Part 2 Chapter 1

Section 2óJohn 12:39, 40.

Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias had said again, lie hath blinded their eyes, and
hardened their hearts
; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart,
and be converted
, and I should heal them.

It is said, that "this text is cited to prove the decree of reprobation, or preterition; and that the inference made from it, contains this strange and uncomfortable doctrine, viz. That the infidelity of God's own people is to be resolved, not into the perverseness of their wills, or the evil dispositions of their hearts, but into the divine predictions, or into a judicial blindness and obduration, wrought by God upon them; which renders it, though not naturally, yet, morally impossible for them to believe." But,

1. I do not find that these words are cited by any of our writers to prove the decree of reprobation, or preterition, or any eternal purpose of God to blind the eyes, and harden the hearts of men, by any positive act of his, with a view to hinder their conversion, and that this decree of condemnation might take place. The Contra-Remonstrants, indeed, make use of them to prove, that the Gospel is preached to many who do not believe, and who cannot believe; because it is not attended with an internal, powerful operation of divine grace, and that very rightly; which is exactly agreeable to the words of Isaiah, cited in the preceding verse, Who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?And, which stand in close connection with these, Therefore, they could not believe, etc.

2. It would be strange and uncomfortable doctrine, indeed, should any make an inference from hence, containing this in it, that the infidelity of God's own people is owing to divine predictions, or judicial blindness, wrought by God upon them, which renders it morally Impossible for them to believe. Seeing God's own people are not spoken of in the text, nor are there any predictions in scripture respecting their final unbelief, nor are they ever given up to judicial blindness and hardness; but, being ordained unto eternal life, are enabled, by divine grace, to believe in Christ to the saving of their souls, notwithstanding the perverseness of their wills, and the evil disposition of their hearts.

3. It is evident that the words are to be understood of the unbelieving Jews who rejected the Messiah, though they heard his doctrine, and saw his miracles, whereby the predictions of the prophet Isaiah, were fulfilled; which, though they had no such in-influence on the wills of these men, as to lay upon them a co-active necessity, or force them to do or answer to the things foretold, yet were to have, and had, an infallible event or completion; otherwise, the foreknowledge of God, and the authority of the prophetic writings, could not be maintained: wherefore the Evangelist observes, that though he (Christ) had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him, that the saying of Esaias, the prophet, might be judged,etc. Also, Therefore, they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, etc.

4. It is certain, that {he impossibility of their after believing, is to be resolved into the judicial blindness and hardness of their hearts, to which they were justly left, having contemned both the doctrines and miracles of Christ. It is of no great moment whether the he, who is said to blind and harden, be God or Christ, or whether the words be rendered, it hath blinded, etc.that is, malice or wickedness hath blinded, or be read impersonally, their eyes are blinded, etc.Since God, or Christ, blind and harden, not by any positive act, or putting in blindness or hardness, but by leaving and giving men up to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and denying them grace; which was the cause of these Jews; so as never to be converted, or turned even by external repentance and reformation, that they might be healed in a national way, or be preserved front national ruin. All which is consistent with God's command, and Christ's exhortations to them to believe, which were antecedent to the judicial blindness and hardness of their hearts, and were, with the miracles and doctrines of Christ, aggravations of their unbelief; and therefore, they might he justly objected to them by the evangelist as their great crime, as it certainly was; being owing to the perverseness of their wills, and the evil dispositions of their hearts.

Gill Index