Romans 9


Paul expresses his great sorrow for the unbelief and obstinacy

of the Jews, 1-3.

Whose high privileges he enumerates, 4, 5.

Points out the manner in which God has chosen to communicate the

knowledge of his name to both Jews and Gentiles; and how he

deals, whether in judgment or mercy, with individuals; and

produces the cases of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh,


God shows mercy and judgment as he thinks proper, and none have

a right to find fault with his proceedings, 18-20.

He has the same power over the human race as the potter has over

the clay, 21-23.

The prophets predicted the calling of the Gentiles, and the

rejection of the Jews, 24-29.

The Gentiles have attained to the knowledge of God's method of

saving sinners; while the Jews have not attained this

knowledge, 30, 31.

The reason why the Jews have not attained the salvation provided

for them in the Gospel, 32, 33.


To this and the tenth chapter, Dr. Taylor has prefixed the

following judicious summary:-

The apostle has largely proved in the preceding chapters, that

the grace of God extends to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews;

and that the dispensation of God's mercy was absolutely, and in

itself, free to all who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, in

opposition to the merit of any works, or of conformity to any law

whatever; and that the Gentiles have, by faith, a good title to

the blessings of God's covenant, to which blessings the Jews

cannot have a title any other way. Hitherto the apostle has not

considered the Jews as rejected, except in an indirect way, but

that they had the possibility of continuing in the Church, from

entering into which they should not attempt to prevent the

Gentiles, but allow them to be sharers in the mercies of God; and

hence his language is in sum this: Why may not believing Gentiles

be admitted, pardoned, and saved, as well as you?

But in this chapter, and the two following, the apostle

considers the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom and

covenant of God under the notion of calling or invitation, and of

election or choice: which shows that he views the two parties in a

light different to that in which he had before placed them. The

Gentiles he considers as invited into the kingdom of God, and as

chosen to be his people; and the Jews he considers as left out

and rejected; for as the main body of them had now rejected the

Gospel of Christ, he saw that God was about to unchurch them,

overturn their polity, destroy their temple, and disperse them

over the face of the earth. Thus he knew they would be accursed,

or anathematized from Christ, and reduced to a level with the

heathen nations of the world. And the event has proved that his

declarations were dictated by the Spirit of truth.

It is observable that, agreeably to his delicate manner of

writing, and his nice and tender treatment of his countrymen, he

never mentions their rejection-a subject extremely painful to his

thoughts-otherwise than in a wish that he himself were accursed

from Christ for them, or to prevent them from being accursed from

Christ, (Ro 9:3,) till he comes to Rom. 11, where he has much to

say in their favour, even considered, as at present, rejected.

But it is very evident that his arguments in this chapter rest on

the supposition that the main body of the Jewish nation would be

cast out of the visible kingdom of God; and it is for this reason

that in this and the two following chapters he considers the

reception of any people into the kingdom and covenant of God under

the relative notion of inviting and choosing, or of calling and

election. The Jews were rejected and reprobated; the Gentiles

were chosen and called, or elected. As this is most obviously

the apostle's meaning, it is strange that any should apply his

doctrine to the particular and unconditional reprobation and

election of individuals.

It is upon this rejection of the Jews that the calling and

election of the Gentiles rest. If the Jews be not rejected, but

are still the visible Church and kingdom of God, then the

Gentiles, according to the most proper inference from the

apostle's doctrine, have no right to the blessings of the kingdom.

Instead of being invited or called, they are intruders at the

heavenly feast; and this the unbelieving Jews laboured to prove,

and thus unhinge the believing Gentiles by persuading them that

they were not duly taken into the Church of God; that the Jews

were, and ever must continue to be, the only Church and kingdom of

God, and that they could not be cast off so long as God was

faithful to his promise to Abraham; and that the Gentiles were

most miserably deceived when they supposed they were brought into

that kingdom by faith in Christ, whereas there was no way of

entering it, or of being entitled to its privileges, but by

submitting to the law of Moses. This being the fixed opinion of

the Jews, and the ground on which they opposed the Gentiles and

endeavoured to sap the foundation of their hope of salvation from

the Gospel of Christ, it was therefore a matter of the utmost

importance to be able to prove that the Jews, by rejecting Christ

and his Gospel, were themselves cast out of the Church, and this

in a way perfectly consistent with the truth of the promise made

to Abraham. He had slightly touched on this subject at the

beginning of the third chapter; but it would have broken in too

much on the thread of his discourse to have pursued the argument

there, for which reason he appears to have reserved it to this

place, where he (1) solemnly declares his tenderest affection for

his countrymen, and his real grief of heart for their infidelity

and consequent rejection, Ro 9:1-5; (2) Answers objections

against this rejection, Ro 9:6-23; (3) Proves the

calling of the Gentiles from their own Scriptures, Ro 9:24-30;

(4) Gives the true state and reasons of the rejection of the Jews

and the calling of the Gentiles, Ro 9:30 to Ro 10:14;

(5) Proves the necessity of the apostolic mission to the Gentiles

in order to their salvation, Ro 10:14-21.

And all this was intended at once to vindicate the Divine

dispensations; to convince the infidel Jew; to satisfy the

believing Gentile that his calling or invitation into the Church

of God was valid; to arm him against the cavils and objections of

the unbelieving Jews, and to dispose the Christian Jew to receive

and own the believing Gentile as a member of the family and

kingdom of God, by Divine right, equal to any to which he himself

could pretend. See Taylor's notes, p. 321, &c.

Verse 1. I say the truth in Christ, I lie not] This is one of

the most solemn oaths any man can possibly take. He appeals to

Christ as the searcher of hearts that he tells the truth; asserts

that his conscience was free from all guile in this matter, and

that the Holy Ghost bore him testimony that what he said was true.

Hence we find that the testimony of a man's own conscience, and

the testimony of the Holy Ghost, are two distinct things, and that

the apostle had both at the same time.

As the apostle had still remaining a very awful part of his

commission to execute, namely, to declare to the Jews not only

that God had chosen the Gentiles, but had rejected them because

they had rejected Christ and his Gospel, it was necessary that he

should assure them that however he had been persecuted by them

because he had embraced the Gospel, yet it was so far from being a

gratification to him that they had now fallen under the

displeasure of God, that it was a subject of continual distress to

his mind, and that it produced in him great heaviness and

continual sorrow.

Verse 3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from

Christ] This and the two preceding verses are thus paraphrased by

Dr. Taylor: I am so far from insisting on the doctrine (of the

rejection of the Jews) out of any ill-will to my countrymen, that

I solemnly declare, in the sincerity of my heart, without the

least fiction or dissimulation-and herein I have the testimony of

my own conscience, enlightened and directed by the Spirit of

God-that I am so far from taking pleasure in the rejection of the

Jewish nation, that, contrariwise, it gives me continual pain and

uneasiness, insomuch that, as Moses formerly (when God proposed to

cut them off, and in their stead to make him a great nation,

Ex 32:10) begged that he himself should rather die than that the

children of Israel should be destroyed, Ex 32:32, so I could even

wish that the exclusion from the visible Church, which will happen

to the Jewish nation, might fall to my own share, if hereby they

might be kept in it and to this I am inclined by natural

affection, for the Jews are my dear brethren and kindred.

Very few passages in the New Testament have puzzled critics and

commentators more than this. Every person saw the perfect

absurdity of understanding it in a literal sense, as no man in his

right mind could wish himself eternally damned in order to save

another, or to save even the whole world. And the supposition

that such an effect could be produced by such a sacrifice, was

equally absurd and monstrous. Therefore various translations have

been made of the place, and different solutions offered. Mr.

Wakefieid says: "I see no method of solving the difficulty in this

verse, which has so exercised the learning and ingenuity of

commentators, but by the ευχομαιειναι of Homer, I profess myself

to be; and he translates the passage in a parenthesis, thus: (for

I also was once an alien from Christ) on account of my brethren,

&c. But how it does appear that Saul of Tarsus was ever an alien

from Christ on account of his kinsmen, is to me perfectly

indiscernible. Let us examine the Greek text. ηυχομηνγαραυτος

εγωαναθεμαειναιαποτουχριστουυπερτωναδελφωνμου, 'For I did

wish myself to be an anathema FROM Christ (υπο, BY Christ, as some

ancient MSS. read) for my brethren.' As ηυχομην is the 1st per.

sing. of the imperfect tense, some have been led to think that St.

Paul is here mentioning what had passed through his own mind when

filled with the love of God, he learned the rejection of the Jews;

and that he only mentions it here as a thing which, in the

effusions of his loving zeal, had been felt by him

inconsiderately, and without any Divine afflatus leading him to

it; but that he does not intimate that now he felt any such

unreasonable and preposterous wish." I am afraid this is but ill

calculated to solve the difficulty.

The Greek word αναθεμα, anathema, properly signifies any thing

devoted to God, so as to be destroyed: it answers to the Hebrew

cherem, which the Septuagint translate by it, and means

either a thing or person separated from its former state or

condition, and devoted to destruction. In this sense it is used,

De 7:25, 26; Jos 6:17, 18; 7:12.

It is certain that the word, both among the Hebrews and Greeks,

was used to express a person devoted to destruction for the public

safety. In Midrash hanneelam, in Sohar Chadash, fol. 15, Rabbi

Chaijah the elder said: "There is no shepherd found like unto

Moses, who was willing to lay down his life for the sheep; for

Moses said, Ex 32:32, If thou wilt not pardon their sin, blot me,

I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." Such

anathemas, or persons devoted to destruction for the public good,

were common among all ancient nations. See the case of M. Curtius

and Decius among the Romans. When a plague took place, or any

public calamity, it was customary to take one of the lowest or

most execrable of the people, and devote him to the Dii Manes or

infernal gods. See proofs in Schleusner, and see the observations

at the end of the chapter. This one circumstance is sufficient to

explain the word in this place. Paul desired to be devoted to

destruction, as the Jews then were, in order to redeem his

countrymen from this most terrible excision. He was willing to

become a sacrifice for the public safety, and to give his life to

redeem theirs. And, as Christ may be considered as devoting them

to destruction, (see Matt. 24,) Paul is willing that in their

place Christ should devote him: for I could wish myself, αναθεμα

ειμαιαπο (or, as some excellent MSS. have it, υπο) τουχριστου,

to be devoted BY Christ, to that temporal destruction to which he

has adjudged the disobedient Jews, if by doing so I might redeem

them. This, and this alone, seems to be the meaning of the

apostle's wish.

Verse 4. Who are Israelites] Descendants of Jacob, a man so

highly favoured of God, and from whom he received his name

Israel-a prince of God, Ge 32:28; from which name his descendants

were called Israelites, and separated unto God for his glory and

praise. Their very name of Israelites implied their very high

dignity; they were a royal nation; princes of the most high God.

The adoption] The Israelites were all taken into the family of

God, and were called his sons and first-born, Ex 4:22;

De 14:1; Jer 31:9; Ho 11:1; and this adoption took place when

God made the covenant with them at Horeb.

The glory] The manifestation of God among them; principally by

the cloud and pillar, and the Shekinah, or Divine presence,

appearing between the cherubim over the mercy-seat. These were

peculiar to the Jews; no other nation was ever thus favoured.

The covenants] The covenants made with Abraham, both that

which relates to the spiritual seed, and that which was peculiar

to his natural descendants, Ga 3:16, 17; which covenants were

afterwards renewed by Moses, De 29:1. Some suppose that the

singular is here put for the plural, and that by covenants we are

to understand the decalogue, which is termed berith, or

covenant, De 4:13. But it is more likely that the apostle

alludes to the great covenant made with Abraham, and to its

various renewals and extensions at different times afterwards, as

well as to its twofold design-the grant of the land of Canaan, and

the rest that remains for the people of God.

The giving of the law] The revelation of God by God himself,

containing a system of moral and political precepts. This was

also peculiar to the Jews; for to no other nation had he ever

given a revelation of his will.

The service] λατρεια. The particular ordinances, rites, and

ceremonies of their religious worship, and especially the

sacrificial system, so expressive of the sinfulness of sin and the

holiness of God.

The promises] The land of Canaan, and the blessings of the

Messiah and his kingdom; which promises had been made and often

repeated to the patriarchs and to the prophets.

Verse 5. Whose are the fathers] Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,

Joseph, the twelve patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, &c.,

&c., without controversy, the greatest and most eminent men that

ever flourished under heaven. From these, is an uninterrupted and

unpolluted line, the Jewish people had descended; and it was no

small glory to be able to reckon, in their genealogy, persons of

such incomparable merit and excellency.

And of whom, as concerning the flesh Christ came] These

ancestors were the more renowned, as being the progenitors of the

human nature of the MESSIAH. Christ, the Messiah, κατασαρκα,

according to the flesh, sprang from them. But this Messiah was

more than man, he is God over all; the very Being who gave them

being, though he appeared to receive a being from them.

Here the apostle most distinctly points out the twofold nature

of our Lord-his eternal Godhead and his humanity; and all the

transpositions of particles, and alterations of points in the

universe, will not explain away this doctrine. As this verse

contains such an eminent proof of the deity of Christ, no wonder

that the opposers of his divinity should strive with their utmost

skill and cunning to destroy its force. And it must be truly

painful to a mind that has nothing in view but truth, to see the

mean and hypocritical methods used to elude the force of this

text. Few have met it in that honest and manly way in which Dr.

Taylor, who was a conscientious Arian, has considered the subject.

"Christ," says he, "is God over all, as he is by the Father

appointed Lord, King, and Governor of all. The Father hath

committed all judgement to the Son, Joh 5:22;

has given all things into his hands, Mt 28:18;

he is Lord of all, Ac 10:36.

God has given him a name above every name, Php 2:9;

above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also

in that which is to come; and has put all things (himself

excepted, 1Co 15:27)

under his feet and given him to be head over all things,

Eph 1:21, 22. This is our Lord's supreme Godhead. And that he

is ευλογητος, blessed for ever, or the object of everlasting

blessing, is evident from Re 5:12, 13:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power-and blessing

and honour be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the

Lamb for ever and ever. Thus it appears the words may be justly

applied to our blessed Lord." Notes, p. 329. Yes, and when we

take other scriptures into the account, where his essential

Godhead is particularly expressed, such as Col 1:16, 17:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that

are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or

dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created

BY him, and FOR him: and he is BEFORE all things, and BY him do

all things consist; we shall find that he is not God by

investiture or office, but properly and essentially such; for it

is impossible to convey in human language, to human apprehension,

a more complete and finished display of what is essential to

Godhead, indivisible from it, and incommunicable to any

created nature, than what is contained in the above verses. And

while these words are allowed to make a part of Divine revelation,

the essential Godhead of Jesus Christ will continue to be a

doctrine of that revelation.

I pass by the groundless and endless conjectures about

reversing some of the particles and placing points in different

positions, as they have been all invented to get rid of the

doctrine of Christ's divinity, which is so obviously acknowledged

by the simple text; it is enough to state that there is no

omission of these important words in any MS. or version yet


Verse 6. Not as though the word of God hath taken none

effect.] A Jew might have objected, as in Ro 3:3: "Is not God

bound by his faithfulness to continue the Jews as his peculiar

Church and people, notwithstanding the infidelity of the major

part of them? If they are brought to a level with the Gentiles,

will it not follow that God hath failed in the performance of his

promise to Abraham? Ge 17:7, 8:

I will establish my covenant between me and thee for an

everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and thy seed after

thee." To which it may be answered: This awful dispensation of

God towards the Jews is not inconsistent with the veracity of the

Divine promise; for even the whole body of natural born Jews are

not the whole of the Israelites comprehended in the promise.

Abraham is the father of many nations; and his seed is not only

that which is of the law, but that also which is of the faith of

Abraham, Ro 4:16, 17.

The Gentiles were included in the Abrahamic covenant as well as

the Jews; and therefore the Jews have no exclusive right to the

blessings of God's kingdom.

Verse 7. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, &c.]

Nor can they conclude, because they are the natural descendants of

Abraham, that therefore they are all of them, without exception,

the children in whom the promise is to be fulfilled.

But, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.] The promise is not

confined to immediate natural descent, but may be accomplished in

any part of Abraham's posterity. For Abraham had several sons

besides Isaac, Ge 25:1, 2,

particularly Ishmael, who was circumcised before Isaac was born,

and in whom Abraham was desirous that the promise should be

fulfilled, Ge 17:18, and in him God might have fulfilled the

promise, had he so pleased; and yet he said to Abraham, Ge 21:12:

Not in Ishmael, but in Isaac, shall thy seed be called.

Verse 8. That is, They which are the children of the flesh]

Whence it appears that not the children who descend from Abraham's

loins, nor those who were circumcised as he was, nor even those

whom he might expect and desire, are therefore the Church and

people of God; but those who are made children by the good

pleasure and promise of God, as Isaac was, are alone to be

accounted for the seed with whom the covenant was established.

Verse 9. For this is the word of promise, &c.] That is, this

is evidently implied in the promise recorded Ge 18:10:

At this time I will come, saith God, and exert my Divine power,

and Sarah, though fourscore and ten years old, shall have a son;

which shows that it is the sovereign will and act of God alone,

which singles out and constitutes the peculiar seed that was to

inherit the promise made to Abraham.

It should be considered that the apostle, in this and the

following quotations, does not give us the whole of the text which

he intends should be taken into his argument, but only a hint or

reference to the passages to which they belong; directing us to

recollect or peruse the whole passage, and there view and judge of

the argument.

That he is so to be understood appears from the conclusion he

draws, Ro 9:16:

So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,

but of God that showeth mercy. In his arguments, Ro 9:7, 8, &c.,

he says not one word of Abraham's willing Ishmael to be the seed

in whom the promise might be fulfilled; nor of Isaac's willing

Esau; nor of Moses' willing and interceding that the Israelites

might be spared; nor of Esau's running for venison; but by

introducing these particulars into his conclusion, he gives us to

understand that his quotations are to be taken in connection with

the whole story, of which they are a part; and without this the

apostle's meaning cannot be apprehended.

The same may be said of his conclusion, Ro 9:18:

Whom he will he hardeneth: hardeneth is not in his argument, but

it is in the conclusion. Therefore hardening is understood in

the argument, and he evidently refers to the case of Pharaoh. The

generality of the Jews were well acquainted with the Scripture,

and a hint was sufficient to revive the memory of a whole passage.

-Taylor, p. 330.

Verse 10. And not only this] A Jew might object: "Ishmael was

rejected, not by the sovereign will of God, but because he was the

son of the handmaid, or bond-woman, and therefore unworthy to be

the peculiar seed; but observe, this was not the only limitation

of the seed of Abraham with regard to inheriting the promise, for

when Rebecca was with child by that one person of Abraham's issue

to whom the promise was made, namely, our father Isaac, she went

to inquire of the Lord, Ge 25:22, 23:

And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two

manner of PEOPLE shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one

PEOPLE shall be stronger than the other PEOPLE; and the elder

shall serve the younger. That is, the posterity of the younger

shall be a nation much more prosperous and happy than the

posterity of the elder.

Verse 11. For the children being not yet born] As the word

children is not in the text, the word nations would be more

proper; for it is of nations that the apostle speaks, as the

following verses show, as well as the history to which he refers.

Neither having done any good] To merit the distinction of

being made the peculiar people of God; nor evil, to deserve to be

left out of this covenant, and the distinguishing national

blessings which it conferred; that the purpose of God according to

election might stand-that such distinctions might appear to depend

on nothing but God's free choice, not of works, or any desert in

the people or nations thus chosen; but of the mere purpose of him

who calleth any people he pleases, to make them the depositories

of his especial blessings, and thus to distinguish them from all


Verse 12. The elder shall serve the younger] These words,

with those of Malachi, Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated,

are cited by the apostle to prove, according to their typical

signification, that the purpose of God, according to election,

does and will stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; that

is, that the purpose of God, which is the ground of that election

which he makes among men, unto the honour of being Abraham's seed,

might appear to remain unchangeable in him; and to be even the

same which he had declared unto Abraham. That these words are

used in a national and not in a personal sense, is evident from

this: that, taken in the latter sense they are not true, for Jacob

never did exercise any power over Esau, nor was Esau ever subject

to him. Jacob, on the contrary, was rather subject to Esau, and

was sorely afraid of him; and, first, by his messengers, and

afterwards personally, acknowledged his brother to be his lord,

and himself to be his servant; see Ge 32:4; 33:8, 13. And hence

it appears that neither Esau nor Jacob, nor even their

posterities, are brought here by the apostle as instances of any

personal reprobation from eternity: for, it is very certain that

very many, if not the far greatest part, of Jacob's posterity were

wicked, and rejected by God; and it is not less certain that some

of Esau's posterity were partakers of the faith of their father


From these premises the true sense of the words immediately

following, Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated, Mal 1:2, 3,

fully appears; that is, that what he had already cited from Moses

concerning the two nations, styled by the names of their

respective heads, Jacob and Esau, was but the same in substance

with what was spoken many years after by the Prophet Malachi. The

unthankful Jews had, in Malachi's time, either in words or in

their heart, expostulated with God, and demanded of him wherein he

had loved them? I have loved you, saith the Lord: yet ye say,

Wherein hast thou loved us? Mal 1:2-5. To this the Lord

answers: Was not Esau Jacob's brother? Yet I loved Jacob and

hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the

dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are

impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places;

thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw

down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The

people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. And your

eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from

the border of Israel.

1. It incontestably appears from these passages that the

prophet does not speak at all of the person of Jacob or Esau, but

of their respective posterities. For it was not Esau in person

that said, We are impoverished; neither were his mountains nor

heritage laid waste. Now, if the prophet speaks neither of the

person of the one nor of the person of the other, but of their

posterity only, then it is evident that the apostle speaks of them

in the same way.

2. If neither the prophet nor the apostle speaks of the persons

of Jacob or Esau, but of their posterity, then it is evident that

neither the love of God to Jacob, nor the hatred of God to Esau,

were such, according to which the eternal states of men, either in

happiness or misery, are to be determined; nor is there here any

Scriptural or rational ground for the decree of unconditional

personal election and reprobation, which, comparatively, modern

times have endeavoured to build on these scriptures. For, 1. It

is here proved that Esau is not mentioned under any personal

consideration, but only as the head of his posterity. 2. The

testimony of Scripture amply proves that all Esau's posterity were

not, even in this sense, reprobated; nor all Jacob's posterity

elected. 3. Neither does that service, or subjugation to Jacob,

which the Divine oracle imposed on Esau, import any such

reprobation as some contend for; as the servant may be elected,

while the master himself is in a state of reprobation. 4. Were it

even granted that servitude did import such a reprobation, yet it

is certain that Esau, in person, never did serve Jacob. 5. Nor

does the hatred of God against Esau import any such reprobation of

the person of Esau, because it is demonstrable that it related,

not to Esau personally, but to his posterity. 6. The scope of the

apostle's reasoning is to show that God is the sovereign of his

own ways, has a right to dispense his blessings as he chooses, and

to give salvation to mankind, not in the ways of their devising,

but in that way that is most suitable to his infinite wisdom and


Therefore, 1. He chose the Jewish people from all others, and

revealed himself to them. Thus they were the elect, and all the

nations of mankind reprobate. 2. When the fulness of the time

came he revealed himself also to the Gentiles, who gladly received

the Gospel: and the Jews rejecting it, were cast off. Thus the

elect became reprobate, and the reprobate, elect. 3. He

published to all mankind that the pardon of sin could and should

be obtained ONLY by faith in his Son Jesus, and not by any

obedience to any law. And the Jews, the descendants of Jacob, who

rejected this way of salvation, became precisely like the

Edomites, the descendants of Esau; they builded, but God pulled

down; their mountains and heritage are NOW laid waste for the

dragons of the wilderness; and they properly may now be called the

border of wickedness, a people against whom the Lord hath

indignation for ever: they have rejected the Lord that bought

them, and so have brought upon themselves swift destruction.

7. That no personal, absolute, eternal reprobation of Esau can

have been intended, we learn from this; that he was most amply

reconciled to his brother, who had so deeply wronged and offended

him, by depriving him of his birthright and his blessing: and his

having forgiven his brother his trespasses, was no mean proof that

God had forgiven him. See our Lord's words, Mt 6:14. Therefore

there can be assigned no competent ground of his damnation, much

less of his personal reprobation from all eternity. 8. And were

such a personal reprobation intended, is it not shocking to

suppose that the God of endless mercy, in whose sight his pious

parents had found favour, should inform them, even before their

child was born, that he had absolutely consigned him, by an

irrevocable decree to eternal damnation? A message of such horrid

import coming immediately from the mouth of God, to a tender,

weak, and delicate woman, whose hour of travail with two children

was just at hand, could not have failed to produce abortion, and

destroy her life. But the parents perfectly understood their God,

and saw no decree of reprobation in his message; two manner of

nations are in thy womb-and the elder shall serve the younger.

9. There is no reason, worthy the most wise and gracious God, why

he should make known to the world such a thing concerning Esau,

who was yet unborn, that he had reprobated him from all eternity.

Such a revelation could be of no spiritual advantage or

edification to mankind, but rather of a malignant influence, as

directly occasioning men to judge hardly of their Maker, and to

conceive of him as no faithful Creator; as having no care, no

love, no bowels of compassion towards the workmanship of his own

hands. See Goodwin's Exposition: and see my notes on Gen. 27.

Verse 14. What shall we say then?] To what conclusion shall

we come on the facts before us? Shall we suggest that God's

bestowing peculiar privileges in this unequal manner, on those who

otherwise are in equal circumstances, is inconsistent with

justice and equity? By no means. Whatever God does is right,

and he may dispense his blessings to whom and or what terms he


Verse 15. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy, &c.] The

words of God to Moses, Ex 33:19, show that God has a right to

dispense his blessings as he pleases; for, after he had declared

that he would spare the Jews of old, and continue them in the

relation of his peculiar people, when they had deserved to have

been cut off for their idolatry, he said: I will make all my

goodness pass before thee; and I will proclaim the name of the

Lord before thee; and I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy;

and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. As if

he had said: I will make such a display of my perfections as shall

convince you that my nature is kind and beneficent; but know, that

I am a debtor to none of my creatures. My benefits and blessings

are merely from my own good will: nor can any people, much less a

rebellious people, challenge them as their due in justice or

equity. And therefore I now spare the Jews; not because either

you, who intercede for them or they themselves have any claim upon

my favour, but of my own free and sovereign grace I choose to show

them mercy and compassion. I will give my salvation in my own way

and on my own terms. He that believeth on my Son Jesus shall be

saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned. This is God's

ultimate design; this purpose he will never change; and this he

has fully declared in the everlasting Gospel. This is the grand

DECREE of reprobation and election.

Verse 16. So then it is not of him that willeth, &c.] I

conclude, therefore, from these several instances, that the making

or continuing any body of men the peculiar people of God, is

righteously determined; not by the judgment, hopes, or wishes of

men, but by the will and wisdom of God alone. For Abraham judged

that the blessing ought, and he willed, desired, that it might be

given to Ishmael; and Isaac also willed, designed, it for his

first-born, Esau: and Esau, wishing and hoping that it might be

his, readily went, ran a hunting for venison, that he might have

the blessing regularly conveyed to him: but they were all

disappointed-Abraham and Isaac, who willed, and Esau who ran: for

God had originally intended that the blessing of being a great

nation and distinguished people should, of his mere good pleasure,

be given to Isaac and Jacob, and be confirmed in their posterity;

and to them it was given. And when by their apostasy they had

forfeited this privilege, it was not Moses' willing, nor any prior

obligation God was under, but his own sovereign mercy, which

continued it to them.

Verse 17. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh] Instead of

showing the Israelites mercy he might justly have suffered them to

have gone on in sin, till he should have signalized his wisdom and

justice in their destruction; as appears from what God in his word

declares concerning his dealings with Pharaoh and the Egyptians,

Ex 9:15, 16:

For now, saith the Lord, I had stretched forth my hand, (in the

plague of boils and blains,) and I had smitten thee and thy people

with the pestilence; and thou hadst (by this plague) been cut off

from the earth; (as thy cattle were by the murrain;) but in very

deed for this cause have I raised thee up-I have restored thee to

health by removing the boils and blains, and by respiting thy

deserved destruction to a longer day, that I may, in thy instance,

give such a demonstration of my power in thy final overthrow, that

all mankind may learn that I am God, the righteous Judge of all

the earth, the avenger of wickedness. See this translation of the

original vindicated in my notes on Ex 9:15, 16; and, about the

hardening of Pharaoh, see the notes on those places where the

words occur in the same book.

Verse 18. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will] This is

the apostle's conclusion from the facts already laid down: that

God, according to his own will and wisdom, in perfect

righteousness, bestows mercy; that is to say, his blessings upon

one part of mankind, (the Jews of old, and the Gentiles of the

present time,) while he suffers another part (the Egyptians of

old, and the Jews of the present day) to go on in the abuse of his

goodness and forbearance, hardening themselves in sin, till he

brings upon them a most just and exemplary punishment, unless this

be prevented by their deep repentance and general return to God

through Jesus the promised, the real Messiah.

Verse 19. Why doth he yet find fault?] The apostle here

introduces the Jew making an objection similar to that in Ro 3:7:

If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his

glory, that is, if God's faithfulness is glorified by my

wickedness, why yet am I also judged as a sinner? Why am I

condemned for that which brings so much glory to him? The

question here is: If God's glory be so highly promoted and

manifested by our obstinacy, and he suffers us to proceed in our

hardness and infidelity, why does he find fault with us, or punish

us for that which is according to his good pleasure?

Verse 20. Nay but, O man, who art thou] As if he had said:

Weak, ignorant man, darest thou retort on the infinitely good and

righteous GOD? Reflect on thyself; and tell me, after thou hast

abused the grace of God, and transgressed his laws, wilt thou

cavil at his dispensations? God hath made, created, formed the

Jewish nation; and shall the thing formed, when it hath corrupted

itself, pretend to correct the wise and gracious Author of its

being, and say, Why hast thou made me thus? Why hast thou

constituted me in this manner? Thou hast done me wrong in giving

me my being under such and such conditions.

Old John Goodwin's note on this passage is at least curious: "I

scarce (says he) know any passage of the Scripture more frequently

abused than this. When men, in the great questions of

predestination and reprobation, bring forth any text of Scripture

which they conceive makes for their notion, though the sense which

they put upon it be ever so uncouth and dissonant from the true

meaning of the Holy Ghost, yet, if any man contradict, they

frequently fall upon him with-Nay but, O man; who art thou? As if

St. Paul had left them his heirs and successors in the

infallibility of his spirit! But when men shall call a solid

answer to their groundless conceits about the meaning of the

Scriptures, a replying against God, it savours more of the spirit

who was seen falling like lightning from heaven, than of His, who

saw him in this his fall."

Verse 21. Hath not the potter power over the clay] The

apostle continues his answer to the Jew. Hath not God shown, by

the parable of the potter, Jer 18:1, &c., that he may justly

dispose of nations, and of the Jews in particular, according as he

in his infinite wisdom may judge most right and fitting; even as

the potter has a right, out of the same lump of clay, to make one

vessel to a more honourable and another to a less honourable use,

as his own judgment and skill may direct; for no potter will take

pains to make a vessel merely that he may show that he has power

to dash it to pieces? For the word came to Jeremiah from the

Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there

I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the

potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work upon the wheels.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the

potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the

potter to make it. It was not fit for the more honourable place

in the mansion, and therefore he made it for a less honourable

place, but as necessary for the master's use there, as it could

have been in a more honourable situation. Then the word of the

Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you

as this potter? Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so

are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall

speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up,

and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom

I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil

that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak

concerning a nation-to build and to plant it; is it do evil in my

sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good

wherewith I said I would benefit them. The reference to this

parable shows most positively that the apostle is speaking of men,

not individually, but nationally; and it is strange that men

should have given his words any other application with this

scripture before their eyes.

Verse 22. What if God, willing to show his wrath] The apostle

refers here to the case of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and to which

he applies Jeremiah's parable of the potter, and, from them, to

the then state of the Jews. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were

vessels of wrath-persons deeply guilty before God; and by their

obstinate refusal of his grace, and abuse of his goodness, they

had fitted themselves for that destruction which the wrath, the

vindictive justice of God, inflicted, after he had endured their

obstinate rebellion with much long-suffering; which is a most

absolute proof that the hardening of their hearts, and their

ultimate punishment, were the consequences of their obstinate

refusal of his grace and abuse of his goodness; as the history in

Exodus sufficiently shows. As the Jews of the apostle's time had

sinned after the similitude of the Egyptians, hardening their

hearts and abusing his goodness, after every display of his

long-suffering kindness, being now fitted for destruction, they

were ripe for punishment; and that power, which God was making

known for their salvation, having been so long and so much abused

and provoked, was now about to show itself in their destruction as

a nation. But even in this case there is not a word of their

final damnation; much less that either they or any others were,

by a sovereign decree, reprobated from all eternity; and that

their very sins, the proximate cause of their punishment, were the

necessary effect of that decree which had from all eternity doomed

them to endless torments. As such a doctrine could never come

from God, so it never can be found in the words of his apostle.

Verse 23. And that he might make known] God endured with much

long-suffering the vessels of wrath: 1. To show his wrath, and to

make his power known. And also, 2. That he might make known the

riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy.

Which he had afore prepared unto glory] The Jews were fitted

for destruction long before; but the fittest time to destroy them

was after he had prepared the believing Gentiles unto glory. For

the rod of the Messiah's strength was to be sent out of Zion,

Ps 110:2. The Jewish nation was to supply the first preachers of

the Gospel, and from Jerusalem their sound was to go forth into

all the earth. Therefore the Jewish state, notwithstanding its

corruptions, was to be preserved till the Messiah came, and even

till the Gospel preached by the apostles had taken deep root in

the Gentile world. Another thing which rendered the time when the

Jewish polity was overthrown the most proper, was this, because

then the immediate occasion of it was the extensiveness of the

Divine grace. They would not have the Gentiles admitted into the

Church of God; but contradicted, and blasphemed, and rejected the

Lord that bought them: thus, then, the extensiveness of the Divine

grace occasioned their infidelity,

Ro 9:33; 10:3; 11:11, 12, 15, 28, 30.

Thus the Jews were diminished by that abundance of grace which has

enriched the Gentiles. And so the grace of God was illustrated;

or, so God made known the riches of his glory on the vessels of

mercy-the apostles and primitive believers among the Jews, and the

Gentile world, which received the Gospel by the preaching of the

apostles and their successors.

Verse 24. Even us, whom he hath called] All the Jews and

Gentiles who have been invited by the preaching of the Gospel to

receive justification by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and have

come to the Gospel feast on this invitation.

Verse 25. As he saith also in Osee] It is a cause of not a

little confusion, that a uniformity in the orthography of the

proper names of the Old and New Testaments has not been preserved.

What stranger to our sacred books would suppose that the Osee

above meant the Prophet Hosea, from whom, Ho 2:23, this quotation

is taken: I will have mercy on her that had not obtained mercy;

and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my

people. The apostle shows that this calling of the Gentiles was

no fortuitous thing, but a firm purpose in the Divine mind, which

he had largely revealed to the prophets; and by opposing the

calling of the Gentiles, the Jews in effect renounced their

prophets, and fought against God.

Verse 26. And it shall come to pass, &c.] These quotations

are taken out of Hosea, Ho 1:10, where (immediately after God had

rejected the ten tribes, or kingdom of Israel, Ho 1:9,

then saith God, Call his name Lo-ammi; for ye are not my people,

and I will not be your God,) he adds, yet the number of the

children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot

be measured nor numbered: and it shall come to pass, that in the

place in which it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there

it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. As

if he had said: The decrease of numbers in the Church, by God's

utterly taking away the ten tribes, (Ho 1:6,) shall be well

supplied by what shall afterwards come to pass, by calling the

Gentiles into it. They, the rejected Jews, which had been the

people of God, should become a Lo-ammi-not my people. On the

contrary, they, the Gentiles, who had been a Lo-ammi-not my

people, should become the children of the living God. Again,

Ho 2:23:

I will sow her (the Jewish Church) unto me in the earth, (alluding

probably to the dispersion of the Jews over all the Roman empire;

which proved a fruitful cause of preparing the Gentiles for the

reception of the Gospel,) and, or moreover, I will have mercy upon

her, the body of the believing Gentiles, that had not obtained

mercy. See Taylor.

Verse 27. Esaias also crieth] The apostle pursues his

argument, which had for its object the proof that God, for their

infidelity, had rejected the great body of the Jews, and that but

a few of them would embrace the Gospel, and be saved from that

besom of destruction which was now coming to sweep them and their

state away. Dr. Taylor paraphrases this and the following verses

thus: And that but a small remnant of the Jews shall now be taken

into the Church, is agreeable to former dispensations; for the

Prophet Isaiah expressly declares concerning the Israelites,

Isa 10:22, 23:

Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the

sea, (for the promise to Abraham has been amply fulfilled,) only a

remnant shall be saved; the consumption decreed shall overflow in

righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption,

even determined in the midst of all the land.

Verse 28. For he will finish the work, and cut it short, &c.]

These appear to be forensic terms, and refer to the conclusion of

a judicial proceeding; the Lord has tried and found them guilty,

and will immediately execute upon them the punishment due to their


Verse 29. And as Esaias said before] What God designs to do

with the Jews at present, because of their obstinacy and

rebellion, is similar to what he has done before, to which the

same prophet refers, Isa 1:9:

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we

should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto

Gomorrah: i.e. had not God, who commands and overrules all the

powers in heaven and earth, in mercy preserved a very small

remnant, to keep up the name and being of the nation, it had been

quite cut off and extinct, as Sodom and Gomorrah were. Thus we

learn that it is no new thing with God to abandon the greatest

part of the Jewish nation, when corrupt, and to confine his favour

and blessing to a righteous, believing few.

Instead of remnant, sarid, both the Septuagint and the

apostle have σπερμα, a seed, intimating that there were left just

enough of the righteous to be a seed for a future harvest of true

believers. So the godly were not destroyed from the land; some

remained, and the harvest was in the days of the apostles.

Verse 30. What shall we say then?] What is the final

conclusion to be drawn from all these prophecies, facts, and

reasonings? This: That the Gentiles which followed not after

righteousness, &c. This, with the succeeding verses, together

with what belongs to the same subject in the beginning of the

following chapter, I have explained at large in the notes on

Ro 1:17, to which I must refer the reader; and shall content

myself in this place with Dr. Taylor's general paraphrase. We may

suppose the apostle to express himself to the following effect.

Thus I have vindicated the rejection of the Jews and the calling

of the Gentiles, with regard to the Divine veracity and justice.

Now let us turn our thoughts to the true reason and state of the

affair considered in itself. And, in the first place, what just

notion ought we to have of the calling of the Gentiles and the

rejection of the Jews? I answer: The true notion of the calling

or inviting of the Gentiles is this: whereas they had no

apprehension of being reinstated in the privileges of God's

peculiar kingdom, and consequently used no endeavours to obtain

that blessing, yet, notwithstanding, they have attained to

justification, to the remission of sins, and the privileges of

God's people: not on account of their prior worthiness and

obedience, but purely by the grace and mercy of God, received by

faith on their part. And so, by embracing the scheme of life

published by the Gospel, they are adopted into the family and

Church of God. Thus the Gentiles are called or invited.

Verse 31. But Israel, which followed after] But the Jews, who

have hitherto been the people of God, though they have been

industrious in observing a rule by which they supposed they could

secure the blessings of God's peculiar kingdom, yet have not come

up to the true and only rule by which those blessings can be


Verse 32. Wherefore?] And where lies their mistake? Being

ignorant of God's righteousness-of his method of saving sinners by

faith in Christ, they went about to establish their own

righteousness-their own method of obtaining everlasting salvation.

They attend not to the Abrahamic covenant, which stands on the

extensive principles of grace and faith; but they turn all their

regards to the law of Moses. They imagine that their obedience to

that law gives them a right to the blessings of the Messiah's

kingdom. But, finding that the Gospel sets our special interest

in God and the privileges of his Church on a different footing,

they are offended, and refuse to come into it.

Verse 33. As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion] Christ,

the Messiah, is become a stone of stumbling to them: and thus what

is written in the prophecy of Isaiah is verified in their case,

Isa 8:14; 28:16:

Behold, I lay in Sion, i.e. I shall bring in my Messiah; but he

shall be a widely different person from him whom the Jews expect;

for, whereas they expect the Messiah to be a mighty secular

prince, and to set up a secular kingdom, he shall appear a man of

sorrows and acquainted with griefs; and redeem mankind, not by

his sword or secular power, but by his humiliation, passion, and

death. Therefore they will be offended at him and reject him, and

think it would be reproachful to trust in such a person for


And whosoever believeth on him] But so far shall any be from

confusion or disappointment who believes in Christ; that on the

contrary, every genuine believer shall find salvation-the

remission of sins here, and eternal glory hereafter. See the

notes on Ro 1:16, 17,

and Dr. Taylor's paraphrase and notes.

1. ON the subject of vicarious punishment, or rather the case

of one becoming an anathema or sacrifice for the public good, in

illustration of Ro 9:3, I shall make no apology for the following

extracts, taken from an author whose learning is vast, and whose

piety is unblemished.

"When mankind lost sight of a beneficent Creator, the God of

purity, and consecrated altars to the sun, the moon, the stars; to

demons; and to hero gods, under the names of Moloch, Ashtaroth and

Baalim; these objects of their worship led them to the most horrid

acts of cruelty, and to every species of obscenity; even their

sons and their daughters they burnt in the fire to their gods,

more especially in seasons of distress. Such was the conduct of

the king of Moab; for, when he was besieged in his capital, and

expected he should fall into the hands of his enemies, he took his

eldest son, who should have reigned in his stead, and offered him

for a burnt offering on the wall.

With these facts thus related from the Scriptures, all

accounts, ancient and modern, exactly correspond. Homer, who it

must be recollected wrote more than nine hundred years before the

Christian era, although he describes chiefly the common sacrifices

of quadrupeds, yet gives one account of human victims. But in

succeeding generations, when it was conceived that one great and

most malignant spirit was the proper object of their fear, or that

subordinate provincial gods, equally malignant, nesciaque humanis

precibus mansuescere corda, disposed of all things in our world,

men bound their own species to the altar, and in circumstances of

national distress presented such as they valued most, either their

children or themselves. Herodotus informs us that, when the army

of Xerxes came to the Strymon, the magi offered a sacrifice of

white horses to that river. On his arrival at the Scamander, the

king ascended the citadel of Priam; and having surveyed it, he

ordered a thousand oxen to be sacrificed to the Trojan Minerva.

But on other occasions he chose human victims; for we are informed

that, when, having passed the Strymon, he reached the nine ways,

he buried alive nine young men and as many virgins, natives of the

country. In this he followed the example of his wife, for she

commanded fourteen Persian children, of illustrious birth, to be

offered in that manner to the deity who reigns beneath the earth.

Thus, in the infancy of Rome we see Curtius, for the salvation of

his country, devoting himself to the infernal gods, when, as it

appears, an earthquake occasioned a deep and extensive chasm in

the forum, and the augurs had declared that the portentous opening

would never close until what contributed most to the strength and

power of the Romans should be cast into it; but that by such a

sacrifice they would obtain immortality for their republic. When

all men were at a loss how to understand this oracle, M. Curtius,

armed as for battle, presented himself in the forum, and explained

it thus: 'What is more valuable to Rome than her courage and her

arms?' So saying, he urged forward his impetuous steed, and

buried himself in the abyss. His grateful countrymen admired his

fortitude, and attributed the increasing splendour of their state

to the sacrifice he made. Animated by this example, Decius, in

the war between Rome and Latium, having solemnly offered himself

as an expiatory sacrifice, rushed single into the thickest ranks

of the astonished Latins, that by his death he might appease the

anger of the gods, transfer their indignation to the enemy, and

secure the victory to Rome. Conspectus ab utroque acie aliquanto

augustior humano visu, sicut Caelo missus, piaculum omnis deorum

irae, qui pestem ab suis aversam in hostes ferret.

Here we see distinctly marked the notion of vicarious

suffering, and the opinion that the punishment of guilt may be

transferred from the guilty to the innocent. The gods call for

sacrifice-the victim bleeds-atonement is made-and the wrath of the

infernal powers falls in its full force upon the enemy. Thus,

while Themistocles at Salamine was offering sacrifice, three

captives, the sons of Sandance, and nephews to Xerxes, all

distinguished for their beauty, elegantly dressed and decked, as

became their birth, with ornaments of gold, being brought on board

his galley, the augur, Euphrantides, observing at the very instant

a bright flame ascending from the altar, whilst one was sneezing

on the right, which he regarded as a propitious omen, he seized

the hand of Themistocles, and commanded that they should all be

sacrificed to Bacchus, (ωμηστηδιονυσω-cruel and relentless

Bacchus! Homer has the same expression,) predicting, on this

occasion, safety and conquests to the Greeks. Immediately the

multitude with united voices called on the god, and led the

captive princes to the altar, and compelled Themistocles to

sacrifice them.

So when AEneas was to perform the last kind office for his

friend Pallas, he sacrificed (besides numerous oxen, sheep, and

swine) eight captives to the infernal gods. In this he followed

the example of Achilles, who had caused twelve Trojans of high

birth to bleed by the sacerdotal knife, over the ashes of his

friend Patroclus.

A hundred feet in length, a hundred wide,

The glowing structure spreads on every side,

High on the top the manly course they lay,

And well-fed sheep and sable oxen slay;

Achilles covered with their fat the dead,

And the piled victims round the body spread;

Then jars of honey and of fragrant oil

Suspends around, low bending o'er the pile.

Four sprightly coursers with a deadly groan

Pour forth their lives, and on the pyre are thrown

Of nine large dogs, domestic at his board,

Fell two, selected to attend their lord:

The last of all, and horrible to tell,

Sad sacrifice! twelve Trojan captives fell;

On these the rage of fire victorious preys,

Involves and joins them in one common blaze.

Smeared with the bloody rites, he stands on high,

And calls the spirit with a cheerful cry,

All hail, Patroclus! let thy vengeful ghost

Hear, and exult on Pluto's dreary coast.

POPE'S Homer, IL. xxiii. ver. 203

How much was it to be lamented, that even civilized natures

should forget the intention for which sacrifices were originally

instituted! The bad effects, however, would not have been either

so extensive or so great, had they not wholly lost the knowledge

of Jehovah; and taken, as the object of their fear, that evil and

apostate spirit whose name, with the utmost propriety is called

Apollyon, or the destroyer, and whose worship has been universally

diffused at different periods among all the nations of the earth.

The practice of shedding human blood before the altars of their

gods was not peculiar to the Trojans and the Greeks; the Romans

followed their example. In the first ages of their republic they

sacrificed children to the goddess Mania; in later periods,

numerous gladiators bled at the tombs of the patricians, to

appease the manes of the deceased. And it is particularly noticed

of Augustus, that, after the taking of Perusia, he sacrificed on

the ides of March, three hundred senators and knights to the

divinity of Julius Caesar.

The Carthaginians, as Diodorus Siculus informs us, bound

themselves by a solemn vow to Chronus that they would sacrifice to

him children selected from the offspring of their nobles; but in

process of time they substituted for these the children of their

slaves, which practice they continued, till, being defeated by

Agathocles, tyrant of Sicily, and attributing their disgrace to

the anger of the god, they offered two hundred children, taken

from the most distinguished families in Carthage; besides which,

three hundred citizens presented themselves, that by their

voluntary death they might render the deity propitious to their

country. The mode of sacrificing these children was horrid in the

extreme, for they were cast into the arms of a brazen statue, and

from thence dropped into a furnace, as was practised among the

first inhabitants of Latium. It was probably in this manner the

Ammonites offered up their children to Moloch. The Pelasgi at one

time sacrificed a tenth part of all their children, in obedience

to an oracle.

The Egyptians, in Heliopolis, sacrificed three men every day to

Juno. The Spartans and Arcadians scourged to death young women;

the latter to appease the wrath of Bacchus, the former to gratify

Diana. The Sabian idolaters in Persia offered human victims to

Mithras, the Cretans to Jupiter, the Lacedemonians and Lusitanians

to Mars, the Lesbians to Bacchus, the Phocians to Diana, the

Thessalians to Chiron.

The Gauls, equally cruel in their worship, sacrificed men,

originally to Eso and Teutate, but latterly to Mercury, Apollo,

Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva. Caesar informs us that, whenever they

thought themselves in danger, whether from sickness, or after any

considerable defeat in war, being persuaded that unless life be

given for life the anger of the gods can never be appeased, they

constructed wicker images of enormous hulk, which they filled with

men, who were first suffocated with smoke, and then consumed by

fire. For this purpose they preferred criminals; but when a

sufficient number of these could not be found, they supplied the

deficiency from the community at large.

The Germans are said to have differed from the Gauls in having

no druids, and in being little addicted to the service of the

altar. Their only gods were the sun, Vulcan, and the moon; yet,

among the objects of their worship was Tuisco their progenitor and

Woden the hero of the north. It is true that neither Caesar nor

Tacitus say any thing of their shedding blood in sacrifice; yet

the probability is, that, like the Saxons and other northern

nations, they not only offered blood, but took their choicest

victims from the human race.

In Sweden the altars of Woden smoked incessantly with blood:

this flowed most abundantly at the solemn festivals celebrated

every ninth year at Upsal. Then the king, attended by the senate

and by all the great officers about his court, entered the temple,

which glittered on all sides with gold, and conducted to the altar

nine slaves, or in time of war nine captives. These met the

caresses of the multitude, as being about to avert from them the

displeasure of the gods, and then submitted to their fate: but in

times of distress more noble victims bled; and it stands upon

record that when Aune their king was ill, he offered up to Woden

his nine sons, to obtain the prolongation of his life.

The Danes had precisely the same abominable customs. Every

ninth year, in the month of January, they sacrificed ninety-nine

men, with as many horses, dogs, and cocks; and Hacon, king of

Norway, offered his own son to obtain from Woden the victory over

Harold, with whom he was at war.

In Russia the Slavi worshipped a multitude of gods, and erected

to them innumerable altars. Of these deities Peroun, that is, the

thunderer, was the supreme, and before his image many of their

prisoners bled. Their god of physic, who also presided over the

sacred fires, shared with him; and the great rivers, considered as

gods, had their portion of human victims, whom they covered with

their inexorable waves. But Suetovid, the god of war, was the god

in whom they most delighted; to him they presented annually, as a

burnt offering, three hundred prisoners, each on his horse; and

when the whole was consumed by fire, the priests and people sat

down to eat and drink till they were drunk. It is worthy of

remark, that the residence of Suetovid was supposed to be in the


To this luminary the Peruvians, before they were restrained by

their Incas, sacrificed their children.

Among the sacred books of the Hindoos, the Ramayuna demands

particular attention, because of its antiquity, the extent of

country through which it is revered, and the view which it

exhibits of the religion, doctrine, mythology, customs, and

manners of their remote progenitors.

In this we have a golden age of short duration, succeeded by a

state of universal wickedness and violence, which continued till

the deity, incarnate, slew the oppressors of the human race, and

thus restored the reign of piety and virtue.

This poem contains a description of the Ushwamedha, or most

solemn sacrifice of the white horse, instituted by Swuymbhoo, that

is, by the self-existent. At the celebration of this festival,

the monarch, as the representative of the whole nation,

acknowledged his transgressions; and when the offerings were

consumed by the sacrificial fire, he was considered as perfectly

absolved from his offences. Then follows a particular account of

a human sacrifice, in which the victim, distinguished for filial

piety, for resignation to his father's will, and for purity of

heart, was bound by the king himself and delivered to the priest;

but at the very instant when his blood was to have been shed, this

illustrious youth was by miracle delivered; and the monarch, as

the reward of his intended sacrifice, received virtue, prosperity,

and fame.

It is well known that the Brahmins have in all ages had their

human victims, and that even in our days thousands have

voluntarily perished under the wheels of their god

Jaghernaut."-Townsend's character of Moses, p. 76.

Though in the preceding notes I have endeavoured to make every

point as clear and plain as possible; yet it may be necessary, in

order to see the scope of the apostle's design more distinctly, to

take a general survey of the whole. No man has written with more

judgment on this epistle than Dr. Taylor, and from his notes I

borrow the principal part of the following observations.

The principal thing that requires to be settled in this chapter

is, what kind of election and reprobation the apostle is arguing

about: whether election, by the absolute decree and purpose of

God, to eternal life; and reprobation, by a like absolute decree,

to eternal misery; or only election to the present privileges and

external advantages of the kingdom of God in this world; and

reprobation, or rejection, as it signifies the not being favoured

with those privileges and advantages. I think it demonstrably

clear that it is the latter election and rejection the apostle is

discoursing on, and not the former; as the following

considerations appear to me to demonstrate.

I. The subject of the apostle's argument is manifestly such

privileges as are enumerated, Ro 9:4, 5:

Who are Israelites, to whom pertains the adoption, &c. From

these privileges he supposes the Jews had fallen, or would fall;

or, that for a long time they would be deprived of the benefit of

them. For it is with regard to the loss of those privileges that

he was so much concerned for his brethren, his kinsmen according

to the flesh, Ro 9:2, 3. And it is with reference to their being

stripped of these privileges that he vindicates the word and

righteousness of God, Ro 9:24.

Not as though the word of God had taken no effect, or failed, &c.;

proving that God, according to his purpose of election, was free

to confer them upon any branch of Abraham's family: consequently,

those privileges were the singular blessings which by the purpose

of God according to election, not of works, but of him that

calleth, were conferred upon Jacob's posterity. But those

privileges were only such as the whole body of the Israelites

enjoyed in this world, while they were the Church and people of

God, and such privileges as they might afterwards lose, or of

which they might be deprived; therefore the election of Jacob's

posterity to those privileges was not an absolute election to

eternal life.

II. Agreeably to the purpose of God according to election, it

was said unto Rebecca, The elder shall serve the younger, meaning

the posterity of the elder and the younger; Ge 25:23:

The Lord said unto her, two NATIONS are in thy womb, and two

manner of PEOPLE shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one

PEOPLE shall be stronger than the other PEOPLE; and the elder

shall serve the younger. These are the words which signify the

purpose of God according to election: therefore the election

refers to Jacob's posterity, or the whole nation of Israel. But all

the nation of Israel were not absolutely elected to eternal life:

therefore the purpose of God according to election referred to

temporal and not to eternal blessings, and was a privilege of

which they might be deprived.

III. Agreeably to the purpose of God according to election, it

was said to Rebecca, The elder shall serve the younger; but to

serve, in Scripture, never meant to be eternally damned in the

world to come: consequently the opposite blessing, bestowed upon

the posterity of the younger, could not be eternal salvation, but

certain privileges in this life; therefore the purpose according

to election refers to those privileges, and the servitude does not

imply everlasting perdition.

IV. The election the apostle speaks of is not of works,

Ro 9:11,

but of the mere will of God, who calls and invites, and refers to

no qualifications in the persons thus elected and called. But in

no part of the sacred writings is final salvation said to be given

to any who are not qualified by holiness to receive and enjoy it;

therefore election to eternal glory cannot be what the apostle

speaks of in this epistle.

V. The election of which the apostle speaks took place, first

in Abraham and his seed, before his seed was born; and then

(secluding Ishmael and all his posterity) in Isaac and his seed

before they were born. And then, secluding Esau and all his

posterity, in Jacob and his seed before they were born. But the

Scripture no where represents eternal life as bestowed upon any

family or race of men in this manner; therefore this election

mentioned by the apostle cannot be an election unto eternal life.

VI. Vessels of mercy, Ro 9:23, are manifestly opposed to

vessels of wrath, Ro 9:22.

The vessels of mercy are the whole body of the Jews and

Gentiles, who were called or invited into the kingdom of God

under the Gospel, Ro 9:24;

consequently, the vessels of wrath are the whole body of the

unbelieving Jews. So in Ro 9:30, 31,

the whole body of believing Gentiles, who, according to God's

purpose of election, had attained justification, are opposed to

the whole body of the Israelites, who came short of it. But men

shall not be received into eternal life or subjected to eternal

damnation at the last day in collective bodies, but according as

particular persons in those bodies have acted well or ill;

therefore, this election is not of these particular bodies unto

eternal life, &c.

VII. Whoever carefully peruses the ninth, tenth, and eleventh

chapters, will find that those who have not believed, Ro 11:31,

are the present rejected Jews, or that Israel to whom blindness

hath happened in part, Ro 11:25;

the same who fell, and on whom God hath shown severity, Ro 11:22;

the same with the natural branches whom God spared not, Ro 11:21;

who were broken off from the olive tree, Ro 11:20, 19, 17;

who were cast away, Ro 11:15;

who were diminished and fallen, Ro 11:12;

who had stumbled, Ro 11:11;

who were a disobedient and, gainsaying people, Ro 10:21;

who, being ignorant of God's righteousness, went about to

establish their own, Ro 10:3;

because they sought righteousness, not by faith, but as it were by

the works of the law, Ro 9:32, and therefore had not attained to

the law of righteousness, Ro 9:31; the same people spoken of in

all these places, are the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,

Ro 9:22,

and the same for whom Paul had great heaviness and continual

sorrow of heart, Ro 9:2, 3;

-in short, they are the unbelieving nation, or people of Israel;

and it is with regard to the reprobation or rejection of this

people that he is arguing and vindicating the truth, justice, and

wisdom of God in this ninth chapter.

Now, if we turn back and review those three chapters, we shall

find that the apostle, Ro 11:1, heartily desired and prayed that

those same reprobated and rejected people of Israel might be

saved; he affirms that they had not stumbled so as to fall finally

and irrecoverably, Ro 11:11;

that they should have again a fulness, Ro 11:12;

that they should be received again into the Church, Ro 11:16;

that a holiness still belonged to them, Ro 11:16;

that if they did not still abide in unbelief, they should be

graffed into their own olive tree again, Ro 11:23, 24;

that blindness had happened unto them only for a time, till the

fulness of the Gentiles be come in, Ro 11:25;

and then he proves from Scripture, that all Israel-all those

nations at present under blindness, shall be saved, Ro 11:26,27;

that, as touching the (original) election, they were still beloved

for the fathers', the patriarchs', sake, Ro 11:28;

that, in their case, the gifts and calling of God were without

repentance, Ro 11:29;

that through our (the believing Gentiles') mercy, they shall at

length obtain mercy, Ro 11:31.

All these several things are spoken of that Israel, or the body

of people concerning whose rejection the apostle argues in the

ninth chapter. And therefore the rejection which he there argues

about cannot be absolute reprobation to eternal damnation, but to

their being, as a nation, stripped of those honours and privileges

of God's peculiar Church and kingdom in this world, to which, at a

certain future period, they shall again be restored.

VIII. Once more: whoever carefully peruses those three chapters

will find that the people who in times past believed not God, but

have NOW obtained mercy through the unbelief of the Jews,

Ro 11:30, are the whole body of the believing Gentiles; the same

who were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and

were graffed, contrary to nature, into the good olive tree,

Ro 11:24, 17;

the same to whom God hath shown goodness, Ro 11:22;

the WORLD that was reconciled, Ro 11:15; the GENTILES who were

enriched by the diminishing of the Jews, Ro 11:12;

to whom salvation came through their fall, Ro 11:11;

the Gentiles who had attained to righteousness, (justification,)

Ro 9:30;

who had not been God's people, nor believed; but now were his

people, beloved, and children of the living God, Ro 9:25, 26;

even US whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, out also of the

Gentiles, Ro 9:24,

who are the vessels of mercy, on whom God has made known the

riches of his glory, Ro 9:23;

the vessels made unto honour, Ro 9:21.

He speaks of the same body of men in all these places; namely, of

the believing Gentiles principally, but not excluding the small

remnant of the believing Jews, who were incorporated with them.

And it is this body of men, whose calling and election he is

proving, in whose case the purpose of God according to election

stands good, Ro 9:11,

and who are the children of the promise that are counted for the

seed, Ro 9:8:

these are the election, or the elect.

Now, concerning this called or elect body of people, or any

particular person belonging to this body, the apostle writes thus,

Ro 11:20-22:

Well, because of unbelief, they (the Jews) were broken off,

(reprobated, rejected,) and thou standest (in the Church among

God's called and elect) by faith; be not high minded, but fear.

For if God spared not the natural branches, (the Jews,) take heed,

lest he also spare not thee, (the Gentiles.) Behold therefore the

goodness and severity of God: on them (the Jews) which fell,

severity; but towards thee (believing Gentiles) goodness, if thou

continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off,

rejected, reprobated. This proves that the calling, and election,

for which the apostle is arguing in the ninth chapter, is not

absolute election unto eternal life, but to the present privileges

of the Church-the honours and advantages of God's peculiar people;

which election, through unbelief and misimprovement, may be

rendered void and come to nothing. See Dr. Taylor, p. 330, &c.

From thus carefully considering the apostle's discourse, and

taking in his scope and design, and weighing the different

expressions he uses, in connection with the Scripture facts and

Scripture phrases employed in describing those facts, we must be

fully convinced that the doctrines of eternal, absolute,

unconditional election and reprobation have no place here, and

that nothing but a pre-established creed, and a total inattention

to the apostles scope and design, could ever have induced men to

bend these scriptures to the above purpose, and thus to endeavour

to establish as articles of faith, doctrines which, far from

producing glory to God in the highest, and peace and good will

among men, have filled the Church of God with contention, set

every man's sword against his brother, and thus done the work of

Apollyon in the name of Christ. If men will maintain these and

such like for Scriptural doctrines, it is but reasonable to

request that it be done in the spirit of the Gospel.

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