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A. They are in a sense conditional; not, however, as grounded on God's foreknowledge of the good works of those who are saved; but as grounded on the interposition and atonement of Christ, and as involving the repentance, faith, and obedience of the subjects of salvation. The conditions performed on the part of man are to be viewed in no degree in the sense of merit, and, therefore, detract not at all from the riches of Divine grace in man's salvation. God's purposes are not founded upon the good actions of believers, but lay a foundation. for them.
Q. 5. How does it appear, that God has a purpose in reference to the existence of all creatures and events, and especially in reference to the future condition of man?
A. 1. From the fact that God is the Creator, Preserver, Governor, and Disposer of all things, and must have had a purpose in reference to His own conduct; 2 From the fact that he must have had some ultimate end in all His works, which supposes design, and, consequently, an arrangement of all the parts included in the whole; 3. From the fact of His foreknowledge, for He cannot foreknow what is not certain, and nothing can be certain which is not according to His pleasure, will, or choice, all things considered; and 4. From the Sacred Scriptures.(a)
(a) Acts xv. 18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.-Is. xiv. 24, 26, 27. The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?-Is. xlvi. 10. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.-Prov. xix. 21. There are many devices in a man's heart, nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.-Job xiv. 5. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.-Acts xvii. 26. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.-Ps. xxxiii. 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.-Acts ii. 23. Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.-Acts xiii. 48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified
Q. 6. How does God execute His purposes?
A. In giving existence to all things, and in preserving, governing, and disposing of them. All creatures,
the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.-Eph. i. 4, 5. 9. 11. 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. Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.-Eph. ii. 10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.-Eph. iii. 11. According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.-Rom. viii. 28. 30. And 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, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born, among many brethren. 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.-Rom ix. 11-16. 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. It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 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. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.— Rom. xi. 5. 7. Even so then at the 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.-2 Tim. i. 9. 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 us in Christ Jesus before the world began.-2 Tim. ii. 19. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.1 Thess. v. 9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.-2 Thess. ii. 13. But we are bound to give thanks always 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.-1 Pet. i. 2. 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. ii. 8. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed.-2 Pet. i. 10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.-John xiii. 18. I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture
things, and events, exist in exact accordance with the pleasure, will, or choice of God, all things considered. (b) Q. 7. Do the purposes of God militate against, interrupt, or destroy, the free moral agency of man? or take away his accountableness; or his praiseworthiness or blame-worthiness?
A. Most certainly not. Men are not like machines. Man's moral freedom consists in acting as he pleases in view of motives. A free moral agent cannot possess any other liberty. Jehovah himself possesses no other. Now every man is conscious, that the purposes of God do not at all infringe, or destroy the free voluntary exercises of his moral powers. He acts just as he chooses, and without compulsion. Praise and blame have their foundation in the nature of moral exercises. If virtuous, they are praise-worthy; and if vicious, they are blame-worthy.(c)
Q. 8. Does the doctrine of the Divine purposes discourage endeavors to obtain salvation in the way pointed out in the Gospel?
may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.-John xv. 16. 19. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
(b) Acts iv. 27, 28. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. -Luke xxii. 22. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined; but wo unto that man by whom he is betrayed.-John xvii. 2. 6. 9. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.-Is. xiv. 24. 27. The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?-Ps. cxv. 3. But our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he pleased.
(c) Luke xxii. 22. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but wo unto that man by whom he is betrayed.-Acts ii. 23. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.Is. Ixvi. 3. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
A. By no means. The sentiment, if I am to be saved I shall be saved, whether I work out my salvation or not, or if I am to be lost I shall be lost, let me do the best I can, is preposterous, false, and wicked. It is preposterous, because it disregards the means connected with the ends and without which the ends cannot be obtained. It is false, because contrary to the nature of things, the Divine determination, and the whole tenor of Scripture. It is wicked, because designed to bring the blame on God, and exculpate the sinner. None, therefore, ought to believe it, or practise according to it. -On the contrary, the doctrine of Divine purposes is a ground of encouragement. (d)
Q. 9. How do the purposes of God afford encouragement to our endeavors for salvation?
A. They afford encouragement in this way: In the purposes of God are embraced the means as well as the ends. He has constituted a certain connection between means and ends. No end can be effected without the use of the means connected with it; but if the means are used, the end, with the blessing of God will follow. This doctrine is as true in regard to Christians as to husbandmen, mechanics, and students. If a person, then, repents, believes, and leads a holy life, he will be saved. It is as certain he will be saved, as that God has any purpose; and he cannot be saved in any other way. Hence arises the encouragement to repent, believe, and live a godly life. The reasoning is this: God has ordained that there shall be no harvest without the use of means; therefore the husbandman cultivates the earth. God has purposed that there shall be no salvation without repentance, faith, and holiness of life; therefore we should repent, believe, and obey, because these are the conditions on which salvation is granted. (e)
(d) Phillip. ii, 12, 13. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.— Rom. ix. 20. Nay, but, oh, man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus?
(e) Acts xxvii. 23, 24. 31. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Cæsar; and, le, God hath given thee all
Q. 10. Are the Divine purposes the rule of our conduct?
A. They are not. God's law, revealed in the Scriptures, is the only rule of our conduct. His purpose is the rule of conduct for himself, but not for man. In all our conduct, we are to act not in reference to the purposes of God, but in reference to His commands. (f)
Q. 11. How are the Divine purposes to be viewed
A. They are to be viewed not as arbitrary, despotic, and capricious; but as altogether reasonable and proper, and according to the good pleasure of God-as the fruit of His wisdom and goodness. They are to be treated, not in a cavilling manner, but with a reverential, humble, submissive, and candid spirit; for though above our reason, or not apprehended by it, they are not contrary to it, or without reason in the mind of God.
Q. 12. Is the doctrine of Divine purposes a new doctrine?
A. It is not. It is as ancient as the Bible, and is contained in the confessions of faith in the Protestant and Reformed churches generally.
Q. 13. Is it important that the doctrine of the Divine purposes should be preached and believed?
A. It is; because it is a doctrine which God has revealed to be believed and embraced, and which ministers are under the most solemn obligations to preach; and because it is the only foundation of the sinner's hope of eternal life; for, had not God purposed salvation in Jesus Christ, none would ever have been saved. The doctrine of the Divine purposes in reference to salvation was much dwelt upon by the apostles, particularly by Paul. (g)
them that sail with thee.-Paul said to the centurion, and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
(f)Deut. xxix. 29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(g) Jer. xxvi. 2. Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them: diminish not a word.-Jer. xxiii. 28. The prophet that hath a dream let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully; what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.-Is. xxx. 9, 10. That this is a rebellious people, lying children,