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sality of Christ's atonement, should prove that such a text is to be so understood as if Christ died for all, or for every man, or for sinners as such, decretively; which, if not devoid of common sense, he will not attempt. The existence of the above-mentioned twofold design of God in the death of Christ, has not been very commonly attended to; but there are few propositions in theology more capable of demonstrative proof than this; and I will venture to add, few of more beneficial and universal influence towards discriminating truth from
Let us now advert to the other objection founded on this text. It
may be pleaded that he for whom Christ died, relates to a real Christian, or at least, one supposed to be such; and yet the apostle supposes that he may perish or be destroyed. Your correspondent C.C.D. very justly observes, that guilt contracted “tends to final perdition;" and that the parallel place, * “Destroy not him," &c. means “Destroy not his peace and comfort.” Instead of finding fault with this exposition, I fully admit its propriety and force as far as it goes. Yet I am inclined to think, we may advance a step further towards removing still more completely the objection against perseverance, founded on the word perish. The original term (απoλλυω or απολλυμι) commonly rendered to perish, or to be destroyed, when taken actively, implies to counteract the well-being." of a person or thing which often admits of progressive steps, or successive degrees; and when used intransitively, it retains the same generic idea, “a failure as to well-being;" this also is frequently compatible with a gradation of change. That this is the import of the original term in many places, might be easily shewn; among which let the following serve as instances: “He will destroy those husbandmen;"* meaning the Jewish nation. “Destroyed them that believe not;"+ that is, the Israelites as a body in the wilderness. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise." "I perish with hunger."S “We are cast down, but not destroyed:”I our well-being is secure.
* Rom. xiv. 15.
It has, therefore, been gratuitously assumed by objectors, that there is no perishing or destruction but what is everlasting, or final: whereas, more properly, whatever counteracts the welfare or good quality of any person or thing, destroys it; and whatever is in such a state perishes. The degree of destruction or perdition must be gathered either from annexed expressions, or the nature of the case. A house that goes to decay perishes; so does a plant when it withers; or an animal body that wastes. When a real Christian's conscience is defiled or wounded; when his faith and holy vigor droop; when his affections are grown worldly and unprofitably entangled, his well-being or welfare fails. Like the prodigal, he perishes with hunger; he is destroyed of serpents, he dies by inches, and nothing but the true divinely appointed antidote can prevent his final and everlasting perdition. The finally impenitent, indeed, evil men and seducers, who, to the last, grow worse and worse; all those who know not God, and obey not the Gospel, shall be punished with everlasting destruction. But to connect the grieving and wounding
* Mark xii. 9.
$ Luke xy. 17
† Jude ver 5. # 1 Cor.
2 Cor. iv. 9.
of a weak brother, by means of the superior knowledge of another brother used without tender charity, and everlasting perdition, is totally remote from the apostle's design. On the whole, the perdition intended in the text, in my view, is the very opposite to edification; and were it allowable to express my sense of its full import in a coined term, it would be disedification. “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother be disedified, for whom Christ died?"
But, in a practical point of view, how forcible the apostle's expostulation, and how highly deserving of the feeling regard of professors! How criminal the man who despises another that has not attained his standard of knowledge! How aggravated the offence! If we are bound, according to the benevolent genius of the Gospel, to love an enemy, how base must the act be, with haughtiness and unconcern, to wound a brother. If we are to shew kindness to the strong, how shocking to trample on the feelings of the weak brother! To have wounded any through ignorance or mistake, calls for humiliation; but how doubly criminal when superior knowledge inflicts the wound! If we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren, what can be said of him who, when the gratifying of his vanity is concerned, can give up nothing. The condescending Savior gave up his life for his enemies; but the towering, unaccommodating, professor cannot give up a punctilio for the edification of a friend; Christ died no less for the weak Christian than for the strong; but this unfeeling giant in knowledge imitates no such model, values no such character.
ON EXODUS xxxiij. 19.
Mr. Editor, In your last Number, J. W. B. wishes for an explanation of Exod. xxxiii. 19, where God says, “I will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy;" and of Rom. ii. 11, where Paul says, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” Unless you receive a better elucidation than the following, it may induce you to gratify J. W. B. by inserting it in your work.
The former passage is applied by Paul,* to illustrate the doctrine of absolute and sovereign election, independent of any excellencies in man. A paraphrase may · perhaps be as follows: “I, the Lord, will consult only my own will and pleasure, as to the objects of my sovereign favor, without being determined by any external circumstances in the objects themselves.”
Methinks I hear J. W. B. saying, “There seems to be a contradiction between this paraphrase, and God being no respecter of persons.” But let him consider that ToowToYTins, a respecter of persons, is used in a forensic sense, and belongs to a judge, not to a sove. reign; nor have I ever met with it in the Bible, where election is professedly discussed. This is its meaning in many parts of the Scripturet particularly in the passage before us, where St. Paul is proving that the Jews, with all their boasted privileges, shall be judged, as well as the Gentiles, on the last day.
* Rom. ix. 15. 2 Chron. xix. 7. Deut. 8. 17, Eph. vi. 9. Col. iii. 24, 25. 1 Pętër
A respecter of persons is one who, from some qualities, external or internal, which he beholds in a person, is led to swerve from justice, which ought to be executed in the most impartial manner, independent of all false grounds. Thus St. James reproves some for giving honor exclusively to the rich, on account of their outward shew, when the poor had an equal claim; and calls it respect of persons. Had the circumstances, as well as the claim been equal, it would not have come under this appellation.
The source of J. W. B.'s perplexity seems to be in taking the word persons, to mean abstractedly the individuals themselves; whereas it refers to the moral qualities, and attendant circumstances in life. If individuals, as such, be understood, he may well have his mind exercised, as he complains; for in this sense it would not be true that God had no respect of persons. The histories of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, and in fac the whole Jewish church, prove the contrary; and in election it is still more evident, how much sovereignty makes men to differ. If your querist will consult Beza on the place, and especially on Matt. xii. 14, he will find these assertions confirmed.
The first of these passages, therefore, refers to the sovereignty of God; the latter to his justice. The one points out the source of election; the other, if indeed it must be applied to this doctrine, shews the manner in which it must be made, viz. that God will not confer his favors, nor withhold due punishment, on account of any external circumstances. Where then is the contradic. tion between these passages? No where: they confirm each other; for God “will have mercy on whom he will