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the spiritual sonship of all believers of every nation. None but such were the spiritual seedof Abraham, whether among Jews or Gentiles.

But in Isaac shall thy seed be called.-Reckoned, or called into existence, or chosen, as it is said respecting the birth of Isaac, in the fourth chapter, “God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." The Messiah, who was emphatically the seed of Abraham, says, "The Lord hath called me from the womb."-Isaiah, xlix. 1. He was called into existence in his human nature, and to his office of Mediator in the line of Isaac. And Israel was called or chosen as God's people, Isaiah, xlviii. 12. In this sense the expression is used in the end of the eleventh verse. The meaning of the declaration here is, that as all Abraham's posterity were not to be the peculiar people whom God was nationally to adopt as his children, but only such as should descend from Isaac, so not all the Jews are the true sons of God, but only such of them as are, like Isaac, children of the promise.

V. 8. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

That is, or this explains, the declaration, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." " It is in

tended to show that not carnal descent, but being included in the promise, constituted the true spiritual seed. This clearly establishes the difference between the sonship of Israel after the flesh, and the sonship of Israel after the Spirit.

V. 9. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I and Sarah shall have a son.


The birth of Isaac was by promise, and without a miracle it would never have taken place. But the birth of Ishmael was not by promise, but in the ordinary course of nature. Thus, the children of God who were specially promised to Abraham, were those who, according to the election of God (who had chosen Isaac in preference to Ishmael), would be brought unto a spiritual relation with Christ, who is emphatically the promised seed in the line of Isaac. Gal. iii. 16.

V. 10. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac ;

Not only was the election confined to Isaac, the son of promise, but also in a still more remarkable instance was it verified in the case of the two sons of Isaac. Rebecca conceived these two sons by the same husband, yet God chose the one and rejected the other. An original difference between Isaac and Ishmael might be alleged, since the one was born of the lawful

wife of Abraham, the free woman, and the other was the son of the bond woman; but in the case now brought forward, there existed no original difference. Both were the sons of the same man and woman, born at the same time. The great distinction, then, made between the two brothers could only be the effect of the sovereign will of God, who by this means indicated, long before it took place, the difference he was to make among the people of Israel.

V. 11. (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth ;)

Here, in a parenthesis, the Apostle shows that the preference was given to Jacob independently of all ground of merit, because it was made before the children were capable of doing either good or evil. This was done for the very purpose of taking away all pretence for merit as a ground of the preference. Had the preference been given to Jacob when he had grown up to maturity, there would have been no more real ground for ascribing it to his merit; but the perverse ingenuity of man would have made that use of it. But God made the preference before the children were born.

That the purpose of God according to election might stand. This was the very end and inten

tion of the early indication of the will of God to Rebecca, the mother of the two children. It was hereby clearly established that in choosing Jacob and rejecting Esau, God had respect to nothing but his own purpose. Nothing can more strongly declare that his own eternal purpose is the ground of all his favour to man.

Not of works, but of Him that calleth.-Expressions indicating God's sovereignty in this matter are heaped upon one another, because it is a thing so offensive to the human mind. Yet after all the Apostle's precaution, the perverseness of men still finds ground of boasting on account of works. Though the children had done neither good or evil, yet God, it is supposed, might foresee that Jacob would be a godly man, and Esau wicked. But had not God made a difference between Jacob and Esau, Jacob would have been no better than his brother. Were not men blinded by opposition to this part of the will of God, would they not see that a preference on account of foreseen good works is a preference on account of works, and therefore expressly contrary to the assertion of the Apostle-Not of works, but of him that calleth? The whole ground of preference is in him that calleth, or chooseth, not in him that is called.

V. 12.-It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. This was a figure of the spiritual election,

for in no other point of view is it here to the Apostle's purpose. Not only did God choose one of these sons, who were equal as to their parentage, but chose that one who was inferior in priority of birth, the only point in which there was a difference. He chose the younger son, contrary to what is usual among men, and contrary to what God himself generally established respecting inheritances in the family of Jacob. How much instruction do these words, "the elder shall serve the younger," contain, as standing in the connexion in which they are here placed, as well as in that part of Scripture from which they are quoted. They practically teach the great fundamental doctrines of the prescience, the providence, the sovereignty of God; of his predestination, election, and reprobation.

V. 13. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The words here quoted from Malachi, expressly relate to Jacob and Esau. The prophet likewise declares the dealing of God towards their posterity, but the part here referred to applies to the progenitors themselves; and in God's dealings towards them is found the reason of the difference of the treatment of their posterities. That the Apostle quotes these words in reference to Jacob and Esau personally is clear, since he speaks of the children before

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