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ject Christ. Whence can this be? Particularly the believing Jews, to whom this epistle is addressed, might think it strange, that not only the Gentiles that were strangers to true religion, but their own nation, that was the select people of God, and had the light of his oracles kept in amongst them only, should yet so many of them, yea, and the chief of them, be despisers and haters of Jesus Christ; and that they that were best versed in the law, and so seemed best able to judge of the Messiah foretold, should have persecuted Christ all his life, and at last put him to a shameful death.
That they may know, this makes nothing against him, nor ought to invalidate their faith at all
, but rather indeed testifies with Christ, and so serves to confirm them in believing, the apostle makes use of those prophetical scriptures, that foretel the unbelief and contempt with which the most would entertain Christ; as old Simeon speaks of him, when he was come agreeably to these former predictions, That he should be a sign of contradiction", as he was the promised sign of salvation to believers, so he should be a very mark of enmities and contradictions to the unbelieving world; the places the apostle here useth, suit with his present discourse, and the words cited from Isaiah in the former verse, continuing the resemblance of a corner stone, they are partly taken from Psal. cxviii. partly out of the eighth chapter of Isaiah.
Unto you, &c.] Wonder not that others refuse him, but believe the more for that, because you see the word to be true even in their not believing of it, it is fulfilled and verified by their very rejecting it as false.
And whatsoever are the world's thoughts concerning Christ, that imports not; for they know him not: but you that do indeed believe, i dare appeal to yourselves, your own faith, that you have of him, whether he is not precious to you, if you do not really find him fully answerable to all that is spoken
Å Luke ii. 34.
or unbelievers ; for the word is so near that it may
of him in the word, and to all that you have accordingly believed concerning him.
We are here, 1. To consider the 'opposition of the persons : and then, 2. Of the things spoken of them.
1. For the opposition of the persons, they are opposed under the name of believers, and disobedient, be taken for unbelief, and it is by some sò rendered: and the things are fully as near, as the words that signify them, diobedience and unbelief. 1. Unbelief is itself the grand disobedience. For this is the work of God, that which the gospel mainly commands", That ye believe; therefore the apostle calls it the obedience of faith. And there is nothing indeed more worthy the name of obedience, than the subjection of the mind to receive and believe those supernatural truths that the gospel teaches concerning Jesus Christ. To obey, so as to havé, as the apostle speaks, the impression of that divine pattern stamped upon the heart
, to have the heart delivered up, as the word there is, and laid under it, to receive it. The word here used for disobedience, signifies properly unpersuasion; and nothing can more properly express the nature of unbelief than that; and it is the very nature of our corrupt hearts: we are children of disobedience or unpersuasibleness", altogether incredulous towards God who is truth itself, and pliable as wax in satan's hand; he works in such what he will, as there the apostle expresses. They are most easy of belief to him, that is the very father of lies, as our Saviour calls him, a liar and a murderer from the beginning', murdering by lies, as he did in the beginning
2. Unbelief is radically all other disobedience; for all flows from unbelief. This we least of all suspect; but it is the bitter root of all that ungodliness that abounds amongst us. A right and lively b John vi. 29. c Rom. i. 5. d Rom. vi. 17.
Eph. ii, 2. i John viii. 44.
persuasion of the heart concerning Jesus Christ alters the whole frame of it, casts down its high lofty imaginations, and brings not only the outward actions, but the very thoughts unto the obedience of Christ.
II. As for the things spoken concerning these disobedient unbelievers, these two testimonies taken together have in them these three things ; 1. Their rejection of Christ; 2. Their folly ; 3. Their misery in so doing
1. Their rejection of Christ; they did not receive him, as the Father appointed and designed him, as the foundation and chief corner stone, but slighted him, and threw him by, as unfit for the building; and this did not only the ignorant multitude, but the builders; they that professed to have the skill, and the office or power of building, the doctors of the law, the scribes and pharisees and chief priests, who thought to carry the matter by the weight of their authority, as over balancing the belief of those that followed Christ: Have any of the rulers believed in him? But this people who know not the law are cursed h.
We need not wonder then, that not only the powers of the world are usually enemies to Christ, and that the contrivers of policies, those builders, leave out Christ in their building, but that the pretended builders of the church of God, though they use the name of Christ, and serve their turn with that, yet reject himself, and oppose the power of his spiritual kingdom. There may be wit and learning, and much knowledge of the scriptures amongst those that are haters of the Lord Christ and the power of godliness, and corrupters of the worship of God. It is the spirit of humility and obedience, and saving faith, that teaches men to esteem Christ, and build upon him.
2. But the vanity and folly of those builders opinion appears in this, that they are overpowered by the great architect of the church; his purpose stands, g 2 Cor. x, 5.
h John vii. 48, 49. VOL. I.
Ꭱ ; :
notwithstanding their rejection of Christ, he is still made the head corner-stone. They cast him away by their miscensures and reproaches put upon him, and by giving him up to be crucified, and then cast into the grave, and appointing a stone to be rolled upon this stone, which they had so rejected, that it might appear no more, and so thought themselves sure: but even from thence did he arise, and became the head of the corner. The disciples themselves spake, you know, very doubtfully of their former hopes, We believed this had been he that would have delivered Israel; but he corrected their mistake, first by his word, shewing them the true method of that great work, Ought not Christ to suffer first these things and so enter into glory? And then really, by making himself known to them as risen from the dead. When he was by these rejected, and. lay lowest, then was he nearest his exaltation; as Joseph in the prison was nearest his preferment. And thus is it with the church of Christ; when it is brought to the lowest and most desperate condition, then is deliverance at hand; it prospers, and gains in the event, by all the practices of men against it.' And as this corner stone was fitted to be so, by the very rejection, even so is it with the whole buildįngs it rises the higher the more men seek to demolislı it. . v 3. The misery of them that believe not is expressed in the other word, He is to them a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence; because they will not be saved by him, they shall stumble and fall, and be broken to pieces on him, as it is in Isaiah, and in the evangelists: but how is this? Is he that came to save, become a destroyer of men, he whose name is salvation, proves he destruction to any? He does not pteve such in himself, his primary and proper use is the former, to be a foundation for souls to build and rest upont: but they that instead of building upon him, willistumble, and fall on him, what wonder, being so firm a stone, though they be bro
In Luke xxiv. 21. 26.
ken by their fall; thus we see the mischief of unbelief, that as other sins disable the law, it disables the very gospel to save us, and turns life itself into death to us. And this is the misery, not of a few, but of many in Israel; many that hear of Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, shall lament that ever they heard that sound, and shall wish to have lived and died without it; finding so great an accession to their misery, by the neglect of so great salvation. They are said to stumble at the word, because the things that are therein testified concerning Christ, they labour not to understand and prize aright; but either altogether slight them, and account them foolishness, or misconceive and pervert them.
The Jews stumbled at the meanness of Christ's birth and life, and the ignominy of his death ; not judging of him according to the scriptures; and we in another way think we have some kind of belief, that he is the Saviour of the world; yet not making the scripture the rule of our thoughts concerning him, many of us undo ourselves, and stumble and break our necks upon this rock, mistaking Christ and the way of believing; looking on him as a Saviour at large, and judging that enough, not endeavouring to make him ours, and to embrace him upon the terms of that new covenant, whereof he is Mediator.
Whereunto also they were appointed.] This the apostle adds for the further satisfaction of believers in this point, how it is that so many reject Christ, and stumble at him; telling them plainly, that the secret purpose of God is accomplished in this, having determined to glorify his justice on impenitent sinners, as he shews his rich mercy in them that believe. Here it were easier to lead you into a deep, than to lead you forth again. I will rather stand on the shore, and silently admire it, than enter into it. This is certain, that the thoughts of God are all no less just in themselves than deep and unsoundable by
His justice appears clear in that man's destruction is always the fruit of his own sin: but to give