Again I say to you that election is not corporate...
and it does not fall into the category of 2 Timothy 2:22,23
The following is an excerpt from a sermon by Thomas Bradbury entitled Vessels of
Wrath found on sermonindex
THE VESSELS OF WRATH who they are, and how they are fitted to destruction. The truth contained in these terrific words is hated and despised where the doctrine of election is tolerated. Yes, I say tolerated, because there are many who think and speak as though a sovereign God were obligated to them for their bare notice of the glorious doctrine of election. But I pity from my very heart the preacher it matters not what his position or acquirements may be who will keep back any truth of God's Word for the purpose of accommodating his message to any portion of his hearers. Let the testimony be with a "Thus saith the Lord," or, "It is written;" and what the Lord has said or written may I never be ashamed to declare. If God's Word reveals His mind concerning His electing a people in Christ Jesus before the worlds were framed, and has created them for the display of His own glory, and if the necessary consequence attending this marvellous, this glorious, and God-like transaction is that He has eternally reprobated others by leaving them outside the bounds of His grace, by not writing their names in the Lamb's book of life, by not redeeming them with precious blood, by not regenerating them unto life, by not bringing them into the enjoyment of His love: I say, if this be a certain consequence of God's election of a people to grace and glory, I envy not the man who dares to wrap up or hold back that which God has so clearly revealed. It is mine, however, to stand upon the glorious vantage ground of His distinguishing and discriminating truth, and declare it, though I might be forsaken of all men, knowing that a covenant-keeping God will stand by me. The "little while" of my existence here will soon be past, and my poor stammering tongue will lie silent in death; but my hope is, that my ransomed spirit will then have the approval and smile of my God, in His words of loving welcome, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord." Good, in the goodness of my Saviour, Faithful, in the faithfulness of His own giving. A servant, by His own rich and sovereign grace.
In our investigation of this deep and momentous subject, we will look at the preceding context. In it the apostle Paul declares the sovereignty of Jehovah in His choice and rejection of whom He would, without going out of Himself for a reason in so acting. Paul instances the children of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac was God's eternally-loved one, God's elect, the child of promise. Ishmael! Where was he? Look at him in the light of the exercises of his father Abraham's heart. Abraham bows with profound reverence before his God who had created all things for Himself and saw Isaac elect, but Ishmael reprobate. Sons of the same parents, possessing the same outward privileges, having the same advantages, and remembered before the throne in the same prayers. When God communed with Abraham, and communicated to him the fact that Isaac should be born, and through him the spiritual promises should flow to the Church in all succeeding generations, Abraham's fatherly affection went out toward his other lad, and he cried, "O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" Have we any fathers here this morning who have children, giving no evidence whatever of oneness with a covenant God in Christ, who possess not broken hearts and contrite spirits, who manifest no desire for an acquaintance with their father's God? If so, surely this plaintive prayer of Abraham will find a soft place in the affections of your heart. But mark! The prayers and tears of Abraham for the spiritual good of his child could not alter Jehovah's purpose, or divert Him from the perfect and exact accomplishment of that plan of grace and glory which He arranged and fixed in the Son of His love before all worlds. Paul concludes his argument respecting Isaac and Ishmael thus "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son." (Rom. 9:7-9; Gen. 17:18-21)
Sovereignty is also revealed in the choice of Jacob and the rejection of Esau. "And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac: for the children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth." I cannot stand this, says the fanciful philosopher, and the flimsy philanthropist. Who asks such to stand it? I do not, and surely you cannot think that a sovereign God would be obligated to you for doing so? But see! "It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written (Mal. 1:2,3,) Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then, Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." Now Paul turns to that remarkable conversation when God spake to Moses as a man speaketh to his friend, recorded in Exo. 33:19: "For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whom I will have compassion. Paul then states his conclusion of the whole matter: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." He then points to Pharaoh as an illustration of God's reprobating right and power, and meets the objector with his own objections, "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will? This is as much as to say, Why doth God find fault if He has created some for eternal glory and shut others up to eternal reprobation. How does Paul answer this? Will he argue out the point with the objector? No. But he will assert God's right to create and dispose of His creatures according to His sovereign will, and communicate to whom He will His mind and intention toward them. God reveals His mind in his Word, and, "Whoso despiseth the Word shall be destroyed." (Prov. 13:13) What does the Word say concerning Pharaoh? "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth." He "overthrew Pharaoh, and his host in the Red Sea: for His mercy endureth for ever." (Ps. 136:15) Strange mercy that! It was mercy, not to Pharaoh, but to the people of God whom He persecuted and despised. Paul deigns not to dispute with objectors, but ignores their right to dispute with God. See! "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast thou then make me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?" Jehovah has an undisputed right to take of the same piece of earth and make one vessel in whom He will display the riches of His grace, and another in whom He will display the fierceness of His wrath.
You have this stated in 2 Tim. 2:19,20: "Nevertheless the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour." One elected to eternal life, another left reprobate unto eternal death. Carnal reason objects, and neither can nor will believe these glorious truths; but may God in the riches of His grace open them up more and more to our waiting hearts. "What saith the Scripture?" Turn to 1 Thess. 5:9: "For God hath not appointed us (the beloved of God and elect) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Come with me to 1 Pet. 2:8: "And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed." Now turn over to the epistle of Jude, 4th verse: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." But mark well that tremendous and sweeping declaration concerning the reprobate in 2 Pet. 2:12: "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption." "Vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." "Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places; Thou castedst them down to destruction." (Ps. 73:18)
But look at the text: "What if God, willing to show His wrath." The purpose and will of God in the existence of the reprobate is to show His wrath against sin. Had these never lived, the glory of His righteousness would never have been displayed. "And to make His power known." The word "power" in the preceding verse means, "right according to justice;" but here it denotes His ability and determination to make sin, which in its open nature is to God's dishonour, glorify His name. "He endured with much longsuffering." This is a remarkable expression. We have seen persons born into the world with malicious inclinations and devilish determinations, running greedily in the way of sin, debauchery, profanity, and cruelty, and at last drop into hell with all their imperfections on their hands, ay, and we have been so short-sighted as to think it would have been better if God had taken them away in their infancy. I know one who lay upon his mother's lap, apparently a dying babe. The breaking heart of the mother begged for the life of her boy. God gave her her request, but she lived to groan over the perversity of her child, and to repent of the prayers she breathed for his life. We may wonder why God does not cut off and destroy at once these demons and dogs in human shape; but he endures their existence to display, in a manner best known to Himself, the glory of His great name.
"The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." Every vessel of wrath must fill up the measure of its iniquity, transgression, and enmity against God, and thus manifest its fitness for destruction, whereby God reveals His justice in the condemnation of all out of the Son of His love, on the ground of their own dispositions and sins. See Col. 3:6: "For which thing's sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience." In this marvellous chapter we see revealed the sovereignty of Jehovah as He rules over all things in heaven, and earth, and hell, for His own glory, for the good of His chosen, for the display of the harmony of all His attributes, and for the revelation of the mysteries of His grace in the objects of His eternal love and choice, a people whom He will have near to Himself through a long eternity.
Search the Scriptures, and as you search them you see this appalling subject appearing in every book. Come to Gen. 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed." There you see two seeds, the loved and the hated, the elect and the reprobate, the redeemed and the unredeemed, the regenerate and the unregenerate, vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath, those afore-prepared unto glory and those fitted to destruction, the children of God and the children of the devil. In the first two born into this world we see this exemplified. Cain was a vessel of wrath, Abel was a vessel of mercy. See 1 John 3:12: "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." We see this also in Pharaoh. See Exod. 9:15,16: "For now I will stretch out My hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth." Look at Balaam! The Spirit of the Lord was in his mouth. The devil and the world had full possession of his heart. He "loved the wages of unrighteousness," and at last fell fighting against Israel with the enemies of the Lord, and went to his own place. Look at the false prophets in Israel. "And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived the prophet, and I will stretch out My hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of My people Israel." (Ezek. 14:9) Look at Judas! Awful character! "And truly the Son of Man goeth as it was determined; but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22) Turn to Acts 4:27,28: "For of a truth against Thy holy Child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Thy counsel determined before to be done." Reprobates are appointed to do their own work, and when they have performed it, their wages are always ready for them. "For the wages of sin is death," due to all the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; but "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" to all the vessels of mercy which Jehovah had afore prepared unto glory.