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of God. No; he is far from giving any such hint; but immediately recurs to the supreme dominion of Him who formed the universe, as a consideration of sufficient importance, and sufficiently clear, to establish the point. So far from softening his former assertions, however harsh they might seem, that he at once confirms the truth he asserted, and illustrates the propriety of the language he used. In doing which he suggests that the objection, horrid as it is, cannot have the least force or pertinency of application, except it were proved that the Majesty of heaven has not an absolute right to dispense his favours just as he pleases. But this the resolute asserter of Jehovah's honour was not willing to grant; this he could by no means allow, without denying the God that is above; he therefore boldly repels the confidence of the proud objector by a strong exclamation and a mortifying query-'Nay, but, O man! who art THOU that repliest against God?' Shall a worm of the earth, an insect, an atom, arraign HIS conduct, who is Lord of the universe, and pronounce it unrighteous? Shall impotence and dust fly in the face of Omnipotence? Shall corruption and guilt prescribe rules of equity, by which the Most Holy shall regulate his behaviour towards the rebellious subjects of his boundless empire? Far be it! Woe to him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth;'* but let not the despicable fragment presume to make war upon heaven, lest divine wrath, like a devouring fire, break out and consume it.

The zealous and cautious disputant, having severely rebuked the opposer's folly and arrogance, proceeds to confirm his assertion, and illustrate the momentous truth, by a familiar instance, and by appealing to the common sense of mankind. 'Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made ine thus? For example: 'Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to

* Isa. xiv. 9.

honour, and another to dishonour?' none can deny it. Is such a power allowed, by the common consent of mankind, to belong to the meanest artificer, and shall it be denied to HIM who is the former of all things? So to act, would be a monstrous compound of absurdity and blasphemy. The apostle now proceeds to apply his illustration: What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known,' having endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,' by their own rebellion against him, should, in the end, pour out his vengeance upon them who shall dare to pronounce his conduct unrighteous? And,' what if the same sovereign Being, 'that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory, determined to manifest infinite love in their complete deliverance from deserved destruction, who has a right to complain ?'* Shall the eye of any be evil, because their injured Maker is good? Has he not an eternal right to do what he will with his own? Or, is he a debtor to any of his creatures? If so, they shall be fully recompensed. Shall every petty sovereign in the kingdoms of this world be allowed to choose his own favourites; and, in certain cases, to manifest his clemency to such delinquents, while he leaves others to suffer the desert of their crimes, without being subject to the control of his meanest subjects in the performance of those sovereign acts; and shall HE who rules over all be denied the exercise of his supreme, royal prerogative? Absurd in supposition impossible in fact! But though God bestows his favour on whom he pleases, yet as he is an infinitely wise agent, he must always have the highest reason for what he does. Divine sovereignty, therefore, must not be considered as a blind partiality, or as a dictate of mere will without wisdom; but as the exercise of an all-comprehensive understanding, and of a will that is inflexibly right, ordering all the affairs of Jehovah's vast empire for the manifestation

*Rom. ix. 18. 23.

of his own glorious attributes. To conceive of a sovereign decreeas detached from wisdom and rectitude, is to picture to ourselves the conduct of a Turkish despot, not the appointment of him that made and governs the world.

own. *

Hence it appears, that if we consider the Almighty as choosing any of the fallen race to life and happiness, we behold him manifesting the mercy of a compassionate father to his offspring. But if we consider him as choosing this person rather than that, when both were equally wretched, we view him as vested with the character of a sovereign Lord, and as the sole proprietor of his own favours. If, therefore, the question be asked, Why any were chosen to salvation, when all deserved to perish? The answer is, Because our Maker is merciful. But if it be further asked, Why Paul, for instance, was chosen rather than Judas? The answer is, Because he is Lord of all, and has an indisputable right to do what he will with his But if this answer will not satisfy the curious inquirer, he is advised by the Holy Ghost to go and ask the potter, What was the reason of his very different procedure with the same lump of clay; why he formed the vessels into which it was wrought for such different and opposite uses? The illiterate artificer will readily answer, as directed by common sense, Not any thing in the clay itself, but my own deliberate and free choice. For it was of the same. kind, and possessed the same qualities, throughout the whole mass; nor could one part dictate how it would be formed, or for what uses, any more than another. Thus the most ignorant potter, without hesitation, would assert a kind of sovereignty over his clay. And are not mankind in the hand of God as elay in the hand of the potter? Or shall Jehovah's sovereignty over his offending creatures be inferior to that of a puny mortal over passive matter? Reason and revelation forbid the thought. In election, therefore, we have a striking display of divine grace in its * Pict. Theol. Christ. 1. 7. c. 1. § 16. Genev. 1715.

utmost freeness, and of God's dominion in its highest sovereignty. Of the former, towards the vessels of mercy; of the latter, towards all mankind. That we behold with admiration and joy, this we revere in silence; well remembering who it is that says, BE STILL, AND KNOW I AM GOD.

Having shown in the preceding paragraphs that election is an act of sovereign grace, I now proceed to consider the great end which the supreme Lord intended by it. The ultimate end is his own eternal glory; and, subordinate to it, the complete happiness of all his people. The glory of the Supreme Being is, as before observed, the final cause of all the eternal counsels, and of all divine operations; and especially of those which respect the salvation of sinners. They were all designed for THE PRAISE OF HIS GLO


Too ready we are to imagine, that the purpose and pleasure of God terminate in the happiness of those who are chosen, or in the misery of those rejected; as though the eternal felicity or the everlasting torment of the creature were the final cause of the divine decree. But this is a great mistake, and represents the doctrine of predestination in a very false, as well as unfavourable light. For as it would be pregnant with blasphemy for us to suppose, that He who is supremely blessed and supremely good, should take delight in the infinite misery of a rational being, with reference to a further and nobler end ;* so we cannot conceive, on any principles of reason or scripture, that he should propose any thing short of his own glory in the wonderful economy of human salvation. And as it would be highly injurious to the divine character for us to suppose, that the misery of the creature is the ultimate

* It is, indeed, said, “I will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh." But then, as the learned Vitringa observes, Quod de Deo anthropopathos dictum prudenter intelligi debet; non vere, ac si exitium homines miseri, et stultitia sua voluntaria pereuntis, Deo delectationem adferat, sed quod mala, quæ gravissimi peccatores justi perferunt, maxime conveniant rationibus Divinæ justitiæ, in cujus exercitio Deus acquiescet, et sibi placet.' Comment. ad Canticum Mosis, p. 133.

end at which the eternal Sovereign aims, in the damnation of those who perish; or that any thing short of his own glory, in the display of his spotless purity and inflexible justice, was the end which he had in view: so it would be greatly unworthy of his infinite wisdom and boundless perfection for us to imagine that the glory of his own grace, and the everlasting honour of all his adorable excellencies, were not his supreme design in the free election and complete felicity of all his people. Does he pour out his vengeance on any of the works of his hands? it is to demonstrate the infinite opposition of all his perfections to moral evil, and for the honour of his eternal justice, as a righteous Governor. Does he spare any of the rebellious subjects of his vast dominions, and save them from the death they deserved? it is to display his mercy, in connexion with truth and righteousness, and for the glory of all his unchangeable attributes. We may, therefore, conclude with Paul, that the great end of election, and of all its consequent blessings, is no other than to make known the riches of God's glory on the vessels of mercy.'*

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As the eternal glory of God, in the consummate happiness of all his chosen, is the exalted end of the decree of election, so the means appointed to accomplish the wonderful design are equally worthy of Infinite Wisdom. They are such as proclaim the just God and the Saviour;' such as demand the testimony of conscience, that the Lord is holy in all his ways, and righteous in all his works. The principal of these means undoubtedly are, the incarnation of the eternal 'Son, and his divine mediation; the sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.' For thus we read, 'God hath appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. He hath chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.'t Redemption by the blood of Jesus, and sanctification by the Spirit of God, are equally necessary to accomplish the great design. *Rom. ix. 23. Eph. i. 5, 6. +1 Thess. v. 9. 2 Thess. ii. 13.

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