THE principal special decree of God relating to man is termed Predestination, whereby God in pity to mankind, though foreseeing that they would fall of their own accord, predestinated to eternal salvation before the foundation of the world those who should believe and continue in the faith; for a manifestation of the glory of his mercy, grace, and wisdom, according to his purpose in Christ.

It has been the practice of the schools to use the word predestination, not only in the sense of election, but also of reprobation. This is not consistent with the caution necessary on so momentous a subject, since wherever it is mentioned in Scripture, election alone is uniformly intended. Rom. viii. 29, 30. 'whom he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son..... moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.' 1 Cor. ii. 7. 'the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.' Eph. i. 5. having predestinated us unto the adoption.' v. 11. 'in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to his pur <57> pose.' Acts ii. 23. compared with iv. 28. 'him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God they have taken...... for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done, namely, as a means of procuring the salvation of man.

In other modes of expression, where predestination is alluded to, it is always in the same sense of election alone. Rom viii. 28. 'to them who are the called according to his purpose.' ix. 23, 24. 'the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called.' Eph. iii. 11. 'according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus.' 2 Tim. i. 9. 'according to his own purpose and grace.' For when it is said negatively, 1 Thess. v. 9. 'God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,' it does not follow by implication that there are others who are appointed to wrath. Nor does the expression in 1 Pet. ii. 8. 'whereunto also they were appointed,' signify that they were appointed from all eternity, but from some time subsequent to their defection, as the Apostles are said to be 'chosen' in time, 'and ordained' by Christ to their office, John xv. 16.

Again, if an argument of any weight in the discussion of so controverted a subject can be derived from allegory and metaphorical expressions, mention is frequently made of those who are written among the living, and of the book of life, but never of the book of death.[1] Isai. iv. 3. 'written among the living.' <58> Dan. xii. 1. 'at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.' Luke x. 20. 'rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.' Philipp. iv. 3. 'whose names are in the book of life.' At the same time this figure of enrolment in the book of life does not appear to signify eternal predestination, which is general, but some temporary and particular decision of God applied to certain men, on account of their works. Psal lxix. 28. 'let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous;' whence it appears that they had not been written from everlasting. Isai. lxv. 6. 'behold it is written before me; I will not keep silence, but will recompense.' Rev. xx. 12. 'the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.' It is clear, therefore, that it was not the book of eternal predestination, but of their works. In the same way neither were those ordained from everlasting who are said, Jude 4. to have been 'before of old ordained to this condemnation.' For why should we give so extensive a signification to the term 'of old,' instead of defining it to mean, from the time when they had become inveterate and hardened sinners? Why must we understand it to imply so remote a period, either in this text, or in the passage whence it seems to be taken? 2 Pet. ii. 3. 'whose judgement now of a longtime lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not,' —that is, from the time of their apostacy, however long they had dissembled it.

The text, Prov. xvi. 4. is also objected, —'Jehovah hath made all things for himself; yea, even the <59> wicked for the day of evil.' But God did not make him wicked, much less did he make him so 'for himself.' All that he did was to sentence the wicked to deserved punishment, as was most fitting, but he did not predestinate him, if innocent, to the same fate. It is more clearly expressed, Eccles. vii. 29. 'God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions,' whence the day of evil ensues as certainly, as if the wicked had been made for it.

Predestination, therefore, must always be referred to election, and seems often to be put for it. What St. Paul says, Rom. viii. 29. 'whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate,' is thus expressed, 1 Pet. i. 2. 'elect according to the foreknowledge.' Rom. ix. 11. 'the purpose of God according to election.' xi. 5. 'according to the election of grace.' Eph. i. 4. 'he hath chosen us in him.' Col iii. 12. 'as the elect of God, holy and beloved.' 2 Thess. ii. 13. 'because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.' Reprobation, therefore, could not be included under the title of predestination. 1 Tim. ii. 4. 'who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.' 2 Pet. iii. 9. 'the Lord.... is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,' —to us-ward, that is, towards all men, not towards the elect only, as some interpret it, but particularly towards the wicked, as it is said, Rom. ix. 22. 'God endured..... the vessels of wrath.' For if, as some object, Peter would scarcely have included himself among the unbelievers, much less would he have numbered himself among such of the elect as had not yet come to repentance. Nor does <60> God delay on account of the elect, but rather hastens the time. Matt. xxiv. 22. 'for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.'

I understand by the term election, not that general or national election, by which God chose the whole nation of Israel for his own people,[2] Deut. iv. 37. 'because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them,' and vii. 6-8. 'Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself,' Isai. xlv. 4. 'for Israel mine elect.' Nor do I mean that election by which God, after rejecting the Jews, chose the Gentiles as those to whom the Gospel should be announced in preference, of which the apostle speaks particularly Rom, ix. and xi. Nor am I referring to that election by which an individual is selected for the performance of some office,[3] as 1 Sam. x. 24. 'see ye him whom the Lord hath chosen?' John vi. 70. 'have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?' whence those are sometimes called elect who are eminent for any particular excellence, as 2 John 1 . 'the elect lady,' that is, most precious, and v. 13. 'thy elect sister.' 1 Pet. ii. 6. 'a chief corner stone, elect and precious.' 1 Tim. v. 21. 'the elect angels.' But that special election is here intended, which is nearly synonymous with eternal predestination. Election, therefore, is not a part of predestination; much less then is reprobation. For, speaking accurately, the ultimate pur <61> pose of predestination is the salvation of believers, —a thing in itself desirable, —but on the contrary the object which reprobation has in view is the destruction of unbelievers, a thing in itself ungrateful and odious; whence it is clear that God could never have predestinated reprobation, or proposed it to himself as an end. Ezek. xviii. 32. 'I have no pleasure in him that dieth.' xxxiii. 11. 'as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live.' If therefore the Deity have no pleasure either in sin, or in the death of the sinner, that is, either in the cause or the effect of reprobation, certainly he cannot delight in reprobation itself. It follows, that reprobation forms no part of what is meant by God's predestination.

Whereby God, &c. that is, God the Father. Luke xii. 32.; 'it is your Father's good pleasure.' So it is stated wherever mention is made of the divine decrees or counsel: John xvii. 2. 'as many as thou hast given him.' v. 6, 11, 24. 'the men which thou gavest me out of the world.' Eph. i. 4. 'he hath chosen us in him.' v. 5. 'having predestinated us.' v. 11. 'being predestinated according to his purpose.'

Before the foundation of the world, Eph. i. 4. 2 Tim. i. 9. 'before the world began.' See also Tit. i. 2.

In pity to mankind, though foreseeing that they would fall of their own accord. It was not simply man as a being who was to be created, but man as a being who was to fall of his own accord, that was the matter or object of predestination;[4] for that mani <62> festation of divine grace and mercy which God designed as the ultimate purpose of predestination, presupposes the existence of sin and misery in man, originating from himself alone. It is universally admitted that the fall of man was not necessary; but if on the other hand the nature of the divine decree was such, that his fall became really inevitable, —which contradictory opinions are sometimes held in conjunction by the same persons, —then the restoration of man, who had fallen of necessity, became no longer a matter of grace, but of simple justice on the part of God. For if it be granted that he lapsed, though not against his own will, yet of necessity, it will be impossible not to think that the admitted necessity must have overruled or influenced his will by some secret force or guidance. But if God foresaw that man would fall of his own free will, there was no occasion for any decree relative to the fall itself, but only relative to the provision to be made for man, whose future fall was foreseen. Since then the apostacy of the first man was not decreed, but only foreknown by the infinite wisdom of God, it follows that predestination was not an absolute decree before the fall of man; and even after his fall, it ought always to be considered and defined as arising, not so much from a decree itself, as from the immutable conditions of a decree.

Predestinated; that is, designated, elected; proposed to himself the salvation of man as the scope and end of his counsel. Hence may be refuted the notion of an abandonment and desertion from all eternity, in direct opposition to which God explicitly and frequently declares, as has been quoted above, that he <63> desires not the death of any one, but the salvation of all; that he hates nothing that he has made; and that he has omitted nothing which might suffice for universal salvation.

For a manifestation of the glory of his mercy, grace, and wisdom. This is the chief end of predestination. Rom. ix. 23. 'that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy.'1 Cor. ii. 7. 'we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Eph. i. 6. 'to the praise of the glory of his grace.

According to his purpose in Christ. Eph. iii. 10, 11. 'the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.' i. 4, 5, 'he hath chosen us in him; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.' v. 11. 'in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to his purpose.' This is the source of that love of God, declared to us in Christ. John iii. 16. 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.' Eph. ii. 4, 5. 'for his great love wherewith he loved us.... by grace ye are saved.' 1 John iv. 9, 10. 'in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world,' &c. Wherefore there was no grace decreed for man who was to fall, no mode of reconciliation with God, independently of the foreknown sacrifice of Christ;[5] and since God <64> has so plainly declared that predestination is the effect of his mercy, and love, and grace, and wisdom in Christ, it is to these qualities that we ought to attribute it, and not, as is generally done, to his absolute and secret will, even in those passages where mention is made of his will only. Exod. xxxiii. 19. 'I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,'that is, not to enter more largely into the causes of this graciousness at present, Rom. ix. 18. 'he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy,' by that method, namely, which he had appointed in Christ. Or it will appear on an examination of the particular texts, that in passages of this kind God is generally speaking of some extraordinary manifestation of his grace and mercy. Thus Luke xii. 32. 'it is your Father's good pleasure. Eph. i. 5, 11. 'by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; in whom also we have obtained an inheritance..... after the counsel of his own will.' James i. 18. 'of his own will,' —that is, in Christ, who is the word and truth of God, —'begat he us with the word of truth.'

Those who should believe, and continue in the faith. This condition is immutably attached to the decree; it attributes no mutability, either to God or to his decrees; 2 Tim. ii. 19. 'the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his:' or according to the explanation in the same verse, all who 'name the name of Christ, and depart from iniquity;' that is, whoever believes: the mutability is entirely on the side of them who renounce their faith, as it is said, 2 Tim. ii. 13. 'if we believe not, yet he abideth <65> faithful; he cannot deny himself.' It seems then that there is no particular predestination or election, but only general, —or in other words, that the privilege belongs to all who heartily believe and continue in their belief, —that none are predestinated or elected irrespectively, e. g. that Peter is not elected as Peter, or John as John, but inasmuch as they are believers, and continue in their belief, —and that thus the general decree of election becomes personally applicable to each particular believer, and is ratified to all who remain stedfast in the faith.

This is most explicitly declared by the whole of Scripture, which offers salvation and eternal life equally to all, under the condition of obedience in the Old Testament, and of faith in the New. There can be no doubt that the tenor of the decree in its promulgation was in conformity with the decree it self, —otherwise the integrity of God would be impugned, as expressing one intention, and concealing another within his breast. Such a charge is in effect made by the scholastic distinction which ascribes a two-fold will to God; his revealed will, whereby he prescribes the way in which he desires us to act, and his hidden will, whereby he decrees that we shall never so act:[6] which is much the same as to attribute <66> to the Deity two distinct wills, whereof one is in direct contradiction to the other. It is, however, asserted that the Scriptures contain two opposite statements respecting the same thing; it was the will of God that Pharaoh should let the people go, for such was the divine command, —but it was also not his will, for he hardened Pharaoh's heart. The truth however is, that it was God alone who willed their departure, and Pharaoh alone who was unwilling; and that he might be the more unwilling, God hardened his heart,[7] and himself deferred the execution of his own pleasure, which was in opposition to that of Pharaoh, that he might afflict him with heavier punishment on account of the reluctance of his will. Neither in his mode of dealing with our common father Adam, nor with those whom he calls and invites to accept of grace, can God be charged with commanding righteousness, while he decrees our diso <67> bedience to the command. What can be imagined more absurd than a necessity which does not necessitate, and a will without volition?

The tenor of the decree in its promulgation (which was the other point to be proved) is uniformly conditional. Gen. ii. 17. 'thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,' —which is the same as if God had said, I will that thou shalt not eat of it; I have not therefore decreed that thou shalt eat of it; for if thou eat, thou shalt die; if thou eat not, thou shalt live. Thus the decree itself was conditional before the fall; which from numberless other passages appears to have been also the case after the fall. Gen, iv. 7. 'if thou doest well, shalt thou not be excepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door,' or, 'the punishment of sin watcheth for thee.' Exod. xxxii. 32, 33. 'blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written..... whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.' Such was the love of Moses for his nation, that he either did not remember that believers, so long as they continued such, could not be blotted out, or the expression must be understood in a modified sense, as in Rom. ix. 1, &c. 'I could wish, if it were possible-:' but the answer of God, although metaphorical, explains with sufficient clearness that the principle of predestination is founded upon a condition, —'whosoever hath sinned, him will I blot out.' This is announced more fully in the enforcement of the legal covenant, Deut. vii. 6-8. where God particularly declares his choice and love of his people to have been gratuitous; and in v. 9. where he desires to be known as <68> a faithful God which keepeth his covenant and mercy,' he yet adds as a condition, 'with them that love him and keep his commandments.' Again, it is said still more clearly, v. 12. 'it shall come to pass, if ye hearken, to these judgements, and keep and do them, that Jehovah thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers.' Though these and similar passages seem chiefly to refer either to the universal election of a nation to the service of God, or of a particular individual or family to some office (for in the Old Testament it is perhaps difficult to trace even a single expression which refers to election properly so called, that is, election to eternal life,) yet the principle of the divine decree is in all cases the same. Thus it is said of Solomon, as of another Christ, 1 Chron. xxviii. 6, 7, 9. 'I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.' But what are the terms of the covenant; —'if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgements, as at this day...... if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.' The election of his posterity also depended on the same stipulation. 2 Chron. vi. 16. 'so that thy children take heed to their way, to walk in my law.' See also xxxiii. 8. and xv. 2. 'the Lord is with you, while ye be with him..... but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you;' whence Isaiah does not scruple to say, xiv. 1, 'the Lord will yet choose Israel' See also Zech. i. 16. Isaiah also shows who are the elect; lxv. 9, 10. 'mine elect shall inherit it..... and Sharon shall be..... for my people that have sought me.' Jer. xxii. 24. 'though Coniah <69> were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.'

The same thing must be observed in the covenant of grace, wherever the condition is not added. This however seldom happens. Mark xvi. 16. 'he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned.' If we could conceive God originally predestinating mankind on such conditional terms as these, endless controversies might be decided by this single sentence, or by John iii. 16. 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' xv. 6. 'if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch.' v. 10. 'if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandment.' xvii. 20. 'neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.' Such therefore were those who were predestinated by the Father. So also, Luke vii. 30. 'the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptised of him;' whence it appears that even they might previously have been predestinated, if they would have believed. Who was more certainly chosen than Peter? and yet a condition is expressly interposed, John xiii. 8. 'if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.' What then ensued? Peter readily complied, and consequently had part with his Lord: had he not complied, he would have had no part with him. For though Judas is not only said to have been chosen, which may refer to his apostleship, but even to have been given to Christ by the Father, he <70> yet attained not salvation. John xvii. 12. 'those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, i. 11, 12. 'he came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power,' &c., that is, to those who believed in his name; to whom he did not give power before they had received and believed in him, not even to those who were specially called his own. So St. Paul, Eph. i. 13. 'in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise.' Undoubtedly those whom in the beginning of his epistle he calls holy, who were not sealed till after that they had believed, were not individually predestinated before that period. 2 Cor. vi. 1. 'we beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.' Rev. iii. 5. 'he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.' On the other hand it is said, xxii. 19. 'if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.'

Again, if God have predestinated us 'in Christ,' as has been proved already, it certainly must be on the condition of faith in Christ. 2 Thess. ii. 13. 'God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.' Therefore it is only future 'believers' who are chosen. Tit. i. 1. 'according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.' Heb. xi. 6. 'without faith it is impossible to please God,' —and thus become one of <71> the elect; whence I conclude that believers are the same as the elect, and that the terms are used indiscriminately. So Matt. xx. 16. 'many be called, but few chosen,' only signifies that they which believe are few. Rom. viii. 33. 'who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?' that is, of believers: otherwise by separating election from faith, and therefore from Christ, we should be entangled in hard, not to say, detestable and absurd doctrines. So also, Rom. xi. 7. 'the election have obtained it;' that is, believers, as is clear from the twentieth verse, 'thou,' that is, thou that art elect, 'standest by faith;' and v. 22. 'if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.' Such is St. Paul's interpretation of the doctrine in his own case; 1 Cor. ix. 27. 'lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.' Philip, iii. 12. 'not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 2 Tim. ii. 10, 12. 'I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,' &c. yet it is said in the next verse, 'if we believe not, yet he abideth,' &c.

Two difficult texts remain to be explained from analogy by the aid of so many plainer passages; for what is obscure must be illustrated by what is clear, not what is clear by what is obscure. The first passage occurs Acts xiii. 48. the other Rom. viii. 28-30. which, as being in my judgement the least difficult of the two, I shall discuss first. The words are as follow: 'we know that all things work together for <72> good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose: for whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,' &c. 'moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.'

In the first place it must be remarked, that it appears from v. 28, that those 'who love God' are the same as those 'who are the called according to his purpose,' and consequently as those 'whom he did foreknow,' and 'whom he did predestinate,' for 'them he also called,' as is said in v. 30. Hence it is apparent that the apostle is here propounding the scheme and order of predestination in general, not of the predestination of certain individuals in preference to others. As if he had said, We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, that is, to those who believe, for those who love God believe in him. The order of this scheme is also explained. First, God foreknew those who should believe, that is, he decreed or announced it as his pleasure that it should be those alone who should find grace in his sight through Christ, that is, all men, if they would believe. These he predestinated to salvation, and to this end he, in various ways, called all mankind to believe, or in other words, to acknowledge God in truth; those who actually thus believed he justified; and those who continued in the faith unto the end he finally glorified. But that it may be more clear who those are whom God has foreknown, it must be observed that there are three ways in which any person or thing is said to be known to God. <73> First, by his universal knowledge, as Acts xv. 18. 'known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.' Secondly, by his approving or gracious knowledge,[8] which is an Hebraism, and therefore requires more explanation. Exod. xxxiii. 12. 'I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.' Psal. i. 6. 'Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous.' Matt. vii. 23. 'I never knew you.' Thirdly, by a knowledge attended with displeasure. Deut. xxxi. 21. 'I know their imagination which they go about,' &c. 2 Kings xix. 27. 'I know..... thy coming in, and thy rage against me.' Rev. iii. 1. 'I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.' In the passage under discussion it is evident that the approving knowledge of God can be alone intended; but he foreknew or approved no one, except in Christ, and no one in Christ except a believer. Those therefore who were about to love, that is, to believe in God, God foreknew or approved;[9] or in general all men, if they should believe; those whom he thus foreknew, he predestinated, and called them that they might believe; those who believed, he justified. But if God justified believers, and believers only, inasmuch as it is faith <74> alone that justifieth, he foreknew those only who would believe, for those whom he foreknew he justified; those therefore whom he justified he also foreknew, namely, those alone who were about to believe. So Rom. xi. 2. 'God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew,' that is, believers, as appears from v. 20. 2 Tim. ii. 19. 'the Lord knoweth them that are his,' that is, all who name the name of Christ, and depart from iniquity;' or in other words, all believers. 1 Pet. i. 2. 'elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.' This can be applicable to none but believers, whom the Father has chosen, according to his foreknowledge and approbation of them, through the sanctification of the Spirit and faith, without which the sprinkling of the blood of Christ would avail them nothing. Hence it seems that the generality of commentators are wrong in interpreting the foreknowledge of God in these passages in the sense of prescience; since the prescience of God seems to have no connection with the principle or essence of predestination; for God has predestinated and elected whoever believes and continues in the faith. Of what consequence is it to us to know whether the prescience of God foresees who will, or will not, subsequently believe? for no one believes because God has foreseen his belief, but God foresees his belief because he was about to believe. Nor is it easy to understand how the prescience or foreknowledge of God with regard to particular persons can be brought to bear at all upon the doctrine of predestination, except for the purpose of raising a <75> number of useless and utterly inapplicable questions. For why should God foreknow particular individuals, or what could he foreknow in them which should induce him to predestinate them in particular, rather than all in general, seeing that the common condition of faith had been established? Without searching deeper into this subject, let us be contented with only knowing, that God, out of his infinite mercy and grace in Christ, has predestinated to salvation all who should believe.[10]

The other passage is Acts xiii. 48. 'when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.' The difficulty is caused by the abrupt introduction of an opinion of the historian, in which he at first sight appears to contradict himself as well as the rest of Scripture, for he had before attributed to Peter this saying, chap. x. 34, 35. 'of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.' 'Accepted' certainly means chosen; and lest it should be urged that Cornelius had already been a proselyte before, St. Paul says the same thing even of those who had never known the law, Rom. ii. 10, 14. 'there is no respect of persons with God,' &c. 'when the Gentiles which have not the law,' &c. I Pet. i. 17. 'the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work.' Now those who hold <76> the doctrine that a man believes because he is ordained to eternal life, not that he is ordained to eternal life because he will believe, cannot avoid attributing to God the character of a respecter of persons, which he so constantly disclaims. Besides, if the Gentiles believed because they were ordained to eternal life, the same must have been the primary cause of the unbelief of the Jews, v. 46. which will plead greatly in their excuse, since it would seem that eternal life had only been placed in their view, not offered to their acceptance. Nor would such a dispensation be calculated to encourage the other nations, who would immediately conclude from it that there was no occasion for any will or works of their own in order to obtain eternal life, but that the whole depended on some fatal ordinance; whereas on the contrary Scripture uniformly shows in the clearest manner, that as many as have been ordained to eternal life believe, not simply because they have been so ordained, but because they have been ordained on condition of believing.

For these reasons other interpreters of more sagacity[11], according to my judgement, have thought that there is some ambiguity in the Greek word τεταγμένος, which is translated 'ordained,' and that it has the same force as εὖ ἤτοι μετρίως διατηθειμένοι, 'well or moderately disposed or affected,' of a composed, attentive, upright, and not disorderly mind; of a different spirit from those Jews, as touching eternal life, who had 'put from them the word of God,' and had shown themselves 'unworthy of everlasting life.'


The Greeks use the word in a similar sense, as in Plutarch,[12] and 2 Thess. iii. 6, 11. 'there are some which walk disorderly,' certainly with reference to eternal life. This sense of the word, and even the particular application which is here intended, frequently occurs in Scripture in other terms. Luke ix. 92. εὔθετος, 'well disposed,' or 'fit for the kingdom of God.' Mark xii. 34. 'not far from the kingdom of God.' 2 Tim. ii. 21. 'a vessel..... meet for the master's use, and prepared for every good work.'[13] For, as will be shown hereafter, there are some remnants of the divine image left in man,[14] the union of which in one individual renders him more fit and disposed for the kingdom of God than another. Since therefore we are not merely senseless stocks, some cause at least must be discovered in the nature of man himself, why divine grace is rejected by some and embraced by others. One thing appears certain, that though all men be dead in sin and children of wrath, yet some are worse than others; and this difference may not only be perceived daily in the nature, disposition, and habits of those who are most alienated <78> from the grace of God, but may also be inferred from the expressions used in the parable, Matt. xiii. where the nature of the soil is variously described in three or four ways; part as stony ground, part overrun with thorns, part good ground, at least in comparison of the others, before it had as yet received any seed. See also Matt. x. 11, &c. 'inquire who in it is worthy,' &c.....'and if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it.' How could any one be worthy before the Gospel had been preached, unless on account of his being 'ordained,' that is, well inclined or disposed, to eternal life? which Christ teaches that the rest will perceive in their own punishments after death. Matt. xi. 22. 'it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for you.' Luke xii. 47, 48. 'that servant which knew his Lord's will..... shall be beaten with many stripes: but he that knew not..... shall be beaten with few stripes.' And, lastly, the gift of reason has been implanted in all, by which they may of themselves resist bad desires, so that no one can complain of, or allege in excuse, the depravity of his own nature compared with that of others.

But, it is objected, God has no regard to the less depraved among the wicked in his choice, but often prefers the worse to the better. Deut. ix. 5. 'not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land.' Luke x. 13. 'if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.' I answer, that it cannot be determined from these passages, what God regards in those whom he choos <79> es; for in the first place, I have not argued that he has regarded righteousness even in the least degree.[15]

Secondly, in the former passage the question is not respecting election to life eternal, but concerning the gift of the land of Canaan to the Israelites, a gift assigned them for other reasons than those for which eternal life would have been given, —partly on account of the wickedness of the original inhabitants, and partly that the promise might be fulfilled which had been ratified by an oath to their forefathers; wherein there is nothing that contradicts my doctrine. In the latter passage, it is not the elect who are compared with the reprobate, but the reprobate who are compared with each other, the Tyrians with the unbelieving Jews, neither of which nations had repented. Nor would the Tyrians ever have truly repented, even if these miracles had been wrought among them, for if God had foreseen that they would have repented, he would never have forsaken them; but the expression is to be understood in the same sense as Matt. xxi. 31. 'the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.'

Lastly, it will be objected, that 'it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,' Rom. ix. 10. I answer, that my argument does not presuppose one that willeth or that runneth, but one that is less reluctant, less backward, less resisting than another —that it is, neverthe <80> less, God who showeth mercy, and who is at the same time infinitely wise and just. Meanwhile, when it is said that 'it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth,' it is not denied that there is one who wills, and one who runs, only care is taken not to assign to him any portion of merit or praise. But when God determined to restore mankind, he also without doubt decreed that the liberty of will which had been lost should be at least partially regained by them, which was but reasonable. Whomsoever therefore in the exercise of that degree of freedom which their will had acquired either previously to their call, or by reason of the call itself, God had seen in any respect willing or running, (who it is probable are here meant by the ordained) to them he gave a greater power of willing and running, that is, of believing. Thus it is said, 1 Sam. xvi. 7. 'Jehovah looketh on the heart,' namely, on the disposition of men either as it is by nature, or after grace has been received from him that calleth them. To the same purport is that well known saying,-' to him that hath shall be given.' This may be illustrated by the example of the centurion, Matt. viii. 10. 'I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,' —of the woman of Canaan, Matt. xv. 28. 'O woman, great is thy faith,' —of the father of the demoniac, Mark ix. 24. 'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,' —and of Zaccheus, Luke xix. 3. 'he sought to see Jesus who he was,' whence, v. 9. 'Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.' Zaccheus therefore had not been ordained from all eternity, but from the time when he had shewn him self eagerly desirous of knowing Christ.


Nor is it less on this account 'of God that showeth mercy,' since the principal is often put for the sole cause without impropriety, not only in common discourse, but even in the language of logicians: and certainly unless God had first shown mercy, it would have been in the power of no one either to will or to run. Philipp. ii. 13. 'for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' 2 Cor. iii. 5. 'not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,' without whose mercy he that willeth or he that runneth would gain nothing.[16]

I think therefore it must be sufficiently clear from the analogy of all the rest of Scripture, who those are that are said in the passage quoted from the Acts to have been ordained to eternal life. On a review of the whole, I should conjecture, that Luke had not intended to advance in so abrupt a manner any new doctrine, but simply to confirm by a fresh example the saying of Peter respecting Cornelius, Acts x. 34, 35. Cornelius and the Gentiles with him believed, as many at least as feared God and worked righteousness, for such were accepted of God in every <82> nation. So in the other passage, those of the Gentiles whose thoughts were already devoted to serious subjects, worthy the attention of men, believed, and gave themselves up to instruction with docility and gladness of heart, glorifying the word of the Lord. Such Peter declared were accepted of God in every nation, and such Luke in conformity with Peter's opinion asserts to be ordained to, that is, qualified for eternal life, even though they were Gentiles.

But an objection of another kind may perhaps be made. If God be said to have predestinated men only on condition that they believe and continue in the faith, predestination will not be altogether of grace, but will depend on the will and belief of man kind; which will be derogatory to the exclusive efficacy of divine grace. But this is so far from being true, that the doctrine of grace is thus placed in a much clearer light than by the theory of those who make the objection. For the grace of God is acknowledged to be infinite, in the first place, inasmuch as he showed any pity at all for man, whose fall was to happen through his own fault. Secondly, because he 'so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son' for its salvation. Thirdly, because he has again granted us the power of volition, that is, of acting freely, in consequence of recovering the liberty of the will by the renewing of the Spirit. It was thus that he opened the heart of Lydia, Acts xvi. 14. But if the condition whereon the decree depends, that is to say, the will enfranchised by God himself, and faith which is required of mankind be left in the power of beings who are free agents, there is nothing in the doctrine either derogatory to grace, or incon <83> sistent with justice; since the power of willing and believing is either the gift of God,[17] or, so far as it is inherent in man, partakes not of the nature of merit or of good works, but only of a natural faculty. Nor does this reasoning represent God as depending upon the human will, but as fulfilling his own pleasure, whereby he has chosen that man should always use his own will with a regard to the love and wor ship of the Deity, and consequently with a regard to his own salvation. If this use of the will be not admitted, whatever worship or love we render to God is entirely vain and of no value; the acceptableness of duties done under a law of necessity is diminished, or rather is annihilated altogether, and freedom can no longer be attributed to that will over which some fixed decree is inevitably suspended.[18]


The objections, therefore, which are so vehemently urged by some against this doctrine, are of no force whatever; —namely, that on this theory, the repentance and faith of the predestinated having been foreseen, predestination becomes posterior in point of time to works, —that it is rendered dependent on the will of man, —that God is defrauded of part of the glory of our salvation, —that man is puffed up with pride, —that the foundations of all Christian consolation in life and in death are shaken, —that gratuitous justification is denied.' On the contrary, the scheme, and consequently the glory, not only of the divine grace, but also of the divine wisdom and justice, is thus displayed in a clearer manner than on the opposite hypothesis; which was the principal end that God proposed to himself in predestination.

Since then it is so clear that God has predestinated from eternity all those who should believe and continue in the faith, it follows that there can be no reprobation, except of those who do not believe or continue in the faith, and even this rather as a consequence than a decree; there can therefore be no reprobation of individuals from all eternity. For God has predestinated to salvation, on the proviso of a general condition, all who enjoy freedom of will; while none are predestinated to destruction, except through their own fault, and as it were, per accidens, in the same manner as there are some to whom the Gospel itself is said to be a stumbling-block and a <85> savour of death. Of this assertion proof shall be given from the testimony of Scripture no less explicit than of the doctrine asserted in the former part of the chapter. Isai. I. 1. 'where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?..... behold for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves.' Hos. iv. 6. 'because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee..... seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.' Rev. xiii. 8. 'all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.' And who are they but such as have not believed? whom God has therefore deserted [19] because they 'wandered after the beast,' v. 3. Nor should I call the decree mentioned in Zephaniah ii. 1-3. a decree of eternal reprobation, but rather of temporal punishment, and at any rate not an absolute decree, as the passage itself is sufficient to show: 'gather yourselves together,' &c. 'before the decree bring forth'..... &c. &c. 'it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the anger of Jehovah.'

For if God had decreed any to absolute reprobation, which we do not read, he must, even according to their system who affirm that reprobation is an absolute decree, have likewise decreed the means without which his own decree could not be fulfilled. Now these means are neither more nor less than sin. Nor will the common subterfuge avail, namely, that God did not decree sin, but only its permission: this <86> is a contradiction in terms; for at this rate he does more than simply permit it: he who permits a thing does not decree it, but leaves it free.

But even if there be any decree of reprobation, Scripture everywhere declares, that as election is established and confirmed by faith, so reprobation is rescinded by repentance.[20] Jer. vi. 30. 'reprobate silver shall men call them, because Jehovah hath rejected them;' and yet in the third verse of the following chapter God addresses himself to the same people —'amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.' So too in chap, xviii. 6, &c. where God compares his own right with that of the potter, (whence St. Paul seems to have taken his metaphor, Rom. ix.) 'if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.' So too where God defends in the clearest manner the justice of his ways, Ezek. xviii. 25-27. 'when the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.' xxxiii. 14, 15. 'when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right,' &c. &c. 'he shall surely live, he shall not die.' The same is inculcated in other parts of the chapters just quoted: xviii. 31, 32. 'why will ye die, O house of Israel? for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith <87> the Lord Jehovah; wherefore turn yourselves and live ye.' xxxiii. 11. 'say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?' Luke xiii. 5. 'except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish:' therefore, if ye repent, ye shall not perish. If then there be no repentance, of what advantage is election; or if there be repentance, of what injury is reprobation? Accordingly St. Paul, in speaking of those whom he describes as blinded, and whom he opposes to the elect, Rom. xi. 7. 'the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded,' subjoins immediately, v. 11. 'have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid;' and v. 23, &c. 'and they also, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for God is able to graff them in again,' &c. lastly, he adds, v. 32. 'God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.'

If then God reject none but the disobedient and unbelieving, he undoubtedly gives grace to all, though not in equal measure,[21] yet sufficient for attaining knowledge of the truth and final salvation; —I have said, not in equal measure, because not even to the reprobate, as they are called, has he imparted uni <88> formly the same degree of grace. Matt. xi. 21, 23. 'woe unto thee, Chorazin,' &c. 'for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon,' —&c. See also Luke x. 13. For God, as any other proprietor might do with regard to his private possessions, claims to himself the right of determining concerning his own creatures according to his pleasure, nor can he be called to account for his decision, though, if he chose, he could give the best reasons for it. Rom. ix. 20, 21. 'nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? hath not the potter power over the clay?' It is owing, therefore, to his supreme will that God does not vouchsafe equal grace to all; but it is owing to his justice that there are none to whom he does not vouchsafe grace sufficient for their salvation. Isai. v. 4. 'what could have been done more in my vineyard, that I have not done in it?' which words are spoken of the whole nation of the Jews, not of the elect only. xxvi. 10. 'let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness.' Ezek. xii. 2. 'which have eyes to see, and see not, they have ears to hear, and hear not; for they are a rebellious house.' 2 Kings xvii. 13. 'Jehovah testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways,' &c......'notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks.' See also 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16. John i. 9. 'that was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' ix. 41. 'if ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see, therefore your sin <89> remaineth, namely, because your sin is the fruit of pride, not of ignorance, xv. 22. 'if I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.' xii. 34-41. 'yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you,' &c. 'while ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.' Acts xiii. 46. 'it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.' xiv. 16, 17. 'who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways: nevertheless he left not himself without witness.' Rom. x. 20, 21. 'I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me: but to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.' 2 Cor. vi. 1, 2. 'behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.' Heb. iii. 7, 8. compared with Psal. xcv. 7, 9. 'to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.' Undoubtedly if he desire that the wicked should turn from their way and live,' Ezek. xxxiii. 11. —if he would have all men to be saved, 1 Tim. ii. 4. —if he be unwilling that any should perish, 2 Pet. iii. 9. he must also will that an adequate proportion of saving grace shall be withholden from no man; for if otherwise, it does not appear how his truth towards mankind can be justified. Nor is it enough that only so much grace shall be bestowed as will suffice to take away all excuse; for our condemnation would have been reasonable, even had no <90> grace at all been bestowed.[22] 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.


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. For 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 <92> 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 kingdom of God shall be taken from you.' See also 1 Pet. ii. 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 from 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 <93> 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 be come 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 <94> 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 <95> imply that it was not to last forever. But an expression which occurs in the same chapter is alleged as decisive: 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,' v. 13. But how did God evince his love or hatred? He gives his own answer, Mal. i. 2, 3. 'I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste.' He evinced his love therefore to Jacob, by bringing him back again into his country from the land of Babylon; according to the purpose of that same election by which he now calls the Gentiles, and abandons the Jews. At the same time even this text does not prove the existence of any decree of reprobation, though St. Paul subjoins it incidentally, as it were, to illustrate the former phrase, —'the elder shall serve the younger;' for the text in Mal. i. 2, 3. differs from the present passage, inasmuch as it does not speak of the children yet unborn, but of the children when they had been long dead, after the one had eagerly accepted, and the other had despised the grace of God. Nor does this derogate in the least from the freedom of grace, because Jacob himself openly confesses that he was undeserving of the favour which he had obtained; Gen. xxxiii. 10. St. Paul therefore asserts the right of God to impart whatever grace he chooses even to the undeserving, v. 14, 15. and concludes —'so then it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, (not even of Jacob, who had openly confessed himself undeserving, nor of the Jews who followed after the law of righteousness) but of God that showeth mercy,' v. 16. Thus St. Paul establishes the right of God with respect to any election whatever, even of the undeserving, such as the Gentiles then seemed to be.


The apostle then proceeds to prove the same thing with regard to the rejection of the Jews, by considering God's right to exercise justice upon sinners in general; which justice, however, he does not display by means of reprobation, and hatred towards children yet unborn, but by the judicial hardening of the heart, and punishment of flagrant offenders, v. 17, 18. 'for the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up,' &c. He does not say, 'I have decreed,' but, 'I have raised up;' that is, in raising up Pharaoh he only called into action, by means of a most reasonable command, that hardness of heart, with which he was already acquainted, So Exod. iii. 19. 'I am sure that the King of Egypt will not let you go.' So too, 1 Pet. ii. (in which chapter much has been borrowed from the ninth of Romans,) v. 7, 8. 'unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed,'..... &c. 'even to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.' They therefore first disallowed Christ, before they were disallowed by him; they were then finally appointed for punishment, from the time that they had persisted in disobedience.

To return, however, to the chapter in Romans. It follows in the next verses, 19-21. 'thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault?' &c. 'why hast thou made me thus' —that is, hard-hearted, and a vessel unto dishonour, whilst thou showest mercy to others? In answer to which the apostle proves the reasonableness, not indeed of a decree of reprobation, but of that penal hardness of heart, which, after much long-suffering on the part of God, <97> is generally the final punishment reserved for the more atrocious sins. v. 21. 'hath not the potter power over the clay?' that is, the material fitted for his own purposes, to put honour upon whom he chooses, provided it be not on the disobedient: as it is said, 2 Tim. ii. 21. 'if a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour,' &c. whilst he hardens still more the hearts of the contumacious, that is, he punishes them, according to the next verse of this chapter-' he endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.' Whence then were they fitted, except from their own hardness of heart, whereby the measure of their iniquity was completed! See Gen. xv. 16. and Eph. v. 6. 'because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.' Nor does the use of the passive voice always imply the sufferance of some external force; for we speak of one being given up to vice, or inclined to this or that propensity, meaning only that such is the bias of his own disposition. Finally, the three last verses of the chapter, which contain the conclusion of the whole question, are a convincing proof that St. Paul only intended to show the free and gratuitous mercy of God in calling the Gentiles to salvation, who should be obedient to the faith, and at the same time the justice of his judgements in hardening the hearts of the Jews and others, who obstinately adhered to the law of works, v. 30-32. 'what shall we say then? that the Gentiles...... have attained to righteousness which is of faith' —not therefore through election independent of faith: 'but Israel..... hath not attained: wherefore? because they <98> sought it not by faith' —not therefore through a decree of reprobation independent of unbelief.

After having passed this difficulty, those which remain will scarcely interrupt our course. Psal. xcv. 10, 11. 'forty years long was I grieved with this generation,' &c. 'unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.' It must be observed here how long it was before God passed his decree, and that (if we may reason by analogy respecting spiritual things, from types of this kind, as was done before in the case of Esau) he excluded from his eternal rest only those who tempted him, and whose hearts were hardened. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16. 'and Jehovah God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers,' &c. 'because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling-place: but they mocked the messengers of God,' &c. 'until the wrath of Jehovah arose against his people, till there was no remedy.' Isai. xxviii. 12, 13. 'to whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest,' &c. 'yet they would not hear: but the word of Jehovah was unto them precept upon precept,' &c. 'that they might go and fall backward,' &c. 'wherefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful men,' &c. xxix. 10. 'for Jehovah hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes.' The reason is given, v. 13, 14. whence it appears that it was not on account of God's decree, but of their own grievous wickedness: 'forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth,' &c. 'but have removed their heart far from me..... therefore the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,' &c. Matt. xi. 25, 26. 'I thank thee, O Father, because thou hast hid these <99> things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.' Lest we should attribute this solely to the arbitrary will of God, the verses preceding will explain why it so seemed good, and why Christ ascribes glory to the Father on this account, v. 21-23; in which it is disclosed what those wise men had first been themselves, namely, despisers of the divine grace. See also xiii. 11. 'because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.' And why? the next verse subjoins the reason: 'whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.' It is impossible to apply this sentence otherwise, than to those who have first voluntarily rejected divine grace, in the sense in which nearly the same words are addressed, chap. xxv. 29. to the slothful servant. A passage to the same purpose occurs, chap. xiii. 13. 'therefore speak I to them in parables, because they seeing see not,' &c. Hence an easy solution is afforded for other texts. John viii. 43. 'ye cannot hear my word;' —because when ye were able ye would not, ye are now unable on account of your unbelief in which you are hardened, not on account of any decree of God; or in consequence of your pride, through which you cannot endure to hear the word; or lastly, as it is expressed in the following verse, 44, because 'ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.' Again, v. 46. 'if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?' Christ himself answers the question, v. 47. 'ye therefore hear not, because ye are not <100> 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 I do in my Father'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 <101> 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 <102> 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;[23] and might justly be reproved in the words of the heathen Homer:

Αὑτων γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο

Odyss. I. 7.

..... they perish'd self-destroy'd

By their own fault. Book 1. 1. 9.

And again, in the person of Jupiter:

Ὦ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτίόωνται! ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ᾽ ἔμμεναι. οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ σφῇσιν ἀτασθαίῃσιν, ὑπὲρ μόρον, ἄλγε᾽ ἔχουσιν.

Odyss. I. 32.

Perverse mankind! whose wills, created free,

Charge all their woes on absolute decree:

All to the dooming gods their guilt translate,

And follies are miscall'd the crimes of fate.

Book I. 1. 40. Pope's Translation.


..... blotted out and ras'd

By their rebellion from the book of life. Paradise Lost, I. 362.


...... Resolving from thenceforth

To leave them to their own polluted ways;

And one peculiar nation to select

From all the rest. Paradise Lost, XII, 109.


...... such as thou hast solemnly elected

With gifts and graces eminently adorn'd

To some great work, thy glory-. Samson Agonistes, 679.


According to a part of the Sublapsarian scheme, taught by St. Augustine and maintained by the Synod of Dort.


...... in thee

As from a second root shall be restor'd

As many as are restor'd, without thee none.

Paradise Lost, III. 287.


'Voluntas Dei in varias species distingui solet, ut absolutam et conditionatam; antecedentem et consequentem; signi et beneplaciti, &c..... Voluntas signi dicitur cum Deus verbo suo significat quid velit aut nolit ab hominibus fieri, et mandatis ejus continetur; beneplaciti vero, qua Deus apud se premit et occultat id quod vult facere.' Curcellæi Institutio ii. 9. 6, 7. 'Thomas Aquinas and his disciples frame another distinction to elude the text in Timothy (1 Tim. ii. 4.) and tell us of a will revealed, and of another hidden, which is, many times at least, contrary to that revealed..... a distinction rejected by our 17th Article, which directs us to follow, not this supposed hidden will of God, but that which is expressly declared in his word.' Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Divinity and Operations of the Holy Ghost.


This my long —sufferance, and my day of grace

They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste;

But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more,

That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;

And none but such from mercy I exclude.

Paradise Lost, III. 198.

...... the will

And high permission of all-ruling Heaven

Left him at large to his own dark designs,

That with reiterated crimes he might

Heap on himself damnation, while he sought

Evil to others, and, enrag'd, might see

How all his malice serv'd but to bring forth

Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn

On man, by him seduc'd; but on himself

Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance pour'd. I. 211


...... when God

Looking —on the earth, with approbation marks

The just man, and divulges him through heaven

To all his angels.

Paradise Regained, III. 60.


In the original it is —qui igitur dilecti dilecturi erant, id est, credituri, eos prænovit Deus, &c. —which scarcely seems to have any sense, unless some allusion be intended to John xvi. 27. 'the Father himself loveth you,' &c. It seems more probable that dilecti has been inserted by the carelessness of the transcriber.


Thy ransom paid, which man from death redeems,

His death for man, as many as offer'd life

Neglect not, and the benefit embrace

By faith not void of works.

Paradise Lost, XII. 424


This is the interpretation of Hammond and Whitby, and of Wolfius, Cur. Philol. in loc. See also the Commentators quoted in Mr. Horne's note, Introduction to the Critical Study of the Scriptures Vol. II. p. 759.


Φύσει γὰρ ἦν σώφρων καὶ τεταγμένος ταις ἐπιθυμίαις. Plutarch, in Pompeio. Derivatives from this word are used with the same metaphorical signification. ὅ παραλβὼν πολεμουμένας τὰς πόλεις, ἔξωθεν μὲν ὑπὸ πλήθους καὶ μανίας βαρβαρικῆς, ἔνδοθεν δὲ ὑπὸ στρατιωτικῆς ἀταξίας, καὶ τῆς τῶν ταξιαρχῶν πλεονεξίας Synes Epist. 62. νουθετεῖτε τοῖς ἀτάκτοις. 1 Thess. v. 14.


Milton employs the word fitted in a similar sense in his Hist. of Britain, Book V. c. 1. 'But when God hath decreed servitude on a sinful nation, fitted by their own vices for no condition but servile, all estates of government are alike unable to avoid it.'


...... Why should not man,

Retaining still divine similitude

In part, from such deformities be free,

And for his Maker's image sake, exempt ?

Paradise Lost, XI. 511.


..... thou oft,

Amidst their highth of noon,

Changest thy countenance, and thy hand, with no regard

Of highest favours past

From thee on them, or them to thee of service.

Samson Agonistes, 682.


A11 hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all

As my eternal purpose hath decreed;

Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will;

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsaf'd;.....

..... that he may know how frail

His fall'n condition is, and to me owe

All his deliverance, and to none but me.

Paradise Lost, III. 171.

See also Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Holy Spirit, where the line of argument pursued by Milton is beautifully and powerfully enforced.


...... Man shall find grace;


Happy for man, so coming; he her aid

Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost.

Paradise Lost, III. 227.


God made thee perfect, not immutable;

And good he made thee, but to persevere

He left it in thy power; ordain'd thy will

By nature free, not over-rul'd by fate

Inextricable, or strict necessity;

Our voluntary service he requires,

Not our necessitated; such with him

Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how

Can hearts not free, be tried whether they serve

Willing or no, who will but what they must

By destiny, and can no other choose ?

Paradise Lost, V. 524.

'Many there be that complain of Divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! when God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions. We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force; God therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object, ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence. Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. Prose Works. I. 305.


Thence faintings, swoonings of despair,

And sense of heaven's desertion.

Samson Agonistes, 631


To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,

Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,

Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.

Paradise Lost, III. 191


Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,

Elect above the rest; so is my will:

The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd

Their sinful state, and to appease betimes

The incens'd Deity, while offer'd grace

Invites; for I will clear their senses dark

What may suffice, and soften stony hearts

To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.

Paradise Lost, III. 183.


God made thee of choice his own, and of his own

To serve him; thy reward was of his grace;

Thy punishment then justly is at his will.

Paradise Lost, X. 766.


...... to themselves

All glory arrogate, to God give none;

Rather accuse him under usual names,

Fortune and fate, as one regardless quite

Of mortal things. Paradise Regained, IV. 314.

On which passage Dunster quotes the second of the passages from the Odyssey with which Milton himself concludes this chapter.

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