صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

general tenour of fcripture, that no fančtified person will be shut out of heaven, and no unfanctified one admitted into it: " for without holiness no man “ shall see the LORD."

And happy is that meekness and poverty of spirit, which industriously declines the rugged thorny paths of controversy and captious dispute, and walks in the plain smooth way of duty and practical religion; which studies God's commands, and labours to understand things of a size with its capacity. Too many instances there are of daring men, who, by presuming to found the deep things of religion, have cavilled and argued themselves out of all religion. These men mistake their business. For what CHRIST requires of those who profess his religion is, not penetration or subtlety of wit; nice distinctions, or sublime notions; but victorious faith, and an honest holy life; fobriety, temperance, and chastity; justice and charity, piety and devotion. Let the Christian fubmit his reason to revelation, and let humility and deference to God recommend his faith; and then, though there may be knowledge too wonderful for him, and so high that he cannot attain unto it, yet he will be sure not to want any that is necessary or profitable for him.

[ocr errors]

are

JACOB have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Rom. ix. 13. The Apostle quotes the foregoing text from the prophet MALACHI, cap. i. 2, 3. By attending to the context it will plainly appear, that what has been hastily concluded from it, respecting the personal election of one party, and the personal' reprobation of the other, was not the idea meant to be conveyed by the prophet. " I loved JACOB," saith the LORD, « and I hated Esau.” The account of the manner in which this divine love and hatred were manifested is im. mediately subjoined. “I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau; and laid his mountains and his heritage waste, for the dra, gons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom faith, we impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places. Thus faith the LORD of Hofts; they fhall build, but I will pull down; and they shall call them the border of wickedness, and the people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, the LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel." The latter words in the foregoing paslage refer to the circumstance of the MESSIAH being to come from JACOB, and not from Esqu. In which respect Jacob is said to be loved, and Esau to be hated; that is, the line of JACOB was preferred by God to that of Esau for the conveyance of the blefling promised to ABRAHAM. The promise to ABRAHAM was, that “ in his feed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” But it was no part of this promise, that the blessing Thould be conveyed through the elder branch of his family, and it could pass only through one branch of it; it remained, therefore, with God to choose which branch he thought proper. According to his will, then, the blessing of the promised seed passed through. Isaac, not through

1

ISHMAEL; through Jacob, and not through Es AU; through Judah, not through either of the other sons of JACOB; and through David, in proference to his elder brethren.

With a view to the preference given upon this occafion, ISAAC, JACOB, JUDA#, and David may be said, in the ftrong language of scripture, to have been loved of God; that is; preferred by Him; whilft ISHMAEL, Esau, and the brethren of Judah and David, were bated or rejected. In the fame sense the Virgin MARY may be said to have been loved by God, and all other women in the world hated; because the was chosen or preferred, before all other women, to be the mother of the promised Messiah.

The expressions, therefore, of loving and bating, as applied to JACOB and Esau, are to be taken in the senle in which our SAVIOUR used the latter, when he said, that “ if any man came to him, and hated not his father and mother, &c. he could not be his disciple." Luke xiv. 26. That is, he that preferred his father and mother, &c. before him, and was not willing to facrifice every worldly confideration, rather than renounce him, was not worthy to be his disciple.

And that this text, quoted from the Prophet, referred not to the personal condition of the parties mentioned in it, but to that of their respective pofterities, the argument of the Apoftle furnishes a proof. “ For the children," Esau and JACOB, says he, “ 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; it was said, the elder shall serve the younger."

Rom. ix. 11, But Esau the elder, as appears from the history, never did serve JACOB. Personally, JACOB seems ever to have been the inferior. The word of the LORD, therefore, in this remarkable passage, not being verified in the persons of Esav and JACOB, the accomplishment of it must be referred to their pofterity; and upon this head no doubt can be entertained

by any one who reads the whole passage as it stands, Gen. XXV, 23: “ And the LORD said unto REBEKAH," as fhe was upon the point of being delivered of the two sons in question, « Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people fhall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be ftronger than the other people; and the elder fhall serve the younger."

This circumstance of the elder serving tbe younger not having then taken place in the persons of Esau and JACOB, we must look for some fpiritual sense, in order to perceive the completion of this blefling 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 should 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 dif tination was taken away. The church of God was opened to all nations, and Gentiles as well as Jews became the people 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 fapport the doctrine of predestination, 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 Gofpel was to be firft preached to the loft sheep of the house of Ifrarl; 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 feeing ye put it from you, and judge yourfelves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles: for so hath the LORD commanded us. Acts xül. 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 faid, by the Apestle, 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 Christ's coming into the world being, “ that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross." Ephes, ii...16. In allufion to this part of the Divine dispensation respecting the admission of the Gentiles into the church, the Apostle 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 faid unto them, Ye are 'not my people; there shall'they be called, The children of the living God.” Rom. ix. 25, 26.

This circumstance refpecting 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 which 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 aik, 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 veiled unto honour, and another unto dishonour; and the

« السابقةمتابعة »