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selves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;" [or, even we ourselves within ourselves do groan, earnestly desiring the adoption-the redemption of our body.*"]
The adoption means here the public manifestation of the children of God at the resurrection; the apostle's styling it "the redemption of the body," clearly connects the event which the whole creation is longing for, together with the saints themselves, with that resurrection or change of the mortal and corruptible part of the saints, which was the immediate subject of the last passage we considered: and we may compare with this, instead of quoting them separately, the following passages. In his epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul, speaking of the Holy Ghost, as given to the church, calls him "The earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession;" or, purchased people, as some render it. And again, chapter iv. 30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit, by which ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." And compare, too, St. Paul's emphatical mention of the resurrection of the dead, Phil. iii. 11, "That by any means I might attain the resurrection from the dead." But to return.
Not only the powers of nature and the various parts of the creation are anxiously waiting for deliverance; but even the people of God themselves, though in part they participate in the glorious liberty of the children of God, having received the Spirit of adoption, yet even they do groan within themselves for this same event; because the influence and indwelling of the Spirit, which they now feel, though it enables them to rejoice in hope, is but " a first fruits," "an earnest:" the adoption, in its full sense,
Compare Ephes. iv. 30, &c.
they possess not yet. It is at present a secret whispered in their hearts by the Holy Ghost; but their manifestation in the character of the sons of God is yet an object of" hope that is not seen." In secret the believer rejoices in his high birth; but he waits for this great revolution of nature before he expects to receive its honours. It is "the grace to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Our " life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory."*
The Eleventh Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
ST. PAUL'S account of the rejection and future restoration of Israel, in the eleventh chapter of this same Epistle, must not be entirely passed over. He tells us that this rejection of the natural descendents of the patriarchs was neither to be total nor final: that in every period of their abandonment, there would be a reserve of a part; and, at a future period, a resumption of the general body. In the twelfth verse, he says:
"Now, if the fall of them was,' - or, "And if their failure was to be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness,""how much more was their fulness to be!"
The apostle speaks as having the prophecies he had just quoted in his view. Did the prophecy speak of their
See Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans.
failure as an event propitious to the Gentile world? So did it speak of the restoration of the Jews, when their fulness should come in, as being, to this same world, a season of still greater good! At the first, the Gentiles, in the abandonment of the Jews, were to be so far favoured as to "provoke Israel to jealousy;" but afterwards, when he should" be merciful to his land and his people," and "have avenged their injuries," the Song of Remembrance, to which he refers, exclaims, " Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people," which clearly intimated that they would be no less sharers in this great and glorious dispensation than the Israelites themselves.
This St. Paul explains in the fifteenth verse, " 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?" Thus it must be the apostle means to point out, according to the sure word of prophecy: and the comparison of the ancient oracles on this subject leads to the conclusion, that, by "life from the dead," the apostle means the resurrection of the dead, literally; and that this "first and blessed resurrection," the great event for which all nature and nations long, is intimately connected with the restoration of Israel: that the same Redeemer who comes to Zion to turn away iniquity from Jacob, comes, at the same time, to raise the dead that sleep in him, and to gather together all his elect, and establish the glorious promised kingdom, which will be "riches," indeed, unto the world.
Again; the apostle says, verse the twenty-fifth:
"For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
A man is said to be wise in his own conceits when, in the absence of real knowledge and information, he persuades himself that he does understand, and, pleased with his fancied discoveries, vaunts his own false conceits in the room of true wisdom. To prevent this, St. Paul would unfold a mystery.
A mystery signifies some hidden truth, some secret in the plan or proceeding of God which revelation can alone explain. The mystery was this: this partial blindness or hardness (for the apostle admits not that it was universal) was only to last "till the fulness of the Gentiles was come in," " and so," or, "and then all Israel shall be saved." By the word "fulness" is intended, I conceive, that remnant which was then begun to be gathered, and still is being gathered, by the preaching of the Gospel. They are a body of people taken to "fill up," as it were, the gap or scissure made in Israel by the cutting off of so many of the natural branches: when the number decreed shall be completed, then will the end come of the present dispensation of Christ's kingdom, which will be succeeded by a more glorious dispensation, to commence with the general restoration of Israel.
Some, by "the fulness of the Gentiles," understand their coming in, in a mass, in contradistinction to this gathering of a thinly scattered people, which has hitherto been all the real effect of the preaching of the Gospel in the Gentile world. That such an event will take place is clear from prophecy; but then the conversion of all nations is an event predicted as subsequent to the restoration of Israel; but the "fulness of the Gentiles" here spoken of, will have come in previously to that event. Besides, the use of the word we render "fulness," in the New Testament, for the mass or generality, in opposition
to a part of, or a small portion of a people, does not seem so frequent as that of "something put in to fill up."
The "fulness of Israel," in the twelfth verse of this chapter, may, indeed, be urged to the contrary; and what is there called the fulness is certainly the bulk and general body of Israel, at the time of their restoration - all the survivors at least; but why they are called by this term is still a question. I am afraid there is reason to conclude from prophecy, that there will be found a dreadful chasm to fill up in the church of Christ, at the eve of these great events. We were told, in a former prophecy, that "the end shall not come, unless there come a falling away first." The world has long witnessed this great apostasy among nominally Christian nations, but it has not yet witnessed its end; and I much question whether we have any warrant in Scripture to expect, as to the world at large, before the day when the Son of Man is revealed, the decrease of them that have a form of godliness and deny its power The words of our divine Master are awfully portentous:-" WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMETH, WILL HE FIND FAITH UPON THE EARTH?"
The fulness of the nations may certainly be said to have come in, when the Gospel has gathered out of them all it can gather, and the nations themselves are given up to destruction; and this seems to be the fate impending over all apostate churches and nations at the second advent, when, as the apostle says in the following verse, "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." And it is written also, in the prophecy from whence these words are quoted, that at that period,
Darkness covers the earth,
And gross darkness the nations, &c.