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The Greeks use the word in a similar sense, as in Plutarch,* and 2 Thess. iij. 6, 11. there are some which walk disorderly,' certainly with reference to eternal life. This sense of the word, and even the particular application which is here intended, frequently occurs in Scripture in other terms. Luke ix. 92. čūdɛros, well disposed,' or 'fit for the kingdom of God.' Mark xii. 34. not far from the kingdom of God.? 2 Tim. ii. 21. a vessel....meet for the master's use, and prepared for every good work.'t For, as will be shown hereafter, there are some remnants of the divine image left in man,t the union of which in one individual renders him more fit and disposed for the kingdom of God than another. Since therefore we are not merely senseless stocks, some cause at least must be discovered in the nature of man himself, why divine grace is rejected by some and embraced by others. One thing appears certain, that though all men be dead in sin and children of wrath, yet some are worse than others; and this difference may not only be perceived daily in the nature, disposition, and habits of those who are most alienated from the grace of God, but may also be inferred from the expressions used in the parable, Matt. xiii. where the nature of the soil is variously described in three or four ways ; part as stony ground, part overrun with thorns, part good ground, at least in comparison of the others, before it had as yet received any seed. See also Matt. x. 11, &c. inquire who in it is wor-thy,' &c.... and if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it.' How could any one be worthy before the Gospel had been preached, unless on account of his being . ordained,' that is, well inclined or disposed, to eternal life ? which Christ teaches that the rest will perceive in their own punishments after death. Matt. xi. 22. it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for you.' Luke xii. 47, 48. that servant which knew his Lord's will.....shall be beaten with many stripes : but he that knew not....shall be beaten with few stripes.' And, lastly, the gift of reason has been implanted in all, by which they may of themselves resist bad desires, so that no one can complain of, or allege in excuse, the depravity of his own nature compared with that of others.
* Φύσει γάρ ήν σώφρων και τεταγμένος ταϊς επιθυμίαις. Ρlutarch. in Pompeio. Derivatives from this word are used with the same metaphorical signification. OTIS παραλαβών πολεμουμένας τας πόλεις, έξωθεν μέν υπό πλήθους και μανίας βαρβαρικής, ένδοθεν δε υπό στρατιωτικής αταξίας, και της των ταξιαρχών πλεονεξίας.-Synes. Epist. 62. souls Tsits Tois átáxTone. 1 Thess. v. 14.
† Milton employs the word fitted in a similar sense in his Hist. of Britain, Book V. c. 1. But when God hath decreed servitude on a sinful nation, fitted by their own vices for no condition but servile, all estates of government are alike unable to avoid it.'
1 ..... Why should not man,
Retaining still divine similitude
Paradise Lost, XI. 511.
But, it is objected, God has no regard to the less depraved among the wicked in his choice, but often prefers the worse to the better. Deut. ix. 5. ' not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land.'
Luke x. 13. if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.' I answer, that it cannot be determined from these passages, what God regards in those whom he choos
es; for in the first place, I have not argued that he has regarded righteousness even in the least degree. * Secondly, in the former passage the question is not respecting election to life eternal, but concerning the gift of the land of Canaan to the Israelites, a gist assigned them for other reasons than those for which eternal life would have been given,-partly on account of the wickedness of the original inhabitants, and partly that the promise might be fulfilled which had been ratified by an oath to their forefathers; wherein there is nothing that contradicts my doctrine. . In the latter passage, it is not the elect who are compared with the reprobate, but the reprobate who are compared with each other, the Tyrians with the unbelieving Jews, neither of which nations had repented. Nor would the Tyrians ever have truly repented, even if these miracles had been wrought among them, for if God had foreseen that they would have repented, he would never have forsaken them ; but the expression is to be understood in the same sense as Matt. xxi. 31. the publicans and the harlots go
into the kingdom of God before you.'
Lastly, it will be objected, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,' Rom. ix. 16. I answer, that my argument does not presuppose one that willeth or that runneth, but one that is less reluctant, less backward, less resisting than another—that it is, nevertheless, God who showeth mercy, and who is at the same time infinitely wise and just. Meanwhile, when it is said that it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth,' it is not denied that there is one who wills, and one who runs, only care is taken not to assign to him any portion of merit or praise. But when God determined to restore mankind, he also without doubt decreed that the liberty of will which had been lost should be at least partially regained by them, which was but reasonable Whomsoever therefore in the exercise of that degree of freedom which their will had acquired either previously to their call, or by reason of the call itself, God had seen in any respect willing or running, (who it is probable are here meant by the ordained) to them he gave a greater power of willing and running, that is, of believing. Thus it is said, 1 Sam. xvi. 7. Jehovah looketh on the heart,' namely, on the disposition of men either as it is by nature, or after grace has been received from him that calleth them. To the same purport is that well known saying, - to him that hath shall be given.' This may be illustrated by the example of the centurion, Matt. viii. 10. I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,'-of the woman of Canaan, Matt. xv. 28. 0 woman, great is thy faith,'-of the father of the demoniac, Mark ix. 24. • Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief,--and of Zaccheus, Luke xix. 3. he sought to see Jesus who he was,' whence, v. 9. • Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.' Zaccheus therefore had not been ordained from all eternity, but from the time when he had shewn himself eagerly desirous of knowing Christ.
thou oft, Amidst their highth of noon, Changest thy countenance, and thy hand, with no regard Of highest favours past From thee on them, or them to thee of service.
Samson Agonistes, 682.
Nor is it less on this account of God that showeth' mercy,' since the principal is often put for the sole cause without impropriety, not only in common discourse, but even in the language of logicians : and certainly unless God had first shown mercy, it would have been in the power of no one either to will or to run. Philipp. ii. 13. "for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' 2 Cor. iii. 5. not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, without whose mercy he that willeth or he that runneth would gain nothing. *
I think therefore it must be sufficiently clear from the analogy of all the rest of Scripture, who those are that are said in the passage quoted from the Acts to have been ordained to eternal life. On a review of the whole, I should conjecture, that Luke had not intended to advance in so abrupt a manner any new doctrine, but simply to confirm by a fresh example the saying of Peter respecting Cornelius, Acts x. 34, 35. Cornelius and the Gentiles with him believed, as many at least as feared God and worked righteousness, for such were accepted of God in every
* All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
.. that he may know how frail
Paradise Lost, III. 171. See also Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Holy Spirit, where the line of argument pursued by Milton is beautifully and powerfully eoforced. VOL. I.