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not been extremely stupid, would they ever have thought of it, after hearing the voice of God? Moses accuses them of requiting the Lord, “ as a “ foolish people and unwise.” They receive the very same character from God. “ They are a na“ tion void of counsel, neither is there any un
derstanding in them w.” And they continued to deserve no better character, in their succeeding generations : “ My people is foolish,—they are “ sottish children, and they have none understand“ ing *."
If they were so deficient as to wisdom in divine things, it cannot be supposed that their superior goodness would atone for their other defects. This, indeed, is immediately added as the great evidence of their want of true wisdom :
They are wise to do evil, but to do good they “ have no knowledge y." Even the sons of Jacob were stained by envy; cruelty and perfidy. They hated Joseph, because their father loved him. They first conspired against his life, and afterwards sold him for a slave. Their cruel and perfidious conduct to the Shechemites made Jacob “ to stink among the inhabitants of the land, a“ mongst the Canaanites, and the Perizzites 2 ;" the very people whom God, because of their wickedness, was to drive out before Ifrael. We have formerly seen, that in Egypt they polluted themfelves with the idolatry of the inhabitants of that land. Afterwards, as if a mere conformity to
their x Jer. iv, 22. 2 Gen. xxxiv. 27. 30,
w Deut. xxxii. 6. 23.
their idolatrous neighbours had been too little, they did worse than all the nations round about a, “ worse than the heathen whom the Lord had destroyed before them b."
The all-wise God knew their character when he chose them. None can be fo foolish as to imagine that he hoped they would prove better than they did, that they would be awed by his judgments, or mollified by his mercies. He foresaw the whole extent of their wickedness. Thus, he expressly testifies that he knew what they were, and what they would be. He declares that when he fixed his love on them, he difcerned nothing that could in any respect or degree prove a recommendation. He illustrates their original situation by a most striking allusion to a child exposed by its unnatural parent, according to a barbarous custom that greatly prevailed among the heathen. Instead of wealth or power, he saw nothing but nakedness and weakness! Instead of wisdom or moral beauty, all the ignorance of infancy and the groffest pollution ! “ Thou wast “cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy “ person, in the day that thou wast born." He also declares his certain foreknowledge of their future conduct : “ I knew that thou wouldest deal
very treacherously, and wast called a transgreffor “ from the womb d."
Since such was the character of this people, why did God choose them? The sovereignty of
b 2 Chr. xxxiii. g.
c Ezek. xvi. S.
a Ezek. xvi. 46, 47. d Ifa. xlviii. 8.
his own will was the only reason of his choice. He looked for no moving cause without himself. He took care that they should be particularly informed of this. Therefore Mofes, having informed the Israelites, that the Lord did not set his love upon them, nor choose them because of their number, subjoins ;~" But because the LORD “ loved you, and because he would keep the oath “ which he had sworn unto your fathers e," The faithfulness of God, although here connected with his sovereignty, is not to be considered as a reason for his love, but for their enjoyment of the fruits of it, in being “ brought out,” as it follows, “ with a mighty hand, and redeemed out of “ the house of bondmen.” For the operation of the faithfulness of God, with respect to them, was only the fruit of the eternal purpose of his love. He had “ sworn to their fathers," because he had, in absolute sovereignty, chosen their feed to be his peculiar people. Moses elsewhere assures them, that God stood in no need of them as a people : “« Behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens " is the LORD's thy God, the earth also with all “ that therein is. Only the LORD had delight in
thy fathers to love them, and he chose their “ seed after thein, even you above all people, as it “ is this day f." And well might the man of God remind Israel of the sovereignty of this choice, when he pleads it with God himself, as a more powerful argument in their behalf, than all their unworthiness could be against them: “Look
not e Deut. vii. 7, 8.
f Deut. 8: 14, 15.
“not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to " their wickedness, nor to their sin.-Yet they are thy people, and thine inheritance."
Now, as, in the choice of literal Israel, God had no respect to any worth in the object of his love, this was a figure of the sovereign manner in which he chooses his true Israel. They had no merit, when he separated them as his peculiar people. Thus they fitly prefigured them, who are called, “ not for works of righteousness which
they have done, but of his own mercy.” Did he know that the future conduct of his chosen people would be equally undeserving? In this also they exhibited the character of his spiritual seed. For when he fixed his love on them, he foresaw all their wanderings and apostacies, their unbelief and ingratitude. But he “ loved them, “ because he loved them." If, without any obstacle on the part of his justice or goodness, he might fingle out one nation to the enjoyment of spiritual privileges, to the exclusion of every other; who will presume to say that it is inconfiftent with any of these perfections, that he should select certain persons to the enjoyment of all the benefit arising from these spiritual privileges, although others be excluded ? Indeed, to fhew us the great design of this part of the divine conduct, we find this national election terminating in a choice of individuals. When God had served his ends, by the election of a particular nation, when he was about to abolish this distinction, we find VOL. II.
& Deut. ix. 27. 29.
it running into an election of persons, to the exclusion of the body of that once-favoured nation. Were the carnal Jews ready to object, that the Christian religion could not be true, because in this case God must have rejected his people, and broken his promise ? the apostle Paul could reply ;
They are not all Israel, which are of Il6 rael: neither because they are the seed of Abra. “ ham, are they all children.—They which are " the children of the flesh are not the children of “ God: but the children of the promise are count“ed for the feed.” Thus he fhews that it could by no means be said, that “ the word of God had “ taken none effect ;' that his promise to the fathers had failed h. He shews that the promise, although it literally and primarily respected the choice of the nation, as such, to distinguishing privileges, carried in its womb, nay, ultimately and fpecially respected a further display of divine fovereignty, in the choice of individuals of that nation to the effence of these privileges; that, although its outward aspect feemed confined to Ifrael according to the flesh, it was inwardly pointed to all who should be the seed of Abraham by faith, “ not of the Jews only, but also of the “ Gentiles i.” He even shews that all along, under the old dispensation, the national election to external privileges, was only a figure of a personal election to those which are inward ; that the former was as it were the covering of the other, the cabinet, however precious in itself, that con
h Rom. ix. 6.-8.
i Ver. 24.