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REV. RALPH WARDLAW, D.D.
EDITED BY HIS SON,
THE REV. J. S. WARDLAW, A.M.
A. FULLARTON & CO.:
AND 115 NEWGATE STREET, LONDON.
ROMANS XI. 7–32.
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them, let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 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. 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? For 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 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? For if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree; boast not against the branches: but if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree, which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive-tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive-tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye shonld be ignorant of this mystery, (lest ye should be wise in your own conceits,) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gen
tiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For 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. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”
We take this passage as a whole, for the sake of dividing it into its parts, and treating each of its topics in order; by which means needless repetition will be avoided, and a clearer view given of the contents and objects of the chapter.
There are four points to which it calls our attention; bearing, however, a very intimate relation to each other. They are, the rejection of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; the restoration of the Jews and the fulness of the Gentiles;with the connexion between the first and second, and between the second and third.
We shall notice each of these points distinctly:-verse 7. “ What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” What means the Apostle by “that which he seeketh for.”—The thing "sought for” was justification before God;-acceptance in His sight and eternal life.* By“Israel” is meant Israel as a body—the large majority: just as the people in Elijah's time who worshipped Baal might be called Israel, in distinction from the “seven thousand” who had not given way to that defection from Jehovah, and who were His reserve, —His chosen remnant. They did not attain the object of their desire, because they did not seek it in the right way.t They would have it by works when the God with whom they had to do had declared that it could be attained only by grace: and so the pride of their hearts proved their ruin, as it has proved the ruin of multitudes besides.
“But the election hath obtained it.” The distinction previously made by the Apostle # is thus carried forward through
* Comp. chap. ix. 30—33.
† Chap. x. 2, 3.
# Chap. ix. 6.
all his statements and reasonings : "the election” being a designation marking out a certain proportion of Israel from the rest—Jew from Jew—not Jews nationally from Gentiles nationally. That which they "sought after and did not attain to” was not privilege—for privilege they did obtain and enjoy. That which “the election” did obtain, therefore, was not privilege; for in this they were not distinguished from the rest. It was something more, --something spiritual and permanent. It was justification before God; eternal life. And there can be no reasonable doubt, surely, that what “the election,” in distinction from others, actually obtained, was that to which they were chosen. Their election, therefore, was not national election to privilege, but personal election to salvation. To this they were
“chosen through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth ;" and their “obtaining” it was the result and fulfilment of the divine purpose in their election.
“The rest were blinded :” —or hardened.* It is the same thing whether we regard them as left to the self-induced hardness of their hearts, or to the blindness which naturally results from that hardness. All that, in either case, is meant, is, their being judicially left to the influence of their wilful and criminal prejudices and enmity “ against the Lord and against his Christ.”—And that they should thus harden themselves in unbelief and sin, was matter of prediction by the prophets : :-verse 8.“ According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day." +
The figurative expression, “having eyes and not seeing, and having ears and not hearing,” seems to describe strongly the ignorance arising from the state of the disposition; not from want of means and opportunities of knowledge, but from want of heart to knowledge, as the wise man expresses it. There is a wilful shutting of the mind to knowledge, as