Page images

tion at least, not exactly corresponding with the original ; fome, from their not being compared with other passages on similar topics, especially with such as are more plain and explicit ; others, again, from their not being considered with reference to the temporary and local circumstances under which they were written, or to the main fcope and design of the composition, in which they are contained. In particular, as to the epistle to the Romans, which is perversely represented as the great storehouse of absolute predestination, it may

be expedient to repeat in this place, what bas been already partially stated ; that the Apostle's object was to convince the Jews of the Gentiles being entitled to participate in the Gospel covenant, because the same God, who had formerly chosen to call the Jews alone to be his people, now chose to call the Gentiles alfo : and that accordingly the election, of which the Apostle speaks, is not God's election of individuals to a state of happiness; but his election of nations and societies of men, generally to accomplish the schemes of his providence, and more especially of such, as he then chose to be the repositories of the Christian faith.

To enumerate the passages ia Scripture, which tend to confirm this sense of the expression in the Apostle, would carry us too much into detail. I shall therefore content

myfelf with remarking, that Whitby has shown, beyond all reasonable question, by tracing the phrase through the Old Testament, that the whole nation of the Jews, the bad as well as the good, were the elect of God; and that in the New Testament, when it is applied to Christians, it plainly includes as many as were converted to the Christian faith'. In conformity to this language of Scripture, Christians of the early ages (as Bingham has remarked ") were commonly denominated the Elect; “ He hath made us a part of his elec* tion,” faith St. Clement in his epistle to the Corinthians, whom he admonishes to “ take

heed, left the many kindnesses of God turn " to the condemnation of them all, if they live “ not worthy of him, and do those things that

are good and well pleasing in his fighti." And conformable to the same language is that of our Church, when in one of her Homilies she says, that "it profited not the Jews, which “ were God's elect people, to bear. much of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Whitby on the Five Points, p. 36-48.

Bingham's Fcclesiastical Antiquities, book i. chap. 1. * Προσελθωμεν εν αυτω εν οσιοτητι ψυχης, αγνας και αμιαντος χειρας αιροντες προς αυτόν, αγαπώντες τον επιεική και ευσπλαγχνον πατερα ήμων, ος (μας) εκγολης μερος εποιησεν εαυτω. S. Clem. Cor. ep. i. cap. xxxix.

Ορατε, αγαπητοι, μη αι ευεργεσιαι αυτου αι πολλαι γενωνται εις κριμα πασιν ημιν, εαν μη αξιως αυτου πολιτευομενοι, τα καλα και ευαρεστα ενωπιον αυτε ποιωμεν μεθ' ομόνοιας. Ιbid. xxi.

^ God, seeing that he was not received in their * hearts by faith, nor thanked for his benefits of bestowed upon them; their unthankfulness

was the cause of their destruction":" when in her baptismal services and her Catechism she speaks of all baptized persons, as composing * the number of the faithful and elect children 66 of God;" and when in another of her Homilies, namely, on the Danger of Falling from God, she warns us, that “ if we, which " are the chosen vineyard of God, bring not u forth good grapes, God will at length let us ^ alone, and suffer us to bring forth even such ** fruit as we will, to bring forth brambles, “ briers, and thorns, all naughtiness, all vice, ." and that fo abundantly, that they shall clean sk overgrow us, choke, firangle, and utterly de

stroy us*.

It may however be further allowed, that the election, mentioned in Scripture, is not always of nations or focieties, but fometimes of persons also, whether Jews or Gentiles, to a profession of the Gospel; as, where St. John speaks of “the elect

lady" and " the 'elect fifter," that is, the Christian lady and her fifter; agreeably to which our Church describes every individual that the baptizes as “ an elect child of God:" but no

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

thing will be gained to the Calvinist by this concession, unless it can also be made appear, that every individual, who was elected to a profession of the Gospel, was thereby elected likewise to eternal life: a case, which it were diffi, cult to show how the Apostles could have known; and which, it is an undeniable fact, that they certainly did not believe,

Still further, however, it may be allowed, that the election, mentioned in Scripture, is fometimes thee lection of individuals to eternal life; but then, as Waterland has remarked on " the sweet and comfortable doctrine of pre• destination set forth in our seventeenth

Article,” it is an election, “considered (not

IRRESPECTIVELY, not ABSOLUTELY) but “ with respect to faith in Christ, faith working

by love, and persevering?." 6. For whom he “ did foreknow, he did also predestinate to be “ conformed to the image of his Son"," And let it be observed, that of such only as God foreknew would be conformed to the image of his Son, is it predicated, that their election would be effectual to falvation: for, as the Apostle adds, “ Moreover whom he did pre

destinate," (doubtless in the sense, which it bore in the preceding fentence,) “ them be “ also called; and whom he called, them he “ also justified; and whom he justified, them " he also glorified.” No passage can be adduced, which fo clearly indicates ibe whole process of the scriptural, as distinguished from the Calvinistic, election of individuals to eternal life: looking forward to the conformity of the elect to the image of Christ; commencing in the foreknowledge of God; ratified by his purpose; and so carried into execution, and passing through the intermediate steps to their being finally received into glory. And at the same time no paflage perhaps can be adduced, which more fatisfactorily shows how much at variance with the scriptural notion, and confequently how liule worthy of credit, is the irrespective predestination of Calvin. « Res « member ever," faid a judicious Divine in his appeal to the Gospel on this important subject, « Remember ever, that whom he did foreknow

? See Winchester on the Seventeenth Article, chap. 2. Churchiman's Remembrancer, No. II. p. 26.

* Rom. viii. 29.

is as much before he did predestinate, as « whom he did predestinate is before he call66 edb."

Such was the view of predestination taken by those, who were best qualified to understand the true signification of the facred write

• Plaifere's Appello Evangelium, p. !95. Churchman's Remembrancer, No. V. p. 94.

« PreviousContinue »