What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
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This means that unbelievers are made ready for punishment by the will and longsuffering of God, which is his patience. For although he has waited a long time for them, they have not repented. He has waited a long time so that they should be without excuse, for God knew all along that they would not believe. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
Paul has sufficiently demonstrated that the hardness of heart which came to Pharaoh came as the just deserts of his earlier unbelief. Yet God patiently endured his unbelief until the time came for him to mete out his punishment. God did this in order to correct those whom he had decided to set free from error and to lead them by calling them back to reverence and godliness, offering his aid to their prayers and sighings.
And if God He now gives the reason why God might, without any injustice, have mercy on some, and not on others; grant particular graces and favours to his elect, and not equally to all; because all mankind was become liable to damnation by original sin: the clay that all are made of, is a sinful clay; and as St. Augustine says, was become a lump and mass of damnation. Every one had sinned in Adam. Now, if out of this sinful lump and multitude God, to show the richness of his glory, and superabundant mercy, hath chosen some as vessels of election, whom he hath decreed to save, and by special graces and favours to make partakers of his heavenly kingdom; and to show his justice and hatred of sin, hath left others as vessels of his wrath and justice, to be lost in their sins, which for a time he bears patiently with, when they deserved present punishment, who can say that he hath done unjustly? (Witham)
Why are some people vessels of wrath and others vessels of mercy? It is by their own free choice. God, being very good, shows the same kindness to both. For it was not only to those who were saved that God showed kindness but to Pharaoh also, as far as he deserved. For both Pharaoh and God’s people had the advantage of God’s patience. And if Pharaoh was not saved it was because of his own will, since God had done as much for him as he had done for those who were saved.