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«« Unto you therefore, which believe, he is precious; but, unto them which be disobedient, 'the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner; and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even 'to them which stumble at the word being dis
obedient; whereunto also they were appointed.”! *We are not by this to understand that it was ““ appointed” or decreed by God, that certain
persons to whom the gospel was preached should 'be disobedient; but that it was appointed and decreed, that, if men disobeyed the gospel, it should be to them a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence; that is, a cause of punishment.'2
The passage here referred to, is spoken of unbelievers, with whom the apostle contrasts his Christian brethren. “But ye are a chosen gene“ration, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a “ peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the “ praises of Him, who hath called you out of “ darkness into his marvellous light; which in “ time past were not a people, but now are the “ people of God; which had not obtained mercy,
mentators have bestowed, or future commentators may bestow, it will prove to every impartial and diligent inquirer the truth of that humbling, and therefore offensive, doctrine; with other doctrines which are inseparably connected with it. It would, however, be well if those who feel the difficulty would acknowledge it as fairly as Jerome does. I am of opinion, that no man can collect from the passage what Jerome's permanent sentiments were : indeed it is probable that he fluctuated about, as pressed with scriptural testimony on one side, and arguments or objections from human reasonings on the other; so that he scarcely ever came to a decided judgment on the subject.' ' 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8.
“ but now have obtained mercy."! They were “ elect, according to the foreknowledge of God “ the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, “ unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of “ Jesus Christ;” and “ begotten again unto a “ lively hope—to an inheritance incorruptible, " and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, re« served in heaven for them.”2 “ God had not “ appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salva« tion by our Lord Jesus Christ.”3 Others stumbled at the Rock of salvation, “ being disobedient; " to which also they were appointed." – It was * appointed, &c.,' is a widely different proposition, from “ They were appointed :” the one is general, the other special. “ They stumbled at the word, “ being disobedient; whereunto also they were “ appointed.” ('Etedyrar.) God did not appoint their unbelief and disobedience; but he knew that, without his efficacious grace, they would be unbelieving and disobedient; and, without assigning to us his reasons, he determined to leave them without that grace, and to give them up to their hearts' lusts, and to suffer the consequences of their sins. He had indeed repeatedly foretold that he would do this in respect of the Jews in general, as the punishment of their past rebellions. This was predicted; therefore foreseen, and foreappointed.
"Were these meno appointed by God to disobedience, then disobedience would be the compliance with the divine appointment or will, and 1 Pet. ii. 9, 10. 1 Pet. i. 2-5. :1 Thess. v. 9. *Eesto.
• Luke ii. 34. 2 Cor. ii. 16. Rom. xi. 22.
the same act would be both obedience and dis- , * obedience. And it seems impossible that disobedience, if it takes place in consequence of an
absolute decree of God, should be imputed to 'men as a fault, and be made the ground of punishment. But can we suppose that God made
disobedience inevitable, when we are told, that " " man is not to put a stunbling-block, or an 'occasion to fall, in his brother's way?” Or is such a decree reconcileable with the attributes of justice and mercy?'1
His Lordship seems to mean those persons of whom the apostle Peter had spoken, “ who stum“ bled at the word being disobedient; whereunto “ also they were appointed :” though some other similar cases come in between. This, however, makes no alteration as to the argument.-Obedience is compliance with the known command of God: not acting according to his decree or appointment, whether secret or revealed. Certainly men, in all places and ages, by disobeying the command of God, fulfil his appointments, and often accomplish his predictions. “ Him, being “ delivered by the determinate counsel and fore“knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked “hands have crucified and slain.”2 Was this conduct in any sense obedience? Did the Jews intend to do the will of God? « They that dwell “at Jerusalem and their rulers, because they knew “ him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets, “ which are read every sabbath-day, have fulfilled “them, in condemning him : and, though they “ found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Ref. 242, 243.
? Acts ü. 23.
“ Pilate that he should be slain. And, when they “ had fulfilled all that was written of him, &c.”! Was there both obedience and disobedience in this act ? In what did the obedience consist ? “ They thought evil against him, but God meant “ it unto good.”? “O Assyrian, the rod of mine “ anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indig“ nation. I will send him against an hypocritical “ nation, and against the people of my wrath will “I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to “ take the prey, and to tread them down as the “ mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not “ so, neither doth his heart think so ; but it is in “ his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a “ few."3 An argument, which, if it prove any thing, proves that Sennacherib, Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and all in every age who have fulfilled the prophecies of scripture, while gratifying their own ambition, avarice, cruelty, or lust; were in so doing obeying God, is surely unworthy of a Christian teacher, and ruler of the church.
Had the Lord merely decreed, or predicted, that the Israelites should extirpate, with undiscriminating slaughter, the seven nations of Canaan ; without commanding Joshua and Israel to execute the sentence awarded against them; and had they, without most express command, made extirpating war against them ; or had they even set themselves to fulfil the decree as made known by the prediction, from motives of rapacity, avarice, resentment, or cruelty; they would have been guilty of atrocious murder, in every instance in which they slew a Canaanite : and all the declarations
Acts xiii. 27—30. Gen. 1. 20. • Isaiah x. 5-7.
and invectives of infidels against them, and against the Bible as approving their conduct, would have been unanswerable. But they merely fulfilled the express and repeated command of Jehovah; and were the appointed executioners of his vengeance on that devoted race, which had filled up the measure of their sins. Did decrees, even when revealed, warrant the conduct of those who break God's commandments in fulfilling them, the accursed slave-trade might have found a better justification from prophecy, than it ever had in the British senate, from the most able, eloquent, and zealous of its advocates.
If any event ever was absolutely decreed, and most expressly predicted, the crucifixion of Christ was that event : yet that did not at all excuse any of the parties concerned in it from being guilty of the most atrocious wickedness.
The argument here used, carried to its consequences, would, if valid, prove far more than any Anticalvinist intends : for they who hold it must either disavow the belief of the divine prescience and of all prophecy; or excuse an immense proportion, if not the whole, of the wickedness which has ever been committed. If we do not firmly adhere to this fundamnental tenet, that the law and command of God are the only rule by which our conduct must be regulated, and by which it will be judged: if we admit that divine purposes or predictions, when intentionally or unintentionally fufilled by men, alter the quality of their actions, and in any degree convert disobedience into obedience; we shall open the floodgates to iniquity ; while each will profess, when actuated by his own