7. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
7. Quid ergo? Quod quaerit Israel, non est assequutus; electio autem assequuta est, reliqui vero excaecati fuerunt;
8. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
8. Quemadmodum scriptum est, Dedit illis Deus spiritum compunctionis, oculos ut non videant, et aures ut non audiant, usque ad hodiernum diem.
9. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
9. Et David dicit, Fiat mensa eorum in laqueum et in captionem et in offendiculum et in retributionem ipsis:
10. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
10. Obscurentur oculi eorum ne videant, et dorsum eorum semper incurva.
7. What then? What Israel seeks, etc. As he is here engaged on a difficult subject, he asks a question, as though he was in doubt. He intended, however, by expressing this doubt, to render the answer, which immediately follows, more evident; for he intimates, that no other can be given; and the answer is, -- that Israel in vain labored to seek salvation, because his attempt was absurd. Though he mentions here no cause, yet as he had expressed it before, he certainly meant it to be understood in this place. For his words are the same, as though he had said, -- that it ought not to seem strange, that Israel gained nothing in striving after righteousness. And hence is proved what he presently subjoins concerning election, -- For if Israel has obtained nothing by merit, what have others obtained whose case or condition was not better? Whence has come so much difference between equals? Who does not here see that it is election alone which makes the difference?
Now the meaning of the word election here is doubtful; for to some it seems that it ought to be taken in a collective sense, for the elect themselves, that there may be a correspondence between the two clauses. Of this opinion I do not disapprove, provided it be allowed that there is something more in the word than if he had said, the elect, even this, that he intimates that there was no other reason for obtaining their election, as though he said, -- |They are not those who strive by relying on merits, but those whose salvation depends on the gratuitous election of God.| For he distinctly compares with the whole of Israel, or body of the people, the remnant which was to be saved by God's grace. It hence follows, that the cause of salvation exists not in men, but depends on the good pleasure of God alone.
And the rest have been blinded As the elect alone are delivered by God's grace from destruction, so all who are not elected must necessarily remain blinded. For what Paul means with regard to the reprobate is, -- that the beginning of their ruin and condemnation is from this -- that they are forsaken by God.
The quotations which he adduces, collected from various parts of Scripture, and not taken from one passage, do seem, all of them, to be foreign to his purpose, when you closely examine them according to their contexts; for you will find that in every passage, blindness and hardening are mentioned as scourges, by which God punished crimes already committed by the ungodly; but Paul labors to prove here, that not those were blinded, who so deserved by their wickedness, but who were rejected by God before the foundation of the world.
You may thus briefly untie this knot, -- that the origin of the impiety which provokes God's displeasure, is the perversity of nature when forsaken by God. Paul therefore, while speaking of eternal reprobation, has not without reason referred to those things which proceed from it, as fruit from the tree or river from the fountain. The ungodly are indeed, for their sins, visited by God's judgment with blindness; but if we seek for the source of their ruin, we must come to this, -- that being accursed by God, they cannot by all their deeds, sayings, and purposes, get and obtain any thing but a curse. Yet the cause of eternal reprobation is so hidden from us, that nothing remains for us but to wonder at the incomprehensible purpose of God, as we shall at length see by the conclusion. But they reason absurdly who, whenever a word is said of the proximate causes, strive, by bringing forward these, to cover the first, which is hid from our view; as though God had not, before the fall of Adam, freely determined to do what seemed good to him with respect to the whole human race on this account, -- because he condemns his corrupt and depraved seed, and also, because he repays to individuals the reward which their sins have deserved.
8. Given them has God, etc. There is no doubt, I think, but that the passage quoted here from Isaiah is that which Luke refers to in Acts, as quoted from him, only the words are somewhat altered. Nor does he record here what we find in the Prophet, but only collects from him this sentiment, -- that they were imbued from above with the spirit of maliciousness, so that they continued dull in seeing and hearing. The Prophet was indeed bidden to harden the heart of the people: but Paul penetrates to the very fountain, -- that brutal stupor seizes on all the senses of men, after they are given up to this madness, so that they excite themselves by virulent stimulants against the truth. For he does not call it the spirit of giddiness, but of compunction, when the bitterness of gall shows itself; yea, when there is also a fury in rejecting the truth. And he declares, that by the secret judgment of God the reprobate are so demented, that being stupified, they are incapable of forming a judgment; for when it is said, that by seeing they see nothing, the dullness of their senses is thereby intimated.
Then Paul himself adds, to this very day, lest any one should object and say, that this prophecy had been formerly fulfilled, and that it was therefore absurd to apply it to the time of the gospel: this objection he anticipates, by subjoining, that it was not only a blindness of one day, which is described, but that it had continued, together with the unhealable obstinacy of the people, to the coming of Christ.
9. And David says, etc. In this testimony of David there is also made some change in the words, but it is not what changes the meaning. For he thus speaks, |Let their table before them become a snare, and their peaceful things a trap;| there is no mention of retribution. As to the main point there is sufficient agreement. The Prophet prays, that whatever is desirable and happy in life might turn out to the ruin and destruction of the ungodly; and this is what he means by table and peaceful things. He then gives them up to blindness of spirit and weakening of strength; the one of which he expresses by the darkening of the eyes, and the other by the incurvation of the back. But that this should be extended almost to the whole nation, is not to be wondered at; for we know, that not only the chief men were incensed against David, but that the common people were also opposed to him. It appears plain, that what is read in that passage was not applied to a few, but to a large number; yea, when we consider of whom David was a type, there appears to be a spiritual import in the opposite clause.
Seeing then that this imprecation remains for all the adversaries of Christ, -- that their meat shall be converted into poison, (as we see that the gospel is to be the savor of death unto death,) let us embrace with humility and trembling the grace of God. We may add, that since David speaks of the Israelites, who descended according to the flesh from Abraham, Paul fitly applies his testimony to the subject in hand, that the blindness of the majority of the people might not appear new or unusual.