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and hardened his own heart; and deliberately preferred
the delusions of the devil to “ the truth as it is in !" Jesus:" may not God say to such a man, " Take • thy own choice: Be blinded and hardened? May he not permit Satan and his agents to “ practise and “ prosper,” and thus “ send the man a strong delusion " that he should believe a lie?»* May he not, as in the case of Ahab, when the evil spirit said, “ I will go “ forth, and I will be a lying spirit, in the mouth of all " his prophets;" may he not, grant him permission, and say: “Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: “Go forth and do so?”+ Nay, may he not, as in the case of Pharaoh, arrange events in this providence; so that appearances shall be suited to give energy to Satan's delusions, and to lead the decided rebel against his Maker, into the most destructive presumption of success? And may not he do this, without being any more the Author of sin, than the sun is the cause of cold, and frost, and darkness? If these questions be not answered in the affirmative; it does not appear how the Scriptures, referred to, can be understood, in any sense, which does not militate against the obvious meaning of the language of inspiration. And shall we say, that the Lord has said it, and done it; and yet that it is not what ought to be said and done? * The Lord is in his holy temple; Let all the earth * keep silence before him."}
P. ccxxxii. 1. 19. • They loved, &c.'s There is little
• 2 Thes. ii, 2.12. 1 Kings xxii. 21–23. 2 Chr. xviii. 18-22.
Hab. ii. 20. $" They loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evit:" · The wickedness and perverseness of the Jews blinded their understandings,
and indisposed them to receive the truth, though delivered in the plainest (terms, and attested by the fullest evidence. Those places of Scripture, 'says Dr. Jortin, are easily reconciled, in which the wicked are represented ' usually as hardening themselves, and sometimes as being harder.ed of God:
in this passage, and the quotation from Jortin, to which even Calvinists would object. The expression, · quite on the contrary;' may be considered as not well selected to express the evident meaning of the writer : but Anti. calvinists, for want of being conversant with our writings, are not aware, that we say the same things our. selves, for substance, which are here quoted from the learned Jortin, in order to refute us.
P. ccxxxiii. I. 23. “ As many, &c."* It is plain, that the translators of our Bible understood this textt
"They harden themselves, because it is by their own choice, by their own • obstinacy and perverseness that they become obdurate; and they are harden• ed of God, not by any proper and immediate act of God, depriving them of
reason and liberty, or compelling them to do evil; but quite on the con*trary, by his continuing to give them both motives and opportunities to do
well; which gifts, being rejected and abused, are the innocent cause, or the • occasion, of their greater wickedness, and in this sense they are hardened .by the very goodness of God. Besides, in the style of Scripture, God is
often said to do what he only permits to be done; and in all other languages • also, the occasion is put for the cause, both as to persons, and as to things. “i came not to send peace upon earth, but a sword,” says our Lord; that is, my gospel, though it ought to produce peace and love, will prove the occasion of strife and enmity.'
• “ As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed :" • This text does not mean, that there was an ordinance of God appointing that certain per: in what is called the Calvinistick sense, and it is not easy to prove that this is not the true meaning — God foreseeing who would believe, it might be said, that
sons of those who were present should believe and obtain eternal life; but • it being the declared will of God, that none, to whom the gospel was made • known, should obtain eternal life, who did not believe; and God foreseeing
who would believe, it might be said, that those believed who were ordained "to eternal life, that is, those who God foresaw would comply with the
ordained condition of faith in Christ, upon which eternal life was offered. “There is nothing in the original words which favours the Calvinistick doc'trine, that God had by his own unalterable decree made it impossible for • some to believe, and others not to believe; and whoever reads the whole
passage carefully and impartially, will observe, that both believers and ‘unbelievers are represented as acting from their own free choice, and not • under the control of an irresistible destiny. All might have believed. The
general call of the Gentiles is mentioned in the preceding verse as the ap. • pointment of God, and therefore, on that account also, as many of the Gen* tiles as were then present and believed, might be said to be ordained to 6 eternal life, because the attainment of eternal life was the consequence of that divine appointment.' T Acts xiii, 48.
those believed who were ordained to eternal life.'' But did God foresee, that they would believe of themselves, without his special grace preventing them?" "The
condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that . he cannot prepare himself, by his own natural strength
and good works to faith, and calling upon God.'* The Lord foresaw that, by his special grace, he would give them faith, and incline and enable them to comply with the ordained condition, upon which eternal life was offered. No doubt, both believers and unbelievers act * from their own free choice, and not under the control
of an irresitible destiny,' a term more suited to heathen fatalism, or to the modern necessarian system, than to the wise and righteous decrees and appointments of the eternal God: but, the former by special grace, being made free from slavery to their sinful passions, and being drawn and taught of God, most willingly embrace the gospel; the latter, being left in righteous judgment under the power of their own prejudices, as voluntarily reject and oppose it. All might have believed, if they had been so disposed. But it is acknowledged,
that man has not the disposition, and consequently not the ability, to do what in the sight of God is good,
till he is influenced by the Spirit of God.'t-If the general call of the Gentiles, according to the appointment of God, I be the same as “ ordained to eternal “ life:" then all the Gentiles, at least all there present, being ordained to eternal life, belicved. But a distinction is evidently made between some of them, and others. " When the Gentiles heard this, they were
· As many
“ glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many
as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
P. ccxxxiii. Note. The words, &c.'* as were set in order, or made ready.' Should this in terpretation of the original be adopted, it would not at all alter the case, “ The preparations of the heart in man “mis from the LORD.” “LORD, thou hast heard " the desire of the humble; thou wilt prepare their “hearts, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.”I " Every “good gift and every perfect gift is from above." If men are made ready, and are in a fit posture to lay hold 'on the great promise of the gospel;' they owe this preparation of heart to the special grace of God. They are “ vessels of mercy, which God has afore prepared “ unto glory."S · Giving thanks unto the Father, who “ hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance “ of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the
power of darkness, and hath translated us into the
kingdom of his dear Son." Few will directly say, ' I made myself ready;'. It was my own goodness, that * put me in a fit posture to lay hold on the great promise of the gospel, and I am not indebted for it to divine grace.' Most men will, in words, give the glory to
• " The words coui Teloegoervol nou might have as well been rendered," 25
many as were set in order, or made ready," and then the context had plainly illustrated the text. For in the same yerse we find that this was spoken of the Gentiles, who were glad and glorified God, that the words of salvation and everlasting life belonged to them also. (46, 47.) But who these Gentiles were, we learn more particularly from verse 43, nainely
, that 'they were some obopeeyov apornautar, of the devout or worshipping proselytes
, · those who believed a life to come, and sought for the happiness thereof
, e and who therefore were in a fit posture to lay hold of that great promise of the gospel, being both prepared to hear what the apostles had to say,
concerning the way and means of obtaining it, and also to make use of such * means, wben once they were thoroughly instructed in them.' (Stebbing.) † Prov. xvi 1.
# Ps. x. 17. 9 Col. i. 12, 13,
§ Rom. is. 23.
God, of making them thus to differ from unbelievers; and all humble christians, will do it cordially, in their own case; even though they cannot receive the doctrine, called Calvinistick, Some, however, of these devout, or worshipping, proselytes, were not thus made ready to embrace the gospel: for “ the Jews stirred up the " devout and honourable women, and the chief men of " the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Bar“ nabas, and expelled them out of their coasts." If there had been no other preparation of heart, than that which was common to these devout proselytes; they would have favoured the persecutors, and not the persecuted apostles,* Lydia was previously one of these worshippers; yet her conversion is not ascribed to this, but to special grace: “ The Lord opened the heart of
Lydia, that she attended to the things which were “ spoken of Paul."-But did none believe in Christ, except those, who were before worshipping psoselytes? If any, if numbers, of the idolatrous Gentiles embraced the gospel, they also “were ordained unto eternal life." “It is indeed useless, highly improper, and quite un
necessary, to rest the argument on a word, which may ' perhaps admit of some other meaning: but the labour'ed discussions of those, who are greatly afraid, that the * doctrine of gratuitous personal election to eternal life
should be collected from it, leaves this impression on my mind, that these writers themselves would have
carefully avoided a term, which needs so much guard! ing against misconstruction.”! The word is used in the texts referred to below, and no where else in the New Testament.
• Matt. xxiii, 13. † Acts xvi. 14. Gr. # Note. Acts xiii. 4248. Family Bible, by the Author. $ Matt. xxviji. 16. Luke vii. &. Acts xii, 48. XV. 2. II. 13. xxij. 10. xxvi. 25. Rom. xii. 1. 1 Cor. xyi. 15.