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ROMANS, Xi. 25-27.
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. 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
Ir is impossible that any subject can be more interesting than that of the conversion of the Jews. In an age when almost every class of mankind is attracting the benevolent attention of our fellow Christians, it would have been singular indeed if the melancholy situation of the
ancient people of God had escaped their notice. The general command of preaching the gospel to all nations is of itself quite a sufficient authority for attempting their conversion to God, and is imperative on those who may fail to be convinced by many of the additional arguments which may be drawn from their peculiar circumstances. But surely those circumstances are such as greatly to augment the interest we should take in their welfare. For if their former elevation was eminently great, if the benefits they have conferred on the world surpass all calculation, if their present state be, beyond the ordinary condition of unbelievers, degraded and miserable, and yet if the Scriptures bid us to look forward to a time when they are to be restored to more than their pristine happiness, and to lead along with them the happiness of the world; then undoubtedly more motives conspire to stimulaté us in our present benevolent efforts than can be brought to bear on any other charitable exertion whatever. Nor is there any considerable impediment to the operation of these motives except the prejudice and indifference which unhappily prevail on this questionobstacles however which are gradually yielding to that reviving spirit of piety with which God is blessing the church. For the purpose of stimulating our minds to greater ardour on this sub
ject, the language of my text appears to me to be extremely appropriate. For the apostle, having a design to promote humility in the Gentile converts, and to excite their compassion for the rejected house of Israel, cautions them against being wise in their own conceit of those privileges from which the Jews had fallen, and to which the Gentiles had been undeservedly raised, and assures them that blindness had happened only in part unto Israel till the period for the full conversion of the Gentiles should arrive; and that then, according to the word of ancient prophecy, all Israel should be saved.
These words then will afford us the opportunity of directing your attention,
I. TO THE PRESENT STATE of the Jews.
II. TO THEir future pROSPECTS. III. TO OUR CONSEQUENT DUTY.
I. LET US CONSIDER THE PRESENT STATE OF THE JEWS.-Blindness in part is happened unto Israel, is the short but affecting description of the apostle. It includes indeed in a single sentence the source of all that guilt and degradation which have rested for nearly eighteen centuries on this unhappy race. For the word blindness is employed by the apostle in a pregnant sense. It
signifies obduracy as well as ignorance'; it includes a callousness of moral feeling, a stupor of mind, an obstinate contumacy, an utter ignorance of divine things, a sullen depravity of heart. And such, alas! has been the state of the house of Judah, since the period of the Messiah's advent. It began to appear when they rejected the divine mission; it was sealed when they finally spurned the testimony of the Holy Spirit, to the character and glory of the Saviour. Since that period, the veil has been upon their heart. An universal ignorance of their own Scriptures, a disdain of a spiritual Redeemer, an indifference to their guilt, whether as sinners generally, or as those who persist in rejecting their Messiah in particular; a neglect of the typical design of their religious ceremonies, a disregard of the word of prophecy, a hatred to the name of the Lord Jesus and to Christians who glory in his salvation, and a vain reliance on their supposed privileges, as the peculiar people of the Almighty, has marked the Jewish nation. The consequence of this state of mind
1Пúgwois, 1. proprie, obduratio, induratio, concretio in callum, cum v. c. cuti manuum pedumque callus obducitur, eaque crassior et durior redditur. 2. Excæcatio. 3. Ad animum translatum metaphorice significat stuporem animi, ignorantiam et inscitiam rerum divinarum, malignitatem et pravitatem animi, pervicaciam et contumaciam. Vide J. F. Schleusner in loc.