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But still better judges than the leaders, elders and tribes of Israel have approved and applauded the divine conduct towards the hardened and incorrigible king of Egypt; I mean the saints and angels in heaven. They have sung, and will continue to sing the song of Moses at the overthrow of Pharaoh. The apostle John tells us that he saw not only the seven angels who had the seven last plagues, but also them that had gotten the victory over the beast, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, and singing the song of Moses the servant of God, saying, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints!" There is not a single instance of God's conduct since the creation of the world, which has been more universally and constantly applauded by the best judges of moral beauty and rectitude, than his raising up and destroying the cruel and incorrigible king of Egypt. We must believe, therefore, that the Judge of all the earth did right, in forming and destroying that vessel of wrath.
2. The sovereignty and justice of God allowed him to treat Pharaoh in the manner which has just been described. The Deity had a sovereign right to bring Pharaoh into existence, to give him the powers and faculties of a moral agent, to place him at the head of a kingdom, and to operate upon his heart in the same manner in which he operates upon the hearts of other men. And when Pharaoh, under such circumstances, became extremely haughty, cruel, malevolent and obstinate, he had a right, in point of justice, to cut him off from the earth, and send him to endless perdition. In forming Pharaoh, God displayed neither justice nor injustice, but only sovereignty. As the potter is a sovereign in forming his vessels, so God is a sovereign in forming moral agents. And after he has formed moral agents, he has a right to treat them according to their moral characters. If their moral characters are perfectly holy, God has a right to make them completely and for ever happy; but if their moral characters are perfectly sinful, God has a right to make them completely and for ever miserable. God formed Pharaoh a moral agent, and, as a moral agent, he was totally wicked, and deserved to be cast off for ever. God therefore acted according to strict justice in dooming him to eternal destruction. Divine sovereignty was displayed in the formation, and divine justice in the destruction, of Pharaoh; and for the display of these perfections towards that son of perdition, God deserves the approbation and praise of all his intelligent
I have now finished what I proposed to say concerning God's treatment of Pharaoh. If what has been said be true, 42
it will establish some points of serious importance upon a firmer foundation than that of mere metaphysical arguments.
1. It appears from the divine conduct towards Pharaoh, that the doctrine of reprobation is true in fact. Pharaoh was a reprobate. God determined from eternity to make him finally miserable. This determination he eventually carried into effect. He brought him into being, formed him a rational and accountable creature, tried him with mercies and judgments, hardened his heart under both, caused him to fill up the measure of his iniquity, and finally cut him off by an act of his justice. This is all that has ever been understood by reprobation, as the counterpart to the doctrine of election. And all this God did with. respect to Pharaoh, who therefore has every mark of a reprobate. But if God did actually reprobate Pharaoh, we may justly conclude that he reprobated all others whom he did not choose to eternal life. This inference the apostle Paul draws from the fate of Pharaoh, in the ninth of Romans. "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 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 formed say to him 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 honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?" The case of Pharaoh is here introduced to prove and illustrate the doctrine of reprobation, as the counterpart to the doctrine of election. Pharaoh's fate proves that God has in fact reprobated some of the human race. And God's conduct towards him illustrates his conduct towards all the vessels of wrath, who shall be fitted for destruction, in distinction from his conduct towards all the vessels of mercy, who shall be fitted for salvation. This same apostle teaches, in various other passages in his writings, that God has reprobated all whom he has not elected. He says to the Thessalonians, "God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Here he supposes that all whom God has not appointed to salvation, he has appointed to wrath. Again he says to the Romans, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath ob
tained 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 stumbling block, and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway." His meaning is, let every thing serve to blind and harden reprobate sinners, and fit them for final destruction. The apostle Peter represents the doctrine of reprobation in direct contrast with the doctrine of election. He says to christians in general, " Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 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." Our Saviour, likewise, in the course of his preaching, taught the doctrine of reprobation in plain and pointed terms. He publicly called Judas before his death, "the son of perdition." He told some of his obstinate hearers, that he came into the world to save the elect, and to destroy the non-elect. "Jesus said, for judgment I am come into the world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind." And it appears that his miracles and preaching had this effect upon those who were given up to a reprobate spirit. "But though 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 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." Scripture facts and declarations give us no more room to doubt whether God has reprobated some, than 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 show his wrath and make his power known in 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 to be 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 decreed 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 according 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 Israel? Did he not act freely in confessing his faults to Moses, 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 non-elect.
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 obstinate 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.