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'sense they are hardened by the very goodness of 'God. Besides, in the style of scripture, God is 'often said to do what he only permits to be done; 'and in all other languages also the occasion is 'put for the cause, both as to persons, and as to 'things. "I-came not to send peace upon earth, 'but a sword," says our Lord; that is, my gospel, 'though it ought to produce peace and love, will 'prove the occasion of strife and enmity.'l
There is little in this passage and the quotation from Jortin to which even Calvinists would object. The expression, 'quite on the contrary,' may be considered as not well selected to express the evident meaning of the writer: but Anticalvinists, for want of being conversant with our writings, are not aware that we say the same things ourselves, for substance, as are here quoted from the learned Jortin, in order to refute us.—The passage from Isaiah2 is quoted in six different places of the New Testament, and with such variation as may much assist the interpretation of it, and as shews that men may either be said to harden themselves, or God may be said to harden them, according to the stage of their progress at which we view them. They first harden themselves; and then God in judgment sentences them as above to be hardened.3
'" As many as were ordained to eternal life, 'believed." This text does not mean, that there 'was an ordinance of God, appointing that certain 'persons of those who were present should believe * and obtain eternal life; but, it being tbe declared 'will of God, that none, to whom the gospel was 'made known, should obtain eternal life, who did 'not believe; and God foreseeing who would be'lieve, it might be said, that those believed who 'were ordained to eternal life; that is, those who 'God foresaw would comply with the ordained 'condition of faith in Christ, upon which eternal
• Ref. 232, 233. 3 Isa. vi. 9,10. 'Camp. Matt,
xiii. 14, 15. John xii. 40. Acts xxviii. 26, 27. Rom. xi. 8. VOL. VIII. I
* life was offered. There is nothing in the original 'words which favours the Calvinistic doctrine, 'that God had by his own unalterable decree 'made it impossible for some to believe, and others 'not to believe; and whoever reads the whole 'passage carefully and impartially will observe, 'that both believers and unbelievers are repre'sented as acting from their own free choice, and 'not under the control of an irresistible destiny. 'All might have believed. The general call of 'the gentiles is mentioned in the preceding verse
* as the appointment of God, and therefore, on 'that account also, as many of the gentiles as were 'then present and believed might be said to be 'ordained to eternal life, because the attainment 'of eternal life was the consequence of that divine 'appointment.'1
It is plain that the translators of our Bible understood this text2 in what is called the Calvinistic sense; and it is not easy to prove that this is not the true meaning.—' God foreseeing who would 'believe, it might be said, that those believed 'who were ordained to eternal life.' But did God foresee that they would believe of themselves, without his 'special grace preventing them ? * 'The condition of man after the fall of Adam is 'such, that he cannot prepare himself, by his own 'natural strength and good works, to faith and 'calling upon God.'' The Lord foresaw that, by his preventing grace, he would give them faith, and incline and enable them to comply with the ordained condition upon which eternal life was offered.—No doubt' both believers and unbelievers 'act from their own free choice, and not under 'the control of an irresistible destiny,' a term more suited to heathen fatalism, or to the modern necessarian system, than to the wise and righteous decrees and appointments of the eternal God : but the former, being by divine grace made free from slavery to their sinful passions, and being drawn and taught of God, most willingly embrace thegospel; the latter, being left in righteous judgment under the power of their own prejudices, as voluntarily reject and oppose it.—' All might have 'believed.' Certainly, if they had been so disposed. But' it is acknowledged that man has not 'the disposition, and consequently not the ability, 'to do what is good in the sight of God, till he is 'influenced by the Spirit of God.'2—If the general call of the gentiles, according to the appointment of God,3 be the same as " ordained to eternal life," then all the gentiles, at least all there present, being " ordained to eternal life, believed." But a distinction is evidently made between some of them, and others. "When the gentiles heard "this, they were glad, and glorified the word of "the Lord: and as many as were ordained to "eternal life believed."
1 Ref. 232, 233. 'Acts. xiii. 48.
'The words oa-oi r>»v rslayfuvoi, might have as well 'been rendered, " as many as were set in order, 'or made ready ;" and then the context had plainly 'illustrated the text. For in the same verse we 'find that this was spoken of the gentiles, who 'were glad and glorified God, that the words of 'salvation and everlasting life belonged to them * also: ver. 46, 47. But who these gentiles were 'we learn more particularly from ver. 43, namely, 'that they were some Mfywvwv wpo<n)Xvrwy, of the 'devout or worshipping proselytes, those who 'believed a life to come, and sought for the hap'piness thereof, and who therefore were in a fit 'posture to lay hold of that great promise of the f gospel, being both prepared to hear what the 'apostles had to say concerning the way and 'means of obtaining it, and also to make use of 'such means, when once they were thoroughly 'instructed in them.'1
'As many as were set in order, or made ready.' —Should this interpretation of the original be adopted, it would not at all alter the case: for "the preparation of the heart in man—is from the "Lord."2 "Lord, thou hast heard the desire of "the humble; thou wilt prepare their hearts, "thou wilt cause thine ear to hear."3 " Every "good gift and every perfect gift is from above." If men are ' made ready,' and ' are in a fit posture 'to lay hold on the great promise of the gospel,' they owe this preparation of heart to the preventing grace of God. They are " vessels of mercy, "which God hath afore prepared unto glory." *
» Note, from Stebbing, Ref. 233, 234. * Prov. xvi. 1. 'Ps. *. 17. * Rom. ix. 23.
"Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made "us meet to be partakers of the inheritance, of "the saints in light; who hath delivered us from ** the power of darkness, and hath translated us "into the kingdom of his dear Son."l Few will directly say, 'I made myself ready: it was my own goodness that put me in a fit posture to lay hold on the great promise of the gospel, and I am not indebted for it to divine grace.' Most men will, in words, give the glory to God, of making them thus to differ from unbelievers; and all humble Christians will do it cordially, in their own case, even though they cannot receive the doctrine called Calvinistic.—Some however of ' these de'vout or worshipping proselytes' were not thus 'made ready' to embrace the gospel: for "the "Jews stirred up the devout and honourable "women, and the chief men of the city, and "raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, "and expelled them out of their coasts." If there had been no other preparation of heart than that which was common to these devout proselytes, they would have favoured the persecutors, and not the persecuted apostles.2 Lydia was previously one of these worshippers; yet her conversion is not ascribed to this, but to special grace: "The "Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended "unto the things which were spoken of Paul." 3— But did no gentiles at Antioch believe in Christ, except those who were before ' worshipping prose'lytes?' If any, if numbers of the idolatrous gentiles embraced the gospel, they also " were "ordained unto eternal life." 'It is indeed useless, 1 Col. i. 12, 13. 'Matt, xxiii. 15. 'Acts xvi. 14. Gr.