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less, God who showeth mercy, and who is at the same time infinitely wise and just. Meanwhile, when it is said that it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth,' it is not denied that there is one who wills, and one who runs, only care is taken not to assign to him any portion of merit or praise. But when God determined to restore mankind, he also without doubt decreed that the liberty of will which had been lost should be at least partially regained by them, which was but reasonable. Whomsoever therefore in the exercise of that degree of freedom which their will had acquired either previously to their call, or by reason of the call itself, God had seen in any respect willing or running, (who it is probable are here meant by the ordained) to them he gave a greater power of willing and running, that is, of believing. Thus it is said, 1 Sam. xvi. 7. « Jehovah looketh on the heart,' namely, on the disposition of men either as it is by nature, or after grace has been received from him that calleth them. To the same purport is that well known saying,—' to him that hath shall be given.' This may be illustrated by the example of the centurion, Matt. viii. 10. "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,'-of the woman of Canaan, Matt. xv. 28. 0 woman, great is thy faith,'—of the father of the demoniac, Mark ix. 24. • Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief,and of Zaccheus, Luke xix. 3. •he sought to see Jesus who he was,' whence, v. 9. • Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.' Zaccheus therefore had not been ordained from all eternity, but from the time when he had shewn himself eagerly desirous of knowing Christ.
Nor is it less on this account of God that show. eth mercy,' since the principal is often put for the sole cause without impropriety, not only in common discourse, but even in the language of logicians : and certainly unless God had first shown mercy, it would have been in the power of no one either to will or to run. Philipp. ii. 13. «for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' 2 Cor. iii. 5. not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves ; but our sufficiency is of God,' without whose mercy he that willeth or he that runneth would gain nothing. * . I think therefore it must be sufficiently clear from the analogy of all the rest of Scripture, who those are that are said in the passage quoted from the Acts to have been ordained to eternal life. On a review of the whole, I should conjecture, that Luke had not intended to advance in so abrupt a manner any, new doctrine, but simply to confirm by a fresh example the saying of Peter respecting Cornelius, Acts x. 34, 35. Cornelius and the Gentiles with him believed, as many at least as feared God and worked righteousness, for such were accepted of God in every
* All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed;
Paradise Lost, III. 171. See also Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Holy Spirit, where the line of argument pursued by Milton is beautifully and powerfully enforced.
nation. So in the other passage, those of the Gentiles whose thoughts were already devoted to serious subjects, worthy the attention of men, believed, and gave themselves up to instruction with docility and gladness of heart, glorifying the word of the Lord. Such Peter declared were accepted of God in every nation, and such Luke in conformity with Peter's opinion asserts to be ordained to, that is, qualified for eternal life, even though they were Gentiles.
But an objection of another kind may perhaps be made. If God be said to have predestinated men only on condition that they believe and continue in the faith, predestination will not be altogether of grace, but will depend on the will and belief of mankind; which will be derogatory to the exclusive efficary of divine grace. But this is so far from being true, that the doctrine of grace is thus placed in a much clearer light than by the theory of those who make the objection. For the grace of God is acknowledged to be infinite, in the first place, inasmuch as he showed any pity at all for man, whose fall was to happen through his own fault. Secondly, because he so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son' for its salvation. Thirdly, because he has again granted us the power of volition, that is, of acting freely, in consequence of recovering the liberty of the will by the renewing of the Spirit. It was thus that he opened the heart of Lydia, Acts xvi. 14. But if the condition whereon the decree depends, that is to say, the will enfranchised by God himself, and faith which is required of mankind be left in the power of beings who are free agents, there is nothing in the doctrine either derogatory to grace, or incon
sistent with justice; since the power of willing and believing is either the gift of God,* or, so far as it is inherent in man, partakes not of the nature of merit or of good works, but only of a natural faculty. Nor does this reasoning represent God as depending upon the human will, but as fulfilling his own pleasure, whereby he has chosen that man should always use his own will with a regard to the love and worship of the Deity, and consequently with a regard to his own salvation. If this use of the will be not admitted, whatever worship or love we render to God is entirely vain and of no value ; the acceptableness of duties done under a law of necessity is diminished, or rather is annihilated altogether, and freedom can no longer be attributed to that will over which some fixed decree is inevitably suspended.t
*......... Man shall find grace ;
Happy for man, so coming ; he her aid
Paradise Lost, III. 227.
Paradise Lost, V. 524. • Many there be that complain of Divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! when God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing ; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions.
The objections, therefore, which are so vehemently urged by some against this doctrine, are of no force whatever ;-namely, that on this theory, the repentance and faith of the predestinated having been foreseen, predestination becomes posterior in point of time to works,—that it is rendered dependent on the will of man,--that God is defrauded of part of the glory of our salvation,-that man is puffed up with pride,--that the foundations of all Christian conso-. lation in life and in death are shaken,—that gratuitous justification is denied. On the contrary, the scheme, and consequently the glory, not only of the divine grace, but also of the divine wisdom and justice, is thus displayed in a clearer manner than on the oppo- . site hypothesis; which was the principal end that God proposed to himself in predestination.
Since then it is so clear that God has predestinated from eternity all those who should believe and continue in the faith, it follows that there can be no reprobation, except of those who do not believe or continue in the faith, and even this rather as a consequence than a decree ; there can therefore be no reprobation of individuals from all eternity. For God has predestinated to salvation, on the proviso of a general condition, all who enjoy freedom of will; while none are predestinated to destruction, except through their own fault, and as it were, per accidens, in the same manner as there are some to whom the Gospel itself is said to be a stumbling-block and a
We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force ; God therefore left him free, set be'ore him a provoking object ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, berein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence.' Speech for the Liberty of linlicensed Printing. Prose Works, I. 305.