I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles…
1. Concerning these firstfruits the law is set down (Leviticus 23), where the people may not put sickle into their corn till they have offered a sheaf to the Lord, and then it was lawful for them to reap it. Hence by allusion is our Saviour called the firstfruits of them that sleep, because our resurrection depends upon and is assured by His. Also when they had their corn in, and made ready of it for their use, they might not eat of it till they had offered two loaves to the Lord, and then was their whole lump made lawful for them to eat.
2. God commanded these ceremonies to teach the Jews that they received all blessings from the Lord. So that as princes when they bestow manors upon deserving servants make reservation of some fealty, service, rent, or such like, only to show that they hold of them. So God required this of the Jews.
3. The sanctification of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the people of God sanctifieth outwardly all their posterity. The Jews therefore are still a holy people, which appears by their evidence and their letters patents, the tenor of the first grant (Genesis 17:7; Acts 2:38, 39; Acts 3:25). And though some of them have forfeited their estate, yet some cannot forfeit the privilege granted to the whole nation. But —
(1) The nation is before called rebellious: how then can it now be called holy? There is a double holiness.
(a) Of regeneration.
(b) Of the covenant; in regard of the first they are rebellious, in regard of the second they are holy.
(2) We are by nature the children of wrath. How then can the Jews be holy by nature or birth? The former definition of holiness makes it plain. In regard of the first, children of wrath; in regard of the second, holy by nature. The first cannot be conveyed by parents to posterity: the second is, as, for example, a gentleman is chosen to some great office whereby he is a great lord; he begets a son, this son is a gentleman by birth, but not a lord, because the honour of his father was not invested in his blood, but a special grace conferred on his person.
I. THE CHILDREN OF CHRISTIANS ARE BORN CHRISTIANS AND HOLY, by virtue of the covenant having right to the initiating seal — baptism, which right, if they were not born Christians, they could not have. Before baptism our children are either heathen or Christians; but not heathens, for then they might not be baptized till they had made confession of Christ. Therefore they are born Christians. Baptism maketh not a Christian, but signifieth. As there are Jews by nature, so Christians. If any allege that we are not born but reborn Christians, the answer is we are not born regenerate Christians, but to be regenerate. We beget Christians, not believers.
II. THE CHILDREN OF CHRISTIANS DYING BEFORE BAPTISM DIE AS CHRISTIANS, therefore they have hope, and their parents may be comforted over them.
III. THOU SHALT NEVER HAVE COMFORT THAT THOU ART BORN A CHRISTIAN TILL THOU BELIEVEST AS A CHRISTIAN SHOULD DO. He that is freeborn and will use his freedom must observe some ceremony, and receive some instrument testifying the same; so though we be born of Christian parents we must believe and repent; the sin of the father prejudiceth not the believing, nor the righteousness of the father sayeth the unbelieving child. It is a credit to be born of religious parents if we be religious. If a man have a thousand pound land a year left him, and spend it all in riotous living, what credit is it for him to brag that his friends left him such an estate? nay, it is a shame to him. He is truly noble that is good, but a wicked and vicious man, though he came of a worthier father than Abraham, is to be accounted base. Walk in the steps of thy godly parents, and if they were not godly redeem the baseness of thy family by thy holiness and virtues.
IV. ART THOU BORN A CHRISTIAN? WHY THEN LIVEST THOU LIKE A HEATHEN? If thou art freeborn why becomest thou by thy wickedness the devil's slave? As thou bearest the name of Christ so live like Him.
(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.