« EdellinenJatka »
ure they are entirely subservient. are vessels, they do not exist for themselves, but for another, to whom they belong by an absolute right, and whose prerogative it is to use them out of regard to his own sovereign will. The scriptures assure us, that all men are vessels from the hand of God the great artist; but some are unto honour, and others unto dishonour. The wicked are of the latter description, and are termed ves. sels of wrath. * Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, en. dured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ?" If we learn any thing from this text, it is this, that God has a use for the wicked as really as he has for the righteous, a truth which may be illustrated and explained by the different sorts and qualities of vessels used among men. The vile are chosen and made useful in their place, as really as the finer and more elegant
“ But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour."
It would not be just to say, the vessel unto honour is of use, and those of the other description quite unnecessary and useless. This would be ruining the apostle's illustration, and overturning the position he had laid down. As well might
that the householder has occasion for
none but the most elegant and costly furniture, and actually uses no other in any department of his house, not even in the lowest branches of household business ; as that God makes no use of the wicked, as instruments, in managing the vast concerns of his kingdom. We proceed to a
3d. Argument in support of the doctrine we are attempting to vindicate, which is, that God actually makes use of the wicked in fulfilling the scriptures.
If this be true, who will say, that he does not work by their means, as much as any labourer does by means of the implements, which belong to his peculiar calling ? If the Spirit of God has indited the scriptures, no doubt it is his will that they should be completely and exactly fulfilled. But if they cannot be fulfilled only through the agency of wicked men and devils, will not God make use of them to support his own veracity, and bring to pass the wise designs of his providence? It is not supposed, that the wicked do, or can, per form any thing, in fulfilment of the scriptures, with a view to this end. Their be, ing under any such motive, would be direct.
, ly contrary to the doctrine, and the supposition we are now upon.
It would imply such a regard to God, and his word, as is not compatible with the character of a wicked man.
Jehu did, indeed, pretend to have in view the fulfilment of prophecy against the house of Ahab, when he was pursuing that devoted race with the terror of his
sword; but his real motive, no boubt, was the establishment of himself in the kingdom. When God accoinplishes his word by the instrumentality of wicked agents, though he does it not without any will in them, yet he does it without any concurrence of their will with his. Accordingly, when God speaks of sending the Assyrian against the Land of Judah, to fulfil his word against them, it is. added; " Yet he meaneth not so, neither does his heart think so ; but it is in his heart to destroy nations not a few." God could gird him, as he did Cyrus afterwards, thouglı he knew him not. In many cases, it seems absolutely necessary, that those, who are ful. filling the scriptures, under the control and direction of a divine hand, should be totally ignorant of what they are about. Thus Paul, addressing persons of the stock of Abraham, says, " For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath-day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” Here it is stat. ed, that the crucisers of Christ were led on to that bar barous deed, putting to death the Lord of life, through ignorance of his character, and of the scriptures concerning him, and in no other circumstances could they have so proceeded against him, as to have fulfilled what was written. The apostle gives a further hint upon this point in the following words ; " But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom,
which God ordained before the world unto our glory : Which none of the princes of this world knew ; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of of Glory.” I am of the mind, that it would be no error to say, that more scripture is fulfilled by the wicked conduct of men, than by their good deeds. By scripture here I do not mean divine requirements ; but divine predictions ; the same that the apostle meant, when he said, « Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the holy Ghost, by the mouth of Da. vid, spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.” A very large proportion of holy writ consists of prea dictions of future events, relating not only to the state of the church, but to other por. tions of mankind also. These events, in vast. many instances, are brought about in provia dence, by the instrumentality of wicked men entirely ; such as the various destructions of mankind by the sword, which were foretold, but not commanded. It was foretold to A. braham, that his seed should sejourn four hundred years in Egypt, in a state of afflic. tion. This scripture God fulfilled by the instrumentality of several classes of wicked men į Joseph's brethren in selling their brother, who afterwards provided them a settlement in that country, and the Egyp. tions in laying them under cruel tasks and exactions. The dismemberment of the kinga dom of Israel, by the revolt of the ten tribes
was predicted, and afterwards fulfilled thro? the wicked intrigues and irreligious craft of Jeroboam, on the one hand, and the inconsiderate rashness and foolhardiness of Rehoboam on the other. “ Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people ; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam, the Son of Nebat.” The seventy years captivity of Judah, and their after return, were predicted ; and the events were accomplished, the one by the instrumentality of Nebuchadnezzar, and the other by that of Cyrus, both of whom were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and, for aught that appears, real enemies to the true God. Many other great events were foretold, particularly by the prophet Daniel, which have been fulfilled in the desolation of ancient kingdoms and empires, accomplished by the inveterate wars, which vanity and thirst of power have fomented. · All these are instances of the fulfilment of scripture by the instrumentality of the wicked. Af ter the birth of Christ, Herod fulfilled the scriptures by murdering all the innocent babes of Bethlehem. Judas also fulfilled the scriptures by his perfidy in betraying the Saviour, and the persecuting Jews by bring. ing Paul before kings and rulers. The Romans fulfilled the words of Christ in compassing Jerusalem with armies, and laying her stones even with the dust. The wicked have, ever since, been fulfilling the scriptures in