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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: 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
God, the God of the people of Israel, but they also receive the scriptures of the Old Testament, delivered in a succession of ages, at divers times, to the descendants of Abraham and Israel. They believe them to be the writings of men, animated and inspired by the Spirit of God, and have them in equal veneration with the Jewish people themselves.
Moreover they highly respect and honour not only the patriarchs and Moses, and the prophets, but likewise all the worthies of the ancient dispensation, who walked with God, and in the main were upright in his sight, and steadfast in his covenant.
These christian people differ indeed from the Jews in receiving a person as a great and eminent prophet, whom the Jews reject: but yet their regard for that prophet, whom they call the Christ, or the Messiah, is very much owing to their respect for those ancient scriptures in which they think he is foretold and promised.
And though they do not conform to all the ordinances of the law of Moses, they allow and believe his law and his whole institution to have been of divine appointment, wisely designed, and of great use, as the state of things in the world then was. And with cheerfulness and zeal they assert and maintain against all opposers the divine authority of that dispensation. They are likewise sometimes almost compelled to wonder, that the Jewish people of old, who had such a law, should forsake God, and depart from his worship, so often as they did.
And, which is very considerable, they do not make void the law of Moses, but establish it. For their religion strictly requires obedience to all the moral laws of righteousness and true holiness therein delivered, and upon which the greatest stress is there laid: which righteousness is so elegantly and copiously taught and recommended in the books of Job, the Psalms, and the Proverbs: in comparison of which the latter prophets openly declared ritual observances to be of little value, and without it useless and offensive. Insomuch that the substance of the christian religion is no other, than what has been accounted true religion by Moses and the prophets, by all the righteous men, and wise and pious princes, that ever were.
This is what is inculcated in their religious assemblies, and enforced from the consideration of everlasting rewards and punishments in a future state; more forcible motives, than the hope or fear of temporal rewards and penalties in the present life.
Nor do they neglect to improve the instances of faith and
piety recorded in the Old Testament: though more especially they dwell upon the shining example of perfect virtue in the life and death of Jesus, their great Lord and Master.
As hereby men are trained up in great numbers to true and eminent virtue, they cannot but look upon themselves as the true Israel," who worship God in the spirit, and have no confidence in unnecessary, ritual appointments," Phil. iii. 3. And the righteousness, principally required in the law, is better fulfilled by them who have the religion of Jesus, than it was by those who had only the institution of Moses, Rom. viii. 4.
And indeed the religion of christians is that of Abraham, according to which he was justified, without the peculiarities of the law of Moses: and it is a character which they are pleased with, and boast of, that through Jesus Christ they are become, according to the Spirit, the children of faithful Abraham; and are justified and accepted of God as he was.
Nor ought it to be forgotten, that as the disciples and followers of Jesus do not take upon them the yoke of the ritual ordinances of the law of Moses, as necessary to salvation; so neither have they introduced any other like ordinances in their stead. At least they profess, that Jesus, whom they own for the Messiah, has no such ordinances in his religion: excepting two only, both plain and simple; one initiatory to a profession of faith in him, and of obedience to his law; the other commemorative of his love, who freely laid down his life, though spotless and innocent, as a testimony to the truth of that important doctrine, which he had taught and recommended to mankind.
These are the followers of Jesus. These are christians, who now do, and for a long time have flourished, and been numerous and considerable.
In the next place we are to observe the state of the Jews; the natural posterity of Jacob, who reject Jesus, and do not allow him to be the Messiah, the great prophet and deliverer, foretold and promised in many parts, and in almost every book of the Old Testament.
They also are in great numbers, some in almost every province and kingdom of the known world. They are numerous, but not a people. They have a being, but they dwell not in the land of Canaan, which had been given them for an inheritance. They have no power and authority, no empire, no civil government, scarce a right and privilege
If they have a right to purchase and possess lands of inheritance in some places, I suppose in but a few only, and there by some special favour and indulgence.
to possess the smallest tract or territory of land in any part of the world.
Nor have they any temple: for their stately temple, once glorious in outward appearance, still more glorious for the especial presence of the Divine Majesty, and the frequent manifestations he there made of himself: the temple, I say, where their tribes were to assemble, where alone, according to the law of Moses, sacrifices were to be offered, is in ruins, or rather is no more: without any traces of it remaining, but the remembrance of the place where it once was.
Other tokens of the divine favour are also wanting. They have not the Urim and Thummim of the priesthood, nor any vision, or prophecy, nor voice or word from God to direct or comfort them. Prophecy and vision, in ancient times frequent, or even constant, are now not only rare and uncommon, but altogether unknown among them. Learned Rabbies, and traditionary teachers they may have: but what prophet can they boast of, as theirs, since the time of Jesus; who truly was a Prophet mighty in word and deed, and, as we say, the looked for and promised Messiah, but despised and crucified by them?
Such is the state of things in the world, with regard to christians, the followers of Jesus; and the Jews, who reject him.
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.
II. I am now in the second place, as formerly proposed, to show what advantages christians have in the argument for the truth of their religion, from this state of things; and particularly from the afflictive circumstances of the Jewish people, who reject the Lord Jesus, and believe not in him as the promised Messiah.
We know Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour that should come into the world, from the fulfilment of many ancient prophecies in his person and ministry, from the consideration of the perfection and excellence of his doctrine, the unspotted purity and holiness of his life, the proofs he gave of wonderful knowledge and understanding : from his many miraculous works, his resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven, and from the mighty works