« AnteriorContinuar »
compliance. In reality, the certain foreknowledge of God, and every express prophecy, may, exactly on the same ground, be said to be inconsistent with commands and exhortations, and with man's free agency: for, if the event, foreknown and foretold, cannot fail to take place, it is morally impossible that any creature should act so as to prevent it. The exhortations were addressed to the people in general, and many individuals complied with them, though a greater number did not. There was among them “a remnant according to the “election of grace.” This “ election obtained it, (the blessing,) " and the rest were blinded."1 In like manner, before the Babylonish captivity, after that event had been most decidedly and repeatedly predicted, the prophets used similar exhortations : not that compliance with these exhortations was expected from the nation at large, so as to falsify the express predictions given ; but that individuals, repenting and turning unto God, might escape final ruin ; and be, even in the captivity,“ a holy “seed," and the progenitors of a holy race, to whom God would afterwards return in mercy.
'Here it is expressly said, that they closed their own eyes ; and in other places we find their unbelief and rejection of the gospel attributed to their own obstinacy and wickedness.'2
No doubt the Jews wilfully closed their own eyes;' and so do all others who perish in their sins. The question is, whether all would not do the same, if left to themselves without the newcreating grace of God; and whether God might · Rom. xi. 5-10.
not justly so leave them. God is not, and cannot be, the author of sin : and, if any speak of God in language implying this, he is a blasphemer. I feel not the least repugnancy at associating, in other respects, with many who are decided, yet meek and humble Arminians, as to the doctrine of divine decrees; but a man called a Calvinist, and maintaining that God is, in any sense, the author of sin, I regard as Judas, and would have no communion with him.--I say meek and humble Arminians ; for such as are eager and fierce often run into as direct blasphemy in another way.
But may not the Judge of all the earth, when a rebellious creature, from enmity against him, and love of that which He abhors, has closed his own 'eyes' and hardened his own heart, and deliberately preferred the delusions of the devil to“ the truth
as it is in Jesus ;” may not God say to such a man, 'Take thy own choice: be blinded and har
dened:' May he not permit Satan and his agents to “practise and prosper,” and thus “ send the “ man a strong delusion that he should believe a “ lie?”1 May he not, as in the case of Ahab, when the evil spirit said, “ I will go forth, and I “will be a lying spirit, in the mouth of all his prophets,” grant him permission, and say,
« Thou “shalt persuade him, and prevail also : go forth “ and do so :”? Nay, may he not, as in the case of Pharaoh, arrange events in his providence so that appearances shall be suited to give energy to Satan's delusions, and to lead the decided rebel against his Maker, into the most destructive presumption of success? And may not he do this, without being any more the author of sin, than the sun is the cause of cold, and frost, and darkness? If these questions be not answered in the affirmative, it does not appear how the scriptures referred to can be understood, in any sense which does not militate against the obvious meaning of the language of inspiration. And shall we say that the Lord has said it, and done it, and yet that it is not what ought to be said and done? « The Lord is “ in his holy temple : let all the earth keep silence " before him.” 1
2 Thess. ii. 9–12. '1 Kings xxii. 21-23. 2 Chron. xviii. 18-22.
They loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil :” the wickedness ‘and perverseness of the Jews blinded their un
derstandings, and indisposed them to receive * the truth, though delivered in the plainest terms, ' and attested by the fullest evidence. Those places of scripture, says Dr. Jortin, are easily reconciled, in which the wicked are represented usually as hardening themselves, and sometimes as being hardened of God. They harden themselves, because it is by their own choice, by their own obstinacy and perverseness that they become obdurate ; and they are hardened of God, not by any proper and immediate act of God depriving "them of reason and liberty, or compelling them 'to do evil; but, quite on the contrary, by his continuing to give them both motives and opportunities to do well ; which gifts, being rejected and abused, are the innocent cause, or the occasion, of their greater wickedness: and in this
1 Hab. ii. 20.
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.'1
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 Isaiahis 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 Ref. 232, 233. ? Isa. vi. 9, 10.
Comp. Matt. xiii. 14, 15. John xii. 40. Acts xxviii. 26, 27. Rom. xi. 8.
* and obtain eternal life ; but, it being the 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
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."
It is plain that the translators of our Bible understood this text 2 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 ?' Ref. 232, 233.
Acts. xiij. 48.