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ble Ignorance, and the Prejudices of Education, which for want of Means and Opportunities could not be rectified : But still so far as their Light reaches, and the Will is concern'd, they must be accountable. What will be requir’d therefore of the Heathen World, that have not had the Happiness of God's Will being reveald to them, is, that they should act according to the Law of Reason and the Dictates of natural Conscience; and as their Acts of Free-will have been according to this Rule, or otherwise, they will be either condemn’d or acquitted at the Day of Judgment.
Thus God will approve himself a righteous Judge, and will at last make it appear to Men and Angels, that all Kingdoms, Nations, and Languages shall be judg’d according to Justice and Equity, and agreeably to their own Choices of Virtue or Vice. Then it will be clear, that the Ruin of the Wicked is of and from themselves; and that God had not doom'd his Creatures to a wretched State before their Creation, (as some very unjustly endeavour to represent) but that he created them with the fame Powers to have made Religion and Virtue, and consequently Happiness, their Choice, and that their Wills had the fame Freedom, as those had who did really chuse them.
I am not insensible that some have alledg’d the Authority of the holy Scripture against
the Doctrine I have asserted, and several Texts have been urged by some rigid People in Opposition to it. I shall apply my self to shew that those Texts of Scripture (which some through want of a right Understanding of 'em have wrested) do not affert what they alledge, viz. a personal Election and Reprobation from God's eternal Decrees; and particularly that the Ninth Chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans does by no means prove
it. Now as such an Interpretation of a personal Election and Reprobation does reflect on the infinite Justice and Goodness of God, is vastly prejudicial to Religion and Virtue, is contrary to the main Design of them, and very repugnant to other Places of Scripture ; I shall therefore endeavour to make it
appear from this very Chapter, that the Apostle is herein maintaining a contrary Doctrine to what these rigid Men maintain.
In order to the right understanding of this Chapter, 'tis necessary, in the first Place, to consider what was the Apostle's main Scope, Tendency, and Design in it. Now in the beginning of it, we find him in a strong and violent Concern for his Brethren according to the Flesh, for whose Sake he cou'd have been content to have suffer'd the most severe Punishments in the World, in order to bring them over to Christ; for as dear as Life was to him, if he might hereby obtain this End, viz. their Salvation, he cou'd have been content to have laid down his Life for them, which is the highest Instance of Christian Charity : For greater love than this bath no man, that one lay down his life for his friend : So that he hereby expresses his extremely passionate Concern for his Brethren, Kinsmen, and Relations according to the Flesh, and endeavours to persuade them that the Arguments he was going to make use of, proceeded from his great Affection and Concern for their spiritual Welfare, and therefore ought not to be flighted and disregarded as Things of little moment. His main Design therefore being to convince them that, notwithstanding their Advantages of Birth and Descent which they gloried in, it would be of no Service to them, so long as they rejected the glorious Dispenfation of the Gospel : And since they insisted that God's Mercies did solely belong to them, from his Promises to their Forefathers; therefore this Chapter is almost wholly spent to convince them to the contrary, that tho’ they were Abraham's Seed, &c. which he allows at large, ver. 4, 5. but denies, ver. 6. that that can give them a Title to the Promises made to Abraham; For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Ver. 7. Neither because they are the Seed of Abraham, are they all children, but in Ifaac fall thy feed be called.
Abraham had several other Children befides Isaac, yet to Ifaac was the Promise made, that according to the Flesh Christ should come ; In whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Therefore those that believe in Christ, and only those, are Abraham's feed and heirs according to promise: For,
Ver. 8. They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Ver. 9. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall bave a fon : To whose Line Christ was promised.
Ver. 10. And when Rebecca also bad conceived, of two, by Isaac ;
Ver. 11. For the children not being 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;
Ver. 12. It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. Ver
. 13. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.
In these Verses is shewn God's Choice of Jacob the Son of Ifaac, that from his Loins Thould proceed the promised Messias, but not from Esau's. This is therefore God's Election of Jacob before he was born, to give him the Preference, which is to be understood only as a temporal Advantage, and
which indeed he enjoy'd accordingly; for he got both the Birthright and Blessing. This Election therefore, or Choice, which God made of Jacob rather than of Esau, only respected his temporal Prosperity, and the Promise of Christ from his Family ; but not a total Rejection of Esau with respect to a future State : So that when God is said to love Jacob, and hate Esau, 'tis only a comparative Way of speaking; and the Word hate can only signify less Love shew'd to Esau in respect of temporal Privileges: Thus was Jacob faid to love Rachel and hate Leab; which could certainly signify no more than less Love for her; and because he had an extraordinary Love to Rachel, his small Love to Leah was comparatively counted Hatred. As to spiritual Advantages, and the Happiness of a future State, I make no doubt Esau had an equal Right with Jacob; and as for the Expreffion, that Esau found no place of repentance, tho’ be fought it carefully with tears, it is plain, that it respects only the Irrecoverableness of his Birthright, which had entitled Jacob and his Posterity to the fruitful Land of Canaan; whereas the Do. minions of Efau and his Posterity were the barren Mountains of Mount Seir.
Ver. 14. What shall we say then, Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
That is, God may justly bestow his temporal Blessings on whom he pleases; for he