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that to come. *«And there is no doubt I think but that some of the Jews were guilty of this sin; if not before, yet after the pouring out of the Spirit in the
* Matt. xii. 31, 32.
which may be frustrated, or disobeyed. “That servant that knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. He that doth the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."$ The former belongeth unto God, being the rule of his own conduct, and to us in secret: the latter belongeth to us, and to our children for ever, being the rule of our conduct, that we may do all the words of his law, and this is fully revealedol
It was God's will in some sense or other to permit Job, at the devil's request, 10 be deprived of his property by the Sabeans and Chaldeans; otherwise he would not have said to satan as he did, “ all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” And yet the conduct of these plunderers was certainly contrary to his revealed will, and to every rule of reason and equity. Nevertheless God was not under obligation to do all he could have done to restrain them. It was not therefore at all inconsistent with bis righteous disapprobation, that he willed to permit their abominations.--If it was the will of Goil that Joseph should go down into Egypt. God is said to have sent him. The very thing which his brethren meant for evil, God meant for good. They fulfilled his secret will in what they did, though without design; but ’tis certain they violated his revealed will in the most fagrant manner.
If the commission of evil were the direct end, or ultimate ob. ject of the secret will of God, that would certainly be in opposition to his revealed will; but this we do not suppose. If God wills not to hinder sin in any given instance, it is not out of any liking he has to sin, but for some other end. A master sees a servant idling away his time he secretes himself, and suffers $ Luke xii. 47. Mark ii. 35.
|| Deut. xxix. 29.
day of pentecost. Their destruction then'was inevitable. And yet the apostles were commissioned to preach the gospel to every cretaure, without distinction; and Christ's promise, “him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out,"continued of universal force. The primitive ministers made no scruple to call men to repent and believe wherever they came. 'Tis true, they seem to have been forbidden to pray for the forgiveness of the sin itself 1 for that would have been praying in direct contradiction to God's revealed will; but as they
#1 John v. 16.
the idler to go on without disturbance- At length he appears, and accosts him in the language of rebuke-The servant, at a loss for a better answer replies, • How is this? I find you have hipen looking on for hours. It was your secret will therefore to let me alone, and suffer me to idle away your time; and yet I am reproved for disobeying your will! It seems you have two wills, and these opposite to each other. “How can I obey your commands unless I knew you would have me to obey them?" Idleness, it seems, was agreeable to you, or you would not have stood by so long, and suffered me to go on in it undisturbed. Why do you yei find fault? who hath resisted
will? Would any one admit of such a reply? and yet for ought I see, it is as good as that for which my opponent pleads. In this case it is easy to see, that the master does not will to permit the servant's idleness for idleness' sake, but for another end; nor does the servant do wrong as influenced by his master's will, but by his own: and therefore his objections are altogether unreasonable and wicked. These things hast thou done, said God to such objectors, and I kept silence and thout loughtest I was altogether such an one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set thy sins in or. der before thee!
knew not the hearts of men, nor who had, and who had not committed that sin, they were never forbidden, that I know of, to pray for men's souls without distinction. They certainly did so pray, and addressed their auditors as if no such sin had existed in the world.* P. will allow that the exhortations and invitations of the gospel were addressed to men indefinitely; and if so, I should think they must have been addressed to some men whom at the same time it was not the intention of Christ to save.
V. God has not determined to give men sufficient grace in the present state to love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbour as themselves; or in other words to keep his law perfectly. He has not made provision for it by the death of his Son. I suppose this may be taken for granted. If then a gracious provision is to be made the ground and rule of obligation, it must follow that all commands and exhortations to perfect holiness in the present state, are utterly unreasonable. What meaning can there be upon this supposition in such scriptures as the following?“ O that there were such an heart in them, that they would love me, and fear me, and keep all my commandments, always! And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul? Be ye therefore
* Acts xxvi. 29. Col. i. 28.
perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect."* If God's law continues to be an “invariable rule of human conduct,and infallible test of right and wrong," as P. says it does, then either there is a gracious provision made for perfection in the present state, or God requires and exhorts men to that for which ne such provision is made.
VI. If I am not misinformed, P. allows of the certain perseverance of all true believers. He allows, I suppose, that God has determined their perseverance, and has made gracious and effectual provision for it. He will not say so of hypocrites. God has not determined they shall continue in his word, hold out to the end, and finish their course with joy. Nevertheless the scriptures address all professors alike, with cautions and warnings, promises and threatenings, as if there were no decree, nor any certainty in the matter, about one or the other. “Holy brethren, and partakers of the heavenly calling," on the one hand, are exhorted to “fear lest a promise being left them of entering into rest, any of them should seem to come short of it;" and are warned from the example of the unbelieving Israelites, to “ labour to enter into rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” The disciples of Christ were charged, upon pain of eternal damnation,“ if their right-hand or right-eye caused them to offend, to cut it off, or pluck it out.” Whatever some may think of it, there
* Deut y. 29. X, 12. Matt. V. 48,
would be no contradiction in saying to the best christian in the world, “ If you deny Christ, he will deny you!"*_Such as proved to be mere professors, on the other hand, were addressed by Christ in this manner;“ If ye continue in my word, then shall ye be my disciples indeed;"! and when any such turned back, and walked no more with him, though no such provision was made for their perseverance as is made for true believers, yet their falling away was always considered as their sin. Judas, and Demas, and many others, fell under the divine displeasure for their apostacy.
I confess these things may look like contradictions. They are doubtless profound subjects; and perhaps, as some have expressed it, we shall never be fully able in the present state to explain the link that unites the appointments of God with the free actions of men: but such a link there is; the fact is revealed abundantly in scripture, and it does not distress me if in this matter I have all my life to walk by faith and not by sight.
From the above cases I conclude, that however difficult it may appear to us, it is proper for God to exhort and invite men to duties with which he has not determined to give them a moral ability, or an heart to comply; and for which compliance he hath made no effectual provision by the death of his Son;
* Heb. iii. 1. iv. 1, 11. Matt. xviii. 8, 9. X. 33.2 Tim.ii. 12.
† John viii. 31.