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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 21
Verse 21. But to Israel he saith. The preceding quotation established the doctrine that the Gentiles were to be called. But there was still an important part of his argument remaining—that the Jews were to be rejected. This he proceeds to establish; and he here, in the language of Isaiah, (Isa 65:2) says that while the Gentiles wound be obedient, the character of the Jews was, that they were a disobedient and rebellious people.
All day long. Continually, without intermission; implying that their acts of rebellion were not momentary; but that this was the established character of the people.
I have stretched forth my hands. This denotes an attitude of entreaty; a willingness and earnest desire to receive them to favour, to invite and entreat. Pr 1:24.
A disobedient. In the Hebrew, rebellious, contumacious. The Greek answers substantially to that; disbelieving, not confiding or obeying.
Gainsaying. Speaking against; resisting, opposing. This is not in the Hebrew, but the substance of it was implied. The prophet Isaiah proceeds to specify in what this rebellion consisted, and to show that this was their character. Isa 65:2-7. The argument of the apostle is this; viz., the ancient character of the people was that of wickedness; God is represented as stretching out his hands in vain; they rejected him, and he was sought and found by others. It was implied, therefore, that the rebellious Jews would be rejected; and, of course, the apostle was advancing and defending no doctrine which was not found in the writings of the Jews themselves. And thus, by a different course of reasoning, he came to the same conclusion which he had arrived at in the first four chapters of the epistle, that the Gentiles and Jews were on the same level in regard to justification before God.
In the closing part of this chapter, the great doctrine is brought forth and defended, that the way of salvation is open for all the world. This, in the time Of Paul, was regarded as a novel doctrine. Hence he is at so much pains to illustrate and defend it. And hence, with so much zeal and self-denial, the apostles of the Lord Jesus went and proclaimed it to the nations. This doctrine is not the less important now. And from this discussion we may learn the following truths:
(1.) the heathen world is in danger without the gospel. They are sinful, polluted, wretched. The testimony of all who visit pagan nations accords most strikingly with that of the apostles in their times. Nor is there any evidence that the great mass of heathen population has changed for the better.
(2.) The provisions of the gospel are ample for them—for all. Its power has been tried on many nations; and its mild and happy influence is seen in meliorated laws, customs, habits; in purer institutions; in intelligence and order; and in the various blessings conferred by a pure religion. The same gospel is fitted to produce on the wildest and most wretched population the same comforts which are now experienced in the happiest part of our own land.
(3.) The command of Jesus Christ remains still the same, to preach the gospel to every creature. That command has never been repealed or changed. The apostles met the injunction, and performed what they could. It remains for the church to act as they did, to feel as they did, and put forth their efforts as they did, in obeying one of the most plain and positive laws of Jesus Christ.
(4.) If the gospel is to be proclaimed everywhere, men must be sent forth into the vast field. Every nation must have an opportunity to say, "How beautiful are the feet of him that preaches the gospel of peace." Young men, strong and vigorous in the Christian course, must give themselves to this work, and devote their lives in an enterprise which the apostles regarded as honourable to them; and which Infinite Wisdom did not regard as unworthy the toils, and tears, and self-denials of the Son of God.
(5.) The church, in training young men for the ministry, in fitting her sons for these toils, is performing a noble and glorious work; a work which contemplates the triumph of the gospel among all nations. Happy will it be when the church shall feel the full pressure of this great truth, that the gospel MAY BE, preached to every son and daughter of Adam; and when every man who enters the ministry shall count it not self-denial, but a glorious privilege to be permitted to tell dying pagan men that a Saviour bled for ALL, sinners. And happy that day when it can be said with literal truth, that their sound has gone out into all the earth; and that as far as the sun in his daily course sheds his beams, so far the Sun of righteousness sheds also his pure and lovely rays into the abodes of men. And we may learn, also, from this,
(6.) that God will withdraw his favours from those nations that are disobedient and rebellious. Thus he rejected the ancient Jews; and thus also he will forsake all who abuse his mercies; who become proud, luxurious, effeminate, and wicked. In this respect it becomes the people of this favoured land to remember the God of their fathers; and not to forget, too, that national sin provokes God to withdraw, and that a nation that forgets God must be punished.
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