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he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him : that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report ? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, he hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias when he saw his glory and spake of him.” In this passage it is stated that “they could not believe.” It is therefore evident that they were effectually blinded, and to all intents hardened so that to believe in Jesus was not in their power. It appears furthermore, that the Saviour himself regarded this blindness of the Jews with peculiar caution, and delivered his doctrine in parables on purpose that they might not understand. Of this we are informed in Matthew 13th-"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto thein, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” And because God saw fit to bide the things of the kingdom of his grace from the Jews, Jesus expressed his thanks to the Father as recorded in Matthew 11th—" At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” The reason here given why the Father had hidden these things from the Jews, was that it seemed good in bis sight so to do.
Let us attend, in the next place, to see if we can learn from the divine testimony, the special GOOD which was brought about by the exercise of the divine sovereignty in the instances which have been
noticed. This is a subject of vast concern, for the sentiment we embrace respecting it directly affects the moral character of the divine Being: If we consent to the opinion, that the elections which we have noticed are elected unto eternal life, to enjoy endless felicity, while those who are not of the elect are predestinated to everlasting destruction in the future, eternal world, we thereby charge God with partiality; and it is utterly in vain to attempt to clear the divine Being of this partiality while we admit such a sentiment. It is true, our christian doctors have contended, that some were elected from all eternity unto eternal life, and the rest of mankind were reprobated to endless misery for the glory of God; and they are therefore unwilling to allow that there is any partiality in God in thus disposing of his creatures for his own glory. But if we allow ourselves to be more particular on this subject, is it not evident according to this sentiment that the glory of God requires bim to be good and merciful to some men, but utterly unmerciful to others ? As this must be granted, it follows of necessary consequence, that the glory of God requires him to be partial. Nor does it alter the case in the least to say, that the greatest possible good of the whole, requires the endless misery of some ; for this amounts to the same thing, viz. the greatest possible good of the whole consists in partial goodness, which is an absurdity. If we are able to find out what it is that the righteousness of God, according to the purpose of election, consists in, it must be something that accords with our views of inoral righteousness; for nothing can be more evident than that we can see no righteousness in that which is contrary to all our sense of right. For instance, should an earthly parent choose three children out of nine to partake of all the favors which he could possibly bestow from his ample wealth, and destine the remaining six to the most severe wretchedness that could possibly be endured, and all this should be directed by the sovereign will of the parent without any regard to the conduct of the children, we should be under the necessity of pronouncing this conduct partial and unrighteous. If this parent should inform us, that he did this for the promotion of his glory as a parent, it would answer no purpose, as to giving the least satisfaction that his conduct was right. Or if he should inform us that he acted, in all this, for the good of the whole, and that the greatest good of the whole required the utter ruin and destruction of two thirds; this would reflect no light on the subject. But if the parent of nine children had a piece of work to perform which was indispensable for the richest benefit of all his offspring, and that in order to effect this object it was necessary for some, twoʻ or three, to know certain things relative to his plan, and equally necessary for the rest to be ignorant of those things which were revealed to the few, there is no difficulty in seeing the impartiality of the parent in making known to certain individuals what he carefully kept from the rest. · And even should he use means to blind his children in this case it would be perfectly consistent with his grand object, and consistent with impartial goodness.
Christian liearer, suppose yourself one of the children, who was enlightened into the mysteries of this scheme which was wisely planned for the best good of yourself and of the whole family ; suppose too that you sincerely loved all your family, and could clearly see how all were to be benefitted by the blindness, or ignorance of those who were unenlightened, would it not be perfectly natural for you to thank your father for hiding those mysteries from them, and revealing them to you? With these enlightened views, and in the exercise of impartial love towards those who were in darkness should
you not be willing to suffer any reproach from them which, on account of their necessary ignorance, they might heap upon you ? And would you not esteem the knowledge of the truth for which you might suffer sufficient to coutervail all your sufferings? Sometimes would you not feel such ardent desires towards your deceived brethren as would lead you to wish yourself in their ignorance, if thereby they might be permitted to see wbat you were blessed with seeing, and hear that which you rejoiced to hear ?
Dearly beloved hearer, your humble servant feels perfectly satisfied that this is the true spirit and light of the wisdom of God; he enjoys a full persuation that the elections of God recorded in the scriptures are all established on this eternal principle of impartial goodness, and that every elected, enlightened child of God is exercised with this spirit of love and pity for those who are in unbelief.
That those, of whom the Apostle spake in our text as not obtaining what they sought for, but were blinded, were the subjects of the divine favor, that their blindness was necessary for the benefit of the world, and that they were designed, in the wisdom of God, to be partakers of the benefits arising to the world from their blindness and fall, the Apostle fully proves in the chapter where our text is written, as we shall now proceed to show.
Let us notice the text and what follows ; “ What then ? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for ; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them : let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.” Here let us pause -Here let us ask, does divine revelation close this subject in this place? Does it afford no hope that these blinded, fallen sons of Israel, who stumbled at the stumbling-stone laid in Zion will finally be received to favor? Are the inexorable doors of eternal mercy shut against them by an unalterable decree of the God of their fathers? If all this were true, then would the doctrine of election and reprobation, as has been held in the christian church for ages be true also; but hark! What does the inspired apostle say further on this subject and concerning them who were blinded and had stumbled? “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now, if the fall of them, be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them, the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For if the cast. ing away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead.-For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree, which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olivetree, how much more shall they, which be the natural branches be grafted into their own olivetree? For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (lest ye should be wise in your own conceit,) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but ao