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EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE
THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D. & LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH,
WILLIAM COLLINS, SOUTH FREDERICK ST.
LONDON: WHITTAKER & CO.-HAMILTON, ADAMS, & co.-
LECTURES ON THE ROMANS.
ROMANS, X, 1.
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."
THE words of this text derive a special and an augmented interest from the very position which it here occupies. You will observe that it is at the close of a very elaborate argument held by our apostle on the high topic of predestination; and from which the reader is fully warranted to imagine, that those Israelites, in whose behalf he plies Heaven with such fervent importunity, had already been the objects of Heaven's irrevocable decree. It is altogether worthy of notice, that, in this instance, the preordination of the Creator did not supersede the prayers of the creature; and that he who saw the farthest into the counsels of the Divinity above, saw nothing there which should affect either the diligence or the devotions of any humble worshipper below. We believe that there are some men with loftier reach of intellect than their fellows, who can
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discern the harmony between these two things; or how it is that the seat of the Eternal might be assailed with prayer, on a matter whereabout the purposes of the Eternal have been unalterably fixed from the foundations of the world. They can perceive that either the prayer, or the performance of man, is but a step in that vast progression which connects his final destiny with the first purposes of God; and that, being as indispensable a step as any single link is to the continuity of the whole chain, it must be made sure else we shall never arrive at the right or prosperous termination. In other words, if man will not address himself to the business of supplication, the blessing of salvation will not follow; and, however indelible the characters may be in which the ultimate futurities of man are written in the book of heaven, this, it would appear, should not foreclose but rather stimulate both his prayers and his efforts upon earth. There be a few who can clearly discern the adjustments of this seeming difficulty; but for these, there are many, who, should they attempt to resolve, would sink under it as a mystery of all others the most hopeless and impracticable. To these we would say that they should quit the arduous speculation, and keep by the obvious duty-taking their lesson from Paul, who, though just alighted from the daring ascents which he had made among the past ordinations of the Godhead, forthwith busies himself among the plain and the present duties of the humble Christian; and so makes it palpable to the
Church throughout all ages, that, however deep or hard to be understood his article of predestination may be, there is nothing in it which should hinder performance, there is nothing in it which should hinder prayer.
Theology has its steeps and its altitudes-pinnacles far out of sight, or shooting upwardly to heaven till lost in the cloudy envelopment which surrounds them. Yet this does not hinder that there should be a most distinct and discernible path which winds around its basement, and by which the lowliest of Zion's travellers may find an ascending way, that at length when the toils of his pilgrimage are ended, will land him in a place of purest transparency, where he shall know even as he is known. There are some whose vision can carry them more aloft among the heights of ardu ous speculation. Yet let none be discouragedfor there is a way of duty that may be practised and of doctrine that may be understood which is accessible to all-a way the entrance upon which requires but the union of a desirous heart with a doing hand-a union this that is often realised by the veriest babe in intellect; who, wholly unable though he be to scan the awful mysteries of a predestinating God, yet can lift the prayer both of affection and confidence, while looking to Him in the more legible as well as more lovely aspect of a God that waiteth to be gracious.
Our first remark then is that predestination should be no barrier in the way of prayer. Our