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your Master's will; the light of You have piled your sins up to the gospel shines upon you, and heaven, and the mountain of your its invitations and warnings sound guilt is pressing your souls down in your ears. Most of you have, to the bottomless pit. Be entreatprobably, experienced and resisted ed to turn unto the Lord, that he the strivings of the Holy Spirit. may bave mercy upon you. «Turn Your crimes are great. You have , ye, turn ye, for why will you abused light, and refused mercy. I die?' AMEN.
ON THE NINETEENTH VERSE OF
To ascertain the true import of this objection, let us look back to
the connexion in which it is introthen unto me, Why duced. The apostle had been doth he yet find fault? for who speaking of God's conduct in callhath resisted his will?
ing in the Gentiles and rejecting This is the most plausible and the Jews; and had represented most common objection, that ever him as bringing about this event, has been made against the divine by softening the hearts of belies. agency in the production of mor ers, and hardening the hearts of al exercises in the human heart. unbelievers. To illustrate this Those who deny that God operates! point, he mentions the instance of innmediately upon the hearts of ei-Pharaoh. “What shall we say, ther saints or sinners, rely upon then? Is there unrighteousness this objection to support their opin with God? God forbid. For he ion. Those who allow that God saith to Moses, I will have mercy softens the hearts of some, and on whom I will have mercy, and hardens the hearts of others, in- I will have compassion on whom stantly fly to this objection, to I will have compassion. So then excuse them for not loving, and it is not of him that willeth, nor even for actually hating God. of him that runneth, but of God The careless and secure urge that sheweth mercy. For the this objection to excuse their scripture saith unto Pharaoh, eve
ven carelessness and security ;- for this same purpose have I raised and the awakened and impres- thee up, that I might shew my sed urge this objection to power in thee, and that my name cuse their obstinacy and unbe- might be declared throughout all lief. All classes of singers con the earth. Therefore bath he sider this objection as their strong mercy on whom he will have merhold, to which they can always re cy, and whom he will be hardentreat, as their last and safe resort. eth.” Having thus plainly assertIt is of great importance, there-ed God's immediate agency in fure, fairly and fully to remove softening the hearts of saints, and this objection against the doctrine in hardening the hearts of sinners, of divine efficiency, which is so he introduced the strongest objecreproachful to God, and so injuri. tion, which he supposed any one ous to those who make it. But could possibly make against the since the whole force of this ob- doctrine he had taught. “Thou jection lies in its ambiguity, it is wilt say then unto me, why doth necessary, in the first place, to he yet find fault? for who hath explain it with accuracy and pre- resisted his will:” cision.
This is as much as to say, that
if God does indeed harden the day, mean the same thing by it? hearts of sinners, then he comPELS When they ask, how can we be to thein to be hardened, and they blame, if God hardens our hear ts? cannot help being what they are; Do they not mean to ask, how can which is totally inconsistent with we be to blame for the hardness any criminality on their part.- of our hearts, if God compels us to Here it is necessary to form a be hardened contrary to our will? clear and just idea of compulsion. Do they not mean to say, that the This implies two things, constraint act of God in hardening their and restraint. A mau is compelled hearts must be an act of compulto act, when he is constrained to sion, by which he either restrains act contrary to his will. Daniel them from being what they wish was compelled to go into the den to be, or constrains then to be of lions, because he was constrain what they do not wish to be? It ed to go in, contrary to his will; is undoubtedly true, that every and Joseph was compelled to go into person, who objects against God's Egypt, because he was constrained hardening the hearts of sinners, to go there, contrary to his will. objects against it as implying the In all cases of constraint, there is exercise of compulsion on God's compulsion; because the will of the part. He must mean to complain person constrained is opposed to of compulsion in this case, bethe power that constrains him.-
cause this is the only ground of But a man may be compelled by objection, and a solid ground if it restraint, as well as by constraint. be true. Who ever felt himself Thus Jeroboam was compelled to to blame for doing what he was let the prophet go, when his with constrained to do, contrary to his ered hand effectually restrained him will? Or who ever felt himself from acting agreeably to his will. to blame for not doing what he Paul and Silas were likewise com was restrained from doing contrary pelled to stay in the prison, so long to his will? Did a good man ever as their feet were made fast in the blame himself for not attending stocks, wbich, contrary to their public worship, when he was rewill, restrained them from walking. strained from attending contrary In every
instance of restraint, to his will? Or did a inartyr ever there is compulsion; because the blame hiinself for going to the stake will of the
person restrained is when be was constrained to go, posed to the power that restrains contrary to his will? No such him. It is now easy to see, that case ever happened. Compulsion no man can be said to be compell- is always inconsistent with blame. ed in any case, unless he is either Those, who object against God's constrained, or restrained, contrary hardening the hearts of men, mean to his will. This is the only prop- to make a reasonable, solid, un. er meaning of COMPULSION; and answerable objection; and, therethis is precisely what the objector fore, they mean to say, that, if means by asking, “Who hath re. God does harden their hearts, he sisted his wills" He supposes, compels them to be hardened.that sinners may endeavour to re- This is saying something pertinent sist the will of God, while he is and forcible;
for if it be true, that hardening their hearts, but not. God does exercise compulsion in withstanding all their endeav- hardening the heart, then there is ours, they are compelled to be har- good reason to ask, “Why doth dened. And do not those, who he yet find fault? For who hath make this objection at the present resisted his will?”
The way is now prepared to in- can produce new and holy affecquire, whether there is any just tions in the hearts of saints, withground for this objection against out compulsion, what ground is the divine agency in hardening there to suppose that he must the hearts of sinners. Certainly
Certainly use compulsion in producing any there is not the least ground for moral affections in the hearts of it, if God does not use any com sinners? If God can soften the pulsion in hardening their hearts. hearts of men without compulsion, And here the following things de it must be supposed that he ca serve a serious, critical, and im- harden them without compulsion. partial consideration.
This is plain and intelligible to 1. It is generally allowed, that every capacity, and deserves great the divine agency, in softening the attention upon this subject. hearts of men, does not imply 2. God cannot compel men to compulsion. In statiog the objec- be sinful unless they all the while tion, the apostle seems to take it choose to be holy. It has been for granted, that there is no com- shown, that compulsion always impulsion in God's softening the plies either constraining, or rehearts of saints. Thou wilt say straining men, contrary to their then unto me, why doth he yet will. Where there is no confind fault? For who hath resisted straint, nor restraint, contrary to his will? He had just before said, the will of a person, there can be that “God hath mercy on whom no compulsion. If sinners do not he will have mercy.” That is, he choose to be holy, then they can softens the hearts of whom he will, never be restrained from being hoby taking away their stony hearts ly; and if they always choose to and giving them hearts of Aesh.—be sinful, then they can never be But he introduces no one as ob- constrained to be so. It would be jecting against this; because he absurd to say, that a man is consupposed it would be allowed by strained to do what he chooses; or all," that God may soften the that he is restrained from doing hearts of believers, without the what he does not choose. If sinleast degree of compulsion. And ners do not in any case choose it is now universally granted by holiness, then they cannot in any those, who acknowledge a special case be restrained from it: and if divine operation in the conversion in all cases they choose sin, then of sinners, that God uses no com in no case can they be constrained pulsion in softening and chang- to it. But it clearly appears from ing their hearts. But if God uses scripture, that sinners always hate no compulsion in softening the holiness, and love sin; hence it hearts of saints, why should it be is utterly impossible that they supposed, that he uses any compul- should be constrained to love sion in hardening the hearts of sin, or restrained from loving holisinners? In softening the hearts ness. Was Hazael constrained of saints, he is represented as ma to sin, when God told him by his king them new creatures, creating prophet, that he would destroy them anew in Christ Jesus, and the life of his prince, and reign in exerting the same mighty power, his stead? Or was it possible, that that he exerted in raising Christ God should compel him to that from the dead. These express- cruel and inhuman deed, so long ions plainly imply, that he actu as he chose to do it? It is absurd, ally produces new and holy affec- therefore, for sinners to say tha: tions in their hearts. But if he they are restrained from holiness
or constrained to sin, while they | hardening the hearts of sinners, actually love sin and hate holiness. the effect produced was a free, If they would only keep in view voluntary choice. He made them the meaning of their own objection choose to act as they did, and as against God's hardening their there was no resistance on their hearts, they would be condemned part, so there was no compulsion out of their own mouths, and si- on his. Compulsion always imlenced by their own feelings.- plies resistance on the part of the What can be more inconsistent person compelled. Joseph was than to complain, that they can compelled to go into Egypt, benot resist the will of God, when cause he did all he could to resist they do not desire to resist it? the overbearing power of his or to say that they are compelled brethren; but God did not compel to sin, when they love to sin, and them to turn a deaf ear to all his roll it as a sweet morsel under cries and entreaties, because they their tongue?
chose to gratify their malice and 3. The effect produced by the revenge. So, sinners are never divine agency in hardening the compelled to sin by the divine ophearts of sinners, demonstrates eration upon their hearts, because that there is no compulsion in it. the divine operation makes them The effect produced is a free, vol. willing to sin. It implies a plain untary choice. God makes them contradiction to suppose, that sinchoose to act in the very manner
ners endeavour to resist that powin which they do in all cases act. er or will of God, by which they We have an account of many are made willing to do evil. If whom God actually hardened; and this were possible, then it would all appear to have acted freely be possible for God to compel them and voluntarily under the divine to sin: but it is not possible that agency. Joseph's brethren chose they should oppose the power to act in the most unfeeling and which makes them willing to act, cruel manner, when, according to and therefore it is not possible the divine prediction, and under that God should, in any case, the divine influence, they threw compel them to act. Hence they him into a pit, and sold him into have no cause or right to ask, Egypt. Pharaoh, whom God ac " Why doth he yet find fault? for tually hardened, and whom the who bath resisted his will s” Did apostle refers to in the passage they really desire and endeavour under consideration, chose to dis- to resist his will in hardening their believe the miracles of Moses, and hearts, they might indeed with disobey the express commands of great propriety make this demand; God. The heathen nations, whose but since they always cheerfully hearts were hardened, chose to come comply with his will in hardening out in battle array against Israel, their hearts, they have no ground by whom they were destroyed. to complain of him, though they Judas chose to betray Christ for have good reason to condemn thirty pieces of silver, though he themselves. Accordingly we find, was forewarned of his certain per that those who were hardened, did dition. And the Jews, whose eyes freelyacknowledge their own crimwere blinded and whose hearts inality. Joseph's brethren said were hardened, chose to crucify one to another, “ We are verily the Lord of glory, and reject the guilty concerning our brother, in counsel of God against themselves. that we saw the anguish of his In all these instances of God's soul, when he besought us ; and
we would not hear.” When Pha- | nor any voluntary opposition to it
. raoh had called for Moses and Whenever men are under compulAaron in haste, he said, “ I have sion, they feel the power that comsinned against the Lord your God, pels them, and their own desire and and against you.” And again he inability to overcome that power. said, “I have sinned this time : Samson, after he had lost his the Lord is righteous, and I and locks, was compelled to be bound; my people are wicked.” And Ju- and he felt the power of those who das the son of perdition freely ac
bound him, but found himself unaknowledged the criminality of ble to overcome it. This holds true what he had done under the in- in all cases of compulsion. The fluence of his hardened heart. person compelled, feels a power, “ Then Judas, who betrayed him, which he endeavours, but cannot when he saw that he was condemn
overcome. If sinners, therefore, ed, repented himself, and brought were compelled to be hardened by again the thirty pieces of silver to
the divine operation upon their the chief priests and elders, say: both the power that operates upon
hearts, they would necessarily feel ing, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood." Thus them, and their own endeavour and the conscience of every hardened inability to oppose and overcome sinner, will sooner or later con
that power. But do they ever feel demn him for his own hardness of either of these things ? Did Judas heart. The reason is, he is willing heart, or any opposition to that in
feel the divine influence upon his to be hardened. If sinners really Auence ? All that he felt, was a to counteract the divine influence willingness to betray Christ for to counteract the divine influence thirty pieces of silver. Did Pha; by which they are hardened, then raoh feel the power that hardened the fault would fall upon God, and
his heart, or any desire to resist it! not upon themselves.
But this is all that he telt was a strong and never the case, and of conse- voluntary propensity to destroy the quence, they are as justly, to be people of God. And it is as true blamed and punished, as if they now as ever it was, that sinners do sinned independently of God. The not feel nor oppose that divine indivine influence on their hearts fuence, by which they are hardendoes nothing but make them wil- ed. They feel themselves entirely ling to act, and it is their willing free and voluntary as to all their ness to act, which alone constitutes internal affections and external contheir guilt. Their choice is their duct. But if God actually hardenfault, and this choice God charges ed their hearts by compulsion, they upon them, and they have no right would naturally feel a struggle and to charge it upon him. . Their sole opposition to his hardening influobjection against the divine agen ence. They would be conscious of cy is, that God compels thein to his influence, and conscious of their sin, but this objection has no foun own exertions to overcome his indation in nature, and therefore fluence. And since they never do they are altogether criminal for have this consciousness, they know the hardness of their hearts. This that there is no ground for their obwill further appear, if it be con- ljection, that he compels them to sin. sidered,
They know that they never felt his 4. That sinners are conscious to power operating upon their hearts, themselves, that God does not hard- and that they never felt any oppoen their hearts by compulsion, be- sition to a power they never felt, cause they neither feel his operation | They know, therefore, by their own