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from those privileges which they had, or might have enjoyed."* But the fact is, they have never been broken off from these privileges, and proffers. They have still the whole of the Old Testament scriptures in their hands. And those of the new, are in the hands of some of them, and at the command of all. The Gospel was preached to them, even in Judea, years after this Epistle was written. It has been preached to them in every age since. At this day, wherever they: are dispersed, through Europe, Asia, and America, salvation is, with greater or less clearness, overtured to them. Conversions are, in fact, made from a. mong this people. How are they made ? Without opportunity, and without the proffer of salvation ? Then faith does not come by hearing, nor hearing by the word. By what means is the promise, that they shall be graffed in again, to be executed ? Must it not be by the ministration of the word ? Gospel advantages and means, must be brought to them prior to their being graffed in. Therefore, they must be enjoyed while they are broken off. An interpretation, which is ab, surd in itself, and contradicted by undeniable facts, cannot be admitted.
2. That from which the unbelieving Jews were broken off, cannot be Jesus Christ, personally and separately considered, as an object of faith and hope. This is the account which Dr. Baldwin gives of the olive tree, in his last publication, page 240. “By the good olive tree, therefore, we rather think, Christ himself is in. tended.” But this interpretation leads him at once into a sad self-contradiction. For, putting the ques. tion, which he perceived would immediately arise in the reader's mind, “ If so, it may be asked, how can
· * * Or might have enjoyed.” What! broken off from something to which they never were united ? But Mr. Andrews endeavors to defend this, by an ap. peal to the words of Christ. " There shall be weeping, and gmashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out." But this is a poor defence. For these persons were, in fact, in the kingdom of God. What absurdity, to speak of their being thrust out, unless they had been previously in ? A parallel placo we have in Matthew viii. 12. "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out &c."
it be said, that the unbelieving Jews were branches (as they must have been in some sense) or they could not be broken off ?" He answers, “They were so considered in consequence of their visible profession. As a nation, they professed to be his people.”. Then the nation of the Jews, were a nation of professing Chris. tians. This is either to concede every thing to us ; that the nation of the Jews was the visible kingdom of the Messiah ; or it is a declaration without any meaning. If by professing people, be intended, that they were professed believers in Christ, as the twelve di. sciples were, this is notoriously contrary to fact. For,* from first to last, they openly rejected him. “He came unto his own, and his own received hiin not.".
They did not receive him by any kind of visible submission; but perpetually opposed, and at last crucified him. Besides, How could they be cut off from a visible profession? A man may profess as long as he lives; let him be in one state or another, Did the thousands of unbelieving Jews now existing, ever make such a profession ? Certainly not. No part of the world, have been more openly inimical to Jesus, than this peoa ple. ? 3. That from which the unbelieving Jews were broken off, was not the society of the elect, as such, or those who, according to God's eternal predestination, become enriched with the adoption of sons. For these all are branches which abide in the vine, and must infallibly be saved. They are vessels of mercy, toward whom, this severity is not shewn.
4. It does not seem satisfactory to say, with Mr. Pet. ter Edwards, that the olive tree represents simply a visible Church state. It is not denied, it is one of the principles of this Treatise, that some of these unbelieving Jews were in a visible Church state, and cut off from it by open unbelief. And dismemberment in this sense is undoubtedly involved in that dispensation by, which they were broken off. But does a simple, visible Church state, come up fully to the idea conveyed by the metaphor of the olive tree ? Does this state
munity, is o Moreover be thou wast afri
.comprehend the fatness of which the believing Gen. tiles partake ? Does it distinguish living, from nomin. al Christians? Are all who are in this state subjects of saving faith ? Is this, and this only, the state into which the unbelieving Jews are to be grafted again ? Is . this all that is implied in the effect of the vail's being taken * from the heart, and their turning to the Lord ? Would the salvation of all Israel follow of course ? I confess myself not satisfied with this explanation. And am constrained, therefore, to adopt another idea, viz,
5. That from which the unbelieving Jews were broken off was the Society of Israel, without any respect to the distinction of visible and invisible membership. . Let this matter be a little explained. It has appeared from passages, which have been introduced, and there are a multitude of others of a like kind, that Israel, as an entire community, is often addressed under the notion! of a single person. “ Moreover he will bring uponi thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of, and they shall cleave unto thee.” This language: expresses a complete unity. All over the scripture, injunctions, predictions, promises, and threatenings are addressed to this society, in the second person singular, as though it were an individual, existing through the succeesive periods of time. This mode of speaking, while it marks the identity and unity of the Society with peculiar force, seems to exclude the distinction of visible and invisible membership, though it really exists. In a manner corresponding with which, our: Lord says, John xv. 1, 2. "I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every: branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." 5th verse, “I am the vine, ye are the branches." Here the Savior identifies his followers with himself ; all of them without distinc. tion. He and his people are one person, as much as the vine and the branches are one vine. Yet some, of these followers of his, who are in him, according to the metaphor, as much, and in the same sense, as the
others, are dead, unproductive branches. The others. are vigorous. They partake of the life and fatness of the vine, and bear fruit. · The vine, and the olive treć are evidently parallel figures. They both represent subjects of which unity is predicated. The olive tree, then, as used by the Apostle, must be designed to represent Israel, as a body, without any respect to visible and invisible membership, in regard to individuals, Accordingly Israel simply considered is referred to expressly in the context, without any respect to such a distinction. “ 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.” This explanation is confirmed by the nature of the other fig. ure the Apostle introduces. * “ If the first fruits be holy, the lump is also holy.” It is agreeable to the introductory verse of the chapter, which is undoubtedly to be used as a key for the opening of the whole chapter. " I say then hath God cast away his people ?", He doth not distinguish, and say, visible or invisible people ; but people indefinitely, as one society. “God forbid.” This people continues. The explanation is confirmed by the remark of the Apostle in the 25th verse; "blindness, in part, is happened to Israel ;" (to this one body.) With this explanation, and as far as I can see with no other, the whole process of the metaphor, and the whole context are reconcileable. To Israel the Gentile world is opposed. From the Gentile world, as a wild olive, a body of Idolaters, the believe ing Gentiles were taken, and inserted into Israel. Un. belief is the thing which cuts off from Israel, aş it ever had done. Gentiles become inserted by faith. Israel is, holiness to the Lord ; and in that respect, i, e. in regard to its peculiar character, and its being the subjest of the blessing, is justly represented by the fatness of the olive tree. Abraham and Christ are both of this Israel; the one the Father, the other the seed, to whom ultimately the promises were made ; and in whom they are yea and amen. The unbelieving Jews,were natural branches of this one tree; or naturally belonged to
Israel, as they descended from this common stock: When they shall cease to be unbelievers, they shall be brought into Israel again, and take their natural position. But if this shall be true of them, and we have the absolute promise of God that it shall, certainly Israel will be in being, as the original stock, into which they may be reinserted. *
If the reader should be satisfied with this explana. tion of the figure of the olive tree, he will agree, that it. is undeniable proof, of the continuity of the ancient Israel, as the spiritual inheritance of Jehovah. If he should not, still evidence will be furnished, in the connexion, of this truth. No construction can possibly be put upon it, which shall annihilate this evidence. For there are branches which remain, and they stand on the stock on which they originally grew. These are the remnant, in which Israel is perpetuated. If it be supposed that the Abrahamic covenant is represent. .ed by the olive tree, this will result in the same con:
clusion. For Israel, as an indissolvable society, is es tablished upon that covenant.
- Another passage, proving the actual continuity of Is: rael, is found in the 3d chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, at the beginning. The writer of this Epistle, generally supposed to be Paul, is addressing him. self to believing descendants from Abraham. To them he says, “Wherefore; holy brethern, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle, and high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ; who was faithful to
him that appointed him ; as also Moses was faithful in - all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, as he which hath builded the house, hath more honor than the house." Here Mo. ses is considered as belonging to that one temple of grace, which Jesus Christ has reared. If he belonged to it, than did all the true Israel. The Apos. tle adds in the 6th verse. "But Christ, ás a son over his own house, (the house is but one) whose house
* Dr. Doddridge seems to coincide with this idea. Though his paraphrase is by no means unambiguous or critical.