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Lastly, we should be stirred up by this subject to concur with God in his gracious intentions towards the Jews. In the song before us, there are repeated intimations that God will once more restore to his favour his now degenerate and afflicted people. In verse 36, it is said, “ The Lord will judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and that there is none shut up or left.” And the song concludes with these remarkable words, Rejoice, O ye nations! with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and unto his people.” Here then, you see, that there is mercy in reserve for the Jewish people, and that the Gentiles also shall be partakers of their joy. But in our text there is a hint of a very peculiar nature, namely, not merely that God will vouchsafe mercy to them, in the midst of their present chastisement, but that he will render those very chastisements subservient to his gracious designs. He intimates that he is even now provoking them to jealousy, by the mercies he bestows on us; that is, that he is even now endeavouring to inflame them with a holy desire to regain his favour. It is precisely in this sense that St. Paul uses the same expression : indeed, St. Paul tells us, that he himself used the very same means for the same end : “ Through the fall of the Jews (says he) is salvation come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. Now I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office; if by any means I may provoke to jealousy (it is the same word as before") them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” This then is the work in which we are to co-operate with God: and, truly, if we were all in earnest about it, we might, with God's help, do great things. They behold us professing ourselves to be the peculiar people of God: and, if they saw so great a difference between themselves and us as they ought to see, truly they
• Παραζηλώσω, Rom. xi. 11, 14.
would begin to envy us, and to wish to be partakers of our blessings. But, if they see that we are as covetous and worldly-minded, as lewd and sensual, as proud and vindictive, and, in short, as corrupt in all respects as the very heathen, shall we not prove a stumbling-block, rather than an help, to them? And what if, whilst we ought all to be uniting with one heart and one soul in the blessed work of leading them to Christ, they should find amongst us an utter indifference to their salvation ? Yea, what if they behold amongst us some (some too of whom we might hope better things) to whom the exertions of their brethren are rather a matter of offence than of joy; some whose endeavour is rather to frustrate, than advance, our benevolent labours ? What if they behold some who, instead of labouring with us to provoke them to jealousy, are themselves provoked to an ungodly jealousy against us, on account of our exertions; and who, like Tobiah and Sanballat of old, “are grieved that we have undertaken to seek the welfare of Israel?" Will not our Jewish brethren take advantage of this? Will they not impute this to our religion? If they see us thus worldly, or thus malignant, will they not judge of our principles by our practice; and, instead of envying us our privileges and attainments, will they not be ready to glory over us, and to thank God they are not Christians ? Oh, Brethren! we little think what guilt we contract, while practising such abominations. It is said of many, that they are no person's enemy but their own : but this is not true; they are enemies to all around them, whom they vitiate by their example; they are enemies to the Jews, whom they harden in their infidelity; and they are enemies to the heathen, whom they teach to abhor the Christian name. But let it not be so amongst us; let us remember that to us is committed the blessed task of bringing back to God's fold his wandering, yet beloved, people. Nor let us despair of success; “ for, if we were cut out of the olive-tree which is wild by nature, and were graffed contrary to nature into a good olivetree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olivetree? If they abide not in unbelief, they shall be graffed in; for, though we are unable, God is able to graff them in again.” But then, how is this to be accomplished ? it is to be by our means; (“as for the times and the seasons, we say nothing ; God has reserved them in his own power :") God has appointed us to seek the salvation of his people; and has communicated his blessings to us on purpose that we may be his depository to keep them, and his channel to convey them, for their benefit. Hear his own words: “As ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” Let us then address ourselves to the blessed work that God has assigned us.
c Neh. ii. 10.
Let us, as God's chosen instruments, endeavour to interest ourselves with him to reinstate them in his favour, and interest ourselves with them to return unto him. Let us make a conscience of praying for them in secret; let us devise plans for furthering the communication of divine knowledge amongst them; let us not shrink from labour, or trouble, or expense; let us not be deterred by any difficulties, or discouraged by any disappointments : but let us labour for them, as their forefathers did for us; let us tread in the steps of the holy Apostles, and be ready to sacrifice time, and interest, and liberty, and life itself, in their service; and account the saving of their souls the richest recompence that God himself can give us. And, that we may the more effectually provoke them to jealousy, let us shew them that God has done for us as much as he ever did for the patriarchs of old, giving us as intimate an access to him, as firm a confidence in him, and as assured prospects of an everlasting acceptance with him, as ever" Abraham himself enjoyed. They are apt to d Rom. xi. 23, 24.
e Rom. xi. 30, 31
think that, in exalting Jesus, we dishonour Jehovah: but let us shew them by our lives, that we render to Jehovah all the love, and honour, and service, that were ever rendered to him by his most eminent saints ; and that there is no principle whatever so operative and powerful as the love of our adorable Redeemer. Let us shew them, that communion with the Son has the same effect on us, that communion with the Father had on Moses; that it assimilates us unto God, and constrains all who behold us to acknowledge, that we have been with God. Their eyes are now upon us; upon us especially, who are endeavouring to convert them to the faith of Christ: let them therefore see in us the influence of Christian principles : let them see that, whilst we speak of enjoying peace through the blood of our great Sacrifice, and of having the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Sanctifier, we live as none others can live, exhibiting in our conduct the faith of Abraham, the meekness of Moses, the patience of Job, the piety of David, and the fidelity of Daniel : in a word, let them see in us an assemblage of all the brightest virtues of their most renowned progenitors. O! would to God that there were in all of us such a heart! Would to God that the Holy Spirit might be poured out upon us for this end, and work in us so effectually, that the very sight of us should be sufficient to carry conviction to their minds; that so our Jewish brethren, beholding “the exceeding grace of God in us,” might be constrained to take hold of our skirt, and say, “ We will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you of a truth'!”
f Zech. viii. 23.
THE EXCELLENCY OF JEHOVAH. Deut. xxxii. 31. Their rock is not as our Rock, even our
enemies themselves being judges. IT is not a little to the honour of those who serve God, that the more fully their principles are inves1. To his enemies of former times
tigated, the more just will they appear, and worthy to be adopted by all the world. Those embraced by ungodly men are often such as scarcely to be vindicated by their most partial friends : but those, which the children of God profess, will stand the test of examination from their bitterest enemies. To this. effect Moses speaks in the words before us; from which we shall, I. Point out the superiority of Jehovah above all
other objects of confidenceNeither the idols of heathens, nor any other objects of confidence, can in any point of view be put in competition with Jehovah. Consider His power
[There is not any thing which he is not able to effect : “He doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” But what created being can claim this prerogative?] His love
[Incomprehensible are the heights and depths of the Father's love, discovered in sending his own Son to die for us; nor less the love of Christ in giving himself a sacrifice for our sins. Is there any other Being that ever has expressed, or ever can, such love as this ?] His faithfulness
[God has given to us exceeding great and precious promises, suited to every want we can possibly experience. And has one jot or tittle of his word ever failed? But where shall we find a creature that has not, in some respect or other, disappointed the expectations of those who trusted in him?]
So indisputable is the point before us, that we may even, II. Appeal to the very enemies of Jehovah in confir
mation of our assertionsWe might with propriety appeal to his friends, since they, by their knowledge of him, and their experience of the vanity of earthly confidences, are best qualified to judge. But, waving this just advantage, we will appeal,