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he shall have more abundantly." Hitherto all God's words to them within, and all His dealings towards them without, had been without profit to them, because they would not hear nor understand; now they have inclined their ear, and therefore they are in a condition to understand the long-suffering love of God towards them, and His purpose in their education, so as to co-operate in it with Him. This is the condition which fits them for recognizing and receiving Jesus as the Son, and for receiving the spirit of the Son, into which the Father leads those who hear and learn of Him.
Whilst a man is occupied with the voices which promise good only on this side of death, he cannot apprehend the Christ of God, whose salvation is through death—who delivers through the breaking down of the flesh and the shedding of the blood. But as soon as he ceases from them, and turns to the voice which calls him to God and eternity, then he is ready for instruction, he is a disciple fit for the crucified and risen Teacher. And, therefore, as a physician waits for certain symptoms in his patient, before he can use particular medicines, so the Father waits for
this turning of the ear, before he can give any one to the Son.
This is the thing which the Father requires to know in a heart, before He can train it into the image of His Son. Here is the foreknowledge which precedes the predestination, as we shall see more fully expounded in Rom. viii. 29.
The principle now stated, is, indeed, the key to a great many passages, which appear obscure merely from overlooking it. Thus, it opens the generally misinterpreted passage, in Acts xiii. 48,
in Acts xiii. 48, “ As many as were ordained unto eternal life, believed.” The words translated 66 ordained unto," mean strictly, bent upon, or directed towards —that is, having the desires directed towards—TeteypesVos sus why aiávov, " directed towards eternal life,” as an army directed towards a particular point. But this expression evidently describes the condition of persons “ labouring for the meat that endureth unto eternal life," and “ hearing and learning of the Father;" and thus their believing in Christ, when they heard Him preached by Paul and Barnabas, was just a fulfilment of that word, “Every one, therefore, that hear
eth and learneth of the Father, cometh unto me.”
With respect to the translation of this text in our English version, I may observe in the first place, that the meaning here attributed in it to the word retarypasvor is unprecedented, and unsupported by a single instance in the New Testament; and, secondly, in confirmation of the translation which I have proposed, I may refer to 1 Cor. xvi. 15, where the verb TASOW is used in the signification of directing the attention to a particular object, or of setting one to a particular employment. The verse is, “ ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints :" the words, “ they have addicted themselves” being the translation of έταξαν εαυτους. The circumstance of the verb being in the passive voice in our passage, is no objection, for that voice is often used in the reflective sense; as in James iv. 7; 1 Pet. ii. 3.
I may also refer to Luke xiv. 33,-where ATOTæotope is used in the signification of forsaking, which is really the same thing with directing the desires away from,—as affording additional evidence in favour of the interpre
120 Our English version of Acts xiii. 48 loses the contrast
tation proposed, by its parallelism both in principle and in language.
Our translators, by their version of the passage, have lost to the English reader the entire instruction intended by the inspired historian to be conveyed, in the contrast between those who rejected the preaching of Christ on that occasion, and those who welcomed it. There were many hearers of that preaching; and those among them whose desires were directed towards eternal life, welcomed a salvation through and beyond death; whilst those whose desires were directed to something connected with this life, did not and could not welcome a despised and crucified Deliverer, whose kingdom was to rise out of the wreck of this life and all its hopes. It is said of this latter class, ver. 46th, that they “put the word from them, and judged themselves unworthy of eternal life.” The apostle in saying this of them, certainly did not mean to describe them as having formed a humble estimate of themselves; he meant to say that in their rejection of the preaching, they betrayed the secret evil condition of their hearts, and passed sentence on themselves as unworthy of eternal life. Now we know that no man is worthy of eternal life, in the
sense of having a claim to it; and therefore it is evident, that in the unworthiness here ascribed to these despisers of the gospel, the idea of unfitness and uncongenialness, chiefly is contained. And what made them unfit for eternal life? They were not seeking after it, they were seeking the present life; and no man can serve two masters. Unworthiness of Jesus, who is the eternal life, is uniformly through the Scripture referred to this cause : thus, in Matt. xxii. 8, those who had been invited to the marriage-feast, and who, instead of going to it, had gone one to his farm, and another to his merchandize, are said to have been “ not worthy ;” and so likewise in Matt. x. 37, 38, Jesus says, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.” So that when Paul said to those who rejected the preaching of Jesus, that they judged themselves “unworthy of eternal life,” he meant to show them, that their unbelief was the consequence of their hearts being set upon the things of this present life, and of their preferring the meat that perisheth, to the meat that endureth unto eternal life. These despisers of the gospel, if they had been