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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, nepolerypoppevol EIS TOUTO TO repouce, " 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 expres. sions 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. ï. 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. 5.7. 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 lifelli * Disobedient, whereunto also tħey were appointed,” i Pet. ii, 7,8; not appointed to disobedience, but being disobedient wilfully, appointed to destruction g. o 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. tion 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 sup-, poses 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, 1 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 Tapos yw, xoe tepowpoe ooppoppes TNS Elnovos, &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:" TETOY MEVol. For in this very book, St. Paul is represented as having proceeded on foot to Assos, for he was so DISPOSED; DICTETOY MEvog. · 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 doc
trine of absolute election is contrary to the.command of God, “ make your election suret;" 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. ii.
his exhortations to Christians to “ continue stead. fast,” and to “ work out their salvation with fear;" to his cautions, not to fall from grace; to his threats, against drawing back, and turning from righteousness. · And whereas the Calvinists' urge the glory of God, as promoted by the fatal de crees, these conceive that his glory would shine forth more luminously in a general, than in a partial, tender of grace; not to mention, in reviewing the horrid part of this sentence, that it is a strange way of manifesting the divine glory, to create men for the purpose of destroying them everlastingly.'' · Calvin, Beza, and other predestinarians confess, that the whole stream of the ancient Fathers flows directly against their hypothesis. Justin Martyr, Ired næus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Macarius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Cyril of Alexandria, speak of every man's ability to be good or bad; and, with St. Ambrose and Theophylact, suppose electioni to be the result of pious living. “ All the an. cients," says Melancthon, “ except St. Austin, assented that there was some cause of our election in ourselves.” St. Austin, indeed, in recoiling from the Pelagian heresy, rushed into the opposite error; but Prosper confesses, that even they who con. deinned Pelagius, rejected the absolute decreetaught by St. Austin, as a mere novelty. Want of room precludes the citation of passages from the Fathers ; for these, then, I must refer to the