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throwing all things, in a perverse and mischievous manner, into one general scene of disorder and confusion. Thus the wicked reason in this passage : ." What cause has God to be angry with us, since he has made us such as we are, and drives us where he chooses, according to his irresistible nod? What does God effect by our ruin and destruction, save the avenging of his own work in us? It is not for us to wage war with the Almighty; for, though we should resist and oppose him with all our powers, he will still gain a complete victory. Our ruin, therefore, will afford a striking proof of the iniquity of his judgment, and his treatment of us is only distinguished by the abuse of his immoderate and unbridled power.” Hear Paul's answer to these vile accusations.
Nay, but, О man, who art thou ?-“Who art thou that enterest into a dispute and contention with God ?” Paul, in this first answer, taking his argument from the state and condition of man, merely checks the wickedness of the blasphemy of his opponent. Paul will soon adduce another reason by which he will vindicate the justice of God from every charge. Paul evidently assigns no cause superior o the will of God. Paul might easily have answered, by showing the difference between the two characers to be founded on just grounds; why, then, has ne not recourse to so compendious a manner of creating his adversaries, while he assigns the highest place to the will of God, as being in itself sufficient, without any addition, to stand in the place of all auses ? Paul would not have neglected refuting the objection, that God reprobates or elects, according to his own will, those whom he does not honour with is favour, or love gratuitously, had he considered it o be false. The impious object, that men are exampted from guilt, if the will of God has the chief part in the salvation of the elect, or destruction of the reprobate. Does Paul deny it? Nay; his answer confirms this truth-that God determines to do with mankind what he pleases, and that men rise up with unavailing fury to contest it, since the Maker of the world assigns to his creatures, by his own right, whatever lot he chooses. Great dishonour is put 'on the Holy Ghost by calumniators, who assert that Paul, being unable to answer the objections of his adversaries, has recourse to reproach. For Paul was unwilling to adduce, in the beginning, arguments which were at hand, and calculated to maintain and assert the justice of God, because they could not be fully understood. Nay, the apostle so manages his second argument, as not to enter into a full defence, since he will demonstrate the justice of God to such of us as consider and weigh his evidence with religious humility and
He adopts the most suitable plan, by admonishing man of his condition, to the following effect : “ Why should you, who are a man, and acknowledge yourself to be dust and ashes, contend with the Lord of infinite honour and glory concerning a subject, which you are unable to understand ?" The apostle did not adduce all that could be advanced on this subject, but accommodated himself to our ignorance. Human pride is discontented because Paul asserts, without assigning a cause, that men are rejected or re bated by the secret counsel of the Lord of life, as if the silence of the Spirit God arose from an inability to produce a reason. Does not the Spirit of Truth admonish us, by his silence, of the deep reverence with which we ought to adore a mystery that our finite mental faculties cannot comprehend ? Does he not thus curb the vain pride of human curiosity ? Let man, therefore learn that the Source of all knowledge does not re
rain from addressing us on this deep mystery on iny other account, but the clearness with which he ees that the immensity of his wisdom * cannot be omprehended by our limited capacities, and, in pity o our weakness, he invites us to the exercise of nodesty and sobriety. Shall the thing formed, &c.Paul continues to insist on our considering the will of God to be just, although the reason may
be ealed from our view. For Paul proves that God is leprived of his right, if he does not freely determine oncerning his creatures according to his pleasure. l'his may appear harsh to some delicate ears. Some onsider that God is much dishonoured by bestowing pon him such an unlimited will. Is the pride of hese divines to be preferred to the simplicity of Paul, who lays it down as a mark of the humility of elievers, to fix their attention steadily upon the ower of an infinite arm, and not limit its operations y their own weak judgment ?
Hath not the potter power ?—The reason, why the hing formed ought not to contend with him that orms it, arises from the latter acting only according o his just right. The word power does not mean that he potter has strength and vigour to act according to n" unbridled appetite and desire,” but is possessed f a faculty to act with the “
greatest rectitude.” 'aul does not wish to confer on the Judge of quick nd dead an inordinate power, but such as he is istly and deservedly entitled to use.
As the potter
* Wherein doth God's wisdom consist? In perfect knowledge of all things that either are, or sight be.
In what sort doth God know all things? Doth he, as we 0, see one thing after another?
No, but with one sight, he continually beholdeth all things listinctly, whether they be past, present, or to come.—Archishop Usher's Brief Method of Christian Religion.
takes nothing from the clay, into whatever form he may mould it, so eternal justice takes nothing from the state and condition in which man was created. We ought, however, never to forget that God is robbed of part of his honour, if he does not enjoy such power over man, as to be the Arbiter of life and death?
22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endureth with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ; 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?
What if-Paul briefly proves, in this second answer, that, however incomprehensible the counsel of God is in predestination, no more complaints can be made against the destruction of the reprobates, than the salvation of the elect. Paul does not assign such a cause for divine election, as to give a satisfactory reason for the election of one individual and of the reprobation of another. For it would have been unworthy of the character of Deity to expose to human censure those truths, which are concealed in the secret counsel of unerring and infinite Wisdon, since no revelation was ever to take place of this inscrutable mystery. The apostle, while he prevents his readers from curiously investigating those subjects, which transcend and elude the grasp and range of human intellect, clearly shows that justice alone manifests itself in the predestination of uneriing wisdom and holiness. This whole sentence is interrogative, and the following meaning is understood : “ Who can accuse God of injustice, or ap. point a day for his trial? In every proceeding of unerring Love, nothing presents itself to the view of the observer, but the strictest rule and principle of ustice." In carefully examining the language of Paul, for the purpose of ascertaining his meaning nore fully, the following chain of reasoning presents tself: “ Vessels are prepared, that is, devoted and lestined to destruction; there are also vessels of wrath, namely, made and formed for the very purpose, that they may be proofs of the vengeance and ndignation of the Most High. What is there to be blamed in this dispensation of infinite Justice, if the Lord bears with them for some time with patience, vithout immediately inflicting the judgment preJared for them, and thus affords clear proofs of his everity, which are calculated to affright others by uch awful examples ; while the extent of his mercy o the elect is made more evident by such a procelure in his divine providence? The cause, why Tessels are fitted for destruction, is concealed in the ternal and inscrutable counsel of God; and it beomes the worms of the dust to adore, and not to crutinize, the justice of the Supreme Being. God isplays his pity and compassion by the vessels of aercy, whom he uses as instruments of his conescending love ; the reprobate are vessels of wrath, ince they are the servants of the Lord, employed in isplaying his judgments.
That he might make known the riches—Paul here ssigns the second reason, by which God's glory is sanifested in the destruction of the wicked, because he fulness and extent of the divine goodness towards he elect is more clearly and completely confirmed. For i what respect are the elect made to differ from the eprobates, but in their deliverance by the Lord from he same whirlpool of destruction ? Nor is this wonerful and miraculous deliverance effected by any eculiar and special merit of their own, but by the