תמונות בעמוד

absurd, . We shall, however, make a few remarks on the passage to which reference is made.

It is found, Acts, iv. 27, 28, “For of a truth against thy holy child, Jesus, whom thou has anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and counsel determined before to be done.” On the authority of some of the best and most learned commentators of the present age, we may transpose, and read this passage, with a parenthesis thus ;–“For of a truth against thy holy child, Jesus, (whom thou hast anointed to do whatsoever thy hand and counsel determined before to be done,) both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and people of Israel were gathered together." The former reading goes to say, that what Herod, Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, did, was what God's hand and counsel determined should be done. To assert this would be both “ impious and absurd”; for what they did, was of a murderous character. Such a reading will appear still more inconsistent, if we consult the passage in the old testament from which this was taken. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed,” Psalms, 11, 1, 2. Now to suppose that God had determined that the Jews and Gentiles should manifest the dispositions and conduct which they did, and yet ask, Why do the heathen rage, &c." is a reflection upon

the divine character. Moreover, the reading which I have adopted, perfectly agrees with this passage in the Psalms ; but the other does not so well. The latter reading, also, agrees best with the general tenour of the scriptures ; for it goes to say, that what God's hand and counsel determined should be done, was what his holy child, Jesus, was anointed to do. Now what Jesus was anointed to do, he will tell us by the mouth of Isaiah. “ The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted—to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prisons to them that are bound,” &c. Here we see that the reading we have adopted, leaves the Bible in a connected chain, without a link broken, and the character of God perfectly clear from every embarrassment. There can be no doubt but God's hand and counsel determined before that Christ should die, but that he determined that he should be murdered remains to be proved. Can any man in his senses, believe that God, by “placing motives before " Herod, and Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, led them to act the part they did towards the Saviour of the world, and then damned them for so doing ? This, however, is only of a piece with what a gentleman related not long since. After hearing a discourse which was strongly tinctured with Calvinism, he remarked to the minister, that if he believed the doctrine of the sermon, he should contribute no more for the support of preaching. The minister, he said, replied, that it was possible God would so order it in his providence, that he would yet ,contribute a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars, for the support of the gospel, and be damned for doing it! What wonder is it that so many of those who are brought up under such an administration, should take refuge in Universalism and infidelity !! These remarks are, to be sure, somewhat severe, but the case requires it ; and an Apostle has said,“ rebuke them sharply, that they be sound in faith.But

suppose a man from impure motives, contributes for the support of the gospel, (and there are doubtless many such,) would he not be damned for so doing? If he did not repent he would be damned for his impure motives, not for the act, for that, in itself, is good; and good is not evil. But let us next consider the offering up of Isaac. The event we are told, shows that God never intended that it should be done. Now, one of two things must be granted by Mr, H. here that God was sincere, or he was not, in giving this command to Abraham. It is presumed no one will say he was not sincere, But if he was sincere, then he intended what he said. Again-a being who has authority to give commands, has an undoubted right to repeat those commands. When God, also, had sufficiently exercised the faith of Abraham, and called it forth for the view and example of after ages, he repealed the law which made it his duty to offer his son. Moreover, we have already seen, in another case, that where the disposition is felt, and exertions used to carry it into effect, the substance of the act is done. So in the case of Abraham. God commanded him to go and offer up his son--he felt a disposition to obey-by faith he used his exertions, and the act was, in this way, so far accomplished, that the Apostle, (Heb. xi, 17,) declares that he did offer up I conclude, therefore, that this circumstance forms no argument whatever, that God “commands one thing, when he is determined we shall do another," or that he uses duplicity.

We are next to consider the case of Pharaoh. Mr. H. observes—“He commanded Pharaoh to let the children of Israel

but he declares that he hardened his heart to pre. vent it.” The same remark will apply here, as in the former case : i. e. God was sincere in his command to Pharaoh, or he was not. If he was, then he meant what he said, and if he meant what he said then Pharaoh might have obeyed the command.


Now if he might have complied, there was no irresistible influence exerted on the part of

his son.

God, to prevent it. To suppose that God commanded Pharaoh to let the people go, and, at the same time, secretly influenced his mind to lie to Moses, and hardened his heart for the express purpose of preventing his obedience, is really monstrous ; and were it not for the sincerity of those who assert such things, they would no doubt be blasphemous. But I believe them to possess far more sincerity than their creed allows their Maker to possess; for if any man who lays claiin to but a coinmon share of moral honesty, should act as insincerely, towards his fellow creatures, as Mr. H. represents the Almighty as doing to his creatures, he would be thought a monster in human shape.

But where does the Lord “declare that he hardened his heart to preventhis obedience ? He declares that he would harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he WOULD not let them go; but I do not recollect to have seen any place where it is expressly said that he hardened his heart “to prevent it." Again-it is said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.Can it be thought that God assisted him in hardening his heart, to prevent his obedience to his own commands ? Men do not generally need divine assistance to transgress the laws of God! The truth, however, appears to be simply this ;-Pharaoh first hardened his own heart by repeated acts of wickedness ; see the cruelties which he practiced upon the people of God previous to this time. No doubt but by these, together with his other sins, he had sinned away his day of grace. God had said of him, let him alone, he is joined to his idols-my spirit shall not always strive

When he had thus grieved the holy spirit, and the light that was in him had become darkness, God, in the judicial administration of his government, “sent him strong delusion, that he might believe a lie and be damned, because

with man.

he had pleasure in unrighteousness," and not because he had reprobated him from eternity.

The act of God, then, was a judicial act, arising from the stability of his fixed plan of moral government. This act, however, had an indirect tendency to prevent his letting the people go-yet, it would be a gross reflection upon the divine character, to say that it was designed for this express purpose. Now the question is, could the Lord harden the heart of Pharaoh, as a judicial act, and at the same time know that that act would have a tendency to prevent his obedience, and yet not design that it should ? If he could, then he was sincere in his command to Pharaoh, and his character is clear from all the mists of darkness which the doctrine of our opponents casts about it. I conclude then from the whole, that Mr. H. has not made it appear,

that God's determinations and commands are in opposition to each other.

Aster labouring, as he has, to prove that God commands men to do one thing when he is determined they shall do another, he finds it necessary to say something in vindication of the divine character. Hence, his next attempt is to shew, that “if the determinations of God extend to the volitions of wicked men, his character remains urtimpeach. ed."

If Mr, H. believes that the determinations of God extend to the volitions of wicked men, so that by placing motives before their minds, he leads them to the very choice they make in every instance, of course he will not complain, if we draw the following conclusions from his system, 1. When the sinner exercises the volitions of his mind and chooses to sin, it is because God will have it so. 2. When he cries out, O Jerusalem ! Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered thy children, &c. it is the same as if he should

« הקודםהמשך »