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1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Ver. 1. I say then, Hath God, &c. ] As I may seem to have said, Rom 10:1-21 Ministers must do their utmost to prevent mistakes. Zuinglius, when in his sermons he had terrified the wicked, was wont to shut up with Bone vir, hoc nihil ad te, Thou good man, I mean not thee.
2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
Ver. 2. Saith of Elias ] A man of such transcendent zeal, that to heighten the expression thereof some have legended of him, that when he drew his mother’s breasts, he was seen to suck in fire.
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
Ver. 3. And I am left alone ] To withstand and reform the common corruptions. Some have commended it to our consideration, that from the first service in the temple when it was built, and the time of Elijah’s reformation, was about a hundred years. And from the reformation in King Edward VI’s days until now is about the same proportion of time.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Ver. 4. The image of Baal ] Τη Βααλ , to that lady, as our modern idolaters also call the Virgin Mary, whom they despight with seeming honours. They would persuade the world, that Christ by dying obeyed not his Father only, but his mother too, that she is the complement of the Trinity, that she entreateth not, but commandeth her Son, is the most imperious mother of our Judge, with many like horrid blasphemies, which I tremble to relate. a
a Salazar Jesuita in Proverbs 8:19 ; Proverbs 8:23 ; Proverbs 8:29 .
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Ver. 5. According to the election of grace ] St Paul was Constantissimus gratiae praedicator, as Austin calleth him, a most constant preacher of God’s free grace.
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Ver. 6. Then is it no more of works ] Whatsoever conferrumination a of grace and works Papists dream of. They think that as he that standeth on two firm branches of a tree is surer than he that standeth upon one only; so he that trusteth to Christ and works too is in the safest condition. But, 1. They are fallen from Christ that trust to works, Galatians 5:4 ; Galatians 2:1-21 . He that hath one foot on a firm branch, and another on a rotten one, stands not so sure as if he stood wholly on that which is sound. But let them be Moses’ disciples, let us be Christ’s. Set not up a candle to this Sun of righteousness; mix not thy puddle with his purple blood, thy rags with his raiment, thy pigeon’s plumes with his eagle’s feathers. He can and will save his to the utmost,Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 7:25 . Detest all mock stays; and account accursed for ever that blasphemous direction of the Papists to dying people, Coniunge, Domine, obsequium meum cum omnibus quae Christus passus est pro me: Join, Lord, mine obedience with all that Christ hath suffered for me.
a Soldering together; fig. intimate union or combination. ŒD
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Ver. 7. Israel ] i.e. The carnal Israelite.
He seeketh for ] viz. Righteousness and salvation by works.
Hardened ] By a judiciary hardness.
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.
Ver. 8. The spirit of slumber ] So that with those bears in Pliny they cannot be awakened with the sharpest prickles; and with those asses in Etruria, that feeding upon henbane they lie for dead, and awake not till half-hilded. Such a dead lethargy is now befallen Papists.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
Ver. 9. Be made a snare ] As the bait is to the birds.
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
Ver. 10. Bow down ] i.e. Bring them down into bondage and misery. Compare Leviticus 26:13 .
11 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.
Ver. 11. Have they stumbled ] He that stumbleth and comes not down, gets ground.
12 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?
Ver. 12. How much more their fulness ] O dieculam illam! dexter mihi prae laetitias alit oculus. How long, Lord, holy and true?
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Ver. 13. I magnify mine office ] I make the utmost of it by gaining souls to Christ.
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
Ver. 14. And might save some ] Ministers must turn themselves as it were into all shapes and fashions, both of spirit and speech, to win people to God.
15 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?
Ver. 15. Be the reconciling ] Not as a cause, but as an occasion.
Life from the dead ] That is, Res summe bona, saith Phocius, a special good thing.
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy : and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Ver. 16. If the firstfruit be holy ] Not with a natural, but a federal holiness, as 1 Corinthians 7:14 .
17 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;
Ver. 17. Were grafted in ] Gr. ενεκεντρισθης , pricked into the middle, the centre of the olive.
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Ver. 18. Boast not ] Gr. throw not up thy neck, in a scornful insulting way, but rather pity and pray for them. (Isidor. Solil.)
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Ver. 19. Thou wilt say ] Carnal reason will have ever somewhat to say, and is not easily set down. (Greg. Moral.)
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
Ver. 20. Be not high-minded, but fear ] Alterius perditio tun sit cautio, saith one. Ruina maiorum sit cautela minorum, saith another. Seest thou thy brother shipwrecked? look well to thy tackling.
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Ver. 21. Take heed lest ] Cavebis autem si pavebis.
22 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.
Ver. 22. Severity ] Gr. Λποτομιαν , Resection or cutting off, as a surgeon cutteth off proud and dead flesh. The dispersion of the Jews for this sixteen hundred years and upward is such, as that one of their own Rabbis concludeth from thence that their Messiah must needs be come; and they must needs suffer so much for killing him. Epiphanius testifieth, that after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews of Tiberius had this custom, when any of their friends or kindred were at the point of death, they would secretly whisper them in the ear to this purpose: Believe in Jesus of Nazareth, whom our rulers crucified; for he shall come again to judge thee at the last day. Fincelius also (Lib. iii. de miraculis ) tells of a certain converted Jew of Ratisbon, who being demanded (among other questions put to him by the Christians) why the Jews did so exceedingly desire the blood of Christians, answered that that was a great secret among them, known to none but their chiefest Rabbis; but this was their custom, to anoint their dying friends with the blood of Christians, and to use words to this effect: If he that was promised in the law and prophets hath already appeared, and that Jesus who was crucified were the true Messiah, let this blood of an innocent man, who died in the faith of Jesus, cleanse thee from thy sins, and be a means to further thine eternal happiness. Oh, the severity of God! and, oh, the obstinace and misery of this hard hearted people!
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Ver. 23. God is able ] He can fetch heart of oak out of a hollow tree, and of carnal make a people created again, Psalms 102:18 ; Ephesians 2:10 .
24 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?
Ver. 24. Contrary ] Therefore nature contributes nothing toward the work of conversion.
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should 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 Gentiles be come in.
Ver. 25. That blindness in part ] It is neither total nor perpetual. Lyra was a famous English Jew. Tremellius was also a Jew born; they are but methe mispar, a very few that are yet converted. They pretend (but maliciously) that those few that turn Christians in Italy are none other than poor Christians hired from other cities to impersonate their part. But when God shall have united those two sticks, Ezekiel 37:19 , and made way for those kings of the East,Revelation 16:12; Revelation 16:12 , then it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, "What hath God wrought?" Numbers 23:23 . Jachiades (a Jewish doctor) upon those words, Daniel 12:4 , would have us believe that God sealed up the time of the coming of the Messiah; that for their sins, which are many, it is deferred, &c., but concludeth his animadversions there with this truth, Verum enimvero Deus nos dignabitur clarissima visione; cum Deus reducet Zionem, tunc intelligemus res ipsas, prout sunt, i.e. God shall vouchsafe us a most clear vision at that time when he shall bring back the captivity of Zion, and then we shall understand things even as they are.
26 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:
Ver. 26. Shall turn away ungodliness ] That is, He shall pardon their sin. The prophet Isaiah hath it, Unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, &c. They whose persons are justified, have their lusts mortified.
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Ver. 27. When I shall take ] By the spirit of judgment and of burning, Isaiah 4:4 ; cf. Isaiah 27:9 .
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
Ver. 28. They are enemies ] i.e. Hated of God, as appears by the opposition; and banished, as it were, by a common consent of nations, out of human society. See 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 .
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Ver. 29. Are without repentance ] When God is said to repent, it is Mutatio rei non Dei, effectus non affectus, facti non consilii, a change, not of his will, but of his work. Repentance with man is the change of his will; repentance with God is the willing of a change. But what a sweet comfort is this, that God’s favour is so constant that what he hath written he hath written, that there is no blotting out of the book of life ( Nulla litura in decretis sapientum, say the Stoicsno erasure of the decrees of the wise,), that it is, I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed; and that his blessing is (as Thucydides saith of a well composed history), κτημα εις αει ξυγκειμενον , an everlasting possession.
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Ver. 30. Through their ] By occasion of their unbelief. Pungit Iudaeos et humiliat Gentes, saith one.
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Ver. 31. That they also ] It noteth not the cause, but the event, as 1 Corinthians 11:19 .
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Ver. 32. For God hath concluded ] Or locked them all up in the law’s dark dungeon, αυνεκλεισε , Galatians 3:22 . Unbelief breaks all the law at an instant by rejecting Christ, as the first act of faith obeys all the law at an instant in Christ.
That he might have mercy upon all ] Luther in a very great conflict was relieved and comforted by the often repeating of this sweet sentence.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Ver. 33. O the depth of the riches ] The Romans dedicated a certain lake, the depth whereof they knew not, to Victory; so should we admire the unsearchable counsels of God, being subdued to that which we cannot subdue to our understandings. God, saith one, is like the pool Polycritus writeth of, which in compass at first scarcely seemed to exceed the breadth of a shield, but if any went into it to wash, it extended itself more and more. (Aristot. de Mirab. Auscult.) And Chrysostom speaking of the love of God in Christ, Oh, saith he, I am like a man digging in a deep spring; I stand here, and the water riseth up upon me; and I stand there, and still the water riseth upon me. Oh, dive we not into this deep; for here (as in the salt waters), the deeper, the sweeter.
Past finding out ] It is with us here as with hounds at a loss, having neither footsteps nor scent left of the game they pursue ( ανεξιχνιαστοι ). Let it satisfy us for present, that at the last day of judgment we shall see a harmony in this discord of things; and that the reason of God’s ways, now hidden, shall then be made manifest. In the meantime know, that Arcana Dei, Arca Dei (Augustine), secrets of God and the ark of God, of pry not into it, lest ye perish; but hold this for certain, God’s judgments are sometimes secret, always just.
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Ver. 34. Who hath been his counsellor ] Alphonso the wise (the fool rather) was heard blasphemously to say, that if he had been of God’s counsel at the creation, he could have advised and ordered many things much better than now they are. This Alphonso, the tenth of that name, king of Spain, who by a just hand of God upon him deprived of his kingdom, and died in public hatred and infamy.
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Ver. 35. Who hath first given to himJ Do we not owe him all that we have and are? And can a man merit by paying his debts?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Ver. 36. For of him ] As the efficient cause, and "through him" as the administering cause, and "to him" as the final cause, are all things. A wise philosopher could say, that man is the end of all in a semicircle; that is, all things in the world are made for him, and he is made for God.
To whom be glory for ever ] God, saith one, counts the works and fruits that come from us to be ours, because the judgment and resolution of will whereby we do them is ours. This he doth to encourage us. But because the grace whereby we judge and will aright comes from God, ascribe we all to him. So shall he lose no praise, we no encouragement.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 11". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany