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-rit, all those who first harden themselves in iniquity until their day of grace ends; and finally to punish them with everlasting destruction from the presence of God, and the glory of his power.
“ Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ?"' ver. 21. Unquestionably.But who ever heard of a Potter, that made a vessel expressly to dash it to pieces!. Such conduct in a man would indicate great folly, or great anger, or both.
And is it lawful to infer from these words, that God has made one part of the human family for no other purpose than to torment them in hell for ever? The obvious meaning of the Apostle is, that as the Potter makes some vessels for more honoure able uses than he does others, so God has raised some nations, the Jews, for instance, formerly, and now the Gentiles, who are called to the exalted privileges of Christianity, to higher dignity, and for more honourable purposes, than he has others. The Jews, who were called to be God's peculiar people, in distinction from other nations, were, in consequence of their national and church privileges, more honourable than their neighbours. These favours were not granted them because they were better by nature than others, but were bestowed according to the sovereign pleasure of God; who demanded an improvement proportionate to the favours thus granted them. Now, the Gentiles, who are called to the exalted blessings of Christianity,
are more highly honoured than the Jews, Mohanidans, or Pagans ; for the use of which blessings they are responsible to God. But it does not follow from hence, that all those who live under the light of the Gospel, are elected to everlasting life, nor that all others are reprobated to eternal burnings. There were doubtless many among the Jews formerly, who were included among God's chosen people upon earth, that reprobated themselves, by abusing the mercies they enjoyed : and no doubt also, but many of the Gentiles, who wisely improved the day of their merciful visitation, were graciously saved with life everlasting, See Rom. ii. 13-15.And so also there may
who are now exalted to the invaluable blessings of the Gospel church, will finally reprobate themselves by their disobedience. Moreover, it would appear, that even some of these vessels of dishonour
become vessels of honour. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of tood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work,” 2 Tim. ii. 20, 21. From this text, it is manifest that those who are comparatively dishonourable, may, by purging themselves from sinful passions, become vessels of honour, and shine, like gold and silver, in the Church of God,
“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endureth with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction," ver. 22. On reading these words, those who have been educated in the school of unconditional predestination, conclude that these vessels of wrath are fitted to destruction, under the influence of an eternal decree of reprobation : hence the long-suffering of which the Apostle speaks, is entirely overlooked. But, who are thus fitted to destruction ? Paul, speaking of the wicked who seek not after God, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, adds, “ Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known,” Rom. iii. 16, 17. «Is not destruction to the wicked, and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity ?" Job. xxxi. 3.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Prov. xvi. 18.
We see therefore how sinners are fitted to destruction; not indeed by an act of God; but for refusing to seek after God, for not knowing the way of peace, when they might have known it, for being wicked, and for indulging in pride; and an haughty contempt of the long-suffering of God.
This long-suffering, which was exercised towards these characters, who are thus self-fitted to destruction, is designed to lead them to repentance and salταίion. . Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance, and long-suffering ; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance," Rom. ii. 4. “ And account that the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation ; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you," 2 Pet. iii. 15. So that, even these vessels of wrath, upon whom God will finally shew his wrath, and make his power known, were once objects of his longsuffering, and consequently within the possibility of salvation.
“Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed," Isaiah vi. 9, 10. From these words it is concluded by some, that the design of the Prophet's mission to the Jews was, absolutely to make them the more hard in iniquity, thereby to prevent their conversion. But in the language of the Hebrews, the agent is frequently said to do things, which he only predicts will be done, or simply declares is already done. So the Lord says to Jeremiah, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant,” ch. i. 10. Now it is certain that Jeremiah was not sent in his own person, to overturn nations and kingdoms, to root out, pull down, and destroy cities and villages, to build houses, and plant vineyards : but he was sent to declare, or predict that these judgments would come upon those communities, for their wickedness against God. So also the Apostle Paul saith, the saints shall judge the world—that is, they shall declare the just judgments of God against a wicked world. This key will open the meaning of the above words of Isaiah. God sent him to declare unto the iniquitous Jews, that their hearts were fat, that their ears were heavy, and that their eyes were shut ; and that, consequently, they would not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts; and therefore, so long as this was the case, they could not be converted and healed. Is not this a plain, scriptural, and rational solution of the diificulty which appears upon the face of the text?
“But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption," 2 Pet. ii. 12. From hence it is inferred, that those sinners of which the Apostle speaks, were made expressly to be taken by sin and Satan, and then eternally destroyed. But is it not the natural brute beasts, which the Apostle says were made to be taken and destroyed ? and that those wicked men, who, like the Sodomites, resembled brute beasts, by walking after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government, should finally receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. In what a contemptible point of light does the opposite opinion represent the Almighty, by saying that he brings some sinners into existence, in order to lead them