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of God.' What is the meaning of 'ye are not of God?' not surely, ye are not elect; it implies the same as 'to be of the devil,' v. 44, that is, to follow the devil rather than God. So too, x. 26. 'ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep.' Why not of my sheep? Because it was so decreed? By no means, but because ye do not hear the word; because ye do not follow me; 'my sheep hear my voice, and they follow me,' v. 27. Ye, as I repeatedly tell you, do not believe, v. 25, 26. I told you, and ye believed not; the works that ther's name, they bear witness of me but ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you'. The argument runs thus-ye do not believe, because ye are not of my sheep; ye are not of my sheep, because ye neither hear my word nor follow me. Christ certainly intended to give some such reason for their unbelief as would throw the fault of it upon themselves, not such a one as would exempt them from blame; but if not to be of his sheep, be interpreted to mean not to be of the elect, a privilege which had never been within their option, his words would contain an excuse for their conduct, rather than a reproof, which would be contrary to his obvious purpose. Again, xii. 39, 40, compared with Isai. vi. 10. 'therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias saith again, He hath blinded their eyes,' &c. Not because the words of Isaiah, or the decree of God delivered by his mouth, had previously taken away from them the power or grace of belief irrespectively; but according to the reason declared by the prophet why they could not believe, namely, because God had blinded their eyes. And why he had thus
blinded their eyes, the preceding chapter explains, v. 4, &c. because nothing more remained to be done to his unfruitful vineyard, but to cut it down. This appears still more clearly Luke xiii. 24, 25. many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able: when once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door.' xiv. 24. I say unto you that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.' xix. 42. 'if thou hadst known at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.' Rom. i. 21, 24, 26, 'because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God,' &c. wherefore God also gave them up,' &c. for this cause God gave them up,' &c. 2 Thes. ii. 10-12. with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved: and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.' iii. 2. for all men have not faith; that is, obstinate and unreasonable sinners have it not; which the context shows is the sense intended. 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8. the stone which the builders disallowed,' &c. and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed,'—that is, to be disobedient. And why? Because they had disallowed that stone, and had stumbled upon it, disallowing Christ themselves before they were disallowed by him. Whoever has paid attention to what has been urged, will easily perceive that the difficulties respecting this doctrine
have arisen from the want of making the proper distinction between the punishment of hardening the heart and the decree of reprobation; according to Prov. xix. 3. the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against Jehovah.' For such do in effect impugn the justice of God, however vehemently they may disclaim the intention;* and might justly be reproved in the words of the heathen Homer:
Αὑτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο.
Odyss. I. 7.
they perish'd self-destroy'd
By their own fault.
And again, in the person of Jupiter :
Ω πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται ! ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ ̓ ἔμμεναι· οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν, ὑπὲρ μόρον, ἄλγε' ἔχουσιν. Odyss. I. 32.
Perverse mankind! whose wills, created free,
On which passage Dunster quotes the second of the passages from the Odyssey with which Milton himself concludes this chapter.
I CANNOT enter upon subjects of so much difficulty as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, without again premising a few introductory words. If indeed I were a member of the Church of Rome, which requires implicit obedience to its creed on all points of faith, I should have acquiesced from education or habit in its simple decree and authority, even though it denies that the doctrine of the Trinity, as now received, is capable of being proved from any passage of Scripture. But since I enrol myself among the
* But I would show you the divers ways the Doctors of your Church do the principal and proper work of the Socinians for them, undermining the doctrine of the Trinity, by denying it to be supported by those pillars of the faith, which alone are fit and able to support it, I mean Scripture, and the consent of the ancient Doctors. For Scripture, your men deny very plainly and frequently that this doctrine can be proved by it. See if you please this plainly taught, and urged very earnestly by Cardinal Hosius, De Auctor. Sacr. lib. iii. p. 53. by Gordonius Huntlæus, Tom. I. Controv. 1. De Verbo Dei, lib. x. by Gretserus and Tannerus, in Colloquio Ratisbon. and also by Vega, Possevin, Wickus, and others.' Chillingworth's Preface to the Author of Charity Maintained, a work published in 1630 by Matthias Wilson, a Jesuit, under the name of Edward Knott. " Longe ergo sincerius facerent, et prout ingenuos disputatores decet, si cum Pontificiis faterentur istam distinctionem ex Scriptura non posse probari, sed tantum ex traditione. Curcellæi Dissertatio Prima de vocibus Trinitatis, &c. 38. See also the passages quoted by Curcellæus from writers of the Romish Church.
number of those who acknowledge the word of God alone as the rule of faith, and freely advance what appears to me much more clearly deducible from the Holy Scriptures than the commonly received opinion, I see no reason why any one who belongs to the same Protestant or Reformed Church, and professes to acknowledge the same rule of faith as myself, should take offence at my freedom, particularly as I impose my authority on no one, but merely propose what I think more worthy of belief than the creed in general acceptation. I only entreat that my readers will ponder and examine my statements in a spirit which desires to discover nothing but the truth, and with a mind free from prejudice. For without intending to oppose the authority of Scripture, which I consider inviolably sacred, I only take upon myself to refute human interpretations as often as the occasion requires, conformably to my right, or rather to my duty as a man. If indeed those with whom I have to contend were able to produce direct attestation from heaven to the truth of the doctrine which they espouse, it would be nothing less than impiety to venture to raise, I do not say a clamour, but so much as a murmur against it. But inasmuch as they can lay claim to nothing more than human powers, assisted by that spiritual illumination which is common to all,* it is not unreasonable that they should on their part allow the privileges of diligent research and free discussion to another inquirer, who is seeking truth through the same means and in the same way as
*The spirit of God, promis'd alike and given
To all believers.
Paradise Lost, XII. 519.