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up," &c. and v. 18. "I will surely hide my face in that day in that they are turned unto other gods." Hence the subsequent revolt of the Israelites was not the consequence of God's foreknowledge, but his foreknowledge led him to know that, although they were free agents, they would certainly revolt, owing to causes with which he was well acquainted. v. 20, 21. "when they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat, then will they turn unto other gods.... I know their imagination which they go about, even now before I have brought them into the land which I
From what has been said it is sufficiently evident, that free causes are not impeded by any law of necessity arising from the decrees or prescience of God. There are some who in their zeal to oppose this doctrine, do not hesitate even to assert that God is himself the cause and origin of sin. Such men, if they are not to be looked upon as misguided rather than mischievous, should be ranked among the most abandoned of all blasphemers. An attempt to refute them, would be nothing more than an argument to prove that God was not the evil spirit.
Thus far of the GENERAL DECREE of God. Of his SPECIAL DECREES the first and most important is that which regards his SON, and from which he primarily derives his name of FATHER. Psal. ii. 7. "I will declare the decree: Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Heb. i. 5. "unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son." 1 Pet. i. 19, 20. "Christ. . . . who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world." Isai. xlii. 1. "mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth." 1 Pet. ii. 4. "chosen of God, and precious." From all these passages appears that the Son of God was begotten by the decree of the Father.
There is no express mention made of any SPECIAL DECREE respecting THE ANGELS, but its existence seems to be implied, 1. Tim. v. 21. "the elect angels." Eph. i. 9, 10. mystery of his will.... that he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth."
CHAP. IV. OF PREDESTINATION.
THE principal SPECIAL DECREE of God RELATING TO MAN is termed PREDESTINATION, whereby GOD IN PITY TO MANKIND,
FORESEEING THAT THEY WOULD FALL OF THEIR OWN ACCORD, PREDESTINATED TO ETERNAL SALVATION BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD THOSE WHO SHOULD BELIEVE AND CONTINUE IN THE FAITH; FOR A MANIFESTATION OF THE GLORY OF HIS MERCY, GRACE, AND WISDOM, ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE IN CHRIST.
It has been the practice of the schools to use the word predestination, not only in the sense of election, but also of reprobation. This is not consistent with the caution necessary on so momentous a subject, since wherever it is mentioned in Scripture, election alone is uniformly intended. Rom. viii. 29, 30. "whom he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son .... moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." 1 Cor. ii. 7. “ the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory." Eph. i. 5. “having predestinated us unto the adoption." v. 11. "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to his purpose." Acts ii. 23. compared with iv. 28. "him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God they have taken.... for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to done," namely, as a means of procuring the salvation of man.
In other modes of expression, where predestination is alluded to, it is always in the same sense of election alone. Rom. viii. 28. "to them who are the called according to his purpose." ix. 23, 24. "the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called." Eph. iii. 11. "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. i. 9. “ according to his own purpose and grace.' For when it is said negatively, 1 Thess. v. 9. "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," we are not obliged to imply that there are others who are appointed to wrath. Nor does the expression in 1 Pet. ii. 8. "whereunto also they were appointed," signify that they were appointed
from all eternity, but from some time subsequent to their defection, as the Apostles are said to be chosen in time, and ordained by Christ to their office, John xv. 16.
Again, if an argument of any weight in the discussion of so controverted a subject can be derived from allegorical and metaphorical expressions, mention is frequently made of those who are written among the living, and of the book of life, but never of the book of death. Isai. iv. 3. written among the living." Dan. xii. 1. "at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Luke x. 20. "rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Philipp. iv. 3. "whose names are in the book of life." Enrolment in the book of life, however, does not appear to signify eternal predestination, which is general, but some temporary and particular decision of God applied to certain men, on account of their works. Psal. lxix. 28. let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous;" whence it appears that they had not been written from everlasting. Isai. lxv. 6. "behold it is written before me; I will not keep silence, but will recompense." Rev. xx. 12. "the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works;" whereby it is evident that it was not the book of eternal predestination, but of their works. Nor were those ordained from everlasting who are said, Jude 4, to have been "before of old ordained to this condemnation." For why should we give so extensive a signification to the term of old, instead of defining it to mean, from the time when they had become inveterate and hardened sinners? Why must we understand it to imply so remote a period, either in this text, or in the passage whence it seems to be taken? 2 Pet. ii. 3. "whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not,”—that is, from the time of their apostacy, however long they had dissembled it.
The text, Prov. xvi. 4. is also objected, "Jehovah hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the
1 This remark seems to justify Bentley's alteration of the plural to the singular number in the following passage
blotted out and ras'd
By their rebellion from the book of life. Paradise Lost, I. 362; where Richardson, Newton, Todd, and Hawkins read books.
day of evil.” But God did not make man wicked, much less did he make him so for himself. All that he did was to sentence the wicked to deserved punishment, as was most fitting, but he did not predestinate him who was innocent to the same fate. It more clearly expressed, Eccles. vii. 29. "God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions;" whence the day of evil ensues as certainly, as if the wicked had been made for it.2
PREDESTINATION, therefore, must always be understood with reference to election, and seems often to be used instead of the latter term. What St. Paul says, Rom. viii. 29. “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate," is thus expressed, 1 Pet. i. 2. "elect according to the foreknowledge.' Rom. ix. 11. "the purpose of God according to election." xi. 5. "according to the election of grace." Eph. i. 4. "he hath chosen us in him." Col. iii. 12. " as the elect of God, holy and beloved." 2 Thess. ii. 13. "because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation." Reprobation, therefore, could not be included under predestination. 1 Tim. ii. 4. "who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 2 Pet. iii. 9. "the Lord.... is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,”—to us-ward, that is, towards all men, not towards the elect only, as some interpret it, but particularly towards the wicked, as it is said, Rom. ix. 22. “God endured.... the vessels of wrath." For if, as some object, Peter would scarcely have included himself among the unbelievers, much less would he have numbered himself among such of the elect as had not yet come to repentance. Nor does God delay, but rather hastens the times on account of the elect. Matt. xxiv. 22. "for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
I do not understand by the term election, that general or national election, by which God chose the whole nation of
2 See on this difficult text Geier, Proverbia Salomonis cum cura conculiata; and Schultens, Proverbia Salomonis, &c., in loc. Compare also Glassius, Philologia Sacra, where it is translated ad responsum suum, instead of propter se ipsum. P. 544. Edit. Dath. 1776.
3 So Estius, Beza, Piscator, Gomar. Quis vero non videat apostolum
et ipse se adjungit?' Beza in loc.
electos confirmare; quibus
Israel for his own people,5 Deut. iv. 37. “because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them;" and vii. 6-8. "Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself;" Isai. xlv. 4. "for Israel mine elect." Nor do I mean that sense of the word election in which God, after rejecting the Jews, is said to have chose that the Gospel should be announced to the Gentiles, to which the apostle particularly alludes, Rom. ix. and xi.; nor that in which an individual is said to be selected for the performance of some office, as 1 Sam. x. 24. "see ye him whom the Lord hath chosen?" John vi. 70. "have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" whence those are sometimes called elect who are eminent for any particular excellence, as 2 John 1. "the elect lady," that is, most precious, and v. 13. "thy elect sister." 1 Pet. ii. 6. “a chief corner stone, elect and precious." 1 Tim. v. 21. "the elect angels.' But that special election is here intended, which is nearly synonymous with eternal predestination. Election, therefore, is not a part of predestination; much less then is reprobation. For, speaking accurately, the ultimate purpose of predestination is salvation of believers,—a thing in itself desirable,whereas the object which reprobation has in view is the destruction of unbelievers, a thing in itself ungrateful and odious; whence it is clear that God could never have predestinated reprobation, or proposed it to himself as an end. Ezek. xviii. 32. "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth." xxxiii. 11. "as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live." If therefore the Deity
For so it should be pointed; adorn'd being used in the Latin sense of 'furnished,' 'fitted out,' ad præclarum aliquod opus ornatos; which Dryden seems not to have understood when he borrowed the expression in his translation from Lucretius, 'Whom thou with all thy gifts and graces dost adorn.'