own good will and pleasure. This particularly appears in his ordering matters relating to the Jews and Gentiles, recorded in the foregoing chapter.
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
That is, " All things arc of God, as the author and efficient cause; all things are through him as the providential director, and preserving cause; and all things tend to him, asthcultimateendand final cause: therefore to him all praise, honour, and glory, ought for ever to be ascribed." Learn hence, That God is the first cause, and last end. He is the first cause; that is, he is the cause of all things besides himself, the fountain and original of all created beings; nothing was before him, but all things were created by him, and dependent upon him. And as he is the first cause, so he is the last end, that is, all things tend to him as their ultimate end; their design and aim was the illustration of God's glory, and the manifestation of his divine perfections. And if God be the first cause, let us with humility and thankfulness acknowledge him, admire and adore him, love and serve him, who is the author of our being, and the cause of all other beings. And if he be the last end, let ut refer all our actions to his glory; in all our natural actions, our civil actions, but especially in all our religious actions, let the glory of God be our supreme aim, and ultimate end. For if we do not now live unto him, we can never expect hereafter to live with him.
Our apostle having finished the doctrinal part of his discourse, begins here to make application of it. tn the former part of his epistle, he had copinmly handled the doctrinal points of faith, just ideation, sanetification, ike. Now from hence to the end of the epistle, there is contained an exhortation to religious and moral duties, as an argument of their sincerity, and at an ornament to their profession.
| BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Observe here, 1. The apostle's loving and courteous compilation, brethren: so he calls the believing Romans. They were brethren by place and nation, and brethren by religion and profession: eodem sanguine Christi conglutinati, cemented together by the blood of Christ, and by the bands of love. Observe, 2. The manner of the apostle's exhortation: it is by way of obsecration and entreaty, I beseech you, brethren. It imports great lenity and meekness. The apostle did not want authority to command, but uses such humility as to entreat. The minister's work and office is not only to be a teacher, but a beaeecher. He must not barely propound and recommend the doctrines of the gospel to his people's understanding, but must endeavour to work upon their wills and affections to embrace and entertain them. The understanding is the leading, but the will the commanding, faculty. Observe, 3. The exhortation itself: Present your bodies a living sacrifice. Present your bodies, that is, dedicate your persons, devote yourselves, your whole man, soul and body, to the service of God and his glory. Christians are priests, or a royal priesthood; they offer up themselves in sacrifice unto God, as a whole burnt-offering. Observe, 4. The properties of the christian sacrifice: it must be voluntary; present yourselves. It must be a living sacrifice, an holy sacrifice, a reasonable sacrifice; otherwise it will find no acceptance with God. Observe, 5. The argument or motive which the apostle makes use of, to persuade persons to present and give up themselves to God and his service, and that is drawn from the mercies of God; J beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God. Learn thence, That the mercies of God, revealed in the gospel, are the most proper, powerful, and effectual argument, to persuade with, and prevail upon, sinners, that have not given up and devoted themselves to God, to do it; and those that have done it, to do it more and more: J beseech you, by the mercies of (led,that ye present yourselves, Sec.
2 And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what i* that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
Observe here, 1. The apostle's deliortaticro. Be not conformed to this world, that is, " Do not fashion or accommodate yourselves to the corrupt principles and customs, to the sinful courses and practices, of tl'e men of the world." The christian is to wall: singularly, and not after the world's guise; he must not cut the coat of his profession according to the fashion of the times, or the honour of the company he falls into. Observe, 2. An apostolical exhortation, Be ye transformed by the miming of your mind; that is, " Be ye regeneratecf and changed in your whole man, beginning at the mind or understanding, by which the Spirit of God worketh upon the inferior faculties of the soul." Every converted person is truly and really changed, thoroughly sanctified and renew, ed, endowed with new dispositions and affections; yet this conversion and renovation is not a substantial, but a qualitive change, a change not in the substance of the faculties of the soul, but in the quality of those faculties. And the renewed christian is sanctified totus, but not totaliter; he is sanctified thoroughly in all faculties, but not perfectly in all degrees. There is in a renewed man's understanding too much blindness and ignorance, in his will loo great obstinacy and perverseness, in his affections too much irregularity and sensuality. Yet such is the indulgence of the gospel, as to call him an holy person, a person transformed by the renewing of his mind. Observe, 3. The reason of the apostle's exhortation, Be ye transformed, ice. that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God: that is, that he may discern and approve what the will of God is under the gospel, which requires not what is ritually, but what is substantially good, and consequently always acceptable to him. Note here, That opposition to the Levitical ceremonies and ritual injunctions, the apostle styles the gospel institution the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God; and as such may we love and embrace it, and be found in the delightful practice of it.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath deaIt to every man the measure of faith.
The apostle having exhorted to an holy life in general, ver. 1. and to a spiritual renovation of mind, in order to it, ver. 2. comes now to a close exhortahon to more particular duties; the first of which is modesty and true humility of mind. This he recommends especially to such who bear any public office in the church, and had received some peculiar and special gifts to fit and furnish them for the discharge of that office. St. Paul here particularly enjoins them, by virtue of his apostolic office, to watch against pride, and haughtiness of mind, not to think themselves wiser or better than they were, but to think soberly and modestly of themselves, according to the truth, and to the degree of faith and wisdom given unto thein of God; plainly intimating, that such as are exalted to a degree of eminence in the church above others, are in great danger of the sin of pride, which it is their duty to watch and pray against, and to be found in the exercise of that humility and lowliness of mind, which is so greatly ornamental to their persons and profession: Let not am? man think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but let him think soberly.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Here the apostle lays before us a special reason why the officers of the church should exercise humility towards, and employ their gifts and talents for, the general good and benefit of the church. The argument is drawn from a comparison between the natural body and the mystical body. "As in the natural body there are many members, and every member has its distinct office, the eye to see, the ear to hear, the hand to work, the foot to walk; in like manner, in the mystical body, the church of Christ, there are many members; but each member must keep his own place, and not invade the duty or usurp the office of another, but every one employ his own proper gift to the benefit and comfort of the whole, without disdaining or envying one another." Learn hence, 1. That the church of Christ is one body. 2. That though the body of the church be one, and the Head one, yet the members are many, united to Christ their Head by faith, and