Imágenes de página

savour of death. Of this assertion proof shall be given from the testimony of Scripture no less explicit than of the doctrine asserted in the former part of the chapter. Isai. 1. 1. " where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?.....behold for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves.' Hos. iv. 6. "because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.....seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.' Rev. xiii. 8. all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.' And who are they but such as have not believed ? whom God has therefore deserted* because they • wandered after the beast,' v. 3. Nor should I call the decree mentioned in Zephaniah ii. 1—3. a decree of eternal reprobation, but rather of temporal punishment, and at any rate not an absolute decree, as the passage itself is sufficient to show : gather yourselves together,' &c. before the decree bring forth’.....&c. &c. it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the anger of Jehovah.'.

For if God had decreed any to absolute reprobation, which we do not read, he must, even according to their system who affirm that reprobation is an absolute decree, have likewise decreed the means without which his own decree could not be fulfilled. Now these means are neither more nor less than sin. Nor will the common subterfuge avail, namely, that God did not decree sin, but only its permission : this 'is a contradiction in terms; for at this rate he does more than simply permit it: he who permits a thing does not decree it, but leaves it free.

* Thence faintings, swoonings of despair, And sense of heaven's desertion.

Samson Agonistes, 631

But even if there be any decree of reprobation, Scripture everywhere declares, that as election is established and confirmed by faith, so reprobation is rescinded by repentance.* Jer. vi. 30. reprobate silver shall men call them, because Jehovah hath rejected them ;' and yet in the third verse of the following chapter God addresses himself to the same people— amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.' So too in chap. xviii. 6, &c. where God compares bis own right with that of the potter, (whence St. Paul seems to have taken his metaphor, Rom. ix.) if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.' So too where God defends in the clearest manner the justice of his ways, Ezek. xviii. 25--27. when the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawsul and right, he shall save his soul alive. xxxii. 14, 15. when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right,' &c. &c. he shall surely live, be shall not die.' The same is inculcated in other parts of the chapters just quoted : xviii. 31, 32. "why will ye die, 0 house of Israel? for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith

* To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,

Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,
Mine car shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.

Paradise Lost, III. 191

the Lord Jehovah; wherefore turn yourselves and live ye.' xxxiii. 11. (say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but that the wicked turn from his way and live ; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel ? Luke xiii. 5. • except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish :' therefore, if ye repent, ye shall not perish. If then there be no repentance, of what advantage is election; or if there be repentance, of what injury is reprobation ? Accordingly St. Paul, in speaking of those whom he describes as blinded, and whom he opposes to the elect, Rom. xi. 7. the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded,' subjoins immediately, v. 11. • have they stumbled that they should fall ? God forbid;' and v. 23, &c. and they also, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graffed in ; for God is able to graff them in again,' &c. lastly, he adds, v. 32. • God hath concluded them all in unbelief; that he might have mercy upon all.'

If then God reject none but the disobedient and unbelieving, he undoubtedly gives grace to all, though not in equal measure,* yet sufficient for attaining knowledge of the truth and final salvation ;-I have said, not in equal measure, because not even to the reprobate, as they are called, has he imparted uni


* Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,
Elect above the rest; so is my will :
The rest shall bear me call, and oft be warn'd
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The incens'd Deity, while offer'd grace
Invites; for I will clear their senses dark
What may suffice, and soften stony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.

Paradise Lost, III. 183.

formly the same degree of grace. Matt. xi. 21, 23. • woe unto thee, Chorazin,' &c. ' for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon,'-&c. See also Luke x. 13. For God, as any other proprietor might do with re. gard to his private possessions, claims to himself the right of determining concerning his own creatures according to his pleasure, nor can he be called to account for his decision, though, if he chose, he could give the best reasons for it. Rom. ix. 20, 21. nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God ? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ? hath not the potter power over the clay?' It is owing, therefore, to his supreme will that God does not vouchsafe equal grace to all ; but it is owing to his justice that there are none to whom he does not vouchsafe grace sufficient for their salvation. Isai. v. 4. what could have been done more in my vineyard, that I have not done in it ?' which words are spoken of the whole nation of the Jews, not of the elect only. xxvi. 10. let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. Ezek. xii. 2. which have eyes to see, and see not, they have ears to hear, and hear not ; for they are a rebellious house.' 2 Kings xvii. 13. “Jehovah testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways,' &c.... notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks.' See also 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16. John i. 9. that was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' ix. 41. if ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see, therefore your sin


remaineth,' namely, because your sin is the fruit of pride, not of ignorance. xv. 22. if I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not bad sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin. xii. 34–41.

yet a little while is the light with you : walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you,' &c. • while ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.' Acts xiii. 46. it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.' xiv. 16, 17. who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways : nevertheless he left not himself without witness.' Rom. 8. 20, 21. I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me: but to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.' 2 Cor. vi. 1, 2. behold, now is the accepted time ; behold, now is the day of salvation.' Heb. iii. 7, 8. compared with Psal. xcv. 7,9.

to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.' Undoubtedly if he desire that the wicked should turn from their way and live, Ezek. xxxiii. 11.-if he would have all men to be saved, 1 Tim. ii. 4.-if he be unwilling that any should perish, 2 Pet. iii. 9. he must also will that an adequate proportion of saving grace shall be withholden from no man; for if otherwise, it does not appear how his truth towards mankind can be justified. Nor is it" enough that only so much grace shall be bestowed as will suffice to take away all excuse ; for our condemnation would have been reasonable, even had no

VOL. 1.

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »