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15. 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?
To effect reconciliation, is great and glorious: to restore life, is greater and more glorious still. When the apostles gave up the unbelieving Jews, and turned to the Gentiles, there was reconciling of the world: nations that had been alienated from God were brought to love and serve him. But when the Jew ceases to be unbelieving, and receives the Gospel, such an event will cause an awakening which can only be compared to the resurrection of the dead to new life and being. Neither will there be refusal on the part of God. He has received the first fruits, as dedicated to himself and made holy: he will not refuse the whole mass: the harvest of the nation. So likewise the root of the nation was holy in his sight: and so shall the branches be. 16. For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” This casual mention of the branches springing from the root or stock of the Jewish nation, reminds Paul of another example. He compares the Gentile churches, now admitted to the privileges of the one * By the law of Moses, (see Levit. x. 10–17,) two cakes made of the flour of the year, were offered as firstfruits unto the Lord. This sanctified the whole lump: the whole produce of the harvest. To these firstfruits Paul compares the Jewish converts received into the faith of Christ, and accepted of God, as a pledge that he will hereafter, on their conversion, receive again the whole nation. Just as his favour to Abraham and the pa
triarchs, the root of the nation, is a pledge of his favour to the branches, their posterity.
original Jewish church, to grafts or branches inserted on an ancient stem. These branches do not nourish the stem: they derive their new vigour from the root to which they now belong, and must not forget from what a wild and fruitless stock they had been taken.
17. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree ; 18. Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in, 20. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear. 21. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 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 also shalt be cut off. 23. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in : for God is able to graff them in again. 24. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree ?
Here then is the purpose of all spiritual privileges. The purpose is the same as that of the husbandman, who expends his labour upon the soil, or inserts his graft into the tree. He expects a return. Long and long before, Isaiah had reproved the Israelites under a like example,” “Now, O inhabi* Isa. v. 3, 4.
tants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge I pray you betwixt me and my vineyard. What more could have been done to my vineyard, that I have not done in it ! Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”
Whether in the case of nations or of individuals, the mercy of God must meet with a return on the part of man. Otherwise his unmerited goodness must give way to his just severity. The Christian belongs to a stock which is wild by nature, and is graffed contrary to nature into a good tree. “I am the vine,” says our Lord, “and ye are the branches.” “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit.”?
Behold, therefore, the goodness of God, who hath taken thee from the stem which was fit only to be cut down, and given thee a place in the vineyard of the Lord. If thou continue in his goodness : otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Be not high-minded, but fear, and watch, and pray, “lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” For if God spared not the natural branches, the ancient people, take heed lest he also spare not thee. “All these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.””
7 John xv. 5–8. * Heb. iv. 11. 9 1 Cor. x. 11.
THE FUTURE FAITH AND RESTORATION OF THE JEWS.
RoMANs xi. 25—36.
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. 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 repent
Here Paul declares the mystery which had been revealed to him. He had already expressed it at Antioch; saying to the Jews who opposed him, (Acts xiii. 46.) “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken unto you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us.” “And they will hear it.” Blindness hath happened unto Israel. But the eyes of the Gentiles are opened, to see what Israel will not see: “the things belonging to their peace.” They then are admitted to the place which hitherto the Jews have held. They which were not God's people, are now “the people of God.”" This part of the divine counsels was daily accomplishing when Paul wrote: and soon after was completely manifested by the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews. As concerning the present propagation of the Gospel, they were enemies —God treated them as such—for the Gentiles' sake: the rejection of the Jew was the admission of the Gentile. It was not necessarily so; both might have been admitted: but it was so in fact. The Jew lost what the Gentile gained. Still the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. They are founded on counsels immutable. The Jews are still beloved for the fathers' sake : and the original election must stand good in the family of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The blessing is in abeyance: not taken finally away. For this also was revealed to Paul. When the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and the Gospel has been preached to all nations, the favour of God shall be restored to his ancient people. That which Zechariah has predicted shall be fulfilled, (Zech. x. 6.) “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them: for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord God, and will hear them.” Or as Hosea has still more fully described the case, (Hos. iii. 4, 5,) “The children of Israel shall abide many days without a 1 Ch. ix. 25, 26, from Hosea.