The

CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 2 Chapter 1

Section 31 Peter 2:8.

And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient,
whereunto also they were appointed
.


These words are spoken of the reprobate Jews, to whom Christ was a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense,in his birth, parentage, and education, in the mean appearance he made in his earn person and in his apostles, in his ministry, and the audience that attended it, and the company he kept, in his doctrine, miracles, crucifixion, and death; who stumbled at the word of the Gospel, despised, and rejected it, being left to the prevailing infidelity of their corrupt hearts; all, which was not casual and accidental, but pursuant to a divine purpose and appointment. This passage, in connection with the words preceding, plainly shows, that as there were some, whom God had appointed and fore-ordained to believe in Christ, on whom he determined to bestow true faith in the, to whom he is the elect, precious cornerstone;so there were others, whom He determined to leave as children of disobedience,in the infidelity and unbelief in which the fall had concluded them; through which disobedience or infidelity, they stumble at Christ, and his word, and in consequence thereof, justly perish. This also appears from the antithesis in verse 9, where God's elect are opposed unto, and distinguished from, these persons, but ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, etc.But,

1st. It is said, "That this scripture, to be sure, cannot signify, that God absolutely ordained the unbelieving Jews, eijv apei>qeian, to disobedience;" when,

1. As yet they were not, and therefore were not disobedient." I reply, this scripture certainly signifies,that these persons were appointed to stumble at Christ and his words through unbelief, which is all one as not to believe in him; or, to express our sense and meaning, and also the sense and meaning of his text more fully, God absolutely willed the fall of man, which brought all mankind into a state of infidelity; in which God has determined to leave some, and not give them that grace which can only cure them of their unbelief, whereby they stumble at Christ and his Gospel, being disobedient,to the divine revelation. Now such a deter-urination, or appointment, did not request their present actual existence, only certain future existence, much should be disobedient, previous to this appointment.

2. It is added, as another reason against this sense of the text, "That then their future disobedience was purely a compliance with the divine ordinance or will, and so could not deserve the name of disobedience; because it could not be both a compliance with, and disobedience to the will of God." To which may be replied, that God's will is either secret or revealed, purposing or commanding; the one is the rule of his own actions, the other of his creatures: now it oftentimes is so that what accords with the secret and purposing will of God, is a disobedience to his revealed and commanding will. As Dr. Manton observes, "Things that are most against his revealed will, fall under the ordination of his secret will; and, whilst men break commandments, they fulfill decrees: his revealed will showeth what should be done, his secret will what will be done." So, for instance it was agreeable to God's secret will, that man should fall; yet, eating the forbidden fruit by which he fell, was an act of disobedience to his revealed will: The crucifixion of Christ was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; and yet this act of the Jews was a disobedience to the sixth commandment, Thou shall not kill.The kings of the earth, giving their kingdom to the beast, was a fulfilling of the secret will of God, nay, he put it into their hearts to do it, and yet, giving the beast that support, power, homage, and worship, they did, were all open violation of the laws of God.

3. It is urged, that, according to this sense of the words, "This disobedience could not be objected to them as their crime; unless compliance with the will of God be so; and it be a fault to be such as God, by his immutable counsel and decree, hath ordained we should be; or it should render men criminal and obnoxious to punishment, that they have not made void God's absolute decree, or have done what that made it necessary for them to do." I answer, that God's decrees, as they do not infringe the liberty of man's will, so they do not excuse from sin. The selling of Joseph was according to the purpose and decree of God, who, as he meant,So he over-ruled it for good yet it was an evil in his brethren, and so they meant it; and, therefore, might be justly objected, to them as their crime. The Jews, when they crucified Christ, did no other than what the hand and counsel of God determined before to be done:and yet, by their own wicked hands,they crucified and slew him. God's determinations and decrees about this affair, neither exempted them from being criminals, nor from being obnoxious to punishment.

2ndly The meaning of these words, probably to Dr. Hammond's sense of them, is said to be this: "That the unbelieving Jews, being disobedient to the Gospel so clearly revealed, and by so many miracles all distributions of the Holy Ghost confirmed to them, were appointed, as the punishment of that disobedience, to fall and perish; for, so the Hebrew word,and the Greek prosko>mma and skanda>lon,import, namely the ruin and the fall of them who stumble at this stone." Than let it be observed, that the phrase, to stumble at Christ, and the word; is not expressive of their punishment, but of their sin, being disobedient.As, to stumble at the law,Malachi 2:8, is to offend against, break and transgress it; so to stumble at the word,or Gospel, is to blaspheme and contradict it, reject and put it away, as the Jews of old did, being disobedient,left and given up if to the infidelity and hardness of their hearts. To stumble at the word, and to stumble at Christ, and to be offended in Him, or at him, are one and the same thing; and the latter always signifies a crime, and not punishment (Matthew 11:6; 13:57, Mark 6:3; Luke 17:23). The sin of these persons is expressed by stumbling and falling:and their punishment by being broken (Ps. 8:14,15; Matthew 21:44). So the Hebrew word lk, signifies to stumble and fall; that is, to sin (see Prov. 24:17, Hosea 14:1, Mal. 2:8). Hence nw[ lwkk, the stumbling-block of their iniquity,that which is the occasion of sin (Ezek. 7:19: 14:3,4,7). So the Greek words prosko>pyw, prosko>mma, proskoph> (Rom. 9:32, 33; 14:20,21; 2 Cor. 6:3), Skandali>zw, and skanda>lon (Matthew 18:6-9, Rom. 14:13,21; 1 Cor. 8:1-5). And, after all, this sense of the words pleaded for proves a fore-appointment of some to punishment, as the fruit of disobedience; which is that part of reprobation, commonly called predation,we contend for.

3rdly It is said, "The words will fairly bear this sense; go them trial believe,belongs hJ timh<, the honor (of being built upon this corner-stone into a spiritual house, but to them that are disobedient belongs that of Psalm 118:22,) and (also to them he is) a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them that stumble at the word,Eijv o{ kai< ejte>qhsan for which also these stones were laid,or put,the corner-stone for the building up of believers, the stone of stumbling for the disobedient to stumble at." But it should be observed, that the corner-stone, and the stone of stumbling, are one and the same stone, and therefore it could not, with propriety, be said of that stone, for which also they were put or laid. Besides, "the word forever tiqenai, as Dr. Hammond observes, is ordinarily used for appointing, and ordaining, and being applied to God, doth often signify his decree, or destination; thus John 15:16, Acts 13:47, 1 Thessalonians 5:9." And here, his decree and a appointment concerning reprobates, as appears from the antithesis in verse 9. Moreover, admitting that Christ is here said to be laid, or put, as a stumbling-stone for the disobedient to stumble at; since he is said kei~aqai eijv ptw~sin, to be set,that is, as the above-mentioned Doctor observes, decreed by God (the same that ti>qeaqai, to be yet or ordained here,) for the falling of many in Israel (Luke 2:34). I say, admitting this, the sense will be much the same, whether we suppose Christ is set or put,that is, ordained, decreed, and appointed, to be a stumbling-stone for men to stumble at; or, whether they are ordained, appointed, to stumble at him; that is, to despise, refuse, and reject him, through infidelity.


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