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" ther, my God, and the rock of my falvation.” Alfa I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will 1 keep for him for evermore, and my covenant fball stand fast with him. .
Thus, if we apply the words here explained to mere humanity, we must explain the whole paffage as referring to the fame. Such a treatment of it, however, would be a part of that antichristian system of accommodation, by which even the word of God is compelled to blafpheme: as in that case we would give to corruptible man, the glory of the incorruptible God.
QUESTION PROPOSED IN OUR LAST NUMBER,
In what fenfe is God said in Scripture, to appoint
fome men unto wrath?
The appointment of some men unto wrath, in the counsel of the divine will, is spoken of in the Scriptures in a twofold manner.
1. It directs us to that great distinction made by the Supreme Disposer, between those who shall be left to perish in their fins, and those who shall be delivered from them; the latter having been chofen of God in Christ Jesus, as objects of his love, and to be to the praise of the glory of his grace. This view of it is given in the 9th chapter of the epistle to the Romans; wherein the fo
vereign good pleasure of God, exercised in few ing gratuitous mercy to fome, and in leaving others to the dominion and punishment of their sins, is afferted by the apostle in these words, He hath mercy upon whom he will have
and quhom he will, be hardeneth.. In the same fense, and by the same apostle, addrefling the Theffalonians, this doctrine is alluded to, though not expressly stated: God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain falvation, &c.; and in like manner it discovers itself in that rebuke of our Lord to the disobedient Jews : re believe not, because
. ye are not of my frreep. 2. It refers to a discrimination made amongst those who are not included in the election of grace (and are therefore the subjects of the abovementioned general appointment), whereby some are distinguished from others, with respect to the peculiar species or degree of that wrath which awaits them. Thus Jude testified concerning certain ungodly men of his day, that they were before of old ordained to This condemnation : and the particulars of the history of Pharaoh in the Old Testament, and of Judas in the New, speak the same language concerning those two persons. It were easy to bring forward other passages of Scripture, which exhibit in one or other of those views the doctrine now under confideration ; but those already mentioned are sufficient for the purpose.
With regard to the appointment, in the former view of it, a few observations deduced from some Scripture truths, seem adequate to mark the sense in which it is to be underftood, to the entire removal of the difficulties which the unenlightened mind charges upon this doctrine; as if it were destructive of moral agency in the ap
pointed persons, and fubversive of the grounds upon which rests their accountability to God. The same truths will also exhibit to us the fource of that rebellious cavil, Why haft thou made me thus ? namely, the creature's arrogant forgetfulnefs of his own vanity and corruption, and his denial of that truth in which all created excellence gives glory to God-Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above.
An awful record is given us in the word, of an utter departure from the Creator having taken place amongst the only two species of intelligent creatures we know of, angels and men ; both originally endowed with the perfection which was suitable to their respective natures; when God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good. Hence we learn, that all the excellence whereof a created being is capable, is insufficient of itself to secure him from falling; and therefore any creature, left dependent on his own powers, will become the victim of his own vanity, and incur the displeasure of the Most High. The inference is obvious : for since the perfection belonging to his kind, is all that he can possibly possess in himself; the insufficiency of that leaves him destitute of his only support, and so he falls from his first and upright state. The creature who has thus destroyed himself, will, no doubt, impiously chide his Maker ; but he murmurs--because he is not immutable; he is displeased that he is not God. So when the Scriptures pronounce all the fons of men to have fallen into a state of alienation from God, their situation cannot juftly be attributed to the divine will, as to its cause; and much less can their continuance in it, even to their own destruction, be imputed to the Deity: since the one arises from
the mutability essential to men as creatures, and the other is (where omnipotent grace interferes not) the inevitable consequence of the first act of apostacy. Now unless we shall dare to fay, that God is bound to sustain all his creatures by a continual act of his power ; we must conclude that He may permit, (and therefore also He may determine to permit,) that they be left to their own powers, and learn by experience, that there is none good but one ; that is God. While therefore we view, in connection with this conclusion, the appointment of some men unto wrath ; we find it amount to no more than this--that whereas the Deity has thought fit to allow the entrance of sin into the world, he has not on that account become the less opposed to it in any degree, but is inflexibly determined to punish all transgreffors, except those for whom satisfaction has been made. in the perfect work of his Son Jefus Christ. Thus while unbelieving men question the right of God (thus impiously do they fpeak) “ to ap« point fome men unto wrath ;” those who bem lieve are filled with admiration, that justice has not purfued unto death the whole race of Adam, and that they themselves are not, as others, irrevocably cast out from the prefence and glory of God.
The doctrine under consideration, in the fecond view of it, seems to go farther ; having for its object, not in general them that perish, as distinguished from the eleet, by not obtaining the benefits of gratuitous mercy ; but individuals included in the former number, as distinguished from other children of disobedience, by that peculiar wrath which awaits m in the world to come. This view is usually supposed to involve stronger objections to moral agency and account
ability, ability, than the former ; 'because (it is confessed) where precise degrees of condemnation are at: tached, an extent of fin equally determinate must also have been afligned. But the supposition is erroneous ; for if the confideration of man as a Being liable to fall, has provided us with an anfwer in the former case ; an attention to the depth of that abyss into which he has actually fallen, will as completely remove the difficulty in the latter. The Scriptures mark the distance to which man has departed from his Creator, when they declare that the carnal mind is enmity again God. While, therefore, we abide by their testimony, we must say, that all men whatever (except the remnant according to the election of grace, who are renewed in the Spirit of their mind) live, according to the dictates of their depraved nature, altogether under the influence of the most dreadful principle that can actuate a creature ; capable of leading to, and having a direct tendency to produce, the utmost conceivable rebellion against God. But as common experience fhews that; while the principle abides one and the same in all, the effects produced are yet various in degree; it follows, that in proportion as the works and tempers of men fall short of the enormity which would naturally characterize them, the in fluence of the actuating principle has been reftrained : and this deduction accords perfectly with the Scriptures, which present frequent views of the Supreme Being imposing restraints of this nature, when, and where, and how he pleases. Now, since the future punishment of the wicked will be according to their works, it is evident that the Deity, in restraining these or those individuals to certain degrees of fin, does in effect mark out a determinate degree of wrath to be