Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them?
&c.] Conceived them as a mother, or begotten them as a father? am I a parent of either sort to them, in a literal sense, that I should have the like care of them as parents of their children? but though this was not the case, yet, in a civil and political sense, he was their parent, as every king and governor of a country is, or should be, the father of it, and should have a paternal affection for his subjects, and a tender care of them, and a hearty concern for their good and welfare: this, in a spiritual sense, may denote the weakness of the law of Moses, as Ainsworth observes, which has no concern in the regeneration of the spiritual Israel of God; who are born not of blood, nor of the will of men, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God; he only does and can regenerate men by his Spirit and grace; and though ministers of the word are instruments, yet it is not through the law, but through the Gospel that they beget souls to Christ, even by the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, by that word which lives and abides for ever; it is not through the doctrine of the law, but through the doctrine of faith, that the Spirit, as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, is received; faith, hope, and love, and every other grace, come the same way; see ( 1 Corinthians 4:15 ) ( 1 Peter 1:23 ) ( James 1:18 ) ( Galatians 3:2 ) ;
that thou shouldest say unto me;
as in ( Exodus 32:34 ) ; "go, lead the people unto the place" which words, Jarchi thinks, are here referred to:
carry them in thy bosom as a nursing father beareth the sucking child,
unto the land which thou swarest to their fathers?
the land of Canaan: kings should be nursing fathers; civil governors should rule with gentleness and mildness; such are most beloved, and most cheerfully obeyed by their people: the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem interpret the word for "nursing father", by "pedagogue", which is the same word the apostle uses of the law, ( Galatians 3:24 ) ; that indeed was a severe schoolmaster, that menaced, whipped, and scourged for every fault, and not a tender nursing father; there is not one kind tender word in the law; it accuses of sin, pronounces guilty of it, curses and condemns for it; but the Gospel ministry, and ministers of it, use men gently; the apostles of Christ were gentle, as a nurse cherisheth her children, ( 1 Thessalonians 2:7 1 Thessalonians 2:8 ) ; fed men as they were able to bear it; and when they delivered out their charges, it was in a kind manner, and even their reproofs were in love; and especially Christ himself was so, by whose meekness and gentleness the Apostle Paul beseeches men, ( 1 Corinthians 10:1 ) ; who gathers the lambs in his arms, carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young; and supplies them with food, and brings them all safely to Canaan's land, the heavenly glory, where the law and the deeds of it will never bring men, ( Isaiah 40:11 ) .