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foresaw in what manner each individual would conduct himself in reference to it. He foresaw, that while some, under the influence of pride of understanding and worldly affections, would treat it with neglect and contempt, others would embrace it with a sincere and upright heart, and live in obedience to its precepts; and these, he appointed to salvation on the ground of their foreseen faith and good works. The decree of God, although prior to time, is posterior in order to the actions of men, and is dependent upon the determination of their will. But, to this opinion, so derogatory to the supreme dominion and absolute authority of God, the doctrine of Scripture is directly opposed. Election is ascribed to grace, to the exclusion of works; and these two causes are represented as incompatible and inutually destructive. “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work."* How is it possible to reconcile with these words, the opinion that the foresight of men's good works was the cause of their election ? Besides, it is worthy of particular attention, that faith and holiness, which the advocates of conditional decrees make the causes of election, are expressly said in Scripture to be effects of it. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth;”+ not for your faith and holiness, but through them as the means, by which the Divine purpose is executed. A passage in the Epistle to the Ephesians must be cited again. “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." I Here the order is exactly the reverse of that which is laid down in the system of our opponents. Men are not first holy, or foreseen as to be holy, and then chosen ; but they are first chosen, and then holy, their holiness being not the cause, but the end of the decree. In the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul produces the case of Jacob and Esau as an illustration of the subject, and traces the predestination of individuals, to happiness or misery, to the sovereignty of God without any consideration of their works. “ When Rebecca had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, (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.” As the lot of the two sons of Isaac was settled prior to their personal conduct, so the Apostle signifies, that the appointment of particular persons to salvation depends solely upon the good pleasure of God. It is, indeed, impossible to conceive, that God could foresee faith and holiness in men previous to their election, because, human nature being totally depraved, they can have no existence but as effects of divine grace; and if there be any thing clear in the Scriptures, it is this, that the communication of grace is the consequence of the love of God before the foundation of the world. This eternal love is the source, from which proceed those heavenly influences that purify the human soul. But how, it may be asked, does it happen, that in the face of all this evidence, so many should maintain conditional election? The true answer is, that the sovereign exercise of mercy renders us absolute debtors to our Maker; it leaves not a vestige of merit, it humbles us in the dust. How contrary this procedure is to our natural inclinations, you need not be informed. Man, fallen and degraded as he is, would still be great; and nothing comes with more reluctance from his lips than the right answer to this question, Who maketh thee to differ from another? He wishes to find some ground for saying, I have made myself to differ, and fondly embraces any theory which makes him • Rom. xi. 5, 6:

† 2 Thess. ii. 13, # Eph. 1. 4. Ş Rom. ix, 10-13.

the arbiter of his destiny, and suspends his final doom upon his own determination.

In the fourth place, The purpose of God respecting his elect, is immutable. It cannot be reversed. Some, indeed, have maintained, that the decrees of God are subject to change, like the purposes of men; and that a person who is one of the elect to-day, may become one of the reprobate to-morrow. This notion is in unison with their ideas of the freedom of the will, which, possessing a power to act in opposition to the influence of motives, may disappoint the calculations which had been made of its decisions, and render ineflectual the means employed to regulate its choice. Hence there may be sudden transitions from faith to unbelief, from the love of God to the love of the world; in consequence of which the name of the unworthy persons shall be blotted out of the book of life. This is the doctrine of Arminius and his followers, in whose writings we meet with such expressions as these: “It is false to say that election is confirmed from everlasting;” “men may make their election void ;" “ they do sometimes, of elect, become reprobate, and of reprobate, elect;" and " as they change themselves from believers to unbelievers, so the Divine determination concerning them changes.” As it is evident that this doctrine is calculated to impair the consolations of the people of God, and to fill them with perplexity and fear; so it is in direct opposition to his word, which declares, that “the counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”* But besides this general assurance of the immutability of his counsel, it is affirmed in particular, that the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.”+ There is no reason to doubt that the foundation of the Lord” here signifies his decree, which is the ground of his knowledge of those who are his; and when we consider, that the words are introduced in connexion with the mention of false teachers who had erred concerning the truth, and overthrown the faith of some, we are led to inser the stability of the Divine purpose respecting the elect, and their subsequent security against the danger of total and final apostasy. We find our Saviour saying to his Father concerning his disciples, “ Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition;" I but that he was not properly an exception, is manifest from the words immediately subjoined, “ that the Scripture might be fulfilled," which import that his perdition was foreknown and predetermined. In a word, the immutability of the decree is evident from the close connexion established between election and final salvation, by a process, all the steps of which are inseparably conjoined. “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” You perceive that a chain stretches from eternity to eternity, not one link of which can be broken. The purpose of God, according to election, shall stand. The rage of the world, the malice of devils, and the will of man, froward and perverse as it is, shall not be able to overthrow it. “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me; 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.”||

This, then, is the sum of what has been said on the subject of election ; that God did make choice of certain individuals to enjoy salvation in preference to others; that he chose them before the foundation of the world ; that in doing so, he acted according to his sovereign will, and was not influenced by the foresight of their good qualifications; and that this decree is immutable, it being impossible that any of the elect should perish. • Ps. xxxiii. 11. + 2 Tim. ii. 19.

John xvii. 6, 12, $ Rom. viii. 30.

| Isa. xlvi. 9, 10.

There is one particular which remains to be considered, namely, what is the connexion between the decree of election and the mediation of Christ. Had God any respect to it, in choosing some men to salvation? If he was not influenced by the foresight of their faith, was he influenced by the view of their future relation to the Saviour ? In other words, were they predestinated to life for his sake? And is this the meaning of the Scripture when it says, that they were chosen in him before the foundation of the world ?—To this question I return an answer in the negative. Whatever is the sense of the phrase now quoted, this cannot be its meaning. We must explain one passage of Scripture in consistency with another; and, as we find that the mission of our Saviour was the effect of the love of God, or, to use his own words, that “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son,”* we conclude that his mediation was not the cause, but the consequence of election. The end is first in intention, and then the means are appointed. The end in this decree was the salvation of the elect, and the means were the incarnation, and death, and intercession of our Lord. In the Divine mind, there is no succession of thoughts ; but according to our analogical mode of conceiving its operations, the appointment of certain persons to salvation, was prior to the appointment of the means by which they should be saved. The phrase, chosen in Christ, signifies, I apprehend, that God had a respect to the mediation of his Son, noi as the reason of their election, but as the expedient by which his purpose would be executed. When he chose them, he gave them to Christ, as he himself speaks. He constituted him their Head; he set him up from everlasting as their Representative and Surety, by whom all would be performed which his justice required as the condition of their final happiness. Hence, grace is said to have “ been given them in Christ Jesus, before the world began,''t and eternal life is called the promise “ which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”! In both passages there is an obvious reference to Christ, to whom eternal life and all the blessings of grace were promised, as the federal head of the elect. But they were first chosen and then given to him, agreeably to his own declaration, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me.”'S

Election, being the purpose which God purposed in himself, an intrinsic act of the Divine mind, remains unknown till it be manifested in its execution, No man can read his own name, or that of another, in the Book of Life. It is a sealed book, which no mortal can open. We are assured that there is such a decree, by the express testimony of Scripture ; but of the persons included in it, nothing is known or can be conjectured, till evidence be exhibited in their personal character and conduct. An Apostle points out the only means by which this important point can be ascertained, when he exhorts christians to "give all diligence to make their calling and election sure.'ll To make sure, signifies in this place to ascertain, to render a thing certain to the mind. Now, the order of procedure is, first to make our calling certain, or to ascertain that we have been converted to God, and thus our election will be sure, or manifest to ourselves. It is the same kind of reasoning which we employ, in tracing out the cause by the effect. The operation of divine grace in the regeneration of the soul, is a proof that the man in whom this change is wrought, was an object of the divine favour from eternity. The love of God is the source of all the blessings conferred upon believers. In particular, that operation of his power, by which they are brought into the fellowship of the Gospel, is declared to be the consequence of a prior purpose to save them. • Whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” The evidences of regeneration, therefore, are evidences of election ; but there is no other process by which the latter may be proved. The Scriptures give us no information on * John iii. 16.

† 2 Tim. i. 9. # Titus i. 2. $ John xvii. 6. 1 2 Peter i. 10.

the subject: it cannot be known by special revelation, for God makes no disclosure of such secrets ; nor is it to be inferred from impressions or feelings of the mind, for these are the effects of fancy, and no wise man will attend to them. Till the decree bring forth, no created being can tell what are its contents. For “who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor ?”

As no man can know his election till he believe, it is plain that the decree ought to have no effect upon his conduct in reference to the Gospel. What is unknown can have no moral influence upon the mind, any more than what does not exist. The rule of our duty is the word of God. The only subject into which we should inquire, is the declaration of his will respecting us; and no inference, which we may draw from the doctrine under consideration, will justify us in neglecting our duty. God has not told us whom he has chosen to salvation; but he has told us, that all to whom the Gospel is preached should believe it, and that every man who does believe shall be saved. We have a law plain and express, and a promise encouraging obedience to it, which, having been made by Him who is incapable of deceiving us, will certainly be performed. This should satisfy us, and put an end to our disputes. “Secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but things that are revealed to us and to our children for ever."*

The doctrine of election is attended with difficulties; but, if it is delivered in the Scriptures, as I trust has been proved, we are bound to receive it. All that we ought to expect with regard to subjects so profound, is sufficient evidence of their truth; it is impossible that, to our limited faculties, they should be made so clear as to supersede all objections. The proper office of faith is to assent to the doctrines of religion upon the Divine testimony alone; and its strength is never so fully displayed, as when it receives no aid from sense or reason, and, although both should ask with an air of scornful triumph, How can these things be? rests with unshaken confidence upon the word of Him who cannot lie. Let us never forget that it is not reason, but revelation, which is our guide in religion, and that, when the latter speaks, it is the province of the former to listen and acquiesce.

LECTURE XXXVI.

ON PREDESTINATION.

Decree of Reprobation-Proof that there is such a Decree— The Ground of it; and wherein it

consists Practical Utility of the Doctrine of Predestination—Objections to it.

Having considered, in the preceding Lecture, the decree of election, I now proceed to speak of that of reprobation. Our Church gives the following account of it :-" The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.”+ To reprobate is to disapprove, or to reject ; and the term is used to express that act of God by which, when all mankind were before the eye of his omniscience, he rejected some, while he chose others. Some are disposed to prefer the word preterition, not only because it • Deut. xxix. 29.

West. Conf. chap. iii. $ 7.

is a softer term, but because they conceive that there was no positive act of God in reference to those who were left in their sins, but that he merely passed them by. His procedure towards them, they consider as a simple negation of the favour which he extended to others. But, although there is no reason for employing terms unnecessarily strong, upon a subject which in itself is very awful, and we would not imitate those who have chosen to express themselves in the harshest and most offensive manner, as if they had felt some strange delight in painting it with the darkest colours; yet I do not see how we can suppose nothing more than a sort of inactive preterition, as there was undoubtedly an act of the will of God with respect to the reprobate as well as the elect. When, out of many objects which are presented to him, a person makes a selection, he as positively rejects some as he chooses others. He does not pass by any without taking notice of them; but, having them all at once, or in succession, under his eye, he takes and leaves, for reasons which are satisfactory to himself. Not to choose, is a negative phrase, but it does not imply the absence of a determination of the mind. It is not to words, but to things, that we ought to attend ; and any man, who reflects upon the operation of his own mind in a similar case, will perceive that the will is exercised in passing by one object, as much as in choosing another. There seems to be no reason, therefore, for denying, that what is called reprobation was a positive decree as well as election. Some distinguish reprobation into negative and positive; calling it negative, as it consists in withholding from the objects of it the favour which is extended to the elect, and positive, as it consists in a purpose to per. mit them to be hardened in sin, and to punish them for their final unbelief and impenitence.

Without dwelling upon these niceties, let us proceed to shew, that there is such a purpose of God as is commonly called reprobation. It appears from what has been already said, that it is necessarily implied in the idea of election, so that, having proved the one, we have virtually proved the other. Election and rejection are correlative terms, and men impose upon themselves, and imagine that they conceive what it is impossible to conceive, when they admit election and deny reprobation. When of several objects some are chosen, the rest are rejected. It is to no purpose to say that nothing has been done to them, but that they are left in the state in which they were found. In one sense this is true, and in another it is not true; because, as they might have been chosen but were not, there has been an act of the mind refusing to choose them. The person to whom they were presented has said, • These I will take, and those I will not take.' There are many passages of Scripture in which this doctrine is taught: we read of some whose names are “not written,” and who consequently are opposed to those whose names are written, “in the book of life ;'* who are “ vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,"+ who were “ before of old ordained to condemnation," I who " stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed;'S of persons whom God is said to hate, while others he loves.ll Let any man carefully and dispassionately read the ninth and the eleventh chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, and he will entertain no more doubt that some are ordained to death, than that others are ordained to life. He will see a distinction stated between the children of the flesh and the children of the promise, and traced up to its source in the sovereignty of God, who will “ have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom he will have compassion; so that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raisedthee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared ihroughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will

• Rev. xiii. 8. | Rom. ix. 22. # Jude, 4. $ 1 Peter ii. 8. | Mal. i. 2, 3.

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