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also appear with him in glory (a).” The predestination therefore mentioned in this passage, sig. nifies God's purpose of making known the Gospels and of bestowing eternal happiness upon those who shall make a right use of the means of grace: this is very different from an irrespective and irreversible decree, absolutely appointing particular individuals to everlasting happiness, and subjecting the rest of mankind to endless and inevitable misery. Indeed the Predestination here spoken of cannot mean Predestination in the Calvinistic sense, for St. Paul expressly says, “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate,” that is, God's Predestination is founded in his foreknowledge, which is in direct opposition to the system of Calvin.
“ Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet
find fault? for who hath resisted his will ? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing forined say to liim that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to de. struction: And that he might make known the (a) Col. c. 3. V, 4.
riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory? Even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles (b):” The whole of the Chapter from which this passage is taken, and which is generally thought to abound in difficulties, seems to become easily intelligible, by considering that it refers to the present world only. In the former part of it St. Paul laments the unbelief and consequent rejection of his brethren the Jews, to whom had so long “pertained” those distinctions which marked them to be the chosen people of God, and from whom Christ himself was descended. But in the midst of his sorrow he comforts himself with the reflection, that “the word of God” had taken some "effect,” as a portion of the Jews had believed, and were therefore of the number of God's newly elected people, the Christians. He shews that this partial adoption of the Jews in the present instance is similar to what had happened in the case of Abraham's descendants, all of whom were not Israelites, or chosen people of God, but only those who sprang from Isaac and Jacob. He quotes God's own declaration, that he “ will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom he will have compassion;" which mercy and compassion must always be exercised without any violation of the
(b) Rom. c. 9. v. 18-24. eternal
eternal rules of justice. The above declaration was made to Moses after God had laid aside his purpose of “consuming" the Israelites for worshipping the golden calf, and when he “repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people (c) ;;" the mercy therefore here spoken of is not forgiveness of sins granted to each person separately at the day of judgment, but God's receiving his chosen people collectively into favour again after they had displeased him; such national reconciliation in this world, as well as the original Election of a peculiar people for the purpose of executing the great plans of Divine Providence, being perfectly consistent with strict retribution to individuals in a future life. The Apostle shews from the ancient Scripture, that Pharaoh's disobedience and wickedness were the means of making known the power of God; and repeats, that God shews or does not shew mercy, according to the determination of his sovereign will. He supposes some one to object; If this be the case, why does God find fault, since bis will cannot be resisted ? St. Paul answers by first reproving the presumption of this objection as urged by a creature against his Creator, who has the same power over his creatures which a potter has over the vessels he forins; and he then declares, that though God's power is irresistible, he
does (c) Exodus, c. 32. v. 14.
does not act arbitrarily and capriciously, but in all his dealings with the sons of men he never fails to display his own perfect attributes. Even this example of the Potter, proves that the Apostle is speaking of this life only. Vessels made for different
purposes, for noble or mean uses, resemble the different ranks of society into which men, by divine appointment, are born; but this does not imply that the higher are more worthy in the sight of God than the lower, since each person
will hereafter be judged “ according to, bis deeds” in that station in which he is placed. In like manner the Election of a people for a peculiar purpose, does not suppose the rest of the world neglected or punished, except so far as their conduct may deserve it. The “ enduring with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction," relates to God's forbearance in sparing the Jews and giving them time to repent, although by their heinous sins and numerous provocations they had long deserved to be destroyed.
“ That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory," relates to God's gracious offer of the blessings of the Gospel to those who he foreknew would accept them, as appears from the verse immediately following, “ Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” He then quotes several prophecies relative to the call of the Gentiles, and the embracing of the Gospel R
by only a small number of the Jews; and it is evident from the original passage in Isaiah, and also from the context in this Chapter, that the expression, “ a remnant shall be saved (d),” re. lates to preservation in this world, earth,” so that the Israelites should not be utterly destroyed, as Sodom and Gomorrah were.
In all this there is no mention of
absolute decree of God, by which some men are destined to happiness and others to misery, in the world to come. The unbelief of the greater part of the Jews, their ceasing to be the chosen people of God, and the call of the Gentiles, the subjects treated of in this Chapter, were all circumstances which had already taken place; and they are illustrated by passages of the Old Testament, and by events there recorded, all confined to this life, without any allusion to a future state of existence.
“Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner; and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed (e):" We are not by this to understand that it was “appointed” or decreed by God, that certain persons to whom the Gospel was preached, should be disobedient;
(d) Ver. 27.
(0) 1 Pet. c. 2. v. 7 & 8.