網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

whether he has elected others; nor whether he will eventually destroy all the reprobate, than whether he will eventually save all the elect. Though multitudes may dislike the doctrine of reprobation; yet none have a right to say, that this solemn and important doctrine is not plainly revealed in the Scriptures of truth.

2. This instance of Pharaoh removes all the objections which ever have been, or which ever can be made against the doctrine of reprobation. Many have exerted the whole force of their minds, to devise plausible objections against this unpalatable doctrine. But all that has been or can be said against it, stands refuted by the fate of Pharaoh: he was a reprobate.

It is said, if God has reprobated a certain number of mankind, then he can have no other end in bringing those persons into existence, than merely to destroy them; which is totally inconsistent with true benevolence.

Though God always intended to destroy Pharaoh, yet he had a wise and benevolent design in giving him existence. He meant that he should act an important part on the stage of life, and be greatly instrumental in promoting the benevolent designs of providence. This God told him before he destroyed him. "For now will I stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.God made Pharaoh for himself, as well as for the day of evil. And he would not have made him for the day of evil, had it not been necessary,

in order to declare his own glory. God has the same end to answer, by bringing all the non-elect into existence. He intends they shall be the means of displaying his own glory, both in time and eternity. And what, if God, willing to shew his wrath, and make his power known on the vessels of wrath, bring them into existence for this noble and important purpose, who may or ought to object? The glory of God is the highest and best end he could propose in the creation of the world. And if he originally intended, and will finally make the non-elect subservient to this end, his benevolence will as clearly appear,

in

reprobating some to eternal perdition, as in electing others to eternal life.

It is said, the doctrine of reprobation is inconsistent with free agency, because it implies, that God has de creed all the actions of those, whom he has appointed to destruction; which lays them under a fatal necessity of pursuing the path to ruin.

This objection is contrary to fact. Pharaoh was a reprobate. His actions were decreed and predicted. God foredetermined and foretold how he should act; and he did act aceording to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. But it appears from the whole history of his life, that he acted as freely and voluntarily as any other man in the world. Did he not act freely in commanding the midwives to destroy every male among the Hebrew children? Did he not act freely in refusing to obey the messages of heaven, by the mouth of Moses? Did he not act freely in appointing task-masters to increase the burdens and distresses of the children of Esrael? Did he not act freely in confessing his faults to Móses, and in begging him to intercede for him at the throne of divine grace? Did he not act freely in forbidding Moses to see his face any more? Did he not act freely afterwards, in not only permitting, but urging the Israelites to leave his kingdom? And after they had left it, did he not act freely

in pursuing them into the Red Sea, where he finished his course and met his fate? It is impossible to conceive, that Pharaoh should have enjoyed more liberty or moral freedom, than he actually did enjoy, while performing those very actions, which were the appointed means of his destruction. He acted freely and voluntarily all his life, under a divine decree, and under a divine influence. Though God hardened his heart, yet he hardened his own heart, and freely walked “in the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” Here, then, it appears to be true in fact, that the doctrine of reprobation is perfectly consistent with free agency. The case of Pharaoh is exactly similar to the case of all other reprobates. And if the decree of reprobation did not destroy his moral freedom, it cannot destroy the moral freedom of any one of the nonelect.

It is said, the doctrine of reprobation is inconsistent with the use of means. If God has decreed that any should finally perish, it is vain and absurd to use any means in order to their salvation.

This objection is founded upon the preceding, and if there is no foundation for that, there is none for this. If the decree of reprobation does not destroy free

agency, then it does not destroy the use of means. If reprobates remain free agents, then there is a great propriety in treating them as such, and in exhibiting before them all the motives of the gospel, to lead them to repentance. But it is sufficient to say, that God used means with Pharaoh, to bring him to good, though he had determined to destroy him. He admonished him of his duty and of his danger; he visited him with mercies and judgments; he employed Moses and Aaron, and even his own subjects, to persuade him to submission; and he delayed to cut him off from the earth, until it clearly appeared, that all means and motives served to harden his heart and increase his obstinacy. This instance of the divine conduct towards a reprobate, demonstrates the propriety of using all the means of

grace with reprobates. God addressed the understanding, the conscience, and the heart of Pharaoh, and used every method proper to be used, to bring any ob. stinate sinner to repentance. Reprobates are as capable of feeling the force of moral motives, as any other men in the world; and, therefore, it is as proper to use the means of

grace with the non-elect, as with the elect. So God teaches, by his word, and by his conduct.

It is said, the doctrine of reprobation carries the idea of partiality, which is a reproach to the divine character.

This objection is contrary to plain fact. God did reprobate Pharaoh; and in doing it, he displayed his sovereignty, not his partiality. God has a right to treat his creatures differently, when he sees it will an. swer a wise and benevolent purpose. And he told Pharaoh, that he had such a good design io decreeing his destructirn. "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” But if God had a wise and benevolent

purpose in reprobating Pharaoh; then he must have had the same noble and important end in reprobating all the non-elect. And this excludes every idea of par: tiality from the doctrine of reprobation. For partial: ity consists, not merely in treating one person different. ly from another; but in treating one person differently from another, without any reason.

I might go on stating and answering objectionis against the doctrine of reprobation, but I forbear. The single instance of Pharaoh will apply to, and completely answer, every objection, which can be made against God's choosing some to eternal life, and reprobating others to everlasting perdition. Pharaoh himself once and again justified God and condemned himself. And all reprobates will sooner or later be obliged to adopt his sentiments and speak his language. A strong and irresistible convietion of their own guilt, and of the divine rectitude in foreordaining their existence, their character, and their condition, will give a peculiar emphasis to that last sentence, which will fix them in everlasting darkness and despair.

3. If God is to be justified in his treatment of Pharaoh, whom he predestinated to eternal destruction; then it argues much more modesty, to maintain the doctrine of reprobation, than to deny it. It is very often thought and said, that it betrays arrogance and presumption in ignorant and short-sighted creatures, to pry into the divine counsels, and teach the doctrine of divine decrees, especially the most obnoxious and mysterious part of it, that of reprobation. But how does it

appear to be any more prying into the divine counsels, to assert, than to deny, this doctrine? And how does it appear any more arrogant and presumptuous, to assert, than to deny any thing respecting the Deity. The truth is, arrogance consists in denying what God has asserted; but modesty in believing and maintaining it. And upon this principle, it argues real modesty to believe and maintain the doctrine of reprobation, which God has plainly revealed in his word. It is subjeeting our wisdom to his wisdom, and our partial feelings to his infinite benevolence. But it is hard to conceive how there can be the least degree of modesty in denying what God has asserted, and in being wise above what he has written. This is real arrogance and presumption, in whomsoever it is found.

« 上一頁繼續 »