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from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses, ver. 38, 39.
Having thus blighted their vain hopes of justification by the law of Moses, and anticipating the effect of his doctrine in the minds of his Jewish hearers, he solemnly warns them to beware of a certain awful threatening, ver. 40, 41. After the Jews had retired from the synagogue, such of the Gentiles as had been present, "besought that these words might be preached to them next sabbath,” ver. 42. “ On the next sabbath-day," therefore, “ came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God,” ver. 44. We may rationally conclude, that the greater part of this multitude came through curiosity, and not from a sincere desire to obtain eternal life, as did those who had besought the same things to be declared to them again. The Jews, seeing so great a multitude assembled in their synagogue, and being filled with bigotry and jealousy,
spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming,” ver. 45. We are then informed, that “ Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it away from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles: for so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth,” ver. 46, 47. We may well conceive what were the feelings of those Gentiles, at whose request the apostles addressed the assembly, when they heard the soul-inspiring words of the apostle—"lo, we turn to the Gentiles." Accordingly, the historian informs, us that “when the Gentiles (meaning those who had been present on the preceding sabbath) heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord,” ver. 48. As we have limited the number of those who “were glad, and who glorified the word of the Lord," to such of the Gentiles as were present on the preceding sabbath, and were desirous of hearing the words of eternal life which the Jews had rejected; so, agreeably to this, the historian informs us, that all such believed :-“as many as were determined for eternal life believed.”
Again, the meaning which our author attaches to this passage, is evidently liable to several objections. 1st, The most approved method of finding the meaning of Scripture, viz. by tracing the connexion, is entirely discarded. 2nd, Our author's application of the passage represents the writer as departing from the office of historian, and appearing in the capacity of one inspired with a knowledge of the secret things of God. 3rd, It is the only instance, if our author's application of the passage is correct, in which there is divine notice of the eternal state of certain individuals, independent of their final character. 4th, The proposition itself is a truism, for, according to our author's view, none but such as were foreordained to eternal life would believe. 5th, The doctrine said to be contained in the passage is inconsistent with our author's system, for if as many as were ordained to eternal life believed, there were no more ordained to eternal life.
3rd, 1 Thess. v. 9. See above.
4th, 1 Thess. iv. 17. “ Then we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This passage evidently proves, what our author intends it to do, that the saints of the Lord are entitled to everlasting life.
5th, Rom. xi. 29. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Our author, it would seem, intends this passage to prove that certain individuals are unalterably ordained to eternal life. After descanting on the abject state of God's once peculiar people, the apostle goes on to enliven the gloomy prospect by observing, that “they also, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graffed in ;For," says he, “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins, ver. 25-27. This view leads him to mention the twofold relation in which the Jewish people stood towards God;—they were enemies, yet beloved. “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes," ver. 28. The import of which is, they were enemies by reason of their rejection of the gospel, and they were beloved in consequence of their connexion with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The apostle then adds the reason for their being beloved in consequence of their connexion with these patriarchs;—“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” The application of this general principle to the particular case of the Jews, is as follows: Although the Jewish people had shewn themselves unworthy of their high calling and distinguished gifts, God did not repent that he had
nade them his peculiar people in former times, but would, agreeably to his former kindness, still shew a readiness to accept them into his favour, on their believing in Jesus Christ.
6th, John x. 28, 29. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's band.”—The period, when those who are, in the context of this passage, denominated Christ's sheep, were given to him, was not before the foundation of the world, but when they were attached to him as his personal fol-' lowers.-“ All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,” John vi. 37. This giving scems to be synony
mous with the divine drawing, thus—“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” ver. 44. Again, this giving and drawing seem to consist in the imparting of the knowledge of the Messiah, as he is pointed out in the Old Testament—“ It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned, of the Father, cometh unto me,” ver. 45. In short, this passage and its parallels are applicable only to our Lord's disciples as his personal followers.
VIII. “ And inscribed their names in his book of life.”
1st, Luke x. 20.“ Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”. This passage
does not affirm that their names were written in heaven from eternity. The design of our Lord's advice, we conceive, was to shew, that the approbation of the Divine Being was more to be coveted than the power of working miracles. It is unnecessary to prove, that caution should be used in explaining the figurative language of Scripture. The admonition ought to be particularly attended to in this case, for we are told, that a man's name may be blotted out of the book of life. See Rev. iii. 5. xxi.19.
2nd, Ps. iv. 3. “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself.”—The obvious meaning of this passage is, not that the Lord hath set apart from eternity certain individuals to be godly