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ing the comparison or simile, which St. Paul has introduced of the potter and of his clay, upon this very occasion. w" Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" This simile, they say, relates obviously to the uses of these vessels. The potter makes some for splendid or extraordinary uses and purposes, and others for those which are mean and ordinary. So God has chosen individuals to great and glorious uses, while others remain in the mean or common mass, undistinguished by any very active part in the promotion of the ends of the world. Nor have the latter any more reason to complain that God has given to others greater spiritual gifts, than that he has given to one man a better intellectual capacity than to another.
They argue again, that the words "called or chosen," relate to usefulness, and not to salvation; because, if men were predestined from all eternity to salvation, they could not do any thing to deprive themselves of that salvation; that is, they could never do any wrong in this life, or fall from a state
w Rom. 9. 20. 21.
of purity whereas it appears that many of those whom the scriptures consider to have been chosen, have failed in their duty to God; that these have had no better ground to stand upon than their neighbours; that election has not secured them from the displeasure of the Almighty, but that they have been made to stand or fall, notwithstanding their election, as they acted well or ill, God having conducted himself no otherwise to them, than he has done to others in his moral government of the world.
That persons so chosen have failed in their duty to God, or that their election has not preserved them from sin, is apparent, it is presumed, from the scriptures. For, in the first place, the Israelites were a chosen people. They were the people to whom the apostle addressed himself, in the chapter which has given rise to the doctrine of election and reprobation, as the elected, or as having had the preference over the descendants of Esau and others. And yet this election did not secure to them a state of perpetual obedience, or the continual favour of God. In the wilderness they were frequently rebellious, and they were often punished. In the time of Malachi, to which the Apostle directs their attention, they
were grown so wicked, that "God is said to have no pleasure in them, and that he would not receive an offering at their hands." And in subsequent times, or in the time of the Apostle, he tells them, that they were then passed over, notwithstanding their election, on account of their want of righteousness and faith, and that the Gentiles were chosen in their place.
In the second place, Jesus Christ is said in the New Testament to have called or chosen his disciples. But this call or election did not secure the good behaviour of Judas, or protect him from the displeasure of his master.
x Malachi 1. 10.
In the third place, it may be observed, that the Apostle Paul considers the churches under his care as called or chosen; as consisting of people who came out of the great body of the Heathen world to become a select community under the Christian name. He endeavours to inculcate in them a belief, that they were the Lord's people; that they were under his immediate or particular care; that God knew and loved them, before they knew and loved him; and yet this election, it appears, did not secure them from falling off; for many of them became apostates in the time of the Apostle, so "that he was grieved, fearing he
y Rom, 9. 31. 32.
had bestowed upon them his labour in vain." Neither did this election secure even to those who then remained in the church, any certainty of salvation; otherwise the Apostle would not have exhorted them so earnestly" to continue in goodness, lest they should be cut off."
The Quakers believe again, that the Apostle Paul never included salvation in the words" called or chosen," for another reason. For if these words had implied salvation, then non-election might have implied the destruction annexed to it by the favourers of the doctrine of reprobation. But no person, who knows whom the Apostle meant, when he mentions those who had received and those who had lost the preference, entertains any such notion or idea. For who believes that because Isaac is said to have had the preference of Ishmael, and Jacob of Esau, that therefore Ishmael and Esau, who were quite as great princes in their times as Isaac and Jacob, were to be doomed to eternal misery? Who believes that this preference, and the Apostle alludes to no other, ever related to the salvation of souls? Or rather, that it did not wholly relate to the circumstance, that the descendants of Isaac and Jacob were to preserve the church of God in the midst of the Heathen nations, and that the Messiah was to come from their own line, instead of that of their elder breth
ren. Rejection or reprobation too, in the sense in which it is generally used by the advocates for the doctrine, is contrary, in a second point of view, in the opinion of the Quakers, to the sense of the comparison or simile made by the Apostle on this occasion. For when a Potter makes two sorts of vessels, or such as are mean and such as are fine and splendid, he makes them for their respective uses. But he never makes the meaner sort for the purpose of dashing them to pieces.
The doctrine therefore in dispute, if viewed as a doctrine of general import, only means, in the opinion of the Quakers, that the Almighty has a right to dispose of his spiritual favours as he pleases, and that he has given accordingly different measures of his spirit to different people: but that, in doing this, he does not exclude others from an opportunity of salvation or a right to life. On the other hand, they believe that he is no respecter of persons, only as far as obedience is concerned: that election neither secures of itself good behaviour, nor protects from punishment: that every man who standeth, must take heed lest he fall: that no man can boast of his election, so as to look down with contempt upon his meaner brethren: and that there is no other founda2 D