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God, and how they treat the name of God; no good man should think much of it, if they treat his name and person, with no great respect or tenderness. "If the world hate you," said our Saviour to his disciples, "ye know that it hated me before it hated you." "And And again; "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord."
Christ hath also pronounced a beatitude on his followers, who should expose themselves to the enmity of the world, by their steadfast opposition to its evil ways, and by their faithful adherence to him. "Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”
4. From what has been said it may be seen, and should be laid to heart, how sinful and dangerous it is, to continue in a state of native depravity, and opposition to God and goodness. Can any thing be more criminal than to be at enmity with your Creator? or any thing more awful than to have the Almighty for your adversary? What can you do when He riseth up? and when He shall visit in anger, what can you answer? Lay down then the weapons of rebellion, your wicked works; and seek pardon and reconciliation. He hath said, Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me."
5. The apostle's inference from our text, is obviously true and just. "So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." The externally moral, the reformed, and such as are in the diligent use of
the means of grace, are apt to trust in these good things, as what will recommend them to the divine favor. But if the mind be still enmity against God, can he be pleased with such appearances of respect and duty? All such righteousnesses are as filthy rags -are dead works. Such self-righteousness is often fatal to souls, as well as open unrighteousness. Isa. 1. 11, "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in
ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, IN THE EFFECTUAL CALLING OF SINNERS.
ROMANS IX. 18.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
THIS is a doctrine of the gospel, against
which many have ever been ready to object. It is a doctrine which needs explanation. Rightly understood, as taught in the New-Testament, it will commend itself to every man's conscience, I apprehend, as unexceptionable; however displeasing it may always be, to the unhumbled and unsanctified heart of man
God's leaving his ancient people the Jews, generally, to reject the gospel; and sending it to the Gentiles, accompanied with the efficacious operation of his Holy Spirit, was what led the apostle to insist upon this doctrine in our text and context. To silence the murmurings of the former, he observes to them that the Holy One of Israel had always claimed, and often exercised a like sovereignty, in making the first last, and the last first. To this purpose, after cursorily noticing the preference given to Isaac before Ishmael, in the family of Abraham; he men
tions more at large, the instance of Esau and Jacob, and what was revealed to their mother Rebecca concerning them, before their birth: Ver. 11-13, "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, (that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth,) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger: as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." To this purpose he recites a saying of God to their venerated lawgiver; ver. 15, "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." To this end also, he refers them to what was recorded of the great oppressor of their ancestors in Egypt; ver. 17, "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." From these examples and declarations, the apostle then draws the conclusion in our text: "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."
For the illustration and defence of this conclusion, it is now proposed,
I. To inquire what is meant by God's hardening men, and what by his having mercy on them.
II. To explain his sovereignty in thus making men to differ: and,
III. To answer objections against the doctrine of such divine sovereignty.
What is here meant by God's hardening men,
and what by his having mercy on them, we will first briefly inquire.