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reader may compare it with the author's note on ': the same text many years since. “The Lord. ' orders and governs all things with a view to the display of his own perfections, that they may be known and adored by his rational creatures. He is his own great end in all his works; and, though some of liis creatures have apostatized and rebelled against him, even they, though undesignedly, aid in displaying his glory. He is not the author of their wickedness; but he foresaw it, and formed his plan with a view to it. Contrary to their intentions, he uses their agency to accomplish many of his wise and holy purposes. He maketh use of the malevolence of some wicked men to execute righteous vengeance on others; and he will be at last glorified by their final destruction, “ in the day of wrath and revelation of his righteous judgment.”'
God, “ willing to shew his wrath, and to make “his power known, endured with much long suf
fering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruc“ tion.” This text, introduced by his Lordship without exposition or remark,' is, with the con-' text, considered by the Calvinists, as of peculiar importance in the argument. The apostle, mentions (the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,” and the vessels of mercy, whom God had afore
prepared unto glory.” The former are fitted for destruction, in themselves, as born in sin and
children of wrath,' without any further preparation, except that which their own actual wickedness superadds: the latter God “ hath afore
* Ref. 227, 228.
prepared unto glory.” These also were children “ of wrath even as others; ” but“God, who is rich
in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved
them, even when dead in sin, hath made them “ alive together with Christ: by grace are they “ saved.” They too were “ vessels of wrath fitted “ for destruction ;” and, had not God, of his rich mercy, 'raised them from the death of sin to the ' life of righteousness, and, by a new creation,
prepared them for glory;” they must still have remained“ vessels of wrath,” and have become in all respects completely “ fitted for destruction ; seeing, they are constantly “ treasuring up wrath “ against the day of wrath.” And how were they thus“ afore prepared unto glory?” May we not answer, by regeneration, and “ sanctification of “ the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the “ blood of Jesus Christ ?” And why were they prepared, rather than others ?—“God hath mercy,
on whom he will have mercy.” “He worketh “ all things according to the counsel of his own “ will." 1
“God is greater than man; why dost “ thou strive with him? He giveth not account of any of his matters.” 2
Whatever others may think, we intreat that a humble Christian may be permitted to give the whole glory of his conversion to the free unmerited mercy and grace of God; who has made him to differ as much from his former self, as from the world around him, “ which lieth in wickedness.” Permit him to say,
Among whom I also had my conversation in “ times past;” no better by nature, no better in practice. How then is it that I now repent, hate Eph. i. 11.
? Job xxxiii. 13.
sin, long for holiness, count all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ; feel constrained by love to live to his glory, and to devote myself to his service, in “ doing good to all men, “ but especially to the household of faith ?” Permit such an one to say; "Not to me, but to thy “ name be the glory"-of converting “a vessel of “ wrath, fitted for destruction," into a “ vessel of
mercy, prepared afore unto glory.”—This will certainly be the language of the redeemed in heaven ; why should they not be allowed to use it, without censure, while here on earth? Others, (we would say,) if they can deliberately do it, may ascribe to themselves any favourable difference, real or supposed, between them and their fellow sinners : but permit us to give God all the glory of making us to differ from the most wicked of our fallen race.-I know that here I am on strong ground: I know that thousands, who tremble at the divine decrees, or reason against them, (in great measure because they dare not approach near enough to give the subject a fair investigation ;) feel unable, in defiance of their system, to join against the Calvinists in what has now been stated. The history of their own lives, and their acquaintance with their own hearts, compel them to make this conclusion in their own case, though they argue against it in respect of others, or as a general subject. They feel that they could not be properly humble and thankful, without thinking of themselves in this manner, and speaking in this language. On their bended knees, in their most religious hours, they praise and bless God, for his rich
mercy and especial grace, in the language of Calvinists, and with the very feelings of the most humble and spiritual among them. This might lead them to the adoption of our sentiments, but that they contemplate their dear relatives and friends, and indeed their fellow creatures at large, in connexion with this subject, and with an inadequate recollection of the infinite wisdom, justice, and mercy of God; till their hearts, being filled with anguish at the reflection, they turn away
from it with horror: and because (though they are conscious, in their own case, that, while they ascribe all the glory to God and his grace, they are more and more stimulated to live to his glory,) they cannot be convinced that this is the general tendency of the doctrine, rightlyʻunderstood, and its invariable effect when truly believed. Indeed this humble, thankful ascription of all the glory to God, is the grand excellence of our principles; and, as to the rest, I should be little disposed to dispute on the subject, were not many ready to make another and a contrary use of anticalvinistic doctrines.
* There are many passages in the gospels simi'lar to this, and we are not to understand by them, that the events took place merely for the purpose that the sayings of the ancient prophets ‘might be fulfilled; or that God, by hardening * the hearts, and blinding the understanding of 'the Jews, made it impossible for them to believe. * God foresaw that a very large proportion of the 'Jews would reject the gospel ; and he was pleased
to foretel this among other events relative to * the advent and ministry of Christ. It was de
signed that the fulfilment of these various pre* dictions should form a part of the evidence of 'the divine authority of the gospel. What the prophets had predicted, was certain to come to pass; but this certainty by no means caused the events to be the decrees of God. They did not happen because they were foretold, but they were • for the wisest purpose foretold, because it was · foreseen they would happen.''
I suppose that no man, since the beginning of the world, ever thought that the certainty, either of the predictions or of the things predicted, , caused the events to be the decrees of God.' But the certainty that the predictions would be fulfilled arose from this, that they were the decrees of God. He not only foresaw them, but decreed them, and revealed them as decreed; and therefore they could not but be accomplished.— The
events did not take place merely for the purpose * that the sayings of the ancient prophets might
be fulfilled.' True ; but these were the sayings of the ancient prophets, because they were the determination of Him“ who worketh all things “ according to the counsel of his own will." The persons concerned did not fulfil them, as intending to accomplish the purpose of God, of which they knew and thought nothing ; but to gratify their own selfish passions: and the decree of God, to leave them to be thus blinded and hardened, created no other impossibility to their believing, than that which arose from determined depravity and enmity to God. Indeed the conclusion of the quotation gives nearly the same view of the subject.
Ref. 228, 229.