« PreviousContinue »
Esau, concerning things to come? Heb. xi. 20.This certainly could not have any reference to the earthly inheritance, which had been already bestowed on Jacob; and for this blessing Esau sought carefully with tears, but could not obtain it ; neither could it refer to Canaan, for in that case it failed of its accomplishment.
This blessing is recorded, Gen. xxvii. 39, 40. “ Thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above ; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass, when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.” The reader is left to determine for himself respecting the import of this paternal blessing. It seems, however, that the fatness of the earth, and the dew of heaven from above, which appear to have been pronounced upon Esau in person, denote two different blessings, from the earth, and from heaven; thou shalt serve thy brother ; this could not apply to him personally, because he never served Jacob in person, but must intend the future service of his descendants--thou shalt have the dominion, must refer to some time yet in futurity. It does not appear therefore that Esau was laid under an absolute curse by his father; but he was blessed with the fatness of the earth, and with the dew of heaven, in his own person.
Let any man of candor, impartially examine the two characters of Jacob, and Esau, and he will find as much to applaud, at least, in Esau, as in Jacob,
previous to the conversion of the latter, which appears to have happened on his way to Padan-aram. They were both, it is true, faulty in many respects; and if there be any difference, Jacob appears most blameable. From a view of their personal characters, therefore, we can find nothing to justify your chimerical notion of Jacob's unconditional election to eternal life, and Esau's reprobation to eternal death. It is undeniably manifest that the election spoken of in this chapter is national, and therefore cannot have respect to the eternal states of men.
5. In page 57, you advance one of the most shocking ideas which can enter into the heart of man; That God determined, before either of the children were born, without any respect to their moral characters, “ the other (Esau) to be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction." I confess when I read this sentence, my mind was filled with astonishment. I was ready to cry out, Good Lord, is this thy character ? It cannot be it is utterly impossible for the God of love, of justice and goodness, to form such determination. It is the blackest impeachment imaginable of his holy and merciful character! If an earthly parent were to punish his child with only a temporary chastisement, without assigning any other reason, than because he would, without having even the good of the child in view, he would be justly and universally abhorred. To suppose the Almighty should bring an intelligent and immortal spirit into existence, on purpose to fit krim for damnation, is to represent him in a worse
point of light than Nebuchadnezzar, who caused the three Hebrew children to pass through the fire to satisfy his revenge. To say he had a view to the general good, is to say nothing to the purpose. I have already exposed the fallacy of this argument. Your assertion, sir, is bold, cruel, and unscriptural. It is bold, because unsupported by any argument. It is cruel, because it represents the Almighty as acting more cruelly than Nero, when he ordered the city of Rome fired, that he might have a pretext to accuse the christians. It is unscriptural, for the scriptures assert no such thing.* To what has been
* The elder shall serve the younger, “ This passage," says Dodd, "serves for a key to explain the ninth chapter of Romans, where the words are quoted ; for it proves to a demon. stration, that this cannot be meant of God's arbitrary predestination of particular persons to eternal happiness or misery, without any regard to their merit or demerit; a doctrine which some have most impiously fathered on God, who is the best of beings, and who cannot possibly hate," (this is not strictly true in every sense, though what follows is] "far less absolutely doom to eternal misery, any creature that he has made; but that it means only, his bestowing greater external favours, or if you please, higher opportunities of knowing and doing their duty, upon some men, than he does upon others and that merely according to his own wise purpose, without any regard to their merits or demerits, as having a right to confer greater or smaller degrees of perfection on whom he pleases.” Thus far Dr. Dodd; and Dr. Clarke adds in his note on the place, “The doctrine of unconditional predestination to eternal life and eternal death, cannot be supported by the example of God's dealings with Esau and Jacob; or with the Edomites and Israelites. After long reprobation, the Edom. ites were incorporated among the Jews, and have ever since been undistinguishable members of the Jewisli church.” (Sea
said respecting Esau's piety, it may be added, That when Jacob returned from Padan-aram, remembering, no doubt, his unjust conduct towards his brother, in the case of defrauding him out of his birthright, and also in lying and cheating him out of the paternal blessing, he sent presents forward to appease the supposed wrath of his brother Esau ; but after meeting, Jacob said unto Esau, I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.
See Gen. xxxii and xxxiii. 10. Here Jacob acknowledged the superior dignity and goodness of Esau, and also his willingness to forgive past injuries. At this time Jacob's name had been changed, and his nature renewe ed; so that he no longer strove to supplant his bro- , ther. We have no authority therefore for concluding that God made Esau on purpose for destruction. Were we to allow, that he was wicked, as was Cain, it no more proves that this was the ultimate end of his existence, than it does that God can lie. This is a point assumed, on the supposition that your doc
also Newton on Prophecy.) “The Jews, on the contrary, the elect of God, have been cast off, and reprobated, and continue so to this day. If a time should ever come when the Jews shall alt believe in Jesus Christ, (which is a general opinion) then the Edomites, which are now absorbed among them, shall also become the elect. And now, Isaac finds both his children within the pale of the Jewish church, equally entitled to the promise of salvation by Jesus Christ, of whom he was the most impressive and the most illustrious type. See Dr. A. Clarke on Gen. xxv. 23.
trine is true, which can never be substantiated, 50 long as God remains just and good.
6. You only beat the air in your first section, where you say, " It is to be shown that election is not founded on works,"' p. 58. Here you suppose that our doctrine, either by principle or consequence, makes election to eternal life, depend solely on our works. But this supposition arises from à mistaken apprehension of our doctrine. If a beggar were to receive from the hand of a wealthy benevolent man, something to supply his wants, does ít follow that the act of the beggar in receiving the gratuitous donation from his benefactor, is the foundation, or meritorious cause of his subsistence? By no means. The benevolence of the donor, and not the act of the beggar, is the source of the poor man's subsistence. Mankind may be fitly compar. ed to beggars, as they stand related to God. He offers them grace: if any comply with the condition of the gospel, and receive the gift of pardon by faith, does it follow that their act of receiving is the foundation of their pardon? It does not.
The source of all the favours bestowed on fallen men, is in the plenitude of divine goodness. It was infinite condescension in God that caused him to provide a Saviour for sinners, and to accommodate the terms of acceptance and salvation to the weakness of man. The question is not therefore, as your readers might infer, whether our election to eternal life be predicated of works or grace; but whether grace, the grace of eternal life, be unconditionally bestowed