« PreviousContinue »
ince of Deity, and consistent with the moral agency of the creature. This proof comes with great force from the apostle, when we read him in the following passages.
“Now, God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” Such plain and pertinent texts are conclusive evidence, that dependence on God, for right exercises, is not incompatible with the moral agency of those, who are the subjects of them. On the other hand, there are texts not less plain and conclusive, in favour of the dependence of sinners for their exercises, consisting with their moral agency. The mention of a very few must suffice. 66 And the Lord stirred up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite.- And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon, the son of Eliadah, which fled from his Lord Hadadezer king of Zobah. -Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver
; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his. will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shal be fulfilled.” If God stirs up men, and puts certain purposes in their hearts, and this to bring about the events which, he has himself counselled, I see not by what good au. thority we can deny the dependence of hu. man agency, in respect to actions, morally good or evil. On the whole, it appears, that God does actually work by the instrumentality of men, as moral agents, and this with. out lessening, at all, the praise or blame, which is attached to moral conduct. What. ever other objections may lie against this view of divine government; yet the one we have considered, viz. that it takes away moral agency from man, must, I think, inevitably fall to the ground. The strength of others we may have occasion to try at a future time,
Objecting to revealed truth,is replying against Gadi.
ROMANS, ix. 20.
Nay but, Oman, who art thou that repliest against God?
N this part of his epistle to the Ro. mans, the apostle is considering objections to his doctrine, and making replies to them ; which supposes two things, first, that plain gospel truth is liable to be objected to, and secondly, that it ought to be vindicated a. gainst this kind of opposition, whenever and in whomsoever it appears.
The cause of truth, which is always the cause of God, he was arguing with the church, with professors of religion, which indicates, that among men of this description he met with those, who did not implicitly imbibe that for truth, which was dispensed to them by an inspired apostle. He probably would not have stat. ed his propositions and reasonings in the
form of a dispute, had he not been apprised of real disaffection towards important gospel sentiments in the body of professed christians, to which he wrote. He writes, as if managing an important controversy with men, actually stirred up to opposition, and placing themselves in as formidable a posture as might be, effectually to gainsay what they did not consent to and approve. Could we find what principle the apostle was defending, when he wrote as in the words of our text, we should be certain of one thing at least, that might be considered as a reply against God. And from the style of the apostle's address we may well conclude, that such an error is no trilling offence in the sight of God, Men do not receive it as a slight affront to: be contradicted, especially in that, which they deliver for most important truth. To reply against God, is to contradict him ; to reject as error what he has inculcated in his word, as interesting and solemn truth. And what is that reply against God, which the apostle repri nands with so much pious warmth and decision, in the words of our text? In so plain and pertinent a writer as Paul, we might calculate to get the sentiments of the objector from the answer he receives. But, in the present case, the whole matter is laid be fore us, in direct and explicit terms. The apostle states a doctrine ; the objector draws a consequence from it with a view to make it appear absurd and inconsistent ; and then the apostle repels the insinuation it contains,
as fraught, in the highest degree, with blase phemous impiety. God had said unto Moses, “ I will have mercy on whom I will,"* and to Pharaoh, " For this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
Now, what is the exact amount of these divine de. clarations to Moses and Pharaoh? The apostle suins it up in the next verse,
6. There. fore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Here is the doctrine which gives offence, and which the objector thinks he can overthrow with a word. “ Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will ?”. Does God, indeed,, shew in rcy to some and harden others; be. cause it is his vill that men should be instru. ments of his glory, some in the one way, and some in the other ? What then has he to say to the sinner, the hardened' unbeliever, but that he has done well in coming up to the end, for which he was made ? Though he has acted the part of a hardened sinner, yet God hardened him, and the divine will is accomplished in this way: Shall Jehovah, therefore, find fault, when his will is not resisted? when the sinner does no other than what was eternally counselled and ordained in heaven ? What right has the Deity to call men to an account, and treat them as sinners, when it is asserted, that they are, but the in. atruments of his will, which could got be