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ROMANS xi. 6. we If the first Fruit be Holy, the Lumpis alfo Holy:
and if the Root be Holy, so are the branches.
HE Jews, as they were the most remarkable
people upon earth in many respects, so particularly in this; that they preserved the pedigrees of their several tribes and families, with a more fcrupulous and religious exactness, than any other nation in the world.
This care was infused into them, and many ways cultivated by God himself, in order to al certain the descent of the Melli ih, when he came, and to prove that he was, as the prophets had foretold he should be, of the tribe of Judah and of the lineage of David.
That tribe, indeed, was most concerned, on this account, to preserve their genealogy entire. However, other tribes there were (for instance, Ephraim) which, though not entitled to this disa tinguithing honour, yet set up their pretences to it ; and all of them, even without such a particular claim, had great reason to glory in their common descent from Abraham, Ifiac, and Jacobs the peculiar favourites of heaven, to whom the promise of the blessed Seed was severally made. All of them therefore ftudiously cherished the memory of their honourable extraction, and carefully preferved the evidences of it.
The example of St. Paul is a proof, that there zeal, in this case, was laudable. For even he himself, who was the apostle of the Gentiles, in VOL. II.
those very epistles which he wrote to the Gentileconverts (particularly to those of Rome ; the proudest part of the heathen world, and who had entertained the most contemptuous opinion of the Jews) fails not to magnity the great priviledge of his birth, and highly to value himself upon it. Twice we find him, not only boasting of his parentage, as an Ijraelite at large, but particularizing his descent from the tribe of Benjamin, Rom. xi. 1. Phil. iii. 5. He often and amply de clares the great advantage *, which belonged to the feed of yb, ahim, as such ; "to whom (as he speakst) pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” And though,
And though, “as concerning the gospel, they were” he says, now enemies through unbelief, yet still he affirms, that, “ as touching the election," or as the elect people of God,
they are beloved for the fathers fakes.” Rom. xi. 28. And on this foundation he builds an are, gument of great importance; for the general conversion of the Jews to the faith of Christ, when once “ the fulness of the Gentiles” was come in : Then, he says God would provoke the Jews to emulation ;” so that they, seeing the universal reception of the gospel by the heathen, should be induced, at length, to believe in Christ, as Abraham did, and, following his faith, should likewise share his reward : “ For, if the first-fruit be holy,
• Rom. ii. 1, 2.
Rom, is to so
the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
By “the first-fruit" and “the root," in these words, we are to understand the three great progenitors of the Jews, Abrahim, ljauc, and Jicon; chiefly the first of them, who, being eminently holy and dear to God, should derive a blefling to his posterity on that account, and prevail at lait, to have them also accepted as holy, and initated in the favour of God. For, as the whole Lump, or Mass of corn, under the law, was hallowed by the Heave-Offering * of the First-Fruits dedi· cated to God; as the branches partake of the vigour and virtues of the root from which they fpring; so the great body of the Jews are accepted in ibraham, and fanctified by their descent from him. They cannot, therefore, be finally rejected; but shall, in God's good time, be ad. mitted to partake of all the privileges and benefits which belong to that sacred alliance.
And this they shall attain to, partly in virtue of the promise made by God, when he entered into the covenant with Abraham ; and partly also in virtue of those principles of piety and good. nefs, which they derived from their ancestors, and from the holy law of God, committed to their custody; principles, which though they might be obfcured and buried for a time, yet would afterwards spring up, and bring forth fruit; qualifying the heirs of promise for those bleffings, to which God had ordained them.
Num xv. 10 where the words
ured by the apostle, are likewise employed,
All this I apprehend to be within the intention of the apostle's discourse. For the holiness be speaks of may be taken in a twofold fenfe; éither for that external and relative holiness, which belongs to perfons, or things, offered to God, and appropriated particularly to his honour and fervice; or for thofe internal graces and qualities of mind, which fanctity our natures, and render us habitually holy. Both these St. Paul feems to point at, in the words before us; and hath, therefore, purposely (if I mistake not) illustrated his argument by two fuch inftances, as refer diftinét. ly to each of them: For the holiness of the firttfruits and the lump, is an holiness merely of inftitution, outward, and nominal, whereas by the holiness of the root and the branches, is to be understood an holiness of nature, inherent, and real. So that the apoftle's meaning in this paffage may, after this manner, be more clearly represented and fully expressed: That the hea “ liness of the patriarchs Thould, in both fenses of o that word, extend itself to their progeny, and “ should one day visibly rest on all the tribes of “ Ifrael: who, as by virtue of their relation to “ Abraham, they were ftill nearly related to God, “ and particularly dear to him ; fo fhouid they 6 likewise inherit, and in God's appointed riine, ► exert the faith and virtues of Abrahan ; and, by that means, render themfelves
every way oba “jects of the divine favour and benediction :" « For if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy so are the branches.” The words therefore that I have chosen, will
afford me a very natural occasion of discoursing (in a way suitable to the design of this annual alfembly) concerning the great advantages and bleffings to which the fons of the clergy are entitled, as the holy pofterity of holy parents: especially, if it can be ihewn, that the apostle's way of reafoning was not confined to the oeconomy and we tion of the Jews, but is of equal force also under the Chriftian dispensation. And of this I need produce no other proof than that fingle paffage of the same apostle, in his first epistle to the Girinthians, vii. 14. where he pronounces the children of such parents as were, one of them a Christian, and the other an unbeliever, to be clean and holy, on the account of the faith and holiness even of one of those parents. “For the unbelieving hufband” (says he) “ is fanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is fanétified by the husband : else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. By the holiness of the children, bere mentioned, I understand the near relation in which they stood to God, as born from a believing parent, and the right which, on the account, they had to be admitted into that Christian covenant by baptism. But, however this holiness bc underftood, 'tis very plain, that it implies fome peculiar advantage, fome extraordinary privilege, which belonged to these children; and as plain, that they were entitled to that advantage and privilege (whatever it was) on the account of their parentage. And therefore the reasoning niade use of by St. Paul in the text, holds equally with regard to Jews and Christians; and will accord.