CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.
Section 56—2 Peter 3:9.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise (as some men count slackness), but is long suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
This scripture appears among those which are said to be very many clear and express ones for the doctrine of universal redemption; and it is observed, "that ti>nev, opposed to pa>ntev, is a distributive of all, and, therefore, signifies, God is not willing that any one of the whole rank of men should perish" But,
1. It is not true that God is not willing any one individual of the human race should perish, since he has made and appointed the wicked for the day of evil, even ungodly men,who are foreordained to this condemnation,such as are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction;yea, there are some to whom God sends strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, that they all might be damned, and others whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not (Prov. 16:4; Jude 1:4; Rom. 9:22; 2 Thess. 1:12; 2 Pet. 1:3). Nor is it his will that all men, in this large sense, should come to repentance, since he withholds from many both the means and grace of repentance; and though it is his will of precept, that all to whom the preaching of the Gospel is vouchsafed should repent, yet it is not his purposing, determining will, to bring them all to repentance, for who hath resisted his will?(Rom. 9:19.)
2. It is very true that ti>nev, any,being opposed to pa>ntev, all,is a distributive of it; but then both the any and the all are to be limited and restrained by the us, to whom God is longsuffering; God is not willing that any more should not perish, and is willing that no more should come to repentance than the us to whom his longsuffering is salvation. The key, therefore, to open this text lies in these words, eijv hJma~v, to us ward,or for our sake;for, these are the persons God would not have any of them perish, but would have them all come to repentance. It will be proper, therefore,
3. To inquire who these are. It is evident that they are distinguished from the scoffers mocking at the promise of Christ's coming, (vv. 3, 4), are called beloved, (vv. 1, 8, 14, 17), which is to be understood either of their being beloved by God, with an everlasting and unchangeable love, or of their being beloved as brethren by the apostle and other saints; neither of which is true of all mankind. Besides, the design of the words is to establish the saints in, and comfort them with the coming of Christ, until which, God was longsuffering towards them, and which they were to account salvation (v. 15). Add to this, that the apostle manifestly designs a company or society to which he belonged, and of which he was a part, and so can mean no other than such who were chosen of God, redeemed from among men; and called out of darkness into marvelous light; and such were the persons the apostle writes to. Some copies read the words diJ uJma~v, for your sakes;so the Alexandrian MS. the Syriac version, ˆwktlfm, for you, or your sakes; the same way the Ethiopic. Now these persons were such who were elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:2); and such, as these, or who belong to the same election of grace they did, God is unwilling that any of them should perish, but wills that all of them should have repentance unto life; and, therefore, he waits to be gracious to them, and defers the second coming of Christ. The case stands thus: there was a promise of Christ's second coming, to judge the world, delivered out; it was expected that this would have been very quickly, whereas it has been a long time deferred. Hence scoffers shall arise in the last days,charging the Lord with slackness and dilatoriness concerning his promise, though he is not slack with respect to it, but is long-suffering towards his elect, waiting till their number is completed in effectual vocation, and for their sakes bears with all the idolatry, superstition, and profaneness that are in the world; but when the last man that belongs to that number is called, he will stay no longer, but descend in flames of fire, take his own elect to himself, and burn up the world and the wicked in it.
4. It is indeed said, "that the apostle, by the elect,to whom he writes, does not mean men absolutely designed for eternal happiness, but only men professing Christianity, or such as were visible members of the church of Christ: since he calls upon them to make their calling and election sure,exhorts theta to watchfulness, seeing their adversary the devil goes about seeking whom he may devour,and to beware lest they fall from their own steadfastness;yea, he speaks of some of them as having forsaken the right way;and also prophesies that false teachers should make merchandise of them,neither of which, it is observed, can be supposed of men absolutely elected to salvation; and, also, that the church at Babylon was elected, together with these persons, which could not be known and said of all its members." To all which I reply, that calling upon them to make their election sure, does not suppose it to be a precarious and conditional one, as I have shown in a preceding section that exhortations to sobriety, and vigilance against Satan, and cautions about falling, are pertinent to such who are absolutely elected to salvation; for, though Satan cannot devour them, he may greatly distress them; and, though they shall not finally and totally fall from the grace of God, yet they may fall from some degree of steadfastness,both as to the doctrine and grace of faith, which may be to their detriment as well as to the dishonor of God: that it is not true, that the apostle speaks of any of these elect he writes to, that they had forsaken the right way,but of some other persons; and though he prophesies that false teachers should make merchandise of them, the meaning is, that, by their fine words and fair speeches, they should be able to draw money out of their pockets, not that they should destroy the grace of God wrought in their hearts. As to the church at Babylon being said to be elected with them, the apostle might say this of the church in general, as he does, in a judgment of charity, of the church at Thessalonica, and others, though every member of it in particular was not elected to salvation, without any prejudice to the doctrine of absolute election. Besides, the persons he writes to were not visible members of any one particular church or community, professing Christianity, but were strangers scattered abroad in several parts of the world, and, were such who had obtained like precious faith with the apostles, and is a strong evidence of their being men absolutely designed for eternal happiness. And whereas it is suggested, that these persons were come to repentance, and therefore cannot be the same to whom God is longsuffering, that they might come to repentance; I answer, that though they are not the stone individual persons, yet are such who belong to the same body and number of the elect, on whom the Lord waits,and to whom he is 1ongsuffering, until they are all brought to partake of this grace, having determined that not one of them should ever perish.
5. Hence it follows, that these words do not furnish, out any argument in favor of universal redemption, nor do they militate against absolute election and reprobation, or unfrustrable grace in conversion; but, on the contrary, maintain and establish them, since it appears to be the will of God, that not one of those he has chosen in Christ, given to him, and for whom he died, shall ever perish; and, inasmuch as evangelical repentance is necessary for them, and they cannot come at it of themselves, he freely bestows it on them, and, by his unfrustrable grace, works it in them; and, until this is done unto and upon every one of them, he keeps the world in being, which is reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.
 Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. 2. p. 160, 181, 196; Curcellaeus, p. 364; Limborch, p. 333; Whitby, p. 113; ed. 2. 111.
 Whitby, p. 124; ed. 2. 121.
 Whitby, p. 125, 126; ed. 2. 122, 123.
 Whitby, p. 13, 75; ed. 2. 74.