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constantly represented to be a design set on foot to meet the case. Nay, as far as man is concerned, it is based on this very consideration. Accordingly, it originated in the love of God, was executed by the Son, and its blessings are secured to us by the operations of the Holy Spirit. Man is therefore entirely dependant. Thus far all is clear. But from these premises an inference is sometimes drawn, which, in the estimation of the writer, is only partially just. The inference is this, -since the Holy Spirit must originate all, must enlighten the understanding, must dispose the heart, therefore all that man can do is of no avail ; it must begin with the Spirit. This I call only partially just. It does not distinguish between duty and privilege ; between the part which devolves upon the Spirit, and the part which devolves upon man. These are perfectly distinct.
The prophet Isaiah, it is true, opens his sixty-fifth chapter with these words: “I am sought of them that asked not for
me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. But the very terms he uses, as well as the application of them by St. Paul to the first calling of the Gentiles, Rom. x. 20, prove in what sense they are to be understood. As applied to them, whether then, or in any subsequent period, they are strictly and literally true. however, the gospel has been introduced among them ; when its glad tidings have saluted their ears; when they have heard its invitations addressed to them; then the words become at once inapplicable. For, “ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Before the gospel was introduced among them, it was physically impossible they could believe : for “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ?” In all such cases the rule of judgment is stated by St. Paul, Rom. ii. 12, 15. The law there referred to being the written law.
2 Rom. x. 17.
No sooner, however, is the gospel propounded to them, than, agreeably to the tenour of Scripture, to seek, to believe, to embrace, to obey it, becomes their imperative duty; or unbelief is no sin. What is true of them is, of course, true of all others, who possess, or might possess, the means of grace.
On this point there is no neutral ground. The divine message is either cordially embraced, or slightingly rejected. Upon this rejection the condemnation of men is founded. This appears, on an examination of the whole of the Scriptures, to be the footing on which they place it.
“ Because I have called, and ye refused;
I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call
upon me, but I will not answer : they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel ; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.''
They rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit, therefore he was turned to be their enemy.”4_“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help found.”_ “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”6 In the ninth chapter of the Romans, St. Paul draws a broad line of demarcation, which is much more obvious in the original than can be made in a translation. What “if God, willing to
3 Prov. i. 24–31.
4 Isa. Ixiii 10. Comp. Isa. Ixv. 2, to the close of ver. 7,
Therefore will I measure,” &c.
5 Hosea xiii. 9. Comp. Micah. ii. 7, uke xi. 34 36.
6 Jobn iii, 19, and the Scriptures passim.
shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.”
In these words the apostle assures us that the vessels of wrath “fit themselves; for the term is in the middle voice, and besides cannot agree with the word “God,” either in number or gender; (He does not, therefore, fit them ;) moreover, God “bears ” with them, and that too " with much long-suffering.” Their destruction is therefore entirely owing to themselves. But, when the apostle speaks of “the vessels of mercy,” he employs a very different phraseology. These God himself prepares beforehand for his glory; or in the words of the same apostle, “ He makes them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Rom. ix. 22, 23. • Col. i. 12; and in what
manner this is effected see Rom, ix. 31,32.