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not intend eternal deftruction; fince that can never be thought to be either in the will or power of those on whom this is enjoined. Such a degree of malice and wickedness furely, can never arife in the heart of any, to wish for, defire and take any steps towards the eternal damnation of others: What comes nearest to fuch an instance, is the Jews prohibition of the apoftles, to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be faved"; which difcovered implacable and inveterate malice indeed; but furely nothing of this kind could ever be among brethren of the fame faith, and in the fame church state; and were any fo wicked as to defire the eternal deftruction of another, yet it is not in his power to compafs it; none can eternally deftroy but God; fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the foul; but rather fear him which is able to defroy both foul and body in hell. Befides, is it reasonable to fuppofe, or conclude, that eternal damnation fhould follow upon eating and drinking things indifferent, as herbs, meat and wine, or be caused by an offence given and taken through thefe things? there fore, unless it can be proved, that eternal destruction did, or might ene sports ufe of things indifferent, or the wal thren might, or were is exilates,
and stumbled hereby, as to perish eternally, there is no force in the argument.
II. It will appear from the context, that the deftruction of the weak brother dehorted from, is not the eternal deftruction of his perfon; but the prefent deftruction, interruption or hindrance of his peace and comfort. To deftroy the brother with meat, is by eating it, to put a ftumbling, or an occafion to fall in his way, ver. 13. not to fall from the grace and favour of God, but fo as that the peace of his mind may be broken, his affections to the brethren wax cold, and he be ftaggered in the doctrines of the gofpel: Hence, fays the apostle, It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is of fended, or is made weak, ver. 21. to do which, is contrary to Christian charity; if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkeft thou not charitably; yea, it is deftroying the work of God, ver. 20. not the Christian convert, who is God's workmanship; nor the good work of grace, which will be performed until the day of Chrift; nor the work of faith, which will never fail ; but the work of peace in churches, and particular perfons, which God is the author of, and which, the things that make for it, faints should follow after,
Vid. Whitby, P. 436, 442.
ver. 19. Now awek bruter ir vasa Crif has died, may be dus grievet, vitrerie wounded, his peace defroy', and ver eternally perit, and fo can be no imtance. of Chrift's dying for fuch as may be, or are eternally loft. The apostle's design in this dehortation, is manifeftly this; partly from the intereft Chrift has in, and the love he has shew'd to fuch brethren in dying for them; and partly from the hurt that may be done to their weak minds and confciences, to deter ftronger believers from giving them any offence by their free use of things indifferent, though he knew their eternal falvation could not be in any danger thereby.
NUM B. XXXVII. 1 Cor. viii. 11. And through thy knowledge, shall the weak brother perish, for whom Chrift died?
HESE words are commonly inad with the former, and procet b the fame purposes, both to prove a Ca died for fuch as perifh, and tur && shar vers may torally and many to:
What has been fait vor de number, might be
the true fenfe of and
with the other, and fo remove any argument or objection taken from hence: But not to let it pass without particular examination, let it be observed;
I. That as the text in Rom. xiv. 15. is a dehortation, or an injunction not to destroy him with meat, for whom Chrift died; this is delivered out in the form of an interrogation; and neither the one or the other prove. matter of fact, fuppofing they could be understood of eternal deftruction and ruin; as that any one brother, that was a true believer, was destroy'd, or perished eternally this way; and at moft, only imply the danger and poffibility thereof, through their own corruptions, Satan's temptations, and the offences given by ftronger brethren; were they not preferved by the grace and power of God, through Chrift, who died for them, and fo will not suffer them to perish.
II. The perishing of this weak brother, is to be understood of, and is explained by a defiling of his confcience, ver. 7. a wounding of it, ver. 12. and making him to offend, ver. 13. by the imprudent abufe of Chriftian liberty in those who had stronger faith, and greater knowledge, and by a participation of things offered to idols, in an idols tem. ple, ver. 7, 10. and not of his eternal damnation in hell; which could never enter into