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saved, both under the old and new testament: since the scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which he hath chosen us from eternity both to grace, and to glory, to salvation and the way of salvation, which he hath ordained that we should walk therein.
This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, &c. therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle. "He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love." Eph. i. 4.
The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which doth not consist herein, that God foreseeing all possible qualities or human actions, elected certain of these, as a condition of salvation; but that he was pleased out of the common mass of ners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written. "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil," &c. "It was said (namely to Rebecca) the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Rom. ix. 11, 12, 13. "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Acts xiii. 48.
And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient and omnipotent, so the election made by him
can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.
The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God; but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the word of God-such as a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, &c.
The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God, additional matter for daily humiliation before him, for adoring the depth of his mercies, and rendering grateful returns of ardent love to him, who first manifested so great love toward them. The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging remissness in the observance of the divine commands, or from sinking men in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual effects of rash presumption, or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.
As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise counsel of God, was declared by the prophets, by Christ himself and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the scriptures both of the old and new testament; sø it is still to be published in due time and place in the church of God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy
name, and for enlivening and comforting his people, without vainly attempting to investigate the secret ways of the Most High.
What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred scripture, that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of his sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleas ure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but permitting them in his just judgment to follow their own ways, at last for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and punish them for ever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin, (the very thought of which is blasphemy) but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger.
Those who do not yet experience a lively faith in Christ, an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an earnest endeavour after filial obedience, and glorying in God throughChrist, efficaciously wrought in them, and do nevertheless persist in the use of the means which God hath appointed for working these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires devoutly and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace. Much less cause have they to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation, who, though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to
please him only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith, to which they aspire; since a merciful God has promised that he will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly terrible to those, who, regardless of God, and of the Saviour Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the cares of the world, and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are not seriously converted to God.
Since we are to judge of the will of God, from his word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they, together with the parents, are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy.
To those who murmur at the free grace of election, and just severity of reprobation, we answer with the apostle: "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” Rom. ix. 20. And quote the language of our Saviour, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" Mat. xx. 15. And therefore with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words of the apostle: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath khown the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE.
Of the death of Christ, and the redemption of men thereby.
OD is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. And his justice requires (as he hath revealed himself in his word) that our sins committed against his infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal, but with eternal punishments, both in body and soul; which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.
Since therefore we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, he hath been pleased of his infinite mercy to give his only begotten Son, for our surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that he might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.
The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.
This death derives its infinite value and dignity from these considerations; because the person who submitted to it was not only really man, and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute him a Saviour for us and because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin.