1. In respect of those to whom he shows mercy, v. 15, 16. He quotes that scripture to show God’s sovereignty in dispensing his favours (Exod. xxxiii. 19): I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious. All God’s reasons of mercy are taken from within himself. All the children of men being plunged alike into a state of sin and misery, equally under guilt and wrath, God, in a way of sovereignty, picks out some from this fallen apostatized race, to be vessels of grace and glory. He dispenses his gifts to whom he will, without giving us any reason: according to his own good pleasure he pitches upon some to be monuments of mercy and grace, preventing grace, effectual grace, while he passes by others. The expression is very emphatic, and the repetition makes it more so: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. It imports a perfect absoluteness in God’s will; he will do what he will, and giveth not account of any of his matters, nor is it fit he should. As these great words, I am that I am (Exod. iii. 14) do abundantly express the absolute independency of his being, so these words, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, do as fully express the absolute prerogative and sovereignty of his will. To vindicate the righteousness of God, in showing mercy to whom he will, the apostle appeals to that which God himself had spoken, wherein he claims this sovereign power and liberty. God is a competent judge, even in his own case. Whatsoever God does, or is resolved to do, is both by the one and the other proved to be just. Eleeso on han heleo—I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. When I begin, I will make an end. Therefore God’s mercy endures for ever, because the reason of it is fetched from within himself; therefore his gifts and callings are without repentance. Hence he infers (v. 16), It is not of him that willeth. Whatever good comes from God to man, the glory of it is not to be ascribed to the most generous desire, nor to the most industrious endeavour, of man, but only and purely to the free grace and mercy of God. In Jacob’s case it was not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; it was not the earnest will and desire of Rebecca that Jacob might have the blessing; it was not Jacob’s haste to get it (for he was compelled to run for it) that procured him the blessing, but only the mercy and grace of God. Wherein the holy happy people of God differ from other people, it is God and his grace that make them differ. Applying this general rule to the particular case that Paul has before him, the reason why the unworthy, undeserving, ill-deserving Gentiles are called, and grafted into the church, while the greatest part of the Jews are left to perish in unbelief, is not because those Gentiles were better deserving or better disposed for such a favour, but because of God’s free grace that made that difference. The Gentiles did neither will it, nor run for it, for they sat in darkness, Matt. iv. 16. In darkness, therefore not willing what they knew not; sitting in darkness, a contented posture, therefore not running to meet it, but anticipated with these invaluable blessings of goodness. Such is the method of God’s grace towards all that partake of it, for he is found of those that sought him not (Isa. lxv. 1); in this preventing, effectual, distinguishing grace, he acts as a benefactor, whose grace is his own. Our eye therefore must not be evil because his is good; but, of all the grace that we or others have, he must have the glory: Not unto us, Ps. cxv. 1.