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"be honoured upon Pharaoh and his host."' Now, whatever interpretation may be put on the words, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart;" it cannot be doubted that the event respecting Pharaoh was certainly predetermined: yet this did not interfere either with his free agency, or his responsibility. He was not compelled against his will to act as he did, nor was the glorious God the Author of his sins. Neither did he, in all this, decree or do any thing inconsistent with his own perfections of justice, holiness, goodness, and mercy. He did not punish Pharaoh more than he deserved. On the other hand, he "shewed mercy" to Israel, when guilty of the most abominable and aggravated idolatry; and he says, " I will have mercy on whom I will have "mercy." 'I act as a Sovereign, without assign'ing any reasons; and without taking any of them 'from the merit of the criminals.' These two instances the apostle contrasts, and adds as an inspired comment on them, "Therefore hath he "mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom "he will he hardeneth:" and he subjoins, "Thou "wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find "fault t for who hath resisted his will ?" — Will any one maintain that Pharaoh, dying in his most daring contest with Omnipotence, was only punished with temporal vengeance? Had he no immortal soul? Was he fit for heaven? Was he not " driven away in his wickedness r" Or would the worshippers of the golden calf, if they had been destroyed in a moment, as one man, in the very act of idolatrous rebellion, have suffered only tem'Exod. xi. 10. xiv. 4.
poral punishment? Had they no immortal souls? Were they meet for the worship, joy, employment, and company of heaven? They were spared: and the mercy of God in sparing them gave them space for repentance; and this doubtless was eternal salvation to numbers of them. So that even the facts adduced, in illustrating the apostle's main subject, had to do with far more than ' the present 'world only:' much more had the subject itself. God deals with some of our fallen rebellious race, as he did with Pharaoh, in awful justice; and displays his glory in so doing. He deals with others as with rebellious Israelities; and herein glorifies his mercy in harmony with his justice. 'He hath 'constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to 'deliver from curse and damnation those whom 'he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to 'bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as 'vessels made to honour.'' The evil both of heart and conduct, in " the vessels of wrath," is wholly from themselves: but the repentance, faith, love, newness of heart, and newness of life, in " the "vessels of mercy, whom he hath afore prepared "unto glory," are wholly from ' the grace of God 'by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good 'will, and working with us when we have that 'good will.'2
These are our sentiments on the subject: and, though I have no expectation, or ambition, of rendering these sentiments general, they do not surely constitute a doctrine replete with every thing evil, and deserving of such severe philippics, as they constantly meet with; nor are they preg1 Art.xvii. 'Art. x.
riant with such dire consequences, to the cause of practical godliness, as multitudes seem to suppose. Let any man make out to his own complete satisfaction, that the dealings of God with Pharaoh, as recorded by Moses, and adduced by the apostle, were consistent with the divine justice and goodness; with Pharaoh's free agency and responsibility, and with the moral government of God by rewards and punishments; and he will at once perceive what we have to plead on our own behalf, on the general subject. Indeed, we are neither called, nor authorized, nor inclined, to use so strong language concerning any individuals, or collective bodies, upon the supposition that they are not the elect, as has been stated concerning Pharoah. Had Pharaoh been unjustly doomed to eternal destruction alone, how could the divine conduct towards him be justified? But, if deservedly and justly doomed to eternal damnation, no hesitation can be reasonably admitted in respect of the dealings of God with him. For, at last, the question is not about the previous decree, about destination or predestination; but about the justice of God in what he eventually has done or will do. If what he has done or will do is wise, holy, just, and good; no previous decree can render it unwise, unholy, unjust, and evil. While vindicating the Judge of all the earth, from a presumptuous charge of injustice, in dooming sinners to eternal punishment; we must not concede that he acts unjustly in temporal judgments: and if, in, executing temporal judgments, "the wicked is driven away in his "wickedness," and is cast down into destruction, is " God unjust who taketh vengeance ?"—The words ' arbitrarily and capriciously,' in connexion with the Lord's decrees, or dispensations, are used exclusively by the opponents of Calvinism, and are not found in the writings of Calvinists.—How 'the example of the potter' can ' shew, that the 'apostle is speaking of this life only ;' when connected with " vessels of wrath fitted for destruc"tion," and " vessels of mercy, which "he had "afore prepared to glory;" cannot easily be conceived. For surely these terms mean something extremely different from 'the ranks in society, 'into which men by divine appointment are born;' as the apostle shews, when he particularly mentions himself, and both Jewish and gentile converts to Christianity, as " vessels of mercy." Indeed the sense in which our church understands the passage is evident from the seventeenth Article: ' He hath constantly decreed, by his counsel 'secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, 'those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of 'mankind, and to bring them by Christ, to ever'lasting salvation, as vessels made to honour'— ut vasa in honor em efficta. Are these things spoken ' of this present life only?'
The election of a peculiar people (even in the Calvinistic sense,) ' does not suppose the rest of 'the world neglected, or punished, except so far 'as they deserve it.' But, had we all been punished as we deserved, we should all have perished everlastingly. 'O Lord, deal not with us after 'our sins, neither reward us according to our * iniquities.'' Even original sin, according to the doctrine of our church, 'in every person born into 'this world, deserveth God's wrath and damna'tion.'l We suppose, therefore, that the divine decree is positive, in respect of the elect, ' to de'liver them from curse and damnation, and to 'bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation;' but that the purpose of God is negative, as to others: that is, he purposes to leave them to themselves, and to do nothing to deliver them from the punishment which their sins deserve, or from the consequences of their depraved hearts and rebellious conduct. It is certain that the compilers of our Articles did not think, that " the "vessels whom God had afore prepared unto "glory" related to God's gracious offer of the gospel to those, who he foreknew would accept of it; but to the effect of his special grace given unto them: for after the words before quoted it follows; 'Wherefore they which be endued with 'so excellent a benefit of God be called, according 'to God's purpose, in due season; they through 'grace obey the calling; they be justified freely, '&c.'2 And indeed, if it is ' acknowledged that 'man has not the disposition, and consequently 'not the ability, to do what in the sight of God 'is good, till he is influenced by the Spirit of 'God;' 3 God's foreknowing, that the persons spoken of' would accept the blessings of the gos'pel,' implies that he purposed to give them his Holy Spirit, and so " to work in them to will and "to do, of his good pleasure." But the words, "and to make known the riches of his glory on "the vessels of mercy, whom he had afore pre"pared unto glory," denote more than merely their effectual calling: they signify the same be1 Article ix. 2 Art. xvii. 'Ref. 61.