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of devout but unbelieving religion, will accuse us of trifling, in gravely bringing forward Scripture to prove that faith means believing.-But -would that all professors of the Gospel did. but know that simple truth.
This passage declares, in the second place, what. the children of God think of Christ; what it is they believe concerning him, to the exclusion of thofe false views of him, or to speak more plainly those false Christs, which the rejectors of the true, have and glory in. They believe-not that a saviour of some kind or another has appeared ; or that an unknown something has been done towards the salvation of men; or that a person, who went by the name of Christ, lived and died about 1800 years ago : they believe that Jesus is THE CHRIST—that very Christ and no other, whom God hath set forth in his word-proanised of old by his prophets
and proclaimed as come by his apostles: in short, their views of Jesus, the Christ, are derived from what they know to be the only unerring source of intelligence on that subject, the word of God; fo that in believing that Jesus is the Christ, they submit to the whole record of God concerning his Son, the glorious Gospel of God our Saviour. These (faith John at the latter end of his Gospel) are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Chrift the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name. So they who know that Jesus is the Christ, have learned the great truth which the Scriptures were written to make known-they believe the Gospel they have heard and learned of the Father-they are born of Godthey Hall be faved.
THE PURPOSE OF GRACE.
NOTHING is more capable of demonstration, if we take it for granted that the Scriptures are the word of God, than that the self-moved good pleasure of Jehovah's eternal purpose, is the grand original source of all fpiritual and eternal bleffings: according as it is written, W ho hath saved us, and called us_according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Chrift Jesus before the world began.--The choice of the Mediator's perfon, in whom men should be blessed, and his fore-ordination to be the beginning of the new creation, was the effect of mere good pleasure, and sovereign favor. I will give thee for a covenant to the people, is the language of pure grace. In the eternal purpose, Christ stands the first and chief elect. Hence the Father calls him, Mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. He is the firft-born among many brethren in the household of faith, the family of heaven; the centre of Jehovah's delights amongst the fons of men. In him God is well pleafed ; and out of him, he is nothing but displeafure against finners. Hence the remnant according to the election of grace, are chosen in Him; and unless this had been the case, there could have been no falvation. That Jehovah's good pleasure was the only cause of a people's being chofen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and of grace being treasured up in Him, by the Divine decree, for the salvation and glorification of numberless finners, is a fax which shines with the clearest lustre, and is demonstrated and confirmed in the
Gracles of unerring truth. Hence we read of a remnant according to the election of grace-of predestination to the adoption of children, according to the good pleasure of his will, which he had purposed in himself, &c. And it is equally plain from the same authority, that his original design in the appointment of Christ, &c. was his own glory,--the manifestation of his sovereignty, wisdom, justice, holiness, mercy, faithfulness, power, and truth.
But though this good pleasure of the Divine goodness is so grand in its own nature,—so full of Divine sovereignty,--so consistent with all the Divine perfections,- fo infinitely worthy of HIMSELF to make known, that he is represented as delighting in the same, before he gave birth to time, or existence, to creatures; yet it is most disgustful to, and mortally hated by, the sons of pride, who think. no reproaches too odious to cast upon it! But why is it so? Why should man reply against God? Why does the creature proceed so impioufly, as to.call the God that made him to his bar, and censure and condemn his conduct, who has a sovereign right to do according to his own pleasure, in heaven and earth, without being subject to any one's 'enquiry into the reasons of his procedure ?
The true cause of this ungodly oppofition is, that vain man would fain have some ground of glorying in himself before. God, whereas the language of the Bible.is, The loftinefs of man sball be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man fall be made. low :.and the LORD ALONE shall be exalted. It not only forbids creatures glorying in the Divine presence; but strips them of all their fancied importance, and leaves them deftitute of the least pretence to, or ground of boasting.
Hence the very finews of human pride are cut; and every one that is faved, enters the kingdom of heaven upon the same footing as a little child. But however this sublime truth is hated, traduced, and rejected, by those who fancy themselves rich, and so stand in need of nothing; it will ever prove falutary to those who view themselves as poor and miserable ; because towards such it wears the most encouraging, friendly, and smiling aspect: for, if rightly understood, the doctrine of Divine fovereignty opens a door of hope, presents an all-fufficient relief, to those who are justly condemned, and on the very verge of despair. The felf-fufficient, like their prime leader, go about to pervert this heavenly doctrine : for although, like him, they can use Scripture; and in general terms, talk highly about the eternal purposes of grace; yet under that name, they set up a thing contrary in its nature to the true grace of God. Such are they who make the true cause of the divine choice to falvation and eternal life, to centre in fome foreseen works, pious desires, repentance, &c. But could we imagine that man appeared, in the foreknowledge of God, as pure and holy as the angels who linned not; yet if that were the cause, or in any sense the reason, that influenced Jehovah to choose them, though we might discover faithfulness and justice in the Almighty, when accomplishing his designs, we directly lose fight of sovereign grace. And though the fignification of the term grace be twisted and turned by false criticism, to blind the eyes of the weak and unstable; yet an authority higher than human, warrants us to say, that if any, or all of the above-mentioned things be the cause of any being chosen to eternal life, Grace is no mere grace. Yea, we may go further, and yet keep within the bounds of revealed truth. The eternal purpose of grace 'was not the effect of Jehovah's foreknowledge, even of the spotless obedience, and perfect atonement of Christ This is not the cause of everlasting love, and the eternal purpose; but the fruit and effect thereof. John iii. 16. Much less then would it
comport with the Scripture account of the eternal purpose, or the genuine signification of grace, to say that foreseen works, or any inward qualities whatever in the creature, were the moving cause, or even the remotest medium of the divine. choice.
Again ; the supposition that any thing foreseen in the creature, influenced the divine choice, is opposed by that state, which the word of God represents mankind universally to be in, and in which the divine prescience must have univerfally beheld them, viz. a state of fin, in which they lay polluted as an unclean thing; and obnoxious to the divine wrath ; which it would be blafphemy to suppose could draw out the love of the holy God, fo could not be any reason of the divine approbation or choice. But the Holy Ghost, even the Spirit of truth who cannot err, makes void the hypothesis we are opposing, when he tells us, that they who were chosen in Christ Jefus before the foundation of the world, and predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of bis will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, were dead in trespaljes and fins, and by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Thus He who searches the mind of God reports, and we knotu that bis witness is true.