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position of the apostle ; which is to this effect :that not all who are born of Abraham after the flesh, are truly his sons, and those to whoin pertain the promises wherein eternal happiness is proposed to the posterity of Abraham; but those persons alone on whom God is pleased to bestow this favour,without any regard to their descent according to the flesh: and these are they who have believed in God through Christ, from whatever parents descended, or whatever their. previous inoral conduct may have been, and who are in this manner made the spiritual children of Abraham: that therefore not the Israelites born of Abraham after the flesh, although perhaps superior to believers in respect to their antecedent works, are the true children of Abraham, and the heirs of spiritual blessings, but believers in Christ : and that unless he enter this way of attaining justification, every one will both will and run in vain, since the compassion of God will neither direct his will nor attend his course. Such is the true meaning of this passage. Wherefore, while I freely admit that no man by his willing and running, when not ordered according to the will of God, could or can succeed in moving God to confer any benefit upon him ;-s0, on the other hand, that, after God has offered his grace, a man is not able to accept and embrace the proffered boon, and to regulate his life by the direction of the divine will, I hold to be a pernicious error : particularly as Paul is so far from denying that a man is able to will and run so as to please God, that he on the contrary rather intimates with sufficient plainness that he can do this; only he,
asserts that all this will be in vain unless the compassion of God accompany it, and this running be pursued in conformity with the will of God. And that such a running will not be in vain, but be conducive to salvation, is sufficiently evident from hence,--that the apostle exhorts the Corinthians to run, and so to run as to obtain the prize held out to the runners; and states that he had not himself run in vain: 1 Cor. ix. 24, 26; 2 Tim. iv 7, 8. See also Heb. xii. 1.
What reply do you make to the second testimony? :. That this mode of drawing does not take away free will: for it is not done in such a way that constraint is put upon men by God; but he draws men to his Son by displaying the excellence and certainty of his promises. That this mode of drawing is not effected by force appears, in the first place, from what Christ himself subjoins (John vi. ver. 45), where he explains the manner of this drawing : “And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned, of the Father, cómeth unto me.” Whence it is obvious, that to be drawn by the Father means nothing more than to hear and to be taught of the Father. And that this is done through Christ is manifest from his words inserted a little further on (ver. 46); “ Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God; he hath seen the Father :” as if he had said, He, having been first taught by the Father face to face, teaches others. It is again evident from hence, that this manner of drawing relates to all whom the gospel reaches, as may be easily inferred from those words of Jesus
(John xii. 32), “ And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Christ's meaning is, that no one can be his disciple unless the Father himself draw him, the preaching of the gospel co-operating with his divine powers. He would therefore draw all; but all are not in effect drawn, from their obstinacy and guilt.
What do you say to the third testimony? · That this testimony does not take away free will may be perceived from hence,—that no mention is made here of God, who had ordained these persons to eternal life; but it is merely written that “as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed;” which may be understood of some ordination made by the men themselves: as if he had said, As many as had ordained themselves, or as many as were fit, from the probity of their minds, to embrace the doctrine of Christ, and so to lay hold on eternal life, as is written a little before in the same chapter (Acts xiii. 46) in a contrary case, that others judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life; and as Christ says further on (Acts xviii. 10), that he had much people in Corinth, for no other reason than because there were many who were fit to become his people. Let it be added, that although this ordination were referred to God, it might still be understood of the fitness of men to embrace the gospel and attain eter
61 This power does not then belong to preaching, as was stated above, when this drawing was ascribed to the excellence and certainty of the promises; but is added to it. What then is it? Perhaps the Holy Spirit? But this is given to none but those who are already believers. M. RUARUS.
nal life ; since whatever is done according to the will of God way and rightly is wont to be ascribed to him as its author. But if we will have it that some decree of God concerning the salvation of those persons is intended in these words, it by no means follows either that this decree preceded the probity of their minds, much less their birth and that very age; or that it was unchangeable-so that their guilt could be made of no cousequence; or that to others it should close the way to repentance.
What are the testimonies that relate to particular persons ?
They are, among others, those wherein it is said that “God hardened the heart of Pharaoh,” Exod. iv. 21 ; vii. 3 ; x, 1, 20; xi. 10; xiv. 4, 8; and that Judas, who was an apostle of the Lord, was destined to betray him, Acts i. 16.
What answer do you make to these testimonies? • I grant that God does sometimes so reject from his grace certain wicked men,—not before their birth, but after they had merited this by their crimes,—that they can scarcely, and not even at all, repent and be amended. But these acts and proceedings of God do not take away free will, absolutely;—first, because these examples are singular62; and secondly, because,
as 62 I allow that free will is not taken away from other men in consequence of particular instances : but it may be objected, that, at least, it is taken away in these. In the next place, as it follows that those persons had merited this fate by their prior voluntary wickedness, it seems to be tacitly granted that after they had deserved it free will was taken away from them which is confirmed by what is subjoined, that their will was
as I have stated, these persons had merited this by their antecedent voluntary offences. Whence it ap- ; pears that, before God punished them in this manner, they were possessed of free will ; nevertheless they refused to obey God when it was in their power, and therefore were for a long time worthy that God should execute his judgements upon them, which at length, when he saw fit, he did execute. Of this kind was Pharaoh, who, long before, had for a considerable pes riod afflicted the people of God; and also Judas, who was a miser and a thief. God therefore, that he might
free before God had in this manner punished them. Whence it may be inferred that they then had it no longer, which is contrary to what the author designed to prove by these two reasons. I conceive that the hardening and blinding, and other divine judgements, are thus brought on these wretched men, First, because some powerful, but nevertheless not all, means of repentance are withheld from them: Secondly, because occasions of error and sin are presented to them, which are not indeed wholly inevitable, though nevertheless with difficulty to be avoided by such profligate persons. Free will is not by this means wholly taken from them and the justice of God remains, so that the guilt of the offences they may commit after their hearts are hardened cannot be imputed to him. Concerning the hardening of Pharaoh's heart in par. ticular, it ought to be observed, that it is attributed not only to God, but also to Pharaoh himself, as a certain act of wicka edness. (Ex. vii. 13, 22; viii. 15, 19, 32; ix. 7, 34), which could not have been the case if God had effected this by some irresistible power, and Pharaoh himself had not submitted to it of his own accord. Besides, it may also be plainly in-' ferred from several of the cited passages, by what means God hardened the heart of Pharaoh:-namely, partly by permitting his magicians to work the same miracles as Moses, and partly by removing, at the prayers of Moses and Aaron, the plagues which he had inflicted on account of Pharaoh's disobedience.-M. Ruarus. .