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LECTURE LXXV.

ROMANS ix, 25-33.

As he saith also in Osee 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. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: for he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness; because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before. Except the Lord of sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law for they stumbled at that stunibling-stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

V. 25. 'As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people which were not my people; and her beloved which was not beloved.'

The apostle, with his usual skill and dexterity of argument, addressed himself as a Jew to the Jews; and so brings their own scriptures to bear upon them. He first quotes a prophecy from Hosea regarding the Gentiles; and of whom it is most distinctly stated that they were to be admitted to the same favour, by which the children of Israel had been specialised, and from which themselves had heretofore been outcasts. He thus takes shelter under the old and venerable authorities, which the very people against whom he contended held in equal reverence with himself, and proves that it is no new idea -this extension of the family of God, in such a way that other nations might enter into the same close relationship with Him of His people, which had hitherto been confined to the descendants of Israel.

feared God and wrought righteousness was to be a cepted of Him. Still proselytes from every nation under heaven came to Jerusalem at the time of their great festival; but now, without any such annual migration, a priesthood and a religious service and an acceptable worship were to be established in the very seats of idolatry. 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.

V. 27. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.'

The prophecy of Hosea respected the Gentiles; and is quoted for the purpose of reconciling the children of Israel to their participation, in what had been hitherto the distinguishing privileges of but one people. The prophecy of Isaiah respects Israel itself; and is quoted for the purpose of showing, and from the mouth V. 26. And it shall come to pass, that of their greatest Prophet, that, although in the place where it was said unto them, God had uttered promises in behalf of Ye are not my people, there shall they be a seed numerous as the sand of the seacalled the children of the living God.' shore, yet that He regarded not these proThis verse seems necessary for describ-mises as broken although they were made ing the precise manner in which the ex- good only to a remnant of them. That tension was to take place. It had been prophecy referred, in the first instance, no unwonted thing for Gentiles to become to a fell destruction which came on the proselytes; but still the land they occu- children of Israel, and reduced them to pied was regarded as an outcast region but a remnant-proving it to be no of heathenism, and they looked to Judea strange thing in God, to have abandoned as the Holy Land-to Jerusalem as the to their ruin a vast majority of the chilpriestly and the consecrated place where- dren of Abraham, even notwithstanding unto they looked as the great metropolis the word of promise which He had made of religion, and whither many of them to the patriarch; and therefore that this repaired every year to join in the solemn promise would be as little falsified now as services of the temple. It was not in this it was then, although the great bulk of the sense however that the coming enlarge-nation should be reft of the divine favour, ment was to be brought about. In the language of our Saviour to the woman of Samaria, the hour was at hand when neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem the Father was to be worshipped. Even the local affinity, between the true religion and the country or the cities of the people of Israel, was forthwith to be dissolved; and in every nation he that

and but a small fraction of them should remain in that favour by embracing Christianity. "Esaias also crieth concerning them, Though the number, the predicted and promised number to Abraham, of descendants who should spring from him, was that they should be as the sand of the sea, yet but a remnant shall be saved."

V. 28. For he will finish the work

and cut it short in righteousness, because | blessed predestination. The reprobate a short work will the Lord make upon the are they who decline that offer. How. earth. ever tremendous it may look when viewed This alludes to the work of vengeance, by us from afar, among the sublime and that in His righteous indignation was ex-mysterious altitudes of that past eternity ecuted upon the children of Israel; and where be the primary links of a vast pro. that, by a sudden and overwhelming in-gression reaching from the decrees of the vasion of their enemies. The same work unsearchable God to the yet unrevealed was speedily to be done over again by the destinies of all His creatures-certain it forces of the Roman empire; and, in like is, that God when, instead of being conmanner as the truth of God's promise to templated in His place at the commenceAbraham stood unimpeachable and firm ment of this chain where He stands at so because of the remnant that survived the lofty and incomprehensible a distance sweeping destruction of these former away from us, is contemplated in the days-so the impending destruction of the place He occupies at the present and the latter days would also leave a remnant contiguous links, appears to us under a which should vindicate the word of God very different aspect from that in which from the charge of having taken none | our imagination arrays Him, when we cast effect. our regards athwart the boundless interV. 29. And as Esaias said before, Ex-val of those ages which are past. And cept the Lord of sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.'

whether is it better, we ask, to take our impressions of the Divinity in the act of looking to Him as God at a distance-or The Lord of Sabaoth signifies the Lord in the act of listening to Him as a God of Hosts. Had He left no remnant, had who is at hand? Whatever He may have He made a clean and total destruction of purposed or done then, when creation and Israel, then it would have shared in the all its issues were fixed by an act of prefate of Sodom and Gomorrah-cities of ordination, that reached forward unto all which now no vestige is to be found, and and embraced all-this is what He is of whose people the descendants are alto- doing now. He is stretching out for your gether lost in the history of our species. acceptance the title-deeds to an inheritIt is not so with the Jews. A goodly num- ance of glory. He is offering to put into ber of them were obedient unto the faith, your hands a right of entry into the city and in them all the blessings promised to which hath foundations. He is making Abraham had their richest accomplish- the issues of your eternity, at least, to turn ment. Even those who stood obstinately upon this-whether, accepting of Christ's out in their rejection of the Saviour were righteousness as a gift and so coming into no all cut off; and their posterity main- possession of a valid plea for the honours tain a separate and a monumental charac-and rewards of heaven, you shall obtain ter to this very day-at once affording a sure entrance thereinto, or, declining this most impressive evidence of that special offer and casting the die upon your own part which the Divinity takes in their righteousness, you shall utterly fail of affairs; and forming a reserve, as it were, everlasting bliss. Grant that you are the for the fulfilment of such restoration upon objects of a blessed predestination, here is them as shall pour a lustre on all the the way in which you make it good-even prophecies which have been delivered in by accepting through faith the righteoustheir behalf; and make it obvious, that, ness of Christ as your meritorious plea of after the many dark reverses and humili-acceptance with God. Grant that any of ations which this singular people have undergone, that, after all, there is not a promise which has been uttered to their patriarchs of old which has not obtained a splendid verification in the subsequent history of the race.

V. 30. What shall we say then?-That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.'

It might well disarm predestination of all its terrors, when we look to the way in which its fulfilments are practically brought about. There is the offer of a justifying righteousness made unto all; and they who accept, as the Gentiles in the present instance, are the objects of a

you shall turn out to have been the objects of dire reprobation, this will not be without your refusal of an offer complied with by others, but made also unto youmade without reserve and without exception unto all. Let me entreat you then, once more, to forego the distant, and to take up with the near contemplation. Attend not to God's past decrees, but to God's present dealings with you-not to what He has written of you in that book of His secret counsels which is up in heaven, but to what He has written to you in that book of His open declarations which is now circulating freely on earth, and on a copy of which each may lay his hand. In the language of the next chapter-try not to pluck the secret of

your destiny from heaven above, or from the recesses of that eternity which is behind-try not to fetch it into the light of day from the profundity that is under your feet, or from the yet untravelled depths of that eternity which is before; but take all your direction, and the guidance of every footstep, from the word which is nigh unto you. There you read of God's beseeching voice-of His protestations, nay of His very oaths, that in your death He has no pleasure-of this proclamation the sound whereof reaches from the mercy-seat to the farthest outskirts of His sinful family, even that "whosoever calleth upon the name of his Son shall be saved." And if, on looking across the medium of that endless retrospect where clouds and darkness at last terminate the vision, you could descry nought to cheer you into confidence, learn now to regard the present attitude, and hearken to the present accents of a Godall whose thoughts to those who seek after Him, are thoughts of graciousness, and who now holds Himself forth unto all as a God benign and placable and tender.

It is said of the Gentiles that they followed not after righteousness and yet obtained it. The righteousness of that law which was written in the books of Moses, they were generally ignorant of. The righteousness of that law which was written in their own hearts, they knew but they did not follow; but there was a righteousness followed after, even till it was finished, by Christ Jesus as the substitute of sinners. This was declared to them as a righteousness in which they might appear with acceptance before God -a declaration believed by many, and according to their belief so was it done unto thein.

V. 31. But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness hath not attained to the law of righteousness.'

The law of righteousness here is the same with the righteousness of the law. They strove by their obedience to its precepts after a right to its rewards. It was not with a view of simply adorning their character by the graces or virtues of the law, nor was it from the impulse of a love for its righteousness, that they so laboured. It was with the view of making good that condition, on which they conceived that the reward was suspended-after which they could challenge that reward as their due, as a thing that they had as much won as either the wages for which they had served, or the goods for which they had paid down the purchase-money. This was that after which they laboured, and this they fell short of. Their obedience did not come up to the high requisitions of the law, and so they missed of

its reward. On the contrary, their disobedience, both in transgressing and in coming short-their sins, both of commission and of omission, brought them under its clear and decisive condemnation. They may have fulfilled in some things, but they failed in many things; and though toiling with all the strenuousness of men whose eternity was at issue, none could overtake the whole length and breadth of its commandments.

Now observe the precise effect of this state of matters. However willing God might be that all these transgressors should be admitted into Heaven-yet this admittance of them might not be possible, so long as they on the other hand are not willing to be admitted there, but on the footing of a remuneration for their obedience. There might be enough of the disposition of kindness on the part of God to bestow heaven upon them as a present; but there might be a disposition on the part of man to decline it in this character, and to demand it as the term of a contract which they challenge the other party to fulfil. This brings the parties to a stand, and it is no light matter which they stand for. It is for a high principle of divine jurisprudence, of which we are taught in the Bible that there is a moral impossibility that it should be violated. Upon the difference between heaven as a thing of free grace to the sinner, or heaven as a thing of due and merited return to him for his obedience as it is, there just turns the difference between a vindicated and a dishonoured law. This difference man, obtuse and deadened as he is in all the sensibilities of his moral nature, might feel to be a slight one; but it was not so felt among the pure and ethereal intelligences of the upper sanctuary. The angels who are there saw the dilemma, and looked on with most intense earnestness to the evolutions of that great problem by which it might be extricated. It was a question of pure and lofty jurisprudence; and, however shadowy it might appear to beings of our grosser faculties, and withal darkened and made dull in all our perceptions of what is due to Heaven's high sacredness by the blight which sin has cast upon them-it was truly a question for which all heaven was put in motion; and on which the King who sitteth upon its throne, put forth the resources and the energies of a wisdom that is infinite. And His authoritative declaration to this our rebel world is, that the sanctions of His law could not be nullified-that all creation must pass away rather than that any of its promises or any of its threatenings should fail-that the truth and justice and righteousness of the lawgiver, admitted of nothing short from the rigid execution of

all its penalties-that sinners could not be admitted to His complacency, till their sin had been branded with the mark of an adequate condemnation; and, more par--and that by a conformity to the rule of ticularly, that He would not descend to any compromise with those, who, instead of trembling as they ought lest the fire of an offended jealousy should go forth upon them to burn up and to destroy, persisted for their plea of acceptance in an obedience so paltry and so polluted, as being honourable enough to the Law and as every way good enough for the exalted Lawgiver.

V. 32. 'Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.'

of the human heart prompts the men of all ages to do. Our first, our natura. tendency, is to seek after a righteousness perfect righteousness. Did we attain the righteousness, we would thereby acquire a title to the reward. But the universal fact is that none do attain; and hence, with all who persist in seeking life by the law, there is but one or other term of this alternative. They either live in the apathy of a false and an ill-founded peace, or they live in the alarm of a well-founded terror-on good terms with themselves because of their imagined adequate fulfilment of the demands of the law, or on bad terms with themselves because of their sad distance and deficiency thereThis is a most important question, and from. And so they sink down into the a most instructive reply to it-more espe- state of mere formalists in obedience, or cially when we view it as given by the into the restless unconfirmed and withal apostle newly emerged from the subject most unfruitful as well as unhappy state of predestination, on which he had just of a perpetual fearfulness. In either state been arguing. All fresh as he was my they are destitute of an availing rightbrethren from the high topic of God's de- eousness for their acceptance with God crees, yet, on the moment that he turns He will not, on the one hand, merely behimself to consider the reason why Israel cause men are satisfied with themselves fell short of the promised blessing, he recognise the incomplete and tainted offerlays it on the familiar topic of man's do- ings of their human imperfection-as if ings. The cause of their not attaining to they made out a full and satisfying homage righteousness, and so of their being ex- to that law, all whose demands are on the cluded from life everlasting, is here re-side of a personal spiritual and universal solved, not into the destinies of the Crea- holiness. Neither, on the other hand tor, but into the doings of His creatures will He sustain the dread and the distress not into the predestination that is made and the painful anxieties of those who by God above, but into the wrong and the are not satisfied with themselves, as a wilfully wrong direction that is taken by sufficient homage done to His law. What man below. Instead of speculating on He wants with them further is, that they the incomprehensible mystery of that will should do homage to His gospel. It is in heaven by which some are elected into well that they have such a true discernlife, he tells us of the way upon earth ment of God's law, as clearly to perceive, which all men should take in order to ar-that no effort of theirs can reach upward rive at it. And the reason simply why the children of Israel missed the object of a blissful eternity, at least the only reason which either they or we have to do with, is that they took the wrong way. They sought a righteousness which might justify them before God by the works of the law; and this proved a stumblingstone at which they stumbled and fell, and that very far short indeed of the goal to which they were pressing forwards. They tried to master the requisitions of the law, in order thereby to get at its reward; and the law proved too hard for them. They chose to enter the lists with the judgment of the law, and that judgment therefore must take effect upon them. They have sped according to their own choice. They threw their stake on the commandments of the law; and, not having won the length of perfect obedience thereunto, nothing remains but that they must abide its condemnation.

Now what they did, the natural legality

to its sublime and empyreal elevation. But it is also essential, that they should have such a true discernment of His grace, as to perceive, that. by its condescensions and by its offers, it reaches downward even to a worthlessness as humbling and as polluted as theirs. It is right that they should defer to the terror of those penalties which are denounced by the one; but it is equally right that they should defer to the truth of those promises which are held forth by the other. They ought to tremble, when bethinking them of their violations of the law; but they ought to feel re-assured, and to cease from trembling when bethinking themselves of the sufficiency of the gospel. If it be an offence to have done disobedience to the precepts of His authority, it is also an offence to have done discredit to the overtures of His good-will. And so we read of the fearful and the unbelieving, as well as of the presumptuously secure, that both alike have

conden.nation.

V. 33. As it is written, Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and a rock of offence and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.'

a place assigned to them in the abodes of | glaring inconsistency here, which does embarrass even honest enquirers; and put them at a loss for the right adjustment of this whole question. It is a question which stumbles them, which perplexes them, and has all the effect of a painful and puzzling ambiguity upon their minds. It is not too much to say that the disgrace and the disparagement which appear to be cast by the men called evangelical, on the worth and the importance and the noble character of virtue, constitute at least one of the offences, one ground of strong and sensitive aversion, against the truth as it is in Jesus.

Our only method of escape from this is by fleeing unto Christ, and casting a confidence upon Him which shall never be put to shame. He is represented as being to some a stumbling-stone and rock of of fence. It were entering upon a subject far too wide for us at present, did we enlarge upon all the varieties of that repugnance which is felt by men towards Christ -the absolute nausea of some at the very I cannot pretend to a full deliverance utterance of His name-the utter distaste upon this subject; and will therefore only for all conversation regarding Him-the suggest a distinction which can be stated antipathy, nay even hatred, which rise in in one sentence; and should, as far as the bosoms of many against His pecu- that goes, be all the more memorable; liarly marked and devoted followers; and which, if duly pondered upon, will and, along with the toleration which very achieve for you I think the extrication of generally obtains for a meagre and mo- this whole difficulty. The distinction is derate and mitigated Christianity, the se- between the legal right to heaven which cret revolt and the open declaration obedience may be supposed to confer, and against those, who carry the doctrines and the moral rightness of obedience in itself. the demands of Christianity to what is When the New Testament affirms the apprehended to be a great deal too far. nullity of good works, it is their nullity In a certain decent and regulated propor- from their not being perfect to the object tion, it is borne with; but very apt to be of establishing our legal right to the reimpatiently or indignantly flung at, when wards of eternity. When the New Tesit offers to engross the whole heart, or to tament affirms the value of good works, make too large or ostensible an inroad on it is their value, even though not yet perthe state and history of human affairs. fect, in regard to their moral rightnessBut for a field of so much extent and la- which moral rightness brightens more and titude, we verily at present have no time; more unto perfection, till at length it and must be content now with but one passes into the sacredness of heaven, and observation on a certain apparent cross- becomes meet for the exercises and the ness or contrariety of sentiment in the joys of eternity. A Christian utterly redoctrines of Christ and His Apostles-nounces all good works, as having any which has an effect rather to gravel the value in them to confer a legal right to understanding, than to alienate the affec-heaven. tions of men. We advert to the place himself assiduously to the performance which the law and the works of the law of good works, as having in them that have in the theological system of the virtue of moral rightness which is in itNew Testament-where at one time they self the very essence of heaven. For his are set aside as utterly insignificant; and legal right to heaven, his whole reliance at another it seems to be represented as is on the obedience of Christ, as that which the very end as the ultimate landing-place hath alone won and purchased it. For of Christianity, to make its disciples his personal meetness for heaven, he plies zealous and perfect and thoroughly fur-all the strength that is in him, whether by nished unto all good works. There is the nature or by grace, in order to perfect his semblance of a most obvious, nay very own obedience.

And yet a Christian devotes

LECTURE LXXVI.

ROMANS X, 1.

"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."

THE words of this text derive a special and an augmented interest from the very

position which it here occupies. You will observe that it is at the close of a very

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