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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 9 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Nay but, O man, etc. To this objection the apostle replies in two ways; first, by asserting the sovereignty of God, and affirming that he had a right to do it, (Ro 9:20,21) and, secondly, by showing that he did it according to the principles of justice and mercy, or that it was involved of necessity in his dispensing justice and mercy to mankind, Ro 9:22-24.

Who art thou, etc. Paul here strongly reproves the impiety and wickedness of arraigning God. This impiety appears,

(1.) because man is a creature of God, and it is improper that he should arraign his Maker.

(2.) He is unqualified to understand the subject. "Who art thou ?" What qualifications has a creature of a day,—a being just in the infancy of his existence; of so limited faculties; so perverse, blinded, and interested as man—to sit in judgment on the doings of the Infinite Mind? Who gave him the authority, or invested him with the prerogatives of a judge over his Maker's doings?

(3.) Even if man were qualified to investigate those subjects, what right has he to reply against God, to arraign him, or to follow out a train of argument tending to involve his Creator in shame and disgrace? Nowhere is there to be found a more cutting or humbling reply to the pride of man than this. And on no subject was it more needed. The experience of every age has shown that this has been a prominent topic of objection against the government of God; and that there has been no point in the Christian theology to which the human heart has been so ready to make objections as to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

Repliest against God. Margin, "Answerest again; or, disputest with God." The passage conveys the idea of answering again; or of arguing to the dishonour of God. It implies, that when God declares his will, man should be still. God has his own plans of infinite wisdom, and it is not ours to reply against him, or to arraign him of injustice, when we cannot see the reason of his doings.

Shall the thing formed, etc. This sentiment is found in Isa 29:16. See also Isa 45:9. It was peculiarly proper to adduce this to a Jew. The objection is one which is supposed to be made by a Jew, and it was proper to reply to him by a quotation from his own Scriptures. Any being has a right to fashion his work according to his own views of what is best; and as this right is not denied to men, we ought not to blame the infinitely wise God for acting in a similar way. They who have received every blessing they enjoy from him, ought not to blame him for not making them different.

{1} "repliest" or, "answerest again" or, "disputest with God." {s} "shall the thing formed" Isa 29:16.

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