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Moreover the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel, do not repent, nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief; this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.
But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God given them in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.
For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation : that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him, by the Father ; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should
them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence for ever.
This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell : so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting a Church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ, which may stedfastly love, and faithfully serve him as their Saviour, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his praises here and through all eternity,
THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF
Of the corruption of man, his conversion to God, and
the manner thereof.
AN was originally formed after the image of
God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole Man was holy : but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and per
verseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.
Man after the fall begat children in his own like
A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption from their original Parent, not hy imitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature.
Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of any saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto; and without the regenerating grace of the holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.
ART. IV., There remain however in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly external deportment. But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay farther, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness; by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.
In the same light are we to consider the law of the decalogue, delivered by God to his peculiar people the Jews, by the hands of Moses. For though it diseovers the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet as it neither points out a remedy, nor imparts strength to extricate him from misery, and thus being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.
What therefore neither the light of nature, nor the law could do, that God performs by the operation of his holy Spirit through the word or ministry of reconciliation; which is the glad tidings concerning the Messiah, by means whereof, it hath pleased God to save such as believe, as well under the old, as under the new testament.
This mystery of his will, God discovered to but a small number under the old testament; under the new, he reveals it to many, without any distinction of people. The cause of this dispensation is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one nation above another, nor to their making a better use of the light of nature, but results wholly from the sovereign good pleasure, and unmerited love of God. Hence they, to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated, above their desert, or rather notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to acknowledge it with humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to adore, not curiously to pry into the severity and justice of God's judgments displayed in others, to whom this grace is not given.
As many as are called by the gospel, are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly declared in his word, what will be acceptable to him; namely, that all who are called, should comply with the
invitation. He moreover seriously promises eternal life and rest, to as many as shall come to him, and believe on him.
It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted, the fault lies in themselves ; some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life ; others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary saith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit.-This our Saviour teaches in the parable of the sower. Mat. xiii.
But that others who are called by the gospel, obey the call, and are converted, is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains ; but it must be wholly to God, who as he hath chosen his own from eternity in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his own Son, that they may shew forth the praises of him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord, according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.
But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not on,