Page images
PDF
EPUB

we are

the destruction of sinners, in itself considered, or for its own sake; and not one would be suffered to perish, if it were consistent with wisdom and goodness to save them all, or if this were consistent with the glory of God, or the greatest good of the universe. Nothing can be more certain, than that all will be saved that can be saved by Omnipotence, clothed with infinite wisdom and goodness; that is, that can be saved consistent with these. What is inconsistent with infinite wisdom and goodness, cannot be done by a Being infinitely wise and good, though omnipotent. It is morally impossible ; for he cannot deny himself and act contrary to wisdom and goodness. Any man may be absolutely sure that he shall be saved, if it be not inconsistent with the goodness of God to save him, and in this sense impossible; or if it be consistent with the greatest glory of God, or the general good. And who, in his senses, that is, who that is wise and benevolent, would desire to be saved, or could ask for the salvation of any of his fellowmen, unless this might be consistent with the glory of God, and the greatest good of the universe?

As we know not what number of mankind can be saved, consistent with infinite wisdom and goodness, so utterly incapable of judging what particular persons can be saved, consistent with these. But God has determined this, without a possibility of any mistake. He knows what indi. viduals of the human race can be saved, consistent with his glory and the greatest good of his eternal kingdom, and who cannot be saved consistent with this, and has determined and does act accordingly. In this he acts as a sovereign, as being under obligation to none, or not to one more than to another, but not arbitrarily, without any wisdom or reason. There is a good reason why one should be saved rather than another. There is a good reason why every one of those should be saved, who are, or shall be saved, and why every one of the rest should not be saved; from the different natural formation or capacity, or the different circumstances to us unknown and undescribable, which render it wisest and best, most for the glory of God, and the good of his kingdom, that the former should be saved, and the latter lost. This difference in circumstances, etc., originates in the divine decree, and is ordered by God according to the infinitely wise counsel of his own will; but it is as real a difference as if it had not this origin.

IV. We learn from the Holy Scriptures that a particular number of individuals are chosen from among mankind, on whom the divine love and sovereign grace are to be displayed in their salvation.

Reason teaches us that this must be so, as has been observed; for it must be determined by God, and he makes the distinction between those who are saved and those who are lost, as it cannot be done by any one else; and if it were possible not to be determined by infinite wisdom and goodness, it would be infinitely disagreeable and dreadful to all the wise and good : and God determines all his works, all he will do, from eternity. Accordingly, the Scripture asserts this most expressly and abundantly in the following passages, and in many others which it will be needless to mention. The Redeemer often speaks of those who were given to him by the Father, to be redeemed and saved, as being a number selected from the rest of mankind, and says they shall come to him, and he will keep and save them; and his words strongly imply that they only shall be saved; and that there never was a design to save any but those who are thus selected and chosen, and given to him, to be saved by him. Therefore he declares that he does not pray for the salvation of any, except these elect ones who were given to him. He says, “ All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John vi. 37, 39.) “I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” (John X. 15, 16, 27-29.) “ Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine; and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me, where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” (John xvii. 1, 2, 9-11, 21.) Could the doctrine of election be expressed more fully and in a stronger manner by any words whatever ? That a particular number of mankind, with every individual of that number, are chosen and selected from the rest, and in the covenant of redemption given to Christ, to be redeemed and saved by him, and that these alone are to be saved. Agreeably to this, Christ repeatedly speaks of the elect, whose salvation is secured, and for whose sake he orders the great events in the world. “ And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the very elect. And then he shall send his angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds." (Mark xiii. 20, 22, 27.)

The apostle Paul represents the salvation of thé redeemed as originating in the eternal purpose of God, by which they are selected from others, and who, in consequence of this choice and appointment, are saved.

6 We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, (that is, whom he fixed upon, and chose to salvation, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect: it is God that justifieth.” (Rom. viii. 28–30, 33.) “For the children not being yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Rom. ix. 11, 15, 18.)

The doctrine of election, as stated above, is implied in these last words, and they are sufficient to prove it, were there nothing more said of it in the Bible; for if the will of God determines who shall be the subjects of divine mercy and be saved, and who shall not, as is here asserted, then God determined from eternity whom he would save, and whom he would not save, and fixed upon and chose a particular number of persons to be the subjects of his mercy in their salvation, exclusive of the rest of mankind; for what God wills to do, he does noť begin to will to do it in time; but his determinations and will respecting all his works are without beginning. His will is unchangeable. “He is of one mind, and none can turn him."

This apostle brings the doctrine of election again into view, and most expressly asserts it in the following words: “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.* Even so, then, at this present time also, there is a remnant, according to the election of grace. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (Rom. xi. 2, 5, 7.) And in his letter to the saints at Ephesus, he considers their election, or being chosen by God before the foundation of the world, that is, from eternity, by his eternal purpose and decree, as the source and cause of their becoming Christians, and of their salvation. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." (Eph. i. 3-5.) He speaks the same language in his letter to Timothy: 6 Who hath saved us, and called us, with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.” (2 Tim. i. 9.) He also says, “ Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Chap. ii. 10.) The apostle had no expectation or desire of the salvation of any but the elect, whom God hath chosen to salvation from eternity Therefore, when he had evidence that any person was a true believer and made holy, he considered it as the consequence and fruit of election, of his being

chosen by God from the beginning, that is, from eternity. This is his language to the Christians at Thessalonica : “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” (2 Thess. ii. 13.)

The apostle Peter sets this matter in the same light with Paul, and considers true Christians as elected to this privilege, and to eternal life, by the counsel and purpose of God, as the

The foreknowledge of God is mentioned here, and in other places, as implying his purpose and decree of election. (See Acts ii. 23; xv. 18. Rom. viii. 29. 1 Peter i. 2.) The reason why this word is used to denote the divine determination, is because the foreknowledge of God does necessarily imply his purpose or decree with respect to the thing foreknown; for God foreknows what will be only by determining what shall be. Therefore foreknowledge and decrees cannot be separated ; for they imply each other, if they be not one and the samo. “Grotius, as well as Beza, observes that tooyrwais must here signify decree; and Elsner has shown it has that signification in approved Greek writers." Doddridge's note on Acts ii. 23.

origin and foundation of all this good to them. “ Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. i. 1, 2.)

Whoever well considers these passages of Scripture, with others of the same tenor, and observes how consistent this doctrine is with the whole of the Scripture, which represents man as lost in sin, and wholly dependent on God for salvation, and, therefore, that their salvation must all originate in the sovereign purpose and grace of God, and how consistent this is with reason, and that it is, indeed, impossible it should be otherwise ; -- whoever takes a proper view of all this, must believe, and rest satisfied in the truth, that all the redeemed were chosen to salvation by the eternal purpose of God, as the origin and foundation of their salvation; and that they who are not thus elected, perish in their sins. And he who does not see this doctrine plainly revealed in the Bible, must be supposed to read it with strong prejudices against the truth, or with very wrong and false conceptions respecting the subject. To obviate and remove these, is the design of some part of the following:

V. The elect are not chosen to salvation rather than others, because of any moral excellence in them, or out of respect to any foreseen faith and repentance, or because their moral character is in any respect better than others. The difference between them and others, in this respect, whenever it takes place, is the fruit and consequence of their election, and not the ground and reason of it. All mankind are totally sinful, wholly lost and undone, in themselves, infinitely guilty and and ill deserving. And all must perish forever, were it not for electing grace, were they not selected from the rest, and given to the Redeemer to be saved by him, and so made vessels of mercy, prepared unto glory. This is abundantly declared in Scripture. This is strongly asserted in a passage which has been mentioned. " For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” In their election, they are predestinated to be conformed to Christ in true holiness, and not because it is foreseen they will, of their own accord, be holy, and chosen to salvation for the sake of this. They are elected, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience. Sanctification and obedience are the consequence of their election, and the privilege to which they are chosen; and not that out of regard to which they are chosen to salvation. The apostle tells the

« PreviousContinue »