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Further to illustrate the doctrine of election, and if possible, to commend it to every man's conscience, we may attend to some particular remarks.
i. The elect are not chosen to salvation, on account of any good disposition, or moral excellency which they possess; nor on account of any foreseen repentance, faith, or obedience. Election, as well as regeneration, is of free grace, and is absolutely unconditional. The subjects of election are 5 chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world," not because they are, in any measure, holy; but “ that they should be holy, and without blame before him in love." 66 Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou, that thou didst not receive ?” The difference that takes place between the elect' and others, is the fruit and consequence, and not the ground and reason of their election. In the case of Paul,
and many others, election to salvation could not be owing to any foreseen goodness. For it is abundantly evident, that, in their natural state, they were void of goodness; and that, in their renewed and converted state, their goodness was the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
grace of God," said Paul, “ I am what I am." The repentance, faith and obedience of the elect were indeed foreseen by the omniscient God. But they were foreseen, as the effects, and not the cause of renewing grace; and renewing grace was foreseen as the effect of the election of God. Repentance and faith are the gift of God; and this precious gift is the fruit, and not the cause, or condition of his election. Had it not been for the election of God, and regenerating grace, never would there have been an instance of repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. No man is elected to salvation, at all events, whether he be holy or unholy, penitent or impenitent. For it is plainly declared in the scriptures, that sinful men are s chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth :” Chosen in Christ, that they should be holy, and without blame before him in love." Do we not read, that we must “ follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man can see the
Lord ?" How great is the error and absurdity of those who say, if they are elected they shall be saved at all events and if not, then, at all events they shall be damned! These are rash and groundless conclusions from the doctrine of election. Why does the Apostle exhort us to give diligence to make our calling and election sure ? Repentance, faith in Christ, and holy obedience to the divine requirements, which are considered as the condition of salvation, consist in the voluntary exercises of our own minds; and they are considered as our own acts and deeds. Without these, salvation is nowhere promised in the gospel. Of course, a neglect of duty cuts off the hope of salvation by the gracious election of God.
3. By electing a part of mankind to salvation, God does no injustice to the non-elect. All have sinned, and fallen under just condemnation. And all ought to be thankful, rather than envious, that God extends his grace to any of the fallen race of men.
From a view of the perfections of God, and of his abundant grace, in the election and salvation of a multitude, which no man can number ; we may rest assured, that, were it for his own glory, and the general good, to save all mankind, all would be saved ; and even the universe would be delivered from both moral and natural evil. But, as matters are," What if God, willing to shew bis wrath, and make his power known, endureth, with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory, on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?" If a wise king, having granted an act of pardon to all his rebellious subjects, on condition of true penitence; and finding all still persisting in their rebellious temper, could devise a way, whereby he could melt their hearts into submission to his government; he would then be at his option, whether to melt the hearts of all, or of a part only; holding the rest as examples of vindictive wrath, and just punishment. If he can be sure to rid as many criminals, and just such individuals, from guilt and punishment, as the greatest good of his king
dom requires; does he do injustice to the rest ? Is it not then a clear case, that the wise and holy election of God, by which some are taken, and others left, is consistent with perfect justice; and is doing no injury to the non
4. It is evident, that, in his election, God is not a respecter of persons. To despise the poor, and be partial to the rich and honorable, is to respect persons. But, in the exercise of mercy to the guilty, there is scarcely room for partiality. But, effectually to guard against the charge of partiality, “ God hath," generally speaking, “ chosen the poor of this world; and made them rich in faith, and heirs of his kingdom. In the bestowment of
' his grace, he has an undoubted right, if the general good require it, to make the last first, and the first last. it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own ?"
5. The doctrine of election is consistent with the free offers and invitations of the gospel. It has been, more than once, made manifest, in the discussion of the sys-, tem of divine truth, that all mankind, sinners as well as saints, are free agents, and accountable to God. All mankind, elect and non-elect, are under obligation to repent and believe the gospel; to love God, and keep his commandments; to embrace the Holy Saviour, and be his faithful followers. On God's part, “ All things are now ready.” An all-sufficient atonement is made; and nothing prevents the salvation of sinners, but their own evil heart of unbelief. Salvation is offered to all, and of course, to the non-elect, as well as the elect. These, in a state of nature, when they cannot be distinguished from the elect, are the proper subjects of the offers of the gospel. And when the non-elect perish in their sins, the fault is wholly their own. God, in his word and providence, evidently treats mankind as free and accountable creatures; and all the offers, invitations, entreaties, and expostulations of the gospel, are evidently made with perfect sincerity. In an important sense, he is not wil. ling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In itself considered, he has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth ; but that he turn from his evil
way and live.
* Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die, O house of Israel."
7. The doctrine of election is so far from being a dis. couraging doctrine, as some suppose, that it is the basis of all hope of salvation. Considering the lost state of man, there is no other power but that of God, which is equal to the great work; no other name, and no other merit but that of Christ. And since he has determined to save an innumerable multitude, by his grace, there is a gleam of hope in the case of all but the reprobate. All are subjects of the exhortation, “Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope.....AMEN.
Reprobation and the Unpardonable Sin. CONNECTED with the doctrine of election, divines have generally admitted the contrast, or what has been called the doctrine of reprobation. “ By God's decree of reprobation" (to use the words of the Assembly of die vines) " is meant his eternal purpose, according to his sovereignty, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, of passing by all the rest of the children of men, who are not elected ; and leaving them to perish in their sins, unto the praise of the power of his wrath and infin ite justice, in their everlasting punishment. Rom. ix. 21, 22. “ Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor, and another. unto dishonor ? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and make his power known, endured, with much longsuffering, the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction ?”
That God has an eternal purpose, respecting the final sin and condemnation of the non elect, is as evident, as that he has an eternal purpose respecting the conversion and final salvation of the elect. His purpose concerning
the non-elect, is indeed clearly implied in his purpose concerning the elect. All are totally sinful and condemned ; and if a certain number is selected from the rest, and chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, the consequence is, and must be, that the remainder perish in their sins. They are said to be vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction.
Not only is the final condemnation of all the non-elect established by the eternal purpose of God; but, by the same eternal purpose, the way and means of their destruction are also established. As “ All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose;" so, on the other hand, all things work together for evil to them that hate God, to them who are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. All the means of grace, by which the saints are ripening for eternal glory, are perverted by sinners, and become the means of ripening thein for everlasting ruin. All the solemn and weighty doctrines of divine truth, and especially the doctrines of election and reprobation, when they appear by their fruits, in the conversion of one, and not of another ; excite great dissatisfaction in the hearts of those who are in the way to destruction. The ministers of the gospel, in their faithful labors for the good of souls, are a “sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. But to one, they are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life.”
Sinners are gradually hardened by those very means, which, in their nature, tend most strongly to soften their hearts. The most afflictive providences, which, for a season, seem to break their hearts, are soon forgotten ; and they return, with increasing eagerness, to their wicked courses, and ripen faster than ever for endless woe. This is the manner, in which sinners are hardened. It is, perhaps invariably effected by the abuse of some special means of conviction. Thus it was that the heart of Pharaoh was hardened. Miracles were wrought to enforce the demand made by Moses, that the Israelites should be releas