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A man is said to be wise in his own conceits when, in the absence of real knowledge and information, he persuades himself that he does understand, and, pleased with his fancied discoveries, vaunts his own false conceits in the room of true wisdom. To prevent this, St. Paul would unfold a mystery.
A mystery signifies some hidden truth, some secret in the plan or proceeding of God which revelation can alone explain. The mystery was this: this partial blindness or hardness (for the apostle admits not that it was universal) was only to last“ till the fulness of the Gentiles was come in," " and so," or, “and then all Israel shall be saved.” By the word “ fulness” is intended, I conceive, that remnant which was then begun to be gathered, and still is being gathered, by the preaching of the Gospel. They are a body of people taken to "fill up,” as it were, the gap or scissure made in Israel by the cutting off of so many
of the natural branches: when the number decreed shall be completed, then will the end come of the present dispensation of Christ's kingdom, which will be succeeded by a more glorious dispensation, to commence with the general restoration of Israel.
Some, by " the fulness of the Gentiles," understand their coming in, in a mass, in contradistinction to this gathering of a thinly scattered people, which has hitherto been all the real effect of the preaching of the Gospel in the Gentile world. That such an event will take place is clear from prophecy; but then the conversion of all nations is an event predicted as subsequent to the restoration of Israel; but the “ fulness of the Gentiles" here spoken of, will have come in previously to that event. Besides, the use of the word we render “fulness," in the New Testament, for the mass or generality, in opposition It appears, from another comment upon this psalm, in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, " that the Holy Ghost is not speaking of the station which the first man, Adam, was made to assume, at his creation, over the inferior animals; but that he is speaking of the second man, the Lord from heaven - of his taking our nature upon him, and so becoming inferior for a short time, as to that nature, to “ the thrones, and principalities, and powers,” whom his own hand had made, and whom guilty men were worshipping as gods. Lower than the angels was he, as man : lower than the good angels, for they were employed to protect his feeble humanity, and appeared to strengthen him; lower than the bad angels, for they continually harassed him in his path, and, in their permitted hour, were suffered to triumph in his death.
In consequence, however, of his meritorious obedience,
“ the Son of Man," he was in that nature to be exalted far above all intellectual beings; and, in his rise, was to exalt to the same eminence the humble objects of his redemption : "For unto the angels," says the apostle, “ he hath not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak : but one, in a certain place, testifieth, saying, What is man,” &c. &c. After quoting the passage, he continues : “ For in that he put all in subjection under him; he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him: but we see Jesus, who was made, for a little while, lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that he, by the grace of God, should taste of death for every one.' For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation
We cannot but remark also, at the close of this eleventh chapter to the Romans, how the apostle is led to contemplate this restoration of the natural descendants of Abraham as the consummation of all the plan of redemption. For it is on this occasion that he exclaims, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" as though in the winding up of the history of Israelites and Gentiles - as the dispensation of the kingdom bears upon them respectively, you saw the development of all the mystery of providence and redemption. First, during the unbelief of the ancient people, the remnant from among the Gentiles obtain mercy, are raised at that era from a state of total darkness and unbelief by the almighty power of God. So, hereafter, from a similar state of darkness and unbelief, shall the ancient people of God be raised up by the same almighty power. Thus through the Gentiles' mercy they will obtain mercy: that is, I conceive through a similar exercise of mercy.-An apostate people, the Gentile churches, will be given up to judgment — and God will be “ found of them that sought him not, and made manifest to them that asked not for him" - Israel now up in unbelief.”
Heb. ix. 27, 28; Tit. ii. 11; with 2 Tim. iv. 6, and
1 Thess. i, 9; iii. 5.
Some expressions in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, respecting the exposition of the eighth
psalm, and the putting in subjection of the world to come, not to angels, but to the Son of Man, we have already anticipated, in illustration of the fifteenth chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, I shall only further quote, from this to the Hebrews, the twentyseventh and eighth verses of the ninth chapter :
“ And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
This plainly contrasts the business of the first with the business of the second advent. At the first, the Redeemer came to die, that the many for whom he was made an offering might not die, but be quickened unto everlasting life: at the second, he comes to his waiting family, not with sin -- the sins of his people imputed to him, that he might become a sin-offering for them; but in another character, as their great Deliverer - “ the Lord ,
. from heaven." And as his death saved them from the bitterness of death, so his coming again saves them from the judgment to come. For, as we have learnt before, both with respect to them that wake and with respect to them that sleep, the second coming of Christ delivers them from among those that are to abide the judgment of the strictness of justice, and from the vengeance to be poured upon the ungodly.
The Scriptures already considered will enable us to perceive, without comment, the bearing and true application of the following, Tit. i. 11, &c :
“ For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and righteously, and and their services, “ God is all in all.” There is nothing but God, nothing but manifested Deity to them.
With respect to the manhood, which is taken into God, in personal union with the eternal Son, to use a Scriptural figure, they are married to it. That glorified manhood is now their possession, their fruition, their bond of union with God; they are raised, as far as mere creatures can, to a level with it; are " conformed to the image of God's only begotten Son;" they see him as he is, and are like him. So Christ prays, “ That they may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me; and the glory that thou gavest me I have given theni, that they may be one even as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” *
These “ vessels of mercy" can now, through their glorious Head, hold immediate communion with DEITY; and as Christ was before “ all in all,” now God is “ all in all.” Before their glorification they had no access to God immediately: God took no account of them but as in Christ: out of CHRIST, God was a consuming fire to all the workers of iniquity, and his holiest saints in themselves were no other : so that in Christ alone they could be sheltered from his burning wrath ; and in all their worship, and in all their services, they could not, because still polluted with sin and corruption, meet the holy eye of absolute DEITY. They cast themselves upon the Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ; to him alone they lifted up the thought of their heart. Christ, as Mediator
* John, xvii. 21.