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grace at all been bestowed.* But the offer of grace having been once proclaimed, those who perish will always have some excuse, and will perish unjustly, unless it be evident that it is actually sufficient for salvation. So that what Moses said in his address to the Israelites, Deut. xxix. 4. • Jehovah hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day,' must be understood as having been dictated by the kindness and tenderness of his feelings, lest he should have been accused of harshness and asperity towards so large an assembly of the people, who were then on the point of entering into covenant with God, if he had chosen that particular time for openly reproving the hardness of their hearts. When, therefore, there were two causes to which their impenitence was capable of being ascribed,-either, that a heart had not yet been given by God, who was at liberty to give it when he pleased, or, that they had not yielded obedience to God,-he made mention only of the freedom of God's will, and left their hardness of heart to be suggested silently by their own consciences; for no one could be at a loss to perceive, that if God to that day had not given them an understanding heart, their own stubbornness must have been the principal cause ; or else that God, who had wrought so many miracles for their sakes, had abundantly given them a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, but that they had refused to make use of these gifts.
* God made thee of choice his own, and of his own
Paradise Lost, X. 766.
Thus much, therefore, may be considered as certain and irrefragable truth-that God excludes no one from the pale of repentance and eternal salvation, till he has despised and rejected the propositions of sufficient grace, offered even to a late hour, for the sake of manifesting the glory of his long-suffering and justice. Nor has God anywhere declared in direct and precise terms that his will is the cause of reprobation, but the reasons which influence his will in the case at issue are frequently propounded, -namely, the grievous sins of the reprobate previously committed, or foreseen before actual commission,-want of repentance,-contempt of grace,-deafness to the repeated calls of God. For reprobation must not be attributed, like the election of grace, to the divine will alone. Deut. ix. 5. not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land ; but for the wickedness of these nations Jehovah thy God doth drive them out before thee.' For the exercise of mercy requires no vindication; it is unnecessary to assign any cause for it, except God's own merciful will ; but, that reprobation, the consequence of which is punishment, may be reconciled with justice, it must be owing to man's sin alone, and not to the arbitrary will of God—to sin either committed or foreseen, after the constant rejection of grace, or after it has been sought at length too late, and only through fear of punishment, when the appointed day of grace is past. or God does not reprobate for one cause, and condemn or assign to death for another, according to the distinction commonly made ; but those whom he has condemned on account of sin, he has also reprobated on account of sin, as in time, so from all eternity. And this reprobation lies not so much in the divine will, as in the obstinacy of their own minds; it is not God who decrees it, but the reprobate themselves who determine on refusing to repent while it is in their power. Acts xiii. 46. “ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.' Matt. xxi. 43.
the stone which the builders rejected,' &c. 'therefore the kingilom of God shall be taken from you. See also 1 Pet. ï. 7, 8. Matt. xxiii. 37. “ how often would I have gathered thy children together,' &c. • and ye would not.' Nor would it be less unjust to decree reprobation, than to condemn for any other cause than sin. As, therefore, there is no condemnation except on account of unbelief or of sin, (John iii. 18, 19. he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed,' &c. 'this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light :' xii. 48. he that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken,' &c. 2 Thess. ii. 12. that they all might be damned who believed not the truth,') so we will prove from all the passages that are alleged in confirmation of the decree of reprobation, that no one is excluded by any decree of God froin the pale of repentance and eternal salvation, unless it be after the contempt and rejection of grace, and that at a very late hour. We may begin our proofs of this assertion from the instance of Jacob and Esau, Rom. ix. since in the opinion of many the question seems to turn on that case. It will be seen that the subject of discussion in this passage is not so much predestination, as the
unmerited calling of the Gentiles after the Jews had been deservedly rejected.
St. Paul shows in the sixth verse, that the word which God spake to Abraham, had not therefore taken none effect because all his posterity had not received Christ, and more had believed among the Gentiles than among the Jews; inasmuch as the promise was not made in all the children of Abraham, but in Isaac, v. 7 ; that is to say, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed,' v. 8. The promise therefore was not made to the children of Abraham according to the flesh, but to the children of God, who are therefore called the children of the promise. But since Paul does not say in this passage who are the children of God, an explanation must be sought from John i. 11, 12. where this very promise is briefly referred to; "he came unto his own, and his own received him not : but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. The promise therefore is not to the children of Abraham in the flesh, but to as many of the children of his faith as received Christ, namely, to the children of God and of the promise, that is, to believers; for where there is a promise, it behoves that there be also a faith in that promise.
St. Paul then shows by another example, that God did not grant mercy in the same degree to all the posterity even of Isaac, but much more abundantly to the children of the promise, that is, to believers; and that this difference originates in his own will ; lest any one should arrogate any thing to himself on the score of his own merits, v. 11, 12. • for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.' The purpose of God according to what election ? Doubtless according to the election to some benefit, to some privilege, and in this instance specially to the right of primogeniture transferred from the elder to the younger of the sons or of the nations ; whence it arises that God now prefers the Gentiles to the Jews. Here then his purpose of election is expressly mentioned, but to reprobation there is no allusion. St. Paul is satisfied with employing this example to establish the general principle of election to any mercy. or benefit whatever. Why should we endeavour to extort from the words a harsh and severe meaning which does not belong to them? If the elder shall serve the younger, whether the individual or the people be intended, (and in this case it certainly applies best to the people) it does not therefore follow that the elder shall be reprobated by a perpetual decree ; nor, if the younger be favoured with a larger measure of grace, does it follow that the elder shall be favoured with none. For this can neither be said of Esau, who was taught the true worship of God in the house of his father, nor of his posterity, whom we know to have been called to the faith with the rest of the Gentiles. Hence this clause is added in Esau's blessing, Gen. xxvii. 40. it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck. Now if the servitude of Esau implied his reprobation, these words must certainly