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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 I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant fhall ftand faft with him.
Thus, if we apply the words here explained to mere humanity, we muft 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 cafe we would give to corruptible man, the glory of the incorruptible God.
QUESTION PROPOSED IN OUR Last Number,
In what fenfe is God faid in Scripture, to appoint fome men unto wrath?
THE appointment of fome men unto wrath,
in the counsel of the divine will, is fpoken of in the Scriptures in a twofold manner.
1. It directs us to that great diftinction made by the Supreme Difpofer, between those who fhall be left to perifh in their fins, and thofe who shall be delivered from them; the latter having been chofen of God in Chrift Jefus, as objects of his love, and to be to the praife of the glory of his grace. This view of it is given in the 9th chapter of the epiftle to the Romans; wherein the fo
vereign good pleasure of God, exercifed in fhewing gratuitous mercy to fome, and in leaving others to the dominion and punishment of their fins, is afferted by the apostle in these words, He hath mercy upon whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth. In the fame fenfe, and by the fame apoftle, addreffing the Theffalonians, this doctrine is alluded to, though not exprefsly ftated: God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain falvation, &c.; and in like manner it difcovers itfelf in that rebuke of our Lord to the difobedient Jews: Ye believe not, becaufe ye are not of my Sweep.
2. It refers to a difcrimination made amongst those who are not included in the election of grace (and are therefore the subjects of the abovementioned general appointment), whereby fome are distinguished from others, with refpect to the peculiar fpecies or degree of that wrath which awaits them. Thus Jude teftified 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 Teftament, and of Judas in the New, speak the fame language concerning those two perfons. It were eafy to bring forward other paffages of Scripture, which exhibit in one or other of thofe views the doctrine now under confideration; but thofe already mentioned are fufficient for the purpose.
With regard to the appointment, in the former view of it, a few obfervations deduced from fome Scripture truths, feem adequate to mark the sense in which it is to be understood, to the entire removal of the difficulties which the unenlightened mind charges upon this doctrine; as if it were deftructive of moral agency in the ap
pointed perfons, and fubverfive of the grounds upon which refts their accountability to God. The fame truths will alfo exhibit to us the fource of that rebellious cavil, Why haft thou made me thus? namely, the creature's arrogant forgetfulness 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 fuitable to their refpective natures; when God faw 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 infufficient of itself to fecure him from falling; and therefore any creature, left dependent on his own powers, will become the victim of his own vanity, and incur the difpleafure of the Moft High. The inference is obvious: for fince the perfection belonging to his kind, is all that he can poffibly poffefs in himself; the infufficiency of that leaves him deftitute of his only support, and fo he falls from his first and upright state. The creature who has thus destroyed himself, will, no doubt, impioufly chide his Maker; but he murmurs because he is not immutable; he is difpleased 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 fituation cannot justly be attributed to the divine will, as to its caufe; and much less can their continuance in it, even to their own destruction, be imputed to the Deity: fince the one arifes from
the mutability effential to men as creatures, and the other is (where omnipotent grace interferes not) the inevitable confequence of the first act of apoftacy. Now unless we shall dare to fay, that God is bound to fuftain all his creatures by a continual act of his power; we must conclude that He may permit, (and therefore alfo 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 conclufion, the appointment of fome men unto wrath; we find it amount to no more than this-that whereas the Deity has thought fit to allow the entrance of fin into the world, he has not on that account become the lefs opposed to it in any degree, but is inflexibly determined to punish all tranfgreffors, except those for whom fatisfaction has been made. in the perfect work of his Son Jefus Chrift. Thus while unbelieving men question the right of God (thus impiously do they fpeak) "to ap"point fome men unto wrath;" those who be lieve are filled with admiration, that juftice has not purfued unto death the whole race of Adam, and that they themselves are not, as others, irrevocably caft out from the prefence and glory of God.
The doctrine under confideration, in the fecond view of it, feems to go farther; having for its object, not in general them that perish, as diftinguished from the elect, by not obtaining the benefits of gratuitous mercy; but individuals included in the former number, as diftinguished from other children of difobedience, by that peculiar wrath which awaits them in the world to come. This view is usually supposed to involve stronger objections to moral agency and account
ability, than the former; 'because (it is confeffed) where precife degrees of condemnation are attached, an extent of fin equally determinate must also have been affigned. But the fuppofition is erroneous; for if the confideration of man as a Being liable to fall, has provided us with an anfwer in the former cafe ; an attention to the depth of that abyfs 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 against God. While, therefore, we abide by their teftimony, 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 moft 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 fame 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 influence of the actuating principle has been reftrained and this deduction accords perfectly with the Scriptures, which prefent frequent views of the Supreme Being impofing restraints of this nature, when, and where, and how he pleafes. Now, fince the future punishment of the wicked will be according to their works, it is evident that the Deity, in restraining these or thofe individuals to certain degrees of fin, does in effect mark out a determinate degree of wrath to be