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by any one who reads the whole paffage as it stands, Gen. XXV, 23: “ And the Lord said unto REBEKAH," as she was upon the point of being delivered of the two sons in question, “ Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder thall serve the younger."
This circumstance of the elder serving the younger not having then taken place in the persons of Esav and JACOB, We must look for some spiritual sense, in order to perceive the completion of this bleffing to JACOB; and this will lead us to that person promised to ABRAHAM and to Isaac, as the blessing of all nations, even Jesus CHRIST.
The original promise to ABRAHAM implied, that all nations of the earth fhould have an equal right in the blessing of the Messiah; yet the church of God, of which the Messiah is head and king, was for a time confined to the descendants of JACOB. In this state of the church, did the posterity of ESAU serve, or was inferior to, that of JACOB. At length the distinction was taken away. The church of God was opened to all nations, and Gentiles as well as Jews became the peow ple of God. Then did Esau the Gentile break the yoke of JACOB the Jew from off his neck, and became his equal.
An attention to the Apostle's argument will convince the reader, that it was St. Paul's object on the occasion, not to support the doctrine of predeftination, or the personal election of individuals to the Divine favour; but to reconcile the Jews, to whom it was addreffed, to the Divine dispensation in the promulgation of the Gospel.
The Gospel was to be first preached to the loft sheep of the honfe of Ifrael; and upon their rejection of it, to the Gentiles. “ It was neceffary(said the Apostles to the Jews) " that the word of God should first have been spoken to 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." Acts xiii. 46, 47.
The Jews, the peculiar people of God, were at this time to lose that distinction. The middle wall of partition, which heretofore separated the Jewish from the Gentile worshipper in the temple, is therefore said, by the Apostle, to have been broken down by CHRIST; that both Jew and Gentile might thereby understand, that they were now to be admitted into the church upon the same footing; the object of Jesus CARIST's coming into the world being, “ that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross." Ephef. ii. 16. In allufion to this part of the Divine dispensation respecting the admission of the Gentiles into the church, the Apoftle refers to the prophet HOSEA, where he says in the name of the LORD, “ I will call them my people, which were not my people, and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called, The children of the living God.” Rom. ix. 25, 26.
This circumstance respecting the admission of the Gentiles into the Christian church proved a great stumbling-block in the way of the Jews, at the first preaching the oGspel. To reconcile them to it, the Apostle tells them, they might as well ask, why God at first chose the Jews to be his elect and peculiar people; to whích no reason was to be given, but that it was his will fo to do. “ I will have mercy (says God) on whom I will have mercy." In like manner they might ask, why God chose that the Messiah should descend from the line of Jacob, in preference to that of Esau; to which a similar answer was to be given ; It was God's will that so it should be. In this case, of preferring one nation before another, the Creator of man hath exercised the same power which the potter exercises over the clay of the same lump, to make one veffel unto honour, and another unta difhonour; and the
thing formed is not to say to him that formed it, Why haft thou made me thus?
Taken in this sense then, not as referring to the personal election of individuals to Divine favour in exclusion of others, but to the election of nations to particular and temporary privileges, for the purpose of carrying into effe& the great mystery of godliness for the more general benefit of mankind, the argument here made use of by the Apostle is.plain, regular, and confiftent: and to press an argument beyond the subject to which it was originally applied, is to take the way most likely to lead into error. [The Reader will see this subject more largely, and,
I flatter myself, more conclusively treated, in the
On the SACRAMENT of BAPTISM, considered as furnishing a plea for Separation from the Church.
To the two pleas already advanced
, a third is to be added, respecting the Sacrament of BAPTISM; which, as it is administered in the church, is by some maintained to be invalid, for the following reasons: First, because children are incapable of being subjects of it; and secondly, because, after the example of our SAVIOUR, who was baptized in Jordan, it ought to be administered by the immersion of
grown persons in a river. Did this plea stand upon firm ground, it ought, as relating to an essential service of the church, to have weight; but standing as it does, according to our ideas, on no foundation, it can, in our judgment, have no weight at all. But as this constitutes one of the master-prejudices against the church, it may be proper to give it some confideration,