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number of useless and utterly inapplicable questions. For why should God foreknow particular individuals,
or what could he foreknow in them which should Linduce him to predestinate them in particular, rather
than all in general, seeing that the common condition of faith had been established ? Without searching
deeper into this subject, let us be contented with only knowing, that God, out of his infinite mercy and grace in Christ, has predestinated to salvation all who should believe.*
The other passage is Acts xiii. 48. when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.' The difficulty is caused by the abrupt introduction of an opinion of the historian, in which he at first sight appears to contradict himself as well as the rest of Scripture, for he had before attributed to Peter this saying, chap. x. 34, 35. ' of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons ; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.' · Accepted' certainly means chosen ; and lest it should be urged that Cornelius had already been a proselyte before, St. Paul says the same thing even of those who had never known the law, Rom. ii. 10, 14. there is no respect of persons with God,' &c. "when the Gentiles which have not the law,' &c. 1 Pet. i. 17. the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work.'
man's work.' Now those who hold
*Thy ransom paid, which man from death redeems,
Paradise Lost, XII. 424.
the doctrine that a man believes because he is ordained to eternal life, not that he is ordained to eternal life because he will believe, cannot avoid attributing to God the character of a respecter of persons, which he so constantly disclaims. Besides, if the Gentiles believed because they were ordained to eternal life, the same must have been the primary cause of the unbelief of the Jews, v. 46. which will plead greatly in their excuse, since it would seem that eternal life had only been placed in their view, not offered to their acceptance. Nor would such a dispensation be calculated to encourage the other nations, who would immediately conclude from it that there was no occasion for any will or works of their own in order to obtain eternal life, but that the whole depended on some fatal ordinance; whereas on the contrary Scripture uniformly shows in the clearest manner, that as many as have been ordained to eternal life believe, not simply because they have been so ordained, but because they have been ordained on condition of believing.
For these reasons other interpreters of more sagacity,* according to my judgement, have thought that there is some ambiguity in the Greek word τεταγμέvos, which is translated ordained, and that it has the same force as εύ ήτοι μετρίως διατεθειμένοι, “well or moderately disposed or affected,' of a composed, attentive, upright, and not disorderly mind; of a different spirit from those Jews, as touching eternal life, who had put from them the word of God,' and had shown themselves “unworthy of everlasting life.'
* This is the interpretation of Hammond and Whitby, and of Wolfius, Cur. Philol. in loc. See also the Commentators quoted in Mr. Horne's note, Introduction to the Critical Study of the Scriptures, Vol. Il. p. 759.
The Greeks use the word in a similar sense, as in Plutarch,* and 2 Thess. iii. 6, 11. there are some which walk disorderly,' certainly with reference to eternal life. This sense of the word, and even the particular application which is here intended, frequently occurs in Scripture in other terms. Luke ix. 92. cŭletos, well disposed,' or 'fit for the kingdom of God.' Mark xii. 31. not far from the kingdom of God.? 2 Tim. ii. 21. 'a vessel....meet for the master's use, and prepared for every good 'work.'t For, as will be shown hereafter, there are some remnants of the divine image left in man, the union of which in one individual renders him more fit and disposed for the kingdom of God than another. Since therefore we are not merely senseless stocks, some cause at least must be discovered in the nature of man himself, why divine grace is rejected by some and embraced by others. One thing appears certain, that though all men be dead in sin and children of wrath, yet some are worse than others; and this difference may not only be perceived daily in the nature, disposition, and habits of those who are most alienated
* Φύσει γάρ ήν σώφρων και τεταγμένος ταϊς επιθυμίαις. Ρlutarch. in Pompeio. Derivatives from this word are used with the same metaphorical signification. OTIS παραλαβών πολεμουμένας τας πόλεις, έξωθεν μέν υπό πλήθους και μανίας βαρβαρικής, ένδοθεν δε υπό στρατιωτικής αταξίας, και της των ταξιαρχών πλεονεξίας.-Synes. Epist. 62. Boudi Tute sais átáxT015. 1 Thess. v. 14.
| Milton employs the word fitted in a similar sense in his Hist. of Britain, Book V. c. 1. • But when God hath decreed servitude on a sinful nation, fitted by their own vices for no condition but servile, all estates of government are alike unable to avoid it.'
1 .... Why should not man,
Retaining still divine similitude
Paradise Lost, XI. 511.
grace of God, but may also be inferred from the expressions used in the parable, Matt. xiii. where the nature of the soil is variously described in three or four ways; part as stony ground, part overrun with thorns, part good ground, at least in comparison of the others, before it had as yet received any seed. See also Matt. x. 11, &c. "inquire who in it is worthy,' &c...“ and if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon
it.' How could any one be worthy before the Gospel had been preached, unless on account of his being ordained,' that is, well inclined or disposed, to eternal life? which Christ teaches that the rest will perceive in their own punishments after death. Matt. xi. 22. “it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for you.' Luke xii. 47, 48. that servant which knew his Lord's will.....shall be beaten with many stripes : but he that knew not....shall be beaten with few stripes.' And, lastly, the gift of reason has been implanted in all, by which they may of themselves resist bad desires, so that no one can complain of, or allege in excuse, the depravity of his own nature compared with that of others.
But, it is objected, God has no regard to the less depraved among the wicked in his choice, but often prefers the worse to the better. Deut. ix. 5. not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land.' Luke x. 13. • if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.' I answer, that it cannot be determined from these passages, what God regards in those whom he choos
es; for in the first place, I have not argued that he has regarded righteousness even in the least degree.* Secondly, in the former passage the question is not respecting election to life eternal, but concerning the gift of the land of Canaan to the Israelites, a gift assigned them for other reasons than those for which eternal life would have been given,-partly on account of the wickedness of the original inhabitants, and partly that the promise might be fulfilled which had been ratified by an oath to their forefathers ; wherein there is nothing that contradicts my' doctrine. In the latter passage, it is not the elect who are compared with the reprobate, but the reprobate who are compared with each other, the Tyrians with the unbelieving Jews, neither of which nations had repented. Nor would the Tyrians ever have truly repented, even if these miracles had been wrought among them, for if God had foreseen that they would have repented, he would never have forsaken them ; but the expression is to be understood in the same sense as Matt. xxi. 31. the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.'
Lastly, it will be objected, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy, Rom. ix. 16. I answer, that my argument does not presuppose one that willeth or that runneth, but one that is less reluctant, less backward, less resisting than another that it is, neverthe
thou oft, Amidst their highth of noon, Changest thy countenance, and thy hand, with no regard Of highest favours past From thee on them, or them to thee of service.
Samson Agonistes, 682.