Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

First Instance, is that in the first chap-SERM, ter of the Epistle to the Romans,e where we XIII, read of some persons whom God is said to have given up to uncleanness, ver. 24. to vile offe&tions, ver. 26. and to a reprobate mind, ver. 28.

But, the solution of this will be very easy to any one, who looks into the context and immediate connexion of those several expressions. For the persons there spoken of are first represented as abandoning them selves to the blackest and most aggravated fins, and then follows that state of dereliction, not as the occasion of their wickedness, but as its punishment. Thus, particularly, at the 23d verse, they are said to have changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things; and then we read, veri 24. that therefore God also gave them up uncleanness. So again, vér. 25.'tis faid, that they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and

served the creature more than the Creator; and then it follows (ver. 26) for this cause God gave them up to vile affections, i.e. to their own wicked inclinations and desires. And, lastly, in the 28th verse, it is added, that even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.

From

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

X 4

SERM From all which it is evident, that their XIII. wickedness was from themselves, and that

they first shewed themselves obstinate and irreclaimable, before God gave them up to the corruption and impurity of their depraved nature. And, can it be thought hard or unjust, that they should be forsaken of God, who will not be governed or directed by him. This is but the beginning of their punishment, and it cannot be severe, if, instead of being instantly cut off, and reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day, they be suffered for a while to continue upon earth, as vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Their example may serve us as a caution that we run not to the same excess of riot, abusing that measure of grace we have received, and turning it to wantonness. But, it

may not be perverted to charge God with iniquity, who has not APPOINTED us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Cbrift. A

Second instance of this kind, is taken from 2. Thes. ii. 11. where there are some perfons spoken of, to whom it is threatened, that God should send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

From the foregoing part of the chapter, it is evident, that this delufion was to be introduced and propagated by some one or more deceivers, not authorized by God, or

commif.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

commiffioned to that purpose, but in direct SERM.
opposition to his will, and violation of his XIII.
laws, called, for that reason, the man of hin,
and son of perdition, who opposeth and exalt-
etb bimself above all that is called God, or
that is worshipped. When therefore, in the
Text above-mentioned, God is said to send
this strong delusion, we can only under-
stand that he would suffer fuch deceivers
to prevail and prosper, and neither cut them
off by swift and immediate destruction, nor
hinder the spreading of their error by the
illumination of his Holy Spirit.

This inded might be thought harsh and
severe, if the persons to whom that illu-
mination is denied, were persons of a do-
cile and ingenuous disposition, sincerely de
firous of truth, and heartily disposed to em-
brace it, when discovered and made known
to them. But their character is quite oppo-
site. They were men refractory and perverse,
they were fond of error, and hated to be bet-
ter informed ; they received not the love of tle
truth that they might be saved. And for this
cause (says the Apostle) God Mall send them
strong delusions, that they should believe a lic,
that they all might be damned, who believed
not the truth, but had pleasuae in unrighie-
ousness. So that here again the withdraw-
ing of the Spirit was the punishment of
their iniquity, their incapacity wa penal
and judicial, and not the real cause, but the
effect of their Gn.

Thirdly,

SERM. Thirdly, The last instance to be produced, XIII. advances still higher than any of the for

mes, and not only charges God as the indirect Author of fin, by with-holding a principle of holiness and virtue, but directİy as disposing men to do evil, by infufing a principle of vice and wickedness. And that is the example of Pharoah King of Egypt, of whom God himself told Mofes, Exod. x. 1. that he had hardened his heart. Nor is it only said historically that God did thus harden his heart, but sometimes prophetically too, as Exod. iv. 21. I will bar. den bis heart, that be shall not let the people go; and again, chap. vii. 3. I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my figns and my wonders in the land of Egypt. Which may be thought to look as if the hardening of Pharaoh's heart were a thing purposed and intended, not any way chofen or affected by himself, but inevitably imposed upon him by the superior will and decree of his Creator, and merely for the manifesting of his own omnipotence, according to that other paffage in Exod. ix. 16. which is referred to by the Apostle, Rom. ix. 17. 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, that this instance likewise is no way different from the former, but fairly capable

of

will not

of the like solution, will eatily appear to SERM. any one who shall attentively consider the XIII. whole history of that matter. For, first of all, it is as well predicted that Pharaob should detain the Ifraelites, through his own crime and obstipacy, as it is that God would harden his heart. Thus, Exod. iii. 19. I am sure that the King of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And to the same purpose is that of Moses to Pharaoh himself, Exod. ix. 30. As for thee and thy servants, I know that

ye fear the Lord God.

Accordingly it is observable, that, under several of the Plagues inflicted upon that occasion, the hardening of Pharaoh's heart is attributed to himself. Thus, particularly, when the River was turned into Blood, it is said, Exod. vii. 22. Pharaoh's heart was bardened, or (as judicious Expositors have understood the phrase) it hardened itself. So again, after the plague of Frogs, it is faid, (Exod. viii. 15.) that Pharaoh hardened his beart. After the plague of Lice, the word is used positively, and it is said that Pharaoh's heart was hardened, or hardened itself, Ex.viii. 12. After that of Flies it is said again, thật Pharaob hardened his heart at this time also, neither would be let the people go, Exod. viii. 32. The Murrain of the Beasts succeeded, and after this it is said that Pharaoh's heart was hardened, or hardened itself,

« PreviousContinue »