rebellious dispositions, for their former sins, be further blinded in their mind, and hardened in their heart, given up to strong delusions, vile affections, and a reprobate sense; that persevering in their obstinate wickedness, and convicted by their own consciences of final impenitence, and neither capable to blame the severity of God, or to excuse themselves as ignorant of his will, or unable to resist his providence, or accept his offered salvation, should, as hated of God, appointed, separated, and fore-ordained to evil, wrath, and condemnation, and as children of wrath, vessels of mercy fitted to destruction, be for their sins eternally damned."

As a considerable part of the foregoing definition refers to Scripture facts, or Scripture delineations of character, it will, in such cases, be deemed unnecessary to quote and explain the passages referred to; and as a great deal of what remains consists of the negative of passages explained under the preceding article, it will, in general, suffice that the passages have been already examined. The first that calls for our attention is

Prov. xvi. 4. “The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”— This passage is adduced by our author, in proof of the opinion that the divine sovereignty is exercised in the decree of reprobation; but, as it does not represent sin as the cause of punishment, it proves too much, viz. that the sins, as well as the punishment, of the wicked are decreed. The passage being un

connected in sense with what precedes or follows it, and being somewhat obscure in itself, the safest mode of assigning the meaning, is to contrast it with that which appears to be the nearest parallel passage," Do ye not know their tokens, that the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath," Job xxi. 29, 30.

2nd, Rom. ix. 11. "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth."-This passage, taken in our author's view, proves too much. It proves that Esau was reprobated to eternal destruction without regard to his sins.

3rd, Matth. xxiv. 40, 41. "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."-This is a prophecy of what should take place, and not a revelation of the decree of reprobation. Consequently, the event might be a judicial, and not a sovereign act of God. The following paraphrase may tend to illustrate the passage-"I formerly told you, with relation to the temporal desolation of your country, and I now repeat it, that of two men who shall then be at work together in the field, the one shall be seized, and the other dismissed: and of two women who shall be grinding corn at the same mill, the one shall be seized, and the other dismissed. And I may say the like with respect to that important event of the

final judgment; many who have been engaged in the same station and employments, and who were intimately conversant with each other, shall then be found exceedingly different in their characters and states; and some of them shall be made the prisoners of divine justice, while others shall not only be spared, but be signally favoured by God."

4th, John xvii. 9. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me."-The following particulars deserve our attention:-1st, The objects of Christ's prayer. 2nd, The subject of it; and 3rd, Who were not the objects of it.-1st, The objects of Christ's prayer-" I pray for them." Now the pronoun them refers us to persons previously spoken of. At the 6th verse it is said "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me: and they have kept thy word." In the 8th verse we read-" For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou hast sent me, (ver. 9.) I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." This agrees with what was said of them in the 6th verse-" thine they were, and thou gavest them me," that is, Christ's apostles were given him out of the world. 2nd, The subject of Christ's prayer-union and protection. 'Holy Father, keep through thine own name those

[ocr errors]

whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are," ver. 11. Again, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil," ver. 15. 3rd, Who were not the objects of Christ's prayer-The world, as the world. Christ could not have prayed that the world should be one, or that it should be kept from the evil of the world; yet we find the world as believers prayed for-" Neither pray I for these alone (meaning the apostles) but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, (ver. 20.) that they all may be one," ver. 21. Again, we find the world, as the world, the objects of Christ's supplication, the subject not being either union or protection, but forgiveness-" Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.". Luke xxiii. 34.

5th, John xii. 37-40. "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." We will in this place insert Paul's quotation--" Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and

[ocr errors]

seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with the heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it." Acts xxviii. 25-28. From Paul's application of the prophet's address, we learn, that the words quoted were, in their primary sense, applicable to the "fathers" in the days of Isaiah, and, in a secondary and accommodated sense, to the unbelieving part of the Jews under the gospel dispensation. Hence it follows, that the words in question are so far from being a revelation of the decree of reprobation, that they occupy only the rank of a secondary and accommodated kind of prophecy. It is further worthy of remark, that the quotation from the prophet is uniformly restricted to the case of the unbelieving Jews, and consequently, it cannot support the application of it made by our author, who refers it to the case of all unbelievers.

Again, there were some in our Lord's day, concerning whom the words were not applicable, whose case nevertheless appears to have been equally hopeless with that of those who disbelieved. Thus, in a subsequent part of the chapter, (ver. 42, 43.) we read, "Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him, but because of the Pharisees

« VorigeDoorgaan »