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“ with fear and trembling: for it is God « which worketh in us both to will and to “ do of bis good pleasure m."
6. In the comparison of independent passages, it is obvious to remark, as we proceed, that we should be careful to explain the more obscure and difficult by the clearer and more easy. “ 'The Holy Ghost,” as Bishop Hall observed in his discourse before the Synod of Dort, “ought to be the judge of all contro“ verlies; and those passages or texts in the “ Bible, which seem to mention things ob
scurely or else transiently, should be tried “ by those others, that speak out more plainly “ and clearly, and treat of the matters with “ defiza "." A distinguished Presbyter of our Churcu hath noticed, that this rule “ was laid “ down, although not strictly followed, by St. “ Augustino:" it were well, if the modern professors of that father's doctrines judged it more worthy of their attention.
Our Lord had said to his disciples, “ How “ hardly shall they that have riches enter into “ the kingdom of Godp:" but when he found them astonished at what probably appeared
- Phil. ii. 12, 19.
Brandt's Hift. of the Reformation in the Low Countrier, vol. iii. p. 32. book xx.
• Daubeny's Guide to the Church, p. 88. Ubi autem apertius ponuntur, ibi descendum eft, quomodo in locis intelligantur obscuris. Auguft. de Docl. Chrift. lib. iü.
a hard saying,” he explained his intention by subjoining, “how hard it is for them, that “ trust in riches, to enter into the kingdom of “ God.” And he hath been graciously pleafed by his holy Spirit to illustrate, for our benenefit, many other pofitions, the intent of which we might otherwise have failed of apprehending
Thus should we experience any perplexity about the interpretation of that controverted paffage, :66 He will have mercy on whom he “ will have mercy, and whom he will he har
deneth9;" and conceive it capable of denoting an arbitrary and irrespective will in God's dealings with mankind: our underftanding may be enlightened by such plain declarations as those which state, that “ blessed
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
;" that “ God refifteth the proud, and “ giveth grace to the humble;" that “ the
mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to
everlasting upon them that fear him, and " think of his commandments to do them." and that on the other hand, “ Because when “the Gentilcs knew God, they glorified him
► Mark x. 23, 24. s James iv. 6.
9 Rom. ix. 18. • Matt. v. 7. t Pfalm ciii. 17, 18.
6 not as God, neither were thankful; for this “ caufe God gave them up untó vile affec« tions ";" that because “ his people would
not hearken to his voice, and Ifrael would none of him, so he gave them up unto their own hearts' lust, and they walked in their
own counsels * :” and generally, that “ he “ refuseth to hear those, who have fet "at
nought his counsel, and would none of his
reproof; for that they hated knowledge, " and did not choose the fear of the Lord y."
Or should we imagine that the Apoftle, under the similitude of a potter “making one 66 veffel to honour and another to dishonour," intended to infinuate an unconditional election on the part of God in his dealings with individuals ; the explicit declaration of the Prophet' might convince us, that the fimilitude was intended to illustrate the dealings of God with respect to nations; and those also, not always at least unconditional, but liable to be mfluenced by the conduct of the nations themselves, even to fuch an extent, as for his purposes to be faid to be altered, and his promise to be broken.
Or thould we fuppose, that “ the purpose of " God according to election b,” noticed by St. Paul, had respect to the persons of Jacob and Efauo; thc unequivocal language of Moses and of Malachi d might show, that it related to the nations, which should spring from them ; according to the remark of Irenæus, that the conception of Rebecca was a prophecy concerning the two nations.
Rom. i. 21, 26.
* Plalm lxxxi. 11, 12. y Prov. i. 25, 29. See the whole passage. 2 Rom. ix. 21. • Jer. xviü. 1-11. and compare Numb. xiv. 30, 34.
Or should we be led to doubt of the extent of the atonement made by Christ, by such paffages as state, that he “ laid down his life “ for his sheep®;" “ for his friends, who do * his commandments f;" for his “ church &;" and that “ he gave his life a ransom for “ many 5;" and thence to infer that he did not die for all ; other plain declarations may convince us, that, although eventually he died for a part only, inasmuch as a part only complies with the conditions, on which bis blood is made effectual to falvation ; yet such pafsages were not intended to limit the atonement made by his death; for that he died to save not his friends only, but “ his enemies;" not for the Church of God only, but “ for the unjust, that he might bring them to God;" not for the sheep only, that heard his voice, but for the sheep “ that were loft;" not for the many only, but “ for alli:" for all men; for every man; for the world, the whole world ; not in the Calvinistic sense of all sorts of men, or some men of all sorts, the world of the elect, and the like; but in their plain and obvious sense, of the whole race of mankind, as contradistinguished from believers; that as all had finned and fallen short of the glory of God, and by the offence of one judginent came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one the free gift might come upon all men unto justification of life.
» Rom. ix. 11.
c Gen. xxv. 23. Mal. i. 2, 3, 4. Ex quibus manifeftum eft, -partum Rebeccæ prophetiam fuiffe duorum populorum. Iren. lib. iv. cap. 38. • John X. 15.
Ibid. xv. 13, 14. • Epb. v. 25.
h Matt. XX. 28.
Or supposing again, that it were not evident to our apprehension, what St. Paul meant to convey by “ the spirit dwelling in us,” and by our being “ led by the Spiritk;” and that we were tempted to mistake the nature of his influence, as the enthusiast does, and refer it to fome imaginary internal feeling; we might be corrected by his stating expressly in another place, that “the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance';"
Rom. v. 8, 10. 1 Pet. iii. 18. Matt. xviii. 19. 1 Tim. ii. 6. 2 Cor. v. 14. Heb. ii. 9. John xii. 47. 1 John ï. 2. Rom. v. 12, 18. * Rom. viii. 9, 14.
I Gal. v. 22.