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Thus Christ's merits are sufficient for all the world, and the door of mercy is opened wide enough for all the world; and God, the supreme Governor, has proclaimed himself reconcileable to all the world, if they will believe and repent : And if they will not believe and repent, he is at liberty to have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and to show compassion to whom he will show compassion...according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace. He sits SOVEREIGN, and a rebellious, guilty world are in his hands, and at his dis. posal ; and the thing that seems good in his sight, that he will do: and it is infinitely fit, right, and best he should...that the pride of all flesh may be brought low, and the Lord alone be exalted forever. And as this view of things seems exactly to har monize with the whole tenor of the gospel in general, and to agree with the various particular representations of our redemption by Christ—and to reconcile those texts which seem to speak of an universal redemption, with those which seem to speak of a pár. ticular redemption, so it will naturally suggest an easy answer to any objections which may be made against it.
Obj. 1. If Christ has suffered the penalty of the law, not only for the elect, but also for the non-elect, how can it be just that they themselves should be made to suffer it over again forever in hell?
Ans. Because Christ did not die with a design to release them from their deserved punishment, but only upon condition of faith ; and so they have no right to the release, but upon that condition : It is as just, therefore, they should be punished as if Christ had never died, since they continue obstinate to the last ; and it is just, too, they should have an aggravated damnation, for refusing to return to God, despising the offers of mercy, and neglecting so great salvation.... John ii. 1619.
OBJ. 2. If Christ obeyed the preceptive part of the law, not only for the elect, but also for the non-elect, why are not all brought to eternal life, since eternal life is by law promised to perfect obedience ?
Ans. Because Christ did not purchase eternal life for them, but
upon the condition of faith : But they would not come to
Christ, that they might have life ; and therefore they justly perish.... John iii. 16—19.
OBJ. 3. But for what purpose did Christ die for those who were in hell a long time before his death?
Ans. And to what purpose did he die for those who were in heaven a long time before his death?... The truth is, that when Christ laid down his life a ransom for all, he only accomplished what he undertook at the beginning. Christ actually interposed as Mediator immediately upon the fall of man, and undertook to secure the divine honor, by obeying and suffering in the room of a guilty world; and therefore, through him, God did offer mercy to Cain as well as to Abel, and show common favors to the world in general, as well as grant special grace to the elect; and that before his death, as well as since. Surely none will deny that all the favors which mankind did enjoy prior to Christ's death, were by virtue of his undertaking to be Mediator, and engaging to secure the divine honor : for, upon any other footing, the Governor of the world could not have granted such favors consistently with his honor.
OBJ. 4. But if Christ died for all, then he died in vain, since all are not saved.
Ans. The next and immediate end of Christ's death was to answer the ends of moral government, and so secure the honor of the moral Governor, and open a way in which he might honorably declare himself reconcileable to a guilty world upon their returning through Christ, and use means to reclaim them; but this end Christ did obtain and so did not die in vain.... John iii. 16-Rom. ir. 24, 25, 26. And the
And the supreme Governor of the world will now, through Christ, accomplish all the designs of his heart, to the everlasting honor of his great name.
OBJ. 5. But why would God have a door opened, that he might, consistently with his honor, offer to be reconciled to all that will return to him through Christ, when he knew that the nonelect would never return? And why would he leave a door opened that he might use means with them, when he knew all would be
in vain, unless he himself recovered them by his all-conquering grace, which yet he never designed to do.?
Ans. God designed to put an apostate world into a new state of probation. Mankind were in a state of probation in Adam, their public head, and we all sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression : But God designed to try the posterity of Adam anew, and see whether they would be sorry for their apostacy, or choose to continue in their rebellion. He would tender mercy, and offer to be reconciled, and call them 10 return, and use arguments and motives, and promise and threaten, and try and see what they would do. He knew mankind would be ready to deny their apostacy, and plead that they were not enemies to God, and think themselves very good-natured and would take it exceedingly hard not to be believed : therefore he determined to try them, and see what they would do, and make public declaration through the world, that, finally, he would judge every man according to his works, and deal with him according to his conduct : And, in the mean time, that his honor might be secured, he appoints his Son to be Mediator ; and so, through him, proclaims the news of pardon and peace, and enters upon the use of means : and now, if you ask me “Why does he do all this, when he “knows it will be in vain, as to the non-elect, who will never “come to repentance ?"
Tanswer--His knowing that all will, in the event, prove in. effectual to bring them to repentance, is no objection against his using the means he does : for God does not make his fore. knowledge of events the rule of his conduct ; but the reason and fitness of things. You may as well inquire, “Why did
God raise up Noah to be a preacher of righteousness to the “old world, for the space of an hundred and twenty years, when “ he knew they would never come to repentance ?-And why “ did he send all his servants, the prophets, to the children of “ Israel, rising early and sending, and, by them, command and “call...entreat anu expostulate...promise and threaten, and say, “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I delight not in the death of a
“ sinner : turn ye, turn ye ; why will ye die! when he knew " they would never come to repentance ? And why did he af"terwards send his Son to the same obstinate people, when he “ knew they would be so far from hearkening, as that they " would rather put him to death?”—Now, if you ask me why the great Governor of the world uses such means with the nonelect, and shows so much goodness, patience, forbearance, and long-suffering, instead of sending all immediately to deserved destruction ?-I answer, it is to try them ; and to show that he is the Lord God, gracious and merciful...slow to anger, and abundant in goodness. It is fit that creatures in a state of probation should be tried, and he loves to act like himself; and be means, in and by his conduct, to do both at once: And after obstinate sinners have long abused that goodness and forbear. ance, which should have led them to repentance and have, after their own hard and impenitent hearts, been treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, the righteousness of God's judgment, in their eternal destruction, will be most manifest. And what if God was determined not to reclaim rebels, voluntarily so obstinate, by his all-conquering grace, but let them take their course, seeing they were so set in their way? What then?... Was he not at liberty? Was he bound to save them all by an exertion of his omnipotence? Might he not have mercy on whom he would ? And, after such long-suffering, might he not show his wrath, and make his power known, in the eternal destruction of those who so justly deserved it ? God's last end, no doubt, is to manifest his perfections : and in and by his whole conduct towards a fallen world, they will all be most illustriously displayed....Rom. xi. 36.
Obj. 6. But considering that the non-elect are, after all, under an absolute impossibility to believe and repent, convert and be saved....and considering that all common mercies, and means of grace, will only render them the more inexcusable in the encha and so aggravate their guilt and damnation--therefore, all things considered, what seeming good they enjoy in this world, is not of the nature of a MERCY : it would be better for them to be
without it : Sodom and Gomorrah will be better of it in the day of judgment, than Chorazin and Bethsaida :* and therefore there is no need to suppose that any thing which the non-elect enjoy in this world, is the effect of Christ's merits, but only of divine sovereignty.
Ans. What do you mean by being under an absolute impossibility to believe and repent...convert and be saved? Using words without determinate ideas is one principal thing which bewil. ders the world about matters of religion: Now, in plain English, all things are ready...and they are invited to come...and there is nothing in the way of their being saved: but, they are not sorry for their apostacy from God, nor will be brought to it by all the means God uses with them : They have not a mind to return to God, nor will they be persuaded by all the most powerful arguments that can be used : they are volutary ene. mies to God, and will not be reconciled, unless by an almighty power and all-conquering grace, which God is not obliged to give, and they are infinitely unworthy of....and without which they might return, were they but of such a temper as they ought to be: they are under no inability but what consists in and results from their want of a good temper of mind, and their voluntary obstinacy. Sin has no power over men, but as they are inclined to it; and the inclinations of the heart are always voluntary and unforced. Men love to be inclined as they are ; for otherwise their inclinations would be so far from having any power over them, that they would even cease to be.-Now certainly the bringing up of the children of Israel out of Egypt was of the nature of a mercy, and a great mercy too indeed it was, notwithstanding that, through their unbelief and perverseness, they never got to Canaan : The thing, in itself, was as great a mer
* It may be proper just to hint the gross absurdities implied in this objection. If the non-elect were under an absolute (i. e. not only a moral, but natural) impossibility to turn to God, they would not be proper subjects to use any means with : And if their common favors, and means of grace were not of the nature of mercies, they could not aggravate their gult: And if it was not their own fauit that they did not repent under the enjorment of means, they would not be to blame, nor deserve to be punished for not repenting. Men stumble into such absurdities by using words without determinate ideas.