William Bridge (1600-1670), one of the framers of The Wicked Westminster Confession, writes:
“Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, yet notwithstanding, God is the author of it. ‘Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?’ Amos iii. 6. God bade Shimei curse David : ‘Let him alone, God hath bidden him,’ 2 Sam. xvi. 11. I send famine, and I send pestilence, and I send mildew, says God. God is the author of affliction, but God is not the author of any sin. Indeed it is said God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and others, but that is, non infundendo maliciam sed subtrahendo gratiam [sic]: not by infusing malice into their hearts, but by withdrawing his grace. God is not the author of sin, but God is the author of all affliction. Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, yet it is not contrary to God; but sin, though never so small, is contrary to God” (William Bridge, Works; underlining and italicized Latin phrase mine–CD).
Isaiah, chapters 40-45 are referred to by some as “the trial of the false gods” where God challenges the idolatry of unbelievers.
“Reveal the near things hereafter, so that we may know that you [are] gods. Yea, do good, or do evil, that we may gaze and see together. Behold, you [are] of nothing; and your work of nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination” (Isaiah 41:23-24).
It is important to note that Bridge’s false god (i.e., a vain idolatrous figment of his own mind) CANNOT “do evil” — that is, his idol CANNOT cause evil and actively harden Pharaoh. Bridge’s idol gives up his supposed “sovereignty” to Pharaoh by means of withdrawing some type of make-believe “grace.” God through the prophet Isaiah is saying that Bridge’s “god” IS NOTHING and that since Bridge has chosen this nothing-god, Bridge is an therefore an abomination.
Related and Recommended reading
Unconditional Reprobation and Active Hardening: A Study on Romans 9:11-22