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that he has promised to do great things ; comforts with the Lord. He does not we know that the purposes of God must willingly afflict us, and he will not withstand; and we suspect that the time for hold any good thing from them that walk their accomplishment is fast drawing uprightly. Whether we may continue nigh. All hearts are in his hand, and in the world, through this and following all power and grace are at his disposal. years, or be speedily translated to the He can clothe the feeblest agencies with world of spirits, is a matter which we the mightiest influences, and he can im- should not be over-anxious to learn. part to the most insignificant means the About this only should we be concerned, greatest measures of success. He does that whether we live, we may live to the often, in a very sudden and surprising Lord, and whether we die, we may die way, revive his work where it seemed to the Lord; that it may be always for ready to become extinct; and what he' the benefit of others that we live, and for has done upon a limited scale, he can ac- our own benefit that we die; whilst we complish, with equal facility, throughout feel an entire resignation to the Lord's the whole church of the redeemed. That will as to whether of the two it shall be. he will do, so there is ground to hope and Whether the Lord may see fit to call us believe. Let us look forward, also to labours, or to sufferings, if he break
5. With resolution. Let us resolve, up our health, or tie up our hands, or in Divine strength, that we will keep the shut up cur mouths, and lay us aside one main object in view, in regard to our from service in his vineyard, let us be own salvation, to seek first, always first still, and know that he is God. It would the kingdom of God and his righteous- be a heavy trial to many of us, were God ness; that we will pursue the same to unfit us for active service, by wasting great object relating to others; attempt sickness, or lingering disease, but He is ing the highest good which we are ca- well able, in those circumstances, to suspable of effecting, and which themselves tain us; and even upon our sick-beds He are capable of receiving, the salvation of can make us useful, as patterns of patheir immortal souls. Let us avoid, as tience in affliction, and examples of the much as possible, the exciting and ab- power of Christian principles, in supsorbing, but comparatively unimportant porting and comforting us, in the most topics of the day, that lead to angry con- trying circumstances of the present life. troversy; that gender wrath and strife; And whether we shall live to see much that break up our peace, sour our tem- more glorious days for the church on pers, obscure our piety, lower our Chris- earth, or be taken from the good or the tian character, make us the stumbling, evil to come, we must leave to His disblock of weak Christians, the grief of all posal, who determines the times before Christians, the ridicule of the world; appointed, and the bounds of our habitathat alienate our hearts and minds from tion, and who arranges the period during others, and estrange others from our- which we shall continue to dwell with selves; that unfit us for the production men on earth. It would be the consumof any real good in the church, or mation of our terrestrial felicity to see the amongst sinners, and that unfit them to world all illuminated with Divine truth, receive any good at our hands. Let us and purified by Divine grace ; error and rather study the things that make for vice driven, with the idols of the nations, peace, whereby one may edify another. to darkness and seclusion; the enemies Let us make an effort, this year, to get of Christ brought under his feet, and the more into the spirit of the Gospel and of church rising every where in its beauty Christ, to bear injuries with patience, and completeness. That would be most rather than resent them, and be ready exhilarating; but while our longing hearts at all times to return good for evil. anticipate that state, we hear a voice, and And, finally, let us look forward
yield ourselves, in believing resignation, 6. With resignation to the Divine to its directions, “Go thy way till the will, in regard to the trials that may end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in await us. As to the comforts of this life, the lot at the end of the days.” The temporal mercies, mental quietude, or whole earth is given to Christ for his even spiritual joys, the Lord may bestow inheritance; and we may assure ourthem upon us, or he may withhold them selves that he will assert his power and from us, in wisdom and kindness; and authority, and reign in glory from the it becomes us in the patient pursuit of rising unto the setting sun. “Come truth, and performance of duty, in the quickly; even so come, Lord Jesus.” exercise of faith and prayer, to leave our
THE DOCTRINE STATED.
Acts xv. 18. That God does what he decrees, and at once entitles and prepares them for decrees what he does, is an axiom the the glorious and incorruptible inherittruth of which is confirmed by an appeal
As the " workmanship of God, both to the physical and the moral created anew in Christ Jesus unto good world. All the matter and all the mind works, in which God had before orin the universe exists as the result of a dained that they should walk,” they decree, an eternal decree, that it should were all known to him, from everlasting exist. Every atom, every seraph, is a ages, as a people whom he should take monument of God's eternal purpose. out of a guilty world for his name. The They could not be, if God had not de- argument runs thus : the eternal salvatermined them to be. The whole uni. tion of any sinner is a work, a wonderVerse of being, then, is but one magnifi- ful and stupendous work of God; as eent result of God's creative decree, or such, then, it is a work known unto God of his decree to create.
from eternity ; and just for this reason, Nor is it less certain that the moral that it is a work which his own free and actions of God are the result of an sovereign mercy determined him to aceternal decree. It is a moral act of complish. He knows, with infallible which the motto of this essay speaks, certainty, the entire number of those viz., God's visiting the Gentiles, to take who will ultimately be saved ; because out of them a people for his name, the salvation of every single individual verses 13–17. It is in reference to this of a guilty race is the product of a deact of visiting the Gentiles, and taking cree embracing both the means and the out of them a people for himself, that end of this mighty and blessed consumthe apostle James speaks, when he says, mation. “Known unto God are all his works The doctrine, then, to be established from the beginning of the world.” and illustrated in this essay is the fol
This work, then, of visiting the Gen- lowing: That the salvation of a sinner, tiles, and taking out of them a people for and that the whole process and results his name, was known unto God from of that salvation, are the effect of eternity, because eternally decreed by God's eternal decree; in other words, him. It could only be known because that, when the number of the redeemed eternally decreed; inasmuch as it was shall be perfected in eternal glory, there an event which could only spring from will not be one amidst all the countless God's own sovereign and gracious pur- myriads of “just men made perfect,". pose. He knew that a people would be who will not be there as the result of taken out of the Gentiles for his name, the decree of God's electing love. because he decreed that it should be so. In the First place, is there not a The event was not a contingency, but glimmering of light on this view of a sinthe offspring of an eternal plan.
ner's salvation, even from reason itself? We may carry this doctrine out to its We firmly believe there is. We do not fullest extent, and maintain, that all here appeal to those who reject the God's works of grace were known to Scriptures, or who wish to discard its him from the foundation of the world, precious doctrines. With such there is or from eternity, because they were all another course to be pursued. We must decreed by him, with infallible certainty, endeavour to convince them of the truth to be done. It must follow as a neces- of the Bible, by powerfully pressing its sary consequence of this blessed doctrine, Divine evidence upon the understanding, that all who enter the mansions of eter- the heart, and the conscience; for it nal bliss were known unto God from appeals to them all. We now speak, eternity as the heirs of that glory; for however, to those who receive the Bible this grand and sufficient reason, that as the word of God, and who regard it they were chosen from eternity by God as a revelation of Divine mercy, through to be the recipients of that grace which a Redeemer, to a guilty race; but who do not believe that there exists an eter- counsels and decision of the eternal nal decree of personal election in the mind. To believe, then, that the salvaDivine mind.
tion of a sinner, which is acknowledged To such persons we say,
to be the work of God, and which supitself might in some measure lead them poses the transformation of a depraved to doubt the accuracy of their views. being into the likeness of his own holy We ask, then, at once, Is the salvation image, is an event which can involve of a sinner the work of man, or of God ? any thing short of an immediate perIn other words, Is man the author of sonal decree on the part of God, is to his own salvation, or is salvation of the entertain a conception most derogatory Lord ? If salvation be the work of man, to that infinite Being, who worketh all if man be the author of his own salva- things after the counsel of his own will, tion, why, then, no decree of God can be If God absolutely knows all his works necessary; for God never decrees what from the foundation of the world, yea, he does not do. But if salvation be the even from eternity itself, he must unwork of God, if God be the sole author questionably foreknow those special acts of man's salvation, if salvation could of grace which involve the salvation of never have taken place but for the inter- sinners; but if he foreknows these special position of God, we are utterly at a loss acts, it must be as the result of a deterto conceive how a decree of personal mination or decree to exert them; for salvation can be reasonably doubted. If they are such acts as could only be put it be God's grace which draws or in- forih by God himself: the conclusion is fluences the sinner to believe in the Lord inevitable, that the salvation of any and Jesus Christ to the saving of the soul, every sinner is the result of a decree to then a decree of personal election must exert that saving energy, without which exist; and for this palpable reason, that no child of Adam can rise from the God, as an infinitely wise Being, can ruins of the fall. God's determination never be supposed to act without a plan, to exert that influence by which alone a previously arranged and digested in his sinner can be saved, is the only guaranown all-perfect mind. To imagine that tee that renders certain the salvation of God should exert an influence which any of Adam's race. The entire amount should issue in the salvation of an im- of this train of reasoning is this: If salmortal being, without previously deter- vation be of God, and not of man, the mining to exert such influence, is to decree of God must embrace that entire attribute to the only wise God the folly series of actions on the part of God, and caprice of human actions. If every which issues in the sinner's salvation, as wise and prudent man will endeavour to well as the great resul: itself in the etermark out for himself, so far as mere nal glorification of the redeemed. Conhuman forethought will permit, the cede, then, that God is the Saviour, and course which he intends to pursue ; we not man, and the result is certain, that may be sure of this, that He, to whom God foresaw and determined, and forethere can be nothing contingent or un- saw because he determined, the personal certain in all the future, will act with a salvation of all the heirs of immortal prescience, and an arrangement corre- glory. spondent with his own all-perfect and If the single point, then, be admitted, infinite mind. Every act of Deity, that " salvation is of the Lord,” reason whether exerted in the material or in itself will suggest, that the inestimable the moral world ; whether put forth in blessing is the result necessarily of a the formation of suns and systems, or in Divine and personal decree, on the part the creation of moral and accountable of God, of showing mercy to sinners. agents ; whether displayed in the king- The saved are all identified in the mind dom of nature or grace; whether seen of God, because all the influences and in the wonders of the first creation, or results of his grace stand naked and in the still greater wonders of the new open to the mind of Him with whom creation-must be regarded as the result we have to do. But, of a plan and a purpose which overlooked Secondly, We proceed a step further, nothing, which included all. The de- and would endeavour to show, from the cree or purpose of God is the perfect direct testimony of Scripture, Thut salpattern or model of all bis conduct; and vation is the result of God's decree of the events which develop his blessed personal election, will are but the breaking forth of the By the decree of election, we mean
God's eternal purpose of saving a certain portion of the human race, styled in Scripture, "elect," "a remnant according to the election of grace,” “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," "a chosen people," “ chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world.” Now, of this decree or purpose on the part of God, the Scriptures are full, either by implication, or by direct announcement of the doctrine. So much is this the case, that those who have refused to embrace the doctrine in its Calvinistic form, have been compelled to admit something like a modification of it. Hence the Pelagian notion of election, that it is God's choice of nations, or bodies of men, as the Gentiles, for instance, to the outward privileges of Christianity. Hence, also, the Arminian notion of this doctrine, That God elects men on account of their foreseen faith and good works.
With the Scriptures before us, we dare not consider either of these views as a fair or legitimate exposition of the doctrine of election. On the contrary, we affirm, and we hope to prove, that the Bible reveals an election to spiritual and eternal blessings; and that these blessings are conferred unconditionally ; in other words, that faith and holiness are not the source of election; but that election is the source of faith and holiness. And,
1. The blessings included in God's decree are spiritual and eternal blessings; and not merely outward and national. We do not mean to deny that God's decree embraces all the events which his Providence effects, whether for nations or individuals. If the Gentiles were called to participate with the Jews in the same offers of Divine mercy, it was doubtless because the Divine decree embraced the gracious provision. But the question is, and it is the only one which demands investigation here, “Does the scriptural doctrine of election include in it something more than a determination, on the part of God, to bestow upon individuals or bodies of men, the outward means and offers of salvation ?” We answer, unhesitatingly, it does include something more. the following declarations of inspired truth settle the question with all serious minds : “ Blessed be the God and Fa. ther of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; ac
cording as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." Eph. i. 3, 4. Two things are clear from these words: Ist, That the Ephesians were blessed with all those spiritual blessings which true believers enjoy in this world; and, 2ndly, That these blessings were the resuli of their being chosen in Christ from eternity to be elevated to their saving and happy possession. But, again, Paul thus writes to the Thessalonian believers : “ We are bound to give thanks always for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” 2 Thess. ii. 13. Will any sober critic affirm, that nothing more is meant, in the choice here spoken of, than an election to the outward means of grace? The salvation mentioned is not surely to be confounded with its mere outward means ; for it is declared to be associated with sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. But whatever this salvation includes, the Thessalonians were chosen, or elected, to its blessed possession.
In addressing the Roman converts, the same Apostle asserts, that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” Now, does this call resolve itself into the possession of the mere outward means of grace ? if so, then all things are to work together for good to all who are favoured with the outward dispensation of Divine truth, which we know to be contrary to fact. Let the context expound the Apostle's meaning: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate them he also called ; and whom he called them he also justified; and whom he justified them he also glorified.” Rom. viii. 28, 29, 30. Had men determined to lose sight of human systems, and to abide exclusively by the Bible, would they not have gathered from these inspired words the following doctrines : Ist, That those who are called into the faith and hope of the Gospel, are called agreeably to a Divine purpose ; and, 2ndly, That God's predestinating purpose includes the intermediate and all the ultimate links in the great chain of mercy, which binds lost sinners to the throne of eternal love ? Let the
reader look at the passage, let him ex- almost equal difficulty in the election of amine it with care ; and he will find it a some to the possession of the outward golden chain, at the one end of which, means of grace, when it must be adsuspended from the throne of God, will mitted, that without these means men be seen God's elective or predestinating cannot be saved > If there be sovepurpose ; at the other, the eternal glori- reignty in the one case, there is unfication of all who are interested in its doubtedly sovereignty in the other; for, provisions.
if it be contended by Calvinists that men The same view of God's decree is con- are saved by reason of a sovereign deveyed in many other portions of revealed cree of personal election, it is equally truth. Paul knew the election of the contended by Pelagians, that men are Thessalonians, not by the circumstance placed in the only path of salvation, by that they were blessed with the outward means of a decree, which elects or means of grace, but because he beheld chooses them to the possession of certain their “work of faith and labour of love ;" outward means without which they could because the Gospel came to them “not never be saved. But we observe, in word only, but also in power, and in the 2. That the blessings involved in Holy Ghost, and in much assurance ;" God's decree of election are not conand because they were “ensamples to all ferred conditionally, on account of the that believed in Macedonia and Achaia." foreseen faith and holiness of the elect. 1 Thess. ii. 10. The apostle Peter address- There is a large and truly respectable ed the believing Jews of the dispersion, class of professing Christians who admit as “ Elect according to the foreknow- that the decree of election, as stated in ledge of God the Father, through sanctifi- Scripture, does include more than a purcation of the Spirit, unto obedience and pose, on the part of God, to bestow upon sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” certain individuals the means of salvation, 1 Peter i. 2; thus tracing all their spi- who yet reject the doctrine of personal ritual privileges and immunities to God's and unconditional election. They allow, sovereign and gracious purpose.
indeed, that there is an election of perIn one word, the kingdom prepared sons to eternal life ; but then their theory for God's children is a kingdom which is, that God, foreseeing their faith and was prepared for them “from before holiness, on that account chooses or elects the foundation of the world.” Matt. them to the heavenly inheritance. The xxv. 34.
system is stated variously by different From this brief, but satisfactory out- Arminians; but it proceeds, in our line of scriptural evidence, we conclude, humble opinion, upon a sad misconcepthat the decree of God's election does tion of the entire doctrine of grace, not embrace merely the outward means making the discovered excellence of a of salvation, as bestowed upon any peo- fallen creature the reason of God's elecple, but the actual participation likewise tion, rather than God's election the sole of all spiritual and eternal blessings, cause of all the excellence to which apossuch as effectual calling, justification, tate creatures can never attain. Let it sanctifying grace, and everlasting life: not be forgotten that if we are holy and predestination and glorification are the without blame before God in love,” it is two grand extremes of God's saving because God “hath chosen us in Christ plan.
Jesus before the foundation of the world." Before passing from this part of our Eph. i. 4. If we attain to“ sanctification subject, we may just observe, that those of the Spirit and belief of the truth," who reject this view of God's elective it is because “God had chosen us unto purpose, and who regard it merely as an salvation,” 2 Thes. ii, 13, of his own free election to the possession of the outward and sovereign mercy. If we are brought means of salvation, are not freed from in any humble measure to resemble the any of the difficulties which press upon pure and spotless Redeemer, it is because the Calvinistic scheme. What are the God hath“ predestinated us to be conmeans of salvation but means to an end; formed to the image of his Son; that he that end being the redemption and glori- might be the first-born among many fication of the immortal spirit ? Now, brethren.” Rom. viii. 22. If we are if there be a difficulty connected with the ranked in the family of God, it is because immediate personal election of some to he has “predestinated us unto the adopeternal life, and all the blessings which tion of children by Jesus Christ to himare introductory to it, is there not an self, according to the good pleasure of his