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SYSTEM OF DOCTRINES.
The Doctrine of Election.
What has been said in the fourth chapter, Vol. I., on the decrees of God, includes and establishes the doctrine of particular election; and this doctrine has been supposed, and in a measure brought into view, a number of times in the foregoing sections. But it is thought expedient, and of importance, that it should be more particularly considered, explained, and vindicated; and this will be most properly done in the chapter on the application of redemption, as this limits the application, and points out the subjects to whom it is effectually applied, and who, in the issue, receive the whole benefit of redemption.
The doctrine of election imports that God, in his eternal decree, by which he determined all his works, and fixed every thing and every event that shall take place to eternity, has chosen a certain number of mankind to be redeemed, fixing on every particular person whom he will save, and giving up the rest to final impenitence and endless destruction.
This doctrine may be explained, and the evidence of the truth of it produced by attending to the following propositions:
I. Mankind are entirely dependent on God, on his determination and sovereign mercy, for salvation. All creatures depend on God for all the good they have. Their existence, and all their
enjoyments, are the fruit of his determination and appointment, which has made the difference between one and another, in every respect. But man is, in a peculiar sense
and degree, dependent on the sovereign will and pleasure of God for salvation. He is utterly lost in sin, not only infinitely guilty, and deserving to be destroyed forever, but wholly inclined to rebellion, and fixed in a disposition to oppose God in every
method he can take to recover and save him, unless his heart be renewed by almighty power and grace; to which favor none have the least claim, or can have, but are infinitely unworthy of it. And when the way was open for the pardon and salvation of sinful man, by what the Mediator had done and suffered, consistent with the divine law and righteousness; yet none could be saved, unless they be renewed by the Spirit of God, and made willing in the day of his power. This, therefore, depends on the determination and purpose of God; and he has “mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” God being under no obligation to save any one of mankind, it must depend on his sovereign will whether any should be saved; and if any, whether all, or only a part of mankind: and if only some of them, how many, and the particular persons that should be subjects of this favor. This must be determined by God, for there is no other being that has a right to determine it, or that can do it; and it is impossible that God should not determine it. He is infinitely powerful and wise, he knew what was best to be done, and it wholly depended on him to determine and do that which is on the whole wisest and best. It belonged to him to decide and fix every thing respecting this matter, “who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will."
IL It is infinitely best and most desirable, that this should be determined by God. He only is infinitely wise and good; therefore, whatever he determines shall be done and take place, is perfectly right, wisest, and best. It is, therefore, infinitely desirable that he should order every thing that takes place, and all events; but more especially those things that relate to the eternal existence and endless happiness or misery of man, whether any shall be saved or all lost; and if only a part of mankind be saved, how many, and what particular persons shall be included in this number. This is a matter of great importance, and not of indifference, whether this person shall be saved, rather than another, and it requires infinite wisdom to determine it right, so as to answer the best ends. Were any creature to determine it, in any one instance, especially apostate man, the event might be undesirable, and of infinitely evil consequence. Were man to decide it, independent of God, and were this possible, it would be most undesirable and infinitely dreadful to the wise and good; and they rejoice that this important affair, with all others, is in the hand of Him who is
infinitely wise and good; who has a right, and to whom it belongs to decide the state of every man, whether he shall be saved or not, and that he has done it by an unalterable decree.
III. It is certain from the Scripture, that God has determined not to save all mankind, but only a part, and a particular number of them. The Redeemer himself has declared this expressly, and it is abundantly asserted in the Old Testament and in the New. A number are to go away into everlasting punishment, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is unquenchable: and the smoke of their torment shall ascend up forever and ever, etc.* Had not God revealed this, it could not have been known what would be the event of redemption, whether all will be saved, or not. But God has made it known.
We are not told in the Scripture the precise number that shall be saved, nor what proportion of mankind will be of this number; but from what is revealed respecting this matter, it is reasonable to suppose, that many more will be saved than lost, perhaps some thousands to one. But, be this as it may, we are certain that the number that shall be saved is fixed by infinite wisdom and goodness, and every one of these is known unto God, and their names are written in the book of life, before the foundation of the world. We are also certain, that it is not owing to the want of goodness in God, or the insuffi. ciency of the atonement and merit of Christ, that all mankind are not saved, for the latter is as sufficient to save the whole human race as part of them, or one individual; and the only reason why all are not saved is, because it is inconsistent with infinite wisdom and goodness; that is, it is not for the greatest general good. Infinite goodness, in all cases, and forever, opposes and forbids that to take place which is not for the greatest general good, be that what it may; and approves and effects that which will answer the best ends, and produce the greatest good in all cases. We are as certain of this as we can be that there is an infinitely wise, good, and omnipotent Being
Therefore, since God has declared that he has deter. mined not to save all mankind, we know that this is not consistent with his goodness; that is, that it is not wisest and best, or, which is the same, it is not for the greatest good of the whole that all should be saved. God does not delight in
This has been particularly considered and proved, by a number of authors. See Dr. Edwards against Dr. Chauncy, and an Inquiry concerning the future state of those who die in their sins.
+ See Dr. Bellamy, on the Millennium. And the fore-mentioned Inquiry, p. 135, etc.