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39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

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39. For the promise appertaineth unto you. It was requisite that this should be expressly added, that the Jews might certainly think and persuade themselves that the grace of Christ did belong as well to them as to the apostles. And Peter proveth it thus, because the promise of God was made unto them. For we must always look unto this, because [that] we cannot otherwise know the will of God save only by his word. But it is not sufficient to have the general word, unless we know that the same is appointed for us. Therefore Peter saith, that those benefits which they see in him and his fellows in office were in times past promised to the Jews; because this is required necessarily for the certainty of faith, that every one be fully persuaded of this, that he is comprehended in the number of those unto whom God speaketh. Finally, this is the rule of a true faith, when I am thus persuaded that salvation is mine, because that promise appertaineth unto me which offereth the same. And hereby we have also a greater confirmation, when as the promise is extended unto those who were before afar off. For God had made the covenant with the Jews, (Exodus 4:22.) If the force and fruit thereof come also unto the Gentiles, there is no cause why the Jews should doubt of themselves, but that they shall find the promise of God firm and stable.

And we must note these three degrees, that the promise was first made to the Jews, and then to their children, and last of all, that it is also to be imparted to the Gentiles. We know the reason why the Jews are preferred before other people; for they are, as it were, the first begotten in God’s family, yea, they were then separated from other people by a singular privilege. Therefore Peter observeth a good order, when he giveth the Jews the pre-eminence. Whereas he adjoineth their children unto them, it dependeth upon the words of the promise: I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed after thee, (Genesis 17:7,) where God doth reckon the children with the fathers in the grace of adoption.

This place, therefore, doth abundantly refute the manifest error of the Anabaptists, which will not have infants, which are the children of the faithful, to be baptized, as if they were not members of the Church. They espy a starting hole in the allegorical sense, 130130     “Effugium in allegorico sensu captant,” they attempt evasion by giving an allegorical meaning. and they expound it thus, that by children are meant those which are spiritually begotten. But this gross impudency doth nothing help them. It is plain and evident that Peter spoke thus because God did adopt one nation peculiarly. And circumcision did declare that the right of adoption was common even unto infants. Therefore, even as God made his covenant with Isaac, being as yet unborn, because he was the seed of Abraham, so Peter teacheth, that all the children of the Jews are contained in the same covenant, because this promise is always in force, I will be the God of your seed.

And to those which are afar off. The Gentiles are named in the last place, which were before strangers. For those which refer it unto those Jews which were exiled afar off, (and driven) into far countries, they are greatly deceived. For he speaketh not in this place of the distance of place; but he noteth a difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, that they were first joined to God by reason of the covenant, and so, consequently, became of his family or household; but the Gentiles were banished from his kingdom. Paul useth the same speech in the second chapter to Ephesians, (Ephesians 2:11,) that the Gentiles, which were strangers from the promises, are now drawn near, through Jesus Christ, unto God. Because that Christ (the wall of separation being taken away) hath reconciled both (the Jews and Gentiles) unto the Father, and coming, he hath preached peace unto those which were nigh at hand, and which were afar off. Now we understand Peter’s meaning. For to the end he may amplify the grace of Christ, he doth so offer the same unto the Jews, that he saith the Gentiles are also partakers thereof. And therefore he useth this word call, as if he should say: Like as God hath gathered you together into one peculiar people heretofore by his voice, so the same voice shall sound everywhere, that those which are afar off may come and join themselves unto you, when as they shall be called by a new proclamation.




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