Matthew 3:9. And think not to say Or, as the words, μη δοξητε λεγειν , rather signify, Presume not to say, or, Say not confidently, within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father As if he had said, Being called upon to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, begin not to obstruct the efficacy of the admonition with those thoughts which are so common among you, that you are secure from wrath by being the children of Abraham. It is almost incredible how great the presumption of the Jews was, on this their relation to Abraham. “Abraham,” says the Talmud, (a book in high repute among them,) “sits near the gates of hell, and does not permit any wicked Israelite to go down into it.” And Justin informs us, that the Jewish rabbins assured them, “That, being Abraham’s seed, though they continued in disobedience to God, and in infidelity, the kingdom of heaven should still be given them.” And it is to be feared that many professors of Christianity build their hopes of salvation on a foundation equally false, depending on their baptism, their knowledge, their orthodoxy, their forms of godliness, their deeds of charity, or their fancied interest in the merits of Christ, while they live in sin, and are lukewarm and negligent in pursuit of that holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
For I say unto you This preface always denotes the importance of what follows: God is able of these stones He probably pointed to those which lay before them: to raise up children to Abraham You think that because you are the only Church of God upon earth, and if you were destroyed God would then have no seed of Abraham to show mercy to, and keep his covenant with, therefore judgment shall not come upon you: but mistake not; that God who raised Adam from the dust of the earth, and children to Abraham from the dead womb of Sarah, can, if he please, animate and sanctify these very stones, which are before your eyes, and transform them into children of Abraham; into persons who shall inherit Abraham’s faith and piety, and who, by imitating his obedience, shall become his spiritual seed, to whom the promises made to him shall be fulfilled, and in whom the church shall still subsist, though all you should be destroyed. And he would sooner work such a miracle as this, than he would suffer his promise to fail, or admit you to the blessings of his approaching kingdom, merely because you have the abused honour to descend from that peculiar favourite of Heaven. Thus the Baptist took from those presumptuous men the ground of their confidence, by affirming that God could perform his promises to Abraham, though the whole Jewish nation should be rejected by him; the seed, like the stars for multitude, that was principally intended in the promise, being a spiritual progeny.
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