Sivut kuvina
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

duct it neither interfered with his free agency, nor diminished the degree of his criminality. And the case is similar with all others who are left to follow their own sinful inclinations; and "to stum"ble at the word being disobedient, whereunto "also they were appointed."

The case of the watchman is not indeed an apposite illustration. His report is not in any sense prediction. He does not foretell that the company will actually come to the place where he is; but merely testifies that he sees a company approaching. The existence and motion of the company are all that he reports as seen and known; not any thing which is not seen and known. In fact, the concessions to our principles made by the Archbishop greatly overbalance any thing which may seem to militate against them.

Freedom of will and liberty of action are the ' essential qualities of men, as moral responsible 'beings.' 1

"The Jews" could not believe" because of their own prejudices and lusts, and not because it was so decreed; for a decree of this kind would not 'only have been inconsistent with their free agency, but irreconcilable also with many passages of

scripture, and particularly with our Saviour's 'exhortations recorded in the same chapter, "Walk ' while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you while ye have light, believe in the light, ' that ye may be the children of light."2 There was 'therefore no divine decree, which prevented the 'Jews from walking according to the doctrine of 'Ref. 229. See Book I. chap. ii. sect. 1. On Free Will. 2 John xii. 35, 36.

'Christ, and embracing his religion, since we cannot suppose that our Saviour would call upon the 'Jews to do that which God had made impossible.'1


The divine decree, not being known to the Jews, or thought of by them, was in no measure the motive of their conduct; but they were kept from believing' by their own prejudices and lusts.' Neither did the divine decree compel them to act as they did, or render them unable to believe. They were not destitute of natural ability; their moral inability was foreseen as the effect of their depraved hearts; and God only decreed to "give them up "to their own hearts' lust, and they walked in their " own counsels."2 He knew what the effect of his thus leaving them would be; and, having decreed, he also predicted, it. The divine decree and prediction did not prevent the Jews from walking ' according to the doctrine of Christ, and embrac'ing his religion;' but it shewed the Lord's righteous determination, not to give them that disposition of which they were wholly destitute: and 'consequently they had not the ability to do what ' in the sight of God was good.'3 Thus it became impossible that they should obey the call of the gospel; "for the scripture cannot be broken." Yet this decree was not in any respect 'inconsistent ' with their free agency, or with our Saviour's ex'hortations.' He shewed the people in general their duty and interest, and exhorted them to attend to them; but he knew (whether it were decreed or not,) that many of them would refuse to comply with his counsel; yet nothing but pride, prejudice, and worldly affections' prevented' their

'Ref. 231.

2 Ps. lxxxi. 12.

Ref. 61.

compliance. In reality, the certain foreknowledge of God, and every express prophecy, may, exactly on the same ground, be said to be inconsistent with commands and exhortations, and with man's free agency: for, if the event, foreknown and foretold, cannot fail to take place, it is morally impossible that any creature should act so as to prevent it. The exhortations were addressed to the people in general, and many individuals complied with them, though a greater number did not. There was among them "a remnant according to the "election of grace." This " election obtained it," (the blessing,)" and the rest were blinded." like manner, before the Babylonish captivity, after that event had been most decidedly and repeatedly predicted, the prophets used similar exhortations: not that compliance with these exhortations was expected from the nation at large, so as to falsify the express predictions given; but that individuals, repenting and turning unto God, might escape final ruin; and be, even in the captivity, " a holy "seed," and the progenitors of a holy race, to whom God would afterwards return in mercy.


'Here it is expressly said, that they closed their ' own eyes; and in other places we find their un'belief and rejection of the gospel attributed to ' their own obstinacy and wickedness.' 2

[ocr errors]

No doubt the Jews wilfully closed their own eyes; and so do all others who perish in their sins. The question is, whether all would not do the same, if left to themselves without the newcreating grace of God; and whether God might

'Rom. xi. 5-10.

2 Ref. 232.

not justly so leave them. God is not, and cannot be, the author of sin: and, if any speak of God in language implying this, he is a blasphemer. I feel not the least repugnancy at associating, in other respects, with many who are decided, yet meek and humble Arminians, as to the doctrine of divine decrees; but a man called a Calvinist, and maintaining that God is, in any sense, the author of sin, I regard as Judas, and would have no communion with him.-I say meek and humble Arminians; for such as are eager and fierce often run into as direct blasphemy in another way.

But may not the Judge of all the earth, when a rebellious creature, from enmity against him, and love of that which He abhors, has closed his own 'eyes' 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 har'dened?' 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 pro

[ocr errors]


phets," grant him permission, and say, "Thou "shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth " and do so?" 2 Nay, may he not, as in the case of Pharaoh, arrange events in his 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 pre

1 2 Thess. ii. 9—12.

' 1 Kings xxii. 21-23. 2 Chron. xviii. 18—22.

sumption 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."1


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

"They loved darkness rather than light, be'cause their deeds were evil:" 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 hardened of God. They harden them'selves, because it is by their own choice, by their ' own obstinacy and perverseness that they become ' obdurate; and they are hardened 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 contrary, 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 occa'sion, of their greater wickedness: and in this

[ocr errors]

Hab. ii. 20.

« EdellinenJatka »