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separate election from reprobation. Take one of those who are supposed not to be elected; one whom God hath not chosen unto life and salvation. Can this man be saved from sin and hell ? You answer," No.” Why not? “ Because he is not elected. Because God hath unchangeably decreed to save so many souls, and no more; and he is not of that number. Him God hath decreed to pass by; to leave him to everlasting destruction : in consequence of which irresistible decree, the man perishes everlastingly.” O my brethren, how small is the difference between this and a broad, barefaced reprobation !
XII. Let me entreat you to make this case your own. In the midst of life, you are in death; your soul is dead while you live, if you live in sin, if you do not live to God. And who can deliver you from the body of this death? Only the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. But God hath decreed to give this grace, to others only, and not to you: to leave you in unbelief and spiritual death, and for that unbelief to punish you with death everlasting. Well then mayest thou cry, even till thy throat is dry, “() wretched man that I am !” For an unchangeable, irresistible decree standeth between thee and the very possibility of salvation. Go now, and find out how to split the hair between thy being reprobated, and not elected; how to separate reprobation, in its most effectual sense, from unconditional election !
XIII. Acknowledge then, that you hold reprobation. Avow it in the face of the sun. To be consistent with
yourself, you must openly assert, that “ without reprobation this election cannot stand.” You know it cannot. You know if God hash fixed a decree that these men only shall be saved, in such a decree it is manifestly implied, that all other men shall be damned. If God hath decreed, that this part of mankind and no more, shall live eternally, you cannot but see it is therein decreed," that the other part shall never see life.” O let us deal ingenuously with each other. What VOL. XIV.
we really hold, let us openly profess. And if reprobation be the truth, it will bear the light; for the word of our God shall stand for ever."
XIV. Now then, without any extenuation on the one hand, or exaggeration on the other, let us look upon this doctrine, call it what you please, naked and in its native colour. Before the foundations of the world were laid, God, of his own mere will and pleasure, fixed a decree concerning all the children of men, who should be born unto the end of the world. This decree was unchangeable with regard to God, and irresistible with regard to man. And herein it was ordained that one part of mankind should be saved from sin and hell, and all the rest left to perish for ever and ever, without help, without hope. That none of these should have that grace, which alone could prevent their dwelling with everlasting burnings, God decreed, for this cause alone, “because it was his good pleasure!" and for this end,“ to shew forth his glorious power, and his sovereignty over all the earth.”
XV. Now can you, upon reflection, believe this ? Perhaps you will say, “I do not think about it.” That will never do. You not only think about it, (though it may be confusedly,) but speak about it too, whenever you speak of unconditional election. You do not think about it! What do you mean? Do you never think about Esau or Pharaoh? Or in general about a certain number of souls, whom alone God hath decreed to save? Why in that very thought reprobation lurks; it entered your heart the moment that entered. It stays as long as that stays. And you cannot speak that thought, without speaking of reprobation. True, it is covered with fig-leaves, so that a heedless eye may not observe it to be there.
But if you narrowly observe, unconditional election cannot appear with out the cloven foot of reprobation.
XVI. “But do not the Scriptures speak of election? They say, St. Paul was an elected or chosen vessel.' Nay, and speak of great numbers of men, as elect, according to
the fore-knowledge of God. You cannot therefore deny there is such a thing as election. And if there is, what do you mean by it?” I will tell you, in all plainness and simplicity. I believe
, it commonly means one of these two things; first, a divine appointment of some particular men, to do some particular work in the world. And this election I believe to be not only personal, hut absolute and unconditional. Thus Cyrus was elected to rebuild the temple, and St. Paul, with the twelve, to preach the gospel. But I do not find this to have any necessary connection with eternal happiness. Nay it is plain it has not; for one who is elected in this sense, may yet be lost eternally. “ Have
Have I not chosen (elected) you twelve,” saith our Lord, “yet one of you hath a devil ?” Judas, you see, was elected as well as the rest : yet is his lot with the devil and his angels.
XVII. I believe election means, secondly, a divine ap. pointment of some men to eternal happiness. But I believe this election to be conditional, as well as the reprobation opposite thereto. I believe the eternal decree concerning both, is expressed in these words, “He that believeth shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be dainned." And this decree without doubt God will not change, and man cannot resist. Aceording to this, all true believers are in Scripture termed elect: as all who continue in unbelief, are so long properly reprobates, that is, unapproved of God, and without discernment touching the things of the Spirit.
XVIII. Now God, to whom all things are present once, who sees all eternity at one view, "calleth the things that are not, as though they were,” the things that are not yet, as though they were now subsisting. Thus he calls Abraham “ the father of many nations" before even Isaac was born. And thus Christ is called, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” though he was not slain, in fact, till some thousands of years after. In like manner, God calleth true believers, “elect from the foundation of the world :" although they were not actually eleet or be
lievers till many ages after, in their several generations. Then only it was that they were actually elected, when they were made “the sons of God by faith.” Then were they in fact chosen and taken out of the world; "elect" (saith
66 ” St. Paul) “ through belief of the truth :" or (as St. Peter expresses it) “ elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit."
XIX. This election I as firmly believe, as I believe the Scripture to be of God. But unconditional election I cannot believe; not only because I cannot find it in Scripture, but also, (to wave all other considerations,) because it necessarily implies unconditional reprobation. Find out any election which does not imply reprobation, and I will gladly agree to it. But reprobation I can never agree to, while I believe the Scripture to be of God: as being utterly irreconcilable to the whole scope of the Old and New Testament.
O that God would give me the desire of my heart! That he would grant me the thing which I long for! Even that your mind might now be free and calm, and open to the light of his Spirit! That you would impartially consider, how it is possible to reconcile reprobation with the following scriptures:
Gen. ii. 7, “Because thou hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” The curse shall come on thee and thine offspring, not because of any absolute decree of mine, but because of thy sin.
Chap. iv. 7, “ If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Sin only, not the decree of reprobation, hinders thy being accepted.
Deut. vii. O, “ Know that the Lord thy God, he is the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations: and repayeth them that hate him to their face to destroy them." Ver. 12, “Wherefore if ye bearken to
, these judgments, and keep and do them, the Lord thy God
shall keep unto thee the covenant which he sware unto thy fathers.”
Chap. xi. 26–28, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God; and a curse, if you will
, not obey."
Chap. xxx. 15, &c.“ See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil : in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways and keep his commandments, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee. But if thou wilt not hear, I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish. I call heaven and earth to record this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and oursing. Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
” 2 Chron. xv. 1, &c. “And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah, and he said, --The Lord is with you while ye be
, with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you : but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.'
Ezra ix. 14, “ After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass,-Should we again break thy commandments, wouldst thou not be angry with us, till thou hadst consumed us?”
Job xxxvi. 5, “Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any." Could he then reprobate any ?
Psal. cxlv. 9, “ The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Prov. i. 23, &c. “Turn you at my reproof; behold I will
& pour out my Spirit upon you. < Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded. I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early but they shall not find me.” Why? Because of my decree? No. “ But because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
Isaiah lxv. 2, &c. “ I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people; a people that provoked me