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The Calvinists object, that it is said in Proverbs, xvi. 4, “ God made even the wicked for the day of evil :" a text, says Whitby, which plainly means, that God appointed wicked persons, perishing impenitently, to be obnoxious to divine wrath: . "on such men, long incorrigibly depraved, the day, of evil will ultimately come*.” The next passages to be considered are, John, xii. 39, 40; Luke, viii. 9, 10; and Mark, iv, 11, 12,; in which it is said, i that God had blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, lest they should be converted ; and “ that hearing they might hear, and not understand ; lest they should be converted," &c. Now, with respect to the first text, Christ in the preceding verses, Jobn, xii. 36, 37, exhorts these very Jews to believe and to walk in the light, &c. Did he exhort them to do what he knew they could not do? Did he exhort them con-trary to what he knew to be his Father's will ? Not 80. He knew them to be capable of salvation : John, iii, 17 ; V. 24 ; vi. 29. Luke, xiii. 34. ; xix. 42. He knew their crime to be, that they would not believe on him, John, xii. 37)The other two passages in Mark and Luke, are explained by St. Matthew, xiii. 15, “THEY had .closed their eyes, that they should not see.". Thật the two former were a proverbial expression, signifying voluntary perverseness, appears from Jerem, v. 21, and Ezek. xii. 2.. waren und in a
*. * Tomline, p. 227. See Rom, ix. 220 :.7
As to the words of St. Peter, ii. 7, 8, they are well explained by Hammond, who states that some Jews, being disobedient, were appointed to aggravate their disobedience by stumbling on the stone of offence.
Nor is there any difficulty in the phrase employed by Judė, 4, “men before ordained unto this condemnation.” For the original, poleypoppsvol EIS TOUTO TO Hpluce, " written before unto this sentence," means only, that a sentence of condemnation was written before concerning these men, on account of their foreseen ungodliness; as is evident from the whole context; which, after comparing them to the fallen angels, to Cain, Balaam, Corah, mentions the sentence, as foretold by Enoch, in the 15th verse.
But what shall be said of the striking expressions which follow:-“ If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost," 2 Cor. iv. 3;" whom he will he hardeneth,” Rom. ix. 18; “ God is as the potter who makes a vessel to dishonour,” Rom. ix. 21; "the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded,” Roin. xi. 7; “ God shall send them strong delusion," 2 Thess. ii. 11; and, “ they whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world," &c, Revel. xvii. 8.
These texts, which constitute the citadel and last stronghold of Calvinism, are all reconcilable to the Arminian system. In some of them a comparison is implied, in some expressed, between the unbelieving Jews and the Gentiles, Rom. ix. 30, 31 ; xi. 7 : in others the immediate context shows, that they who are lost, and who perish (2 Cor. iv.
3; and 2 Thess. ii. 10), are those who believe · not: 2 Cor. iv. 4; and 2 Thess. ii. 12. God may
be said to harden an impenitent man, by the motives to penitence which he presents : the conti„nued abuse of which, hardens the sinner more and more ; and God is said in Scripture, to do what he permits only to be done ; as in Matt. X. 34, “ I came to send a sword *." The phrase of Revelations," written in the book of life,” is Jewish, signifying the present right of a just person to life; and cannot establish the doctrine of absolute election and reprobation, since unbelievers shall be blotted from the book of life; Revel. xxii. 19; and ¢ he that overcometh shall not be blotted from it," Revel. iii. 5.f. They who worship the beast, then, are the persons, whose names, on account of unbelief and disobedience, were never registered in the book of life. • To these citations, generally, a key is furnished, in
See Jortin, Dissert. i. The passage, Rom. ix. 18-24, respecting vessels of wrath, is merely an illustration, and refers only to the present lifell: * Disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed,” i Pet. ii. 7,8; not appointed to disobedience, but being disobedient wilfully, appointed to destruction g.
op See Psalnı lxix, and Dan. xii. 1, 2, 3.
| Tomline, Refut. p. 239. · See also 2 Cor. ii. 16; Rom. xiv. 4. 2 Tim. j. 9, makes redemp. - Rjon generally the work of grace; and who denies this?
the words of our Lord; “ He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark, xvi. 16; and in Luke, xiii. 3, which supposes optional repentance, and admits that to repent is not to perish. .
With respect to election, Whitby has very plainly shown, that it is applied in Scripture, not to persons, as in Deut. x, 15, 16; 1 Pet. ii. 9;: and many other passages; but to churches and nations : that it is an election to the enjoyment of the means of grace, rather than a certainty of being saved by these means; that it is an election upon faith joined to holiness; and that its continuance depends on perseverance, which is matter. of exhortation : 2 Peter, i. 10, and xi. 5, 6, 7; 1 Peter, i. 14 ; ii. ), 11; iv. 2, 3, 15.
Predestination, in fine, is most clearly represented as resting upon the foreknowledge of God. The redemption of mankind was ordained before the foundation of the world ; and the salvation of each individual depending on his own free agency in accepting or rejecting the proposed conditions and helps, God by his prescience foresaw who would accept, and who would reject them; and the for, mer, whom he did foreknow, he also did predestia nate, Rom. viii. 29; these being elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, i Peter, i. 2. The words, “ whom he did foreknow, them he also predestinated To Be conformed to the image of his Son," Rom. viii. 29, are considered by some as signifying, “ conformed to the glory of his Son*," v. 17: but if they rather allude to moral conformity, it is important to remember, that the words “to be” have no corresponding word in the original : ss tiposyow, nai topowpos oop pop 885 TNS EIXOVOS, &c.
In like manner, Acts, xiii. 48, “ as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed,” ought to have been rendered, “ as many as were disposed to eternal life:" TETOLY MEvol. For in this very book, St. Paul is represented as having proceeded on foot to Assos, for he was so DISPOSED; SICTETOY Msvog. · Again, “ by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners,” cannot signify, were ordained to be sinners: because the corresponding phrase, Rom. v. 19, “ by the obedience of one, many were made righteous," signifies, many were accounted to be righteous. · The Arminians contend generally, that the doctrine of absolute election is contrary to the command of God, “ make your election sure ;" to
* Whitby, Disc. i.
+ Election is supposed by Calvin to be an infallible decree : would God then call upon any Christian converts to make an infallible decree sure ? Tomline, Refut. p. 205. In this work, cb. iv. it is shown, that many of the epistles set out with addressing the church written to as elect, and then glide into admonitions, not to fall away. Election, then, is not an infallible decree. · Predestination is used in Scripture only in a good sense. “ Nefas est dicere Deum aliquid nisi bonum predestinare." Aug. de Præd. c. ile