Page images

qually plain from the fame authority, that His original defign in the appointment of Chrift, &c. was his own glory, the manifestation of his fovereignty, wifdom, juftice, holiness, mercy, faithfulness, power, and truth.

But tho' this good pleasure of the divine goodness is fo grand in its own nature,-fo full of divine fovereignty-fo confiftent with all the divine perfections—— fo infinitely worthy of HIMSELF to make known, that he is reprefented as delighting in the fame, before he gave birth to time, or existence to creatures, yet it is moft difguftful to, and mortally hated by the fons of pride, who think no reproaches too odious to caft upon it! But why is it fo? Why should man reply against God? Why does the creature proceed fo impiously, as to call the God that made him to his bar, and cenfure and condemn his conduct who has a fovereign right to do according to his own pleasure, in heaven and earth, without being fubject to any one's inquiry into the reason of his procedure?

[ocr errors]

The true caufe of this ungodly oppofition is, that vain man would fain have fome ground of glorying in himself before God; whereas the language of the bible is, the loftiness of man fhall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men fhall be made low: and the LORD ALONE fhall be exalted. It not only forbids creatures glorying in the divine prefence; but ftrips them of all their fancied importance, and leaves them deftitute of the leaft 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 fame footing as a little child.-But however this fublime truth is hated, traduced and rejected, by thofe who fancy themselves rich, and fo ftand in need of nothing; it will ever prove falutary to thofe, who view themfelves as poor and miferable; because towards fuch it wears the most encouraging, friendly, fmiling afpect for if rightly understood, the doctrine of divine fovereignty opens a door of hope, prefents an all-fufficient relief to those who


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

are justly condemned, and on the very verge of defpair. The felf-fufficient, like their prime leader, go about induftrioufly to pervert this heavenly doctrine; for though, like him, they use fcripture, and in general terms talk highly about the eternal purpose of grace, yet under that name they fet up a thing, contrary in its nature to the true grace of God.-Such are they who make the cause of the divine choice to falvation and eternal life, to centre in fome forefeen works, pious defires, repentance, &c. But could we imagine that man appeared, in the foreknowledge of God, as pure and holy as the angels who finned not; yet if that were the caufe, or, in any fense the reafon, that influenced Jehovah to chufe them, though we might difcover faithfulness and juftice in the Almighty, when accomplishing his defigns, we directly lofe fight of fovereign grace. And though the fignification of the term grace be twifted and turned by falfe criticifin, to blind the eyes of the weak and unftable; yet an authority higher than human, warrants us to say, that if any, or all of the abovementioned things be the cause of any being chofen to eternal life, Grace is no more grace. we may go further, and yet keep within the bounds of revealed truth. The eternal purpofe of grace was not the effect of Jehovah's foreknowledge even of the fpotlefs obedience, and perfect atonement of Chrift. HE is by no means the caufe of everlasting love and the eternal purpofe, but rather the fruit and effect thereof. Much lefs then would it comport with the fcripture account of the eternal purpose, or the genuine fignification of grace, to fay, that forefeen works or any inward qualities whatever in the creature were the moving caufe, or even the remotest medium of the divine choice.


Again; the fuppofition that any thing foreseen in the creature, influenced the divine choice, is oppofed by that ftate which the word of God reprefents mankind univerfally to be in, and in which the divine prefcience


prefcience muft eternally behold 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 fuppofe, could draw out the love of the holy God, so could not be any reafon of the divine approbation or choice. But the holy Ghost, even the spirit of truth who cannot err, makes void the hypothefis I am oppofing, when he tells us, that they who were chofen in Chrift Jefus before the foundation of the world, and predeftinated to the adoption of children by Jefus Chrift according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace; were dead in trefpaffes and fins and by nature the children of wrath even as others. Eph. i, 4-6, chap. ii, 1—3: Thus he who fearches the mind of God reports, and we know that his witness is true.

Further; it is contrary to the express declaration of the word,Rom. xi. 5, 6, where we are exprefsly taught, that the divine choice proceeds upon grace, in oppofition to every notion of worthinefs or defert whatever. We have not the liberty here, even of halving the matter, or adding the leaft grain of the one to the other, for even this cannot be done without deftroying both. To fay, therefore, that the divine choice. is of grace, and yet to maintain that it has refpect to works, under any form or notion that they can be conceived of, is to affert, in Paul's eftimation, the moft glaring contradiction that can poffibly be thought of. I can compare it to nothing more fitly, than an attempt to prove that darkness is the cause of light.

Once more; it has been faid that election is founded upon a foreknowledge of our love. But the carnal mind is enmity againft God, it is not fubject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, fo that naturally we have no love to God in us: nor can we have any love to God's true character, until the fovereign, preventing grace of God turn us from darkness to light; for till then, we are totally ig


norant of the divine beauty. Paul fets the matter in its true light, Eph. ii, 4, 5, But God who is rich in mercy for HIS GREAT LOVE wherewith HE loved us, &c. And another fcripture faith, Herein is love, NOT THAT WE LOVED GOD but that HE LOVED US; And we love him BECAUSE HE FIRST loved us. So that it would feem, if credit is to be given to God's word, that the notion of forefeen love in us being the caufe or medium of God's love to us, is a mere human fabrication, and without the fhadow of foundation in the fcriptures.

Laftly; others who admit the eternal purpose, and deny either forefeen works or foreseen love to be the caufe of it, nevertheless maintain, that it was formed upon the foreknowledge of our faith or believing. But the full force of this notion is invalidated by this fingle confideration, that faith comes as much of God's good pleasure and fovereign favor, as the eternal purpose itself. Divine faith is what no man naturally poffeffes; for we are all in unbelief. Faith is of the operation of God; the very verfe which declares falvation to be of grace, fhews that faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. And the person who receives this precious favor, can no more account for its being given to him, in the behalf of Chrift, to believe in his name, while others remain 1. in unbelief, than he can tell whence the wind cometh, or whither it goeth. For however firmly a perfon may have believed, what he imagined was the gofpel of Chrift, when he truly knows, thro' divine teaching, what the gofpel is, he will plainly discover that the Lord was found of him who fought not after him.

From this brief view of the eternal purpose of grace, it appears that divine fovereignty, wifdom, juftice, and goodness, are united in the bleffed de12 cree of him whofe council fhall ftand, and who will do all his pleasure; and tho' many have been more concerned about the creature's liberty, left it fhould

B 2


[ocr errors]

be infringed, than Jehovah's fovereignty, left it should be limited, yet divine wisdom fo directs the accomplishment of his purpose, that his chosen people are made willing in the day of his power; at the time that all who eventually perifh, do fo with the utmost freedom of will: they chufe what their delight centers in; they love darkness rather than light.

To conclude this fection; fovereignty is effential to DEITY. Sovereignty, directed by unerring wifdom, is the rule of all Jehovah's proceedings. The original cause of falvation, is the self-moved purtafe of divine grace; and the only caufe of any finner's damnation is his own voluntary wickedness, and unprovoked rebellion against God.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



The Manifeftation of GRACE.


AUL having fpoken of the purpose of grace in Chrift Jefus before the world began, tells us that it is now made manifeft by the appearing of our Saviour Jefus Chrift, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And that, Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the Devil-Our attention is hereby led to the entrance of fin into the world. Sin is the cause of that death which God our Saviour came to abolish. Sin firft originated in Satan: his fin was pride, which it has been thought, (from John viii, 44,) arofe in his great mind from fuppofing it an indignity to him, that the human nature fhould be the medium of God's communion with his creatures, and fo he left his own habitation. From Chrift and his Apoftles comparing thofe who are enemies to, and corrupters of the gospel, to the angels that


« PreviousContinue »