Dagg on the "Vessels of Wrath"
Yesterday, I shared the basic outline of John L. Dagg’s chapter on election but stopped short of his treatment on reprobation. The following section is Dagg’s exposition on the title “vessels of wrath” (Romans 9:22) and can be found on pages 313-14 in his Manual of Theology.
Those who are not included in the election of grace, are called, in Scripture, “the rest,” and “vessels of wrath.” Why they are not included, we are as unable to explain as why the others are included; and we therefore compelled to refer the matter to the sovereignty of God, who, beyond all doubt, acts herein most wisely and righteously, though he has not explained to us the reasons for his procedure. His absolute sovereignty, in the discrimination he makes, is expressed by Paul in these words: “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy; and whom he will hardeneth.” The natural tendency of human depravity is such, that the heart grows harder under the general mercies which God bestows, unless he superadds to all the other benefits which he confers, the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit, by which the heart is changed. This renewing grace he gives or withholds at his sovereign pleasure. This sovereignty, in so bestowing mercy as to soften the hard heart, is unquestionably taught by the words just quoted, however we may interpret the phrase “he hardeneth.” It is not necessary to understand these words as implying a positive act of God, exerted for the purpose of producing hardness of heart, and directed to this end. When Paul speaks of the vessels of mercy, he says that God hath “afore prepared” them for glory; but when he speaks of the vessels of wrath, as fitted for destruction, he does not say that God has fitted them for this end. As the potter, out of the same mass, makes one vessel to honor and another to dishonor; so God, out of the same mass of mankind, prepares some for glory, as vessels of mercy; while others, whatever benefits they may receive from him, being left without renewing grace, abuse the mercies which he bestows, and, growing harder by the influence of their natural depravity, are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.