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ALL are partakers of it: or, to express the same idea in other words, they think it fets forth the Divine intention as equally kind towards all, and fo conclude from it, that those who shall finally be saved, are not indebted to any peculiar grace or mercy whereby they are distinguished from others, but to the use they make of what is or may be the common property of all. Whether this sentiment be in itself juft, we shall not now enquire. For the present, we leave that point at issue between the maintainers of it and the Bible in general. But we are concerned to fhew that it is not at all deducible from the paffage in question, and this we hope to do, by removing the foundation upon which it rests.
As the supposed univerfality of the expressions ANY and ALL forms the support of the opinion usually entertained, we shall shew that the context requires these terms to be circumscribed in the extent of their application; and thus, while the discovery of their just limits will lead us to reject the false interpretation, it will open to us the way for finding the true.
Now the two words in question are such as must always be determined with respect to the extent in which they are applied, by something in connection with them, either expressly stated, or so obviously implied that there can be no danger of mistake. Thus when it is said by the Pfalmift, The Lord looked down upon the children of men; to see if there were ANY that did underHand-They are ALL gone out of the way, &c.; the reader naturally refers these terms, occurring as they do here, to the children of men before fpoken of, to all of them without exception. On the other hand, when the Sadducees questioned our Lord about the woman, whom
they they stated to have had seven husbands, saying, Whose wife fall she be of the seven? for they all had her, no bystander could have been fo absurd as to suppose that they spoke of all men whatever, but confined their view to ALL of the seven before mentioned. And if it be objected that the limitation is there expressed by the word THEY; we answer that THEY has not a correspondent word in the original, the sense being fufficiently clear without it. But as, in cases of this kind, the English language requires some such word in order to perfect clearness, it has been properly introduced in that instance as well as in other parallel instances which might be produced. The passage before us is one of the fame fort, in which, though no such precaution has been taken, the limits of these apparently indefinite words, and consequently the true sense of the whole, are as precisely determined. The Lord, says the Apostle, is not jack, &c. but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance; that is, not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance.
An illustration of this is supplied by considering that. the latter clause (not willing, &c.) is explanatory of that which immediately precedes it (is longsuffering to us-ward) shewing wherein the Divine long-suffering consists, or how it is evinced : and it is manifest that the long-suffering of God to us-ward, cannot be exemplified in purposes of kindness towards others, but only in such as have us for their object. Besides, the Apostle represents as an effect of this forbearance, that the great day of the Lord delays its approach, Now to suppose that day kept off, as it were, for the sake of mankind in general, to try if G
they they will repent, is most unscriptural indeed; for that day will come upon the world at large as a thief in the night : When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh on them, and they shall not escape.
Having thus fhewn that the kindness here fpoken of has for its object only those who were before described in the first person; we proceed to enquire who are they to whom the Apostle thus expressed himself as united.
To what we have already faid, concerning that hypothesis which would embrace all men, we add, that were it true that God intended that all men should repent, it would be neceffarily true that He intended all men should believe the Gospel; whereas it is certain that there are multitudes upon multitudes to whom He does not, in his wife providence, think fit to send his Gospel; that is, with respect to whom He does not employ the only possible means for attaining this end! Neither does the Apostle speak merely of believers; for the expressions intimate that not all of them were yet brought to repentance, and therefore not all of them were believers. The persons then alluded to, must be those who constitute the whole redeemed church, including not only those who had already been called into it, but all who should, till the end of time, be brought to the faith. Nor is it surprising that the Apostle should speak of himself as one with all these, though many of them were not yet his brethren ; for God calls them his people, before they are made acquainted with his name, as He said by the prophet Ifaiah, My people shall know my name ; and by David, Thy people SHALL be willing in the day of thy power. So also our Lord calls them
his sheep, before they hear his voice, knowing the certainty of what he had elsewhere declared, All that the Father giveth me, SHALL come unto
Here then we have an exceeding great and precious promise, not only concerning those who actually believed in the time of the Apostles, but belonging to all that shall believe through their word, all the true Ifrael, even as many as the Lord our God sHALL call. It is a renewal of those gracious declarations, Israel shall be saved in the Lord :-All SHALL know me from the least to the greatest : and it is but a different form of expression for what the Lord Jesus testified in the days of his flesh, This is the Father's WILL,that of all which He hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. Thus as the Divine long-suffering forbore with the old world, till Noah entered the ark; as the fire of vengeance waited at Sodom and Gomorrah, till Lot escaped from the city; and as the threatened destruction was averted from Jeru. salem, till all that believed had fled from the calamity: so the great and terrible day of the Lord will not be revealed till all the elect are gathered into Christ, and then it will come and not tarry, to the ruin of the world which now is, and pero dition of ungodly men.
Having thus advanced what we take to be the true meaning of this text, we are not backward to avow our belief, that God, in a most important sense, willeth that all men who hear the gospel, foould come to repentance ; for He has most unequivocally declared this to be his will, in the command, Repent ye, and believe the Gofpel: and it is for opposition to this his will, that all who reject the message will perish in their G2
fins. We are also perfuaded, that God, in the fame sense, willeth that all men whatever should be saved, and that without the Gospel ; for He wills, He commands, that all men should yield unfinning obedience to his law, of which He hath said, That the man which doeth these things, Mball live by them. Thus, whether they hear the Gospel, or hear it not, men are left without excuse; and if there be any who have always kept the whole law, and will persevere therein to 'the end, we can declare to them, on the authority of God's word, that they shall not be confounded : and if there be any finners, who will of their own accord, come to repentance, these may depend as implicitly on the Gospel promise, Whoso cometh unto me I will in no wife caft out.
Once more : if there be any who will do somewhat, however little, in order to their acceptance with God, these may wave their claims to the benefit of that promise. They need it not. They have whereof te borst. Those gracious words, He that believeth, fall be saved, are provided for those who can do nothing ; and whilst they are a joyful found to all who discern their import, it would be but a false humility in such as can do any thing, to profess themselves dependent on them. Wherefore, turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die ? God willeth not the death of a fnner, but rasher that he may turn from his wickedness and live.