« PreviousContinue »
heart, and punishing flagrant offenders. v. 17, 18. "the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up,” &c. He does not say, “ I have decreed,” but, “I have raised up;" that is, in raising up Pharaoh, he only called into action, by means of a most reasonable command, that hardness of heart, with which he was already acquainted. So Exod. iii. 19. “I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go.” So too 1 Pet. ii. (in which chapter much has been borrowed from the ninth of Romans,) v. 7, 8. “unt: them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed .. .. &c. even to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed.” They therefore first disallowed Christ, before they were disallowed by him ; they were then finally appointed for punishment, when they persisted in disobedience.
To return, however, to the chapter in Romans. We read in the next verses, 19–21. “thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? &c. why hast thou made me thus” —that is, hard-hearted, and a vessel unto dishonour, whilst thou shewest mercy to others? In answer to which the apostle proves the reasonableness, not indeed of a decree of reprobation, but of that penal hardness of heart, which, after much long-suffering on the part of God, is generally the final punishment reserved for the more atrocious sins.? V. 21. “hath not the potter power over the clay ? that is, the material fitted for his own purposes, to put honour upon whom he chooses, provided it be not on the disobedient; as it is said 2 Tim. ii. 21. “if a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour," &c. whilst he hardens still more the hearts of the contumacious, that is, he punishes them, according to the next verse of this chapter—"he endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Whence then were they fitted, except from their own hardness of heart, whereby the measure of their iniquity was completed !
7 .This is seen in the often penitence of those that suffer, who, had they escaped, had gone on sinning to an immeasurable heap, which is one of the extremest punishments.'--- Re on of Church Government ileged nyainst Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 491.
you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes.' The reason is given, v. 13, 14. where it appears that it was not on account of God's decree, but of their own grievous wickedness; “forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, &c. but have removed their heart far from me .... therefore the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,' &c. Matt. xi. 25, 26. “I thank thee, O Father, because thou hast bid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Lest we should attribute this solely to the arbitrary will of God, the verses preceding will explain why it seemed good, and why Christ ascribes glory to the Father on this account, v. 21–23: where it is disclosed what those wise men had first shewn themselves to be, namely, despisers of the divine grace. See also xiii. 11. “it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Do we ask why? the next verse
subjoins the reason : s whosoever hath, to him shall be given, in and he shall have more abundance ; but whosoever hath not,
from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
;"_because when ye were able, ye would not, ye are now unable, not on account of any decree of God, but through unbelief in which you are hardened, or through
pride, on account of which you cannot endure to hear the 1 word; or lastly, as it is expressed in the following verse, I because"
'ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts LE
the truth, why do ye not believe me?”'
Christ himself answers the question, v. 47. “ye therefore hear not, because ye are not of God.” Not to be of God cannot signify not elect, but means, as it is said in v. 44. "to be of the devil,” that is, to follow the devil rather than God. So too, x. 26. “ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.' Why “not of my sheep?" Because it was so decreed? By no means,
follow me ;
-- but because ye do not hear the word; because ye du not
my sheep hear my voice, and they follow me, v. 27. Ye, as I repeatedly tell you, do not believe. v. 25, 26. “ I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me: but ye
believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” The argument runs thus—ye do not believe, because ye are not of my sheep; ye are not of my sheep, because ye neither hear my word, nor follow me. Christ certainly intended to give such a reason for their unbelief as would throw the fault of it upon themselves, not as would exempt them from blame ; whereas if not to be of his sheep, be interpreted to mean not to be of the elect, a privilege which had never been within their option, his words would contain an excuse for their conduct, rather than a reproof, which would be contrary to his obvious purpose. Again, xii. 39, 40, compared with Isai. vi. 10. “therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias saith again, He hath blinded their eyes, &c. Not because the words of Isaiah, or the decree of God delivered by his mouth, had previously taken away from them the grace or power of believing irrespectively; but, as the prophet declares, alleging the reason why they could not believe, because God had blinded their eyes. Why he had blinded their
the preceding chapter explains, v. 4, &c. because nothing more remained to be done to his unfruitful vineyard, but to cut it down. This appears still more clearly Luke xiii. 24, 25. “many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able : when once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door.” xiv. 24. “I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.” xix. 42. “ if thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace but now they are hid from
Rom. i. 21, 24, 26. “because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, &c. wherefore God also gave them up, &c. for this cause God gave them up,” &c. 2 Thess. ii. 10–12. " with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be paveil;
and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie : that they all might be
damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in un-
.they perish’d, self-destroved
By their own fault. Book I. 1. 9. Cowper's Translation.
"Ω πόποι, οίον δή νυ θεούς βροτοί αιτιόωνται!
Perverse mankind! whose wills, created free,
Book I. 1. 40. Pope's Translation.
Paradise Regained, IV. 314.