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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 answer a wise and benevolent purpose. And he told Pharaoh that he had such a good design in decreeing his destruction. “ 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.” 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 partiality from the docttine of reprobation. For partiality consists, not merely in treating one person differently from another, but in treating one person differently from another without any reason.
I might go on stating and answering objections 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 conviction 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 subjecting 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.
4. If it be true that God is to be justified in foreordaining the destruction of the non-elect, then it is altogether proper and necessary to preach the doctrine of reprobation. It seems to be a prevailing opinion among many who acknowledge that the doctrine of reprobation is contained in the Bible, that it is unnecessary and improper for public teachers to insist upon it in their public discourses. They say that this doctrine is dark and mysterious; that it is discouraging to sinners; that it tends to lead them into despair; that it is apt to give them false and disagreeable ideas of the divine character. For these reasons, they think it is a more wise and prudent practice in preachers, either never to mention the doctrine of reprobation, or if they mention it, not to dwell upon it, or attempt to inculcate it as an article of faith. But is this christian prudence? Is this declaring all the counsel of God? Is this speaking on God's behall? Is this giving sinners an opportunity of knowing whether they love or hate their Creator? There is no divine truth which is more directly suited to discover the hearts of sinners to themselves, than the doctrine of reprobation. It never fails to awaken their native enmity to the divine character. God may visit them with mercies, or with judgments, and they may still remain ignorant of their hearts. Ministers may preach the terrors of the law, and the gracious invitations of the gospel, and they still remain unacquainted with their real character and condition. But when the doctrine of reprobation is clearly exhibited before them, they cannot help discovering the plague of their own hearts. They cannot endure the thought that God has determined their character and condition for eternity, and will according to his eternal purpose either soften or harden their hearts, and either fit them for heaven or for hell. They cannot bear to be treated as God treated Pharaoh, and Judas, and others, who were predestinated to eternal destruction. If it be a matter of importance, therefore, that sinners should be made acquainted with the character of God, and with their own character, then it is a matter of equal importance that the doctrine of reprobation should be clearly and fully exhibited. This doctrine cannot be preached too plainly. It ought to be represented as God's eternal and effectual purpose to destroy the non-elect. God could not reprobate any from eternity without intending to carry his eternal purpose into execution. Such is the nature and extent of the doctrine of reprobation; which displays the feelings of God's heart towards
that portion of mankind who will be finally lost. And these feelings are his true glory, which he means shall be fully displayed. To use his own expression, “ God is not ashamed” of the doctrine of reprobation. He means to have it known that he raised up one and another of our fallen race for final destruction, that his name may be declared throughout all the earth. And shall his servants, who are set apart to delineate his character, and explain his word, be ashamed to teach a doctrine which is designed to give the most bright and affecting display of his glory?
5. If God is to be justified in his treatment of Pharaoh and of all the rest of the non-elect, then it is absolutely necessary to approve of the doctrine of reprobation in order to be saved. None can be admitted to heaven who are not prepared to join in the employments as well as enjoyments of the heavenly world.
And we know that one part of the business of the blessed is to celebrate the doctrine of reprobation. They sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, which is an anthem of praise for the destruction of Pharaoh and his reprobate host. How then can any be meet for an inheritance among the saints in light, who are not reconciled to the doctrine of reprobation, which is, and which will be for ever, celebrated there?
While the decree of reprobation is eternally executing on the vessels of wrath, the smoke of their torments will be eternally ascending in the view of the vessels of mercy, who instead of taking the part of those miserable objects, will say, “Amen, Alleluia, praise ye the Lord.” It concerns, therefore, all the expectants of heaven to anticipate this trying scene, and ask their hearts whether they are on the Lord's side, and can praise him for reprobating as well as electing love. This is the most proper subject by which to try their christian character. They must sooner or later be brought to this touchstone, and either stand or fall by it. The day of decision is at hand. The scenes of eternity will soon open to view. And those who cannot heartily and joyfully sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, must be excluded from the abodes of the blessed, and sink speechless into the bottomless pit of despair.