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their minds, causing unbelief and hardness of heart. This it was not in his power to do; nor could that Being, who is infinite in benevolence, command him to do this in order to prevent his bestowing upon them those blessings which would be connected with their conversion and healing. None but a malevolent being could form a plan to promote the misery of intelligent creatures. Far be it from that Being, who is emphatically said to be love, to make use of any means to prevent the exercise of his own goodness and mercy.
In what way then, was the prophet to make the heart of this people fat? This he did no other way, I conceive, than prophetically by foretelling it; nor is it uncommon to represent the prophets as doing that which they only predict shall come to pass; so, Jer. i. 10, God is represented as saying, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and throw down, to build, and to plant." And more expressly to our purpose, chap. xxv. 15, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me, take the wine-cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it." Again, ver. 17, "Then took I the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the Lord had sent me." And these are said, ver. 26, to be all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth.
Now it cannot be imagined that these prophecies are intended to convey the idea, that Jeremiah was literally set over the nations and kingdoms for the purposes here mentioned, or that he was literally to go with the winecup of the Lord's fury to all the nations enumerated in that chapter, some of whom, at that time, were probably not in existence; but that he was to do this, by foretelling the judgement that should come upon them. In this sense I apprehend it may be said of Isaiah, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart.”
But we may observe further, that the prophet is
directed, prior to the command, to make their heart fat, to reprove them for their inattention to the evidences of the divine mission of Jesus, "Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." So the Evangelist says, "Tho he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him." Their unbelief therefore, tho predicted by the prophet, and in that sense ascribed to him, is also ascribed to themselves. Thus in the New-Testament it is said, Matt. xiii 14, 15, "In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah," which saith, "By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not percieve, for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed." So also, Acts xxviii. 26, Paul citing this prophecy, ascribes their unbelief and opposition to the Gospel to themselves.
In Mark iv. 11, 12, Jesus is said to have spoken to them in parables, "That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." The same is said, Luke viii. 10. And in the passage under consideration, John says, "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; these things said Esaias when he saw Christ's glory and spake of him." In these passages their blindness and hardness of heart is apparently ascribed to Jesus Christ. He spake to them in parables, "That seeing they might see and not perceive." When Esaias said these things he spake of him. Not that the parables of Jesus were intended or calculated to have this effect: they were calculated to convey the most important instruction and admonition; but his instructions were so opposed to their prejudices, that had they been delivered in plain language without a parable, they would probably have so enraged them, that he would have been cut off before the ends of his ministry could have been accomplished. Hence it was necessary that
he should address them in this figurative style, tho the effect would be increasing their blindness and hard ness of heart. Nor is it more strange that Jesus Christ should be said to do this, than it should be said, that he came not to send peace on the earth, but a sword, to cause dissention and animosity between the nearest relations. This was not indeed his design-he was the Prince of Peace, and his Gospel the Gospel of peace; but this was eventually the effect of his coming and of his Gospel. Thus it was foretold of Him, that "he should be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that he should be set for the falling and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that should be spoken against." The appearance of his person, the nature of his claims, the doctrines he taught, and the dispensation he established, were all in opposition to their views and expectations, and were the means of blinding their eyes and hardening their hearts. In this sense I conceive is the prophecy applied to Jesus Christ, while at the same time they themselves wilfully opposed and blasphemed the Gospel, shut their eyes against its glorious light, putting from them everlasting life, and judging themselves unworthy of it.
In this view all the quotations of this prophecy harmonize and illustrate one another.
For the Christian Repository.
REASON AND RELIGION.
We are often told, by those that hold to incomprehensible, inscrutable, and even, in some instances, manifestly unreasonable mysteries, as indispensables in their religious creeds, that Reason and Religion will not agree together; and in many instances, are diametrically opposed to each other. I do not much wonder that some professors of religion should make this plea, who
tenaciously hold to doctrines that are palpably inconsistent, and unreconcileable with Reason. But I do really marvel, that, while they make this plea, they do not perceive that it is a virtual acknowledgement that they hold to an unreasonable system of doctrines. For what does not agree with, or is opposed to reason must unavoidably be unreasonable.
Now, for myself, if I have a religion, I wish for a reasonable religion. If I know the feelings and desires of my own heart, I wish for nothing unreasonable. I have so high a respect and veneration for Reason and Religion as to believe that they are both the gift of a wise and bountiful Creator, designed for man's advancement in knowledge and happiness; that they are never opposed to each other, but completely harmonize and agree together in promoting our felicity. It is true, my veneration for Religion is the greatest; because it is by this, principally, (tho not, however, unassisted by Reason,) that I have the assurance of a future immortality, and a state of imperishable glory beyond the grave Religion may be above human Reason, tho not opposed to it. Reason is the hand-maid of Religion; and the mistress cannot easily perform her business without the assistance of her hand-maid. Reason is essentially necessary to the perfection of Religion. Indeed, without reason, Religion would be as useless to us as to the brutal creation. Tho' there may be mysteries in Reli gion, that are above Reason, they are never opposed to it. And we may venture to assert, that where any thing is unreasonably mysterious, it cannot belong to the pure undefiled Religion of heaven; but has been invented by "unreasonable and wicked men, that have not faith," from whom the apostle Paul prays to be delivered. 2 Thess. iii. 2.
The Bible, that book of divinity, that inestimable gift of God to man, from which we draw our religious instructions and rules, is a system of Religion addressed to our Reason, without the exercise of which, it could
no more benefit us than it can the beasts of the field. "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord : Tho your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; tho they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa. i. 18. Job says, (xiii. 3,) "Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God." St. Paul says to the Romans, (xii. 1,) "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Here we find no service was required of the Romans but a reasonable service; and we may observe that Religion is always reasonable in its demands. St. Peter says, (1 Ephes. iii.15,) "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear," Thus we are not to be destitute of a reason for the hope that we entertain.
We have a striking specimen of the prophet Samuel's reasoning with the Israelites, 1. Sam. xii. 6, 7. "And Samuel said unto the people, it is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. Now, therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers."
How frequently do we read of Paul's reasoning in the Jewish synagogues, and assemblies, and also among the Gentiles to whom he was an Apostle. What cogency of reasoning does he exhibit in his several epistles? We read that even "Felix trembled," as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgement to come.
Let any person candidly examine the 15th chapter of 1 Cor. and then say, if they can, that Paul's religion was an unreasonable one. If the great Apostle to the Gentiles united such cogency of reasoning, such force of argument, with such fervent zeal as he possessed, for the Christian Religion, we may rationally and religiously conclude that Reason and Religion are not incom