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ness, to the christian profession, they were certainly true christians'; and their “ election of God,” however explained, was thus demonstrated.
P. ccx. 1. 6. 'God, &c.?? The apostle had predicted the grand apostacy from true christianity : and he then spake of those who received not the “ love of the truth, that they might be saved : and " for this cause God shall send them strong delu“sion, that they should believe a lie; that they “ might all be damned, who believed not the truth, “ but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” He then
rasts his beloved children with these persons, in the words quoted below; but he adds at the close,
to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus “ Christ.”; “ Chosen from the beginning, through “ sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." These were common to every true convert; could be predicted of none but true converts; and are here called “ being chosen unto' salvation.” Rather they are mentioned, as the intermediate predetermined steps, so to speak, between election and final salvation, indispensably necessary to that event, and included in that election, or púrpose. “That is, the Thessalonians, by embracing christi6 anity, were enabled to obtain salvation.' · Any man, who hears the gospel, is enabled to obtain salvation, except as human depravity constitutes a moral inability. It is acknowledged, that man has not the disposition, and consequently not the ability, to do
* 2 Thes, ii. 10–14.
2 “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, "through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; wberę. d' unto he called you by our gospel :" the sanctification of the
Spirit and belief of the truth, which were common to every • true convert, are here denominated the “ being chosen to Sal. "' vation ;" that is, the Thessalonians, by embracing christianity,
were now enabled to obtain salvation ; but that this salvation was not certain and infallible, is evident from the numerous exhortations and precepts contained in these epistles, and par. ticularly from the following earnest entreaty; “ Furthermore " then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord • Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk " and to please God, so ye would abound more and more :" • a continual progress in obedience to the instructions which St.
Paul had given to the Thessalonians, was thetefore necessary • on their part to secure their salvation.' * See on p. 204, 205, Refutation,
what is good in the sight of God, till he is influenced by the Spirit of God.” “But that this "salvation was not certain and infallible &c. Let each clause be well considered'; and especially the concluding clause, “ to the obtaining of the salva. “ tion of our Lord Jesus Christ:" and then, let every impartial man determine, whether the apostle did not consider, the final salvation of those, who were thus chosen and called, as effectually secured: Is there any thing in the passage like an election of collective bodies, to external privileges? Would the apostle, if now living, use this decided language, concerning the members of our national church; or of any other church, in which each individual was not, even in the judgment of charity, a genuine believer in Christ, shewing his faith by his works? Was any thing like this spoken, concerning the
Page 61, Refutation.
national election of Israel? I feel more concerned about this exposition, because it subverts all the determined rules, by which the Scriptures can be soberly interpreted; and makes words, “ the words “ of the living God," to mean, whatever best suits the expositor's system; than because it militates against the doctrine of personal election, which I firmly believe, but which many more spiritual and holy men, cannot receive. By thus endeavouring to explain passages of Scripture, to support a favourite sentiment, in a sense, which the obvious gramma: tical meaning will not bear : we open a door to those, who wrest the Scriptures, in the most awful manner, to the destruction of themselves and others: and when this is done, by eminent persons, no tongue can express the evils, which may arise from it; though wholly undesigned by those, who inad. vertently gave the example. Let us, at least, adhere to the plain grammatical construction, even of those texts, which seemn to militate against our own sentiments. The subject of exhortations has been repeatedly considered ; and Calvinists in general find no difficulty in using them, consistently with their principles, whether those principles be well grounded Or no.
Especially, the exhortation to “ abound “ more and more," is a favourite topick with many of us, even in respect of those, concerning whose final salvation we have little or no doubt : because, by abounding more and more” in every good work, christians may silence accusers, conciliate prejudiced persons, win souls, glorify God, and do good to men; in a proportionable, and almost incalculable, degree.
P. ccx. last line.' St. Paul, &c.” The apostle wrote the epistle, after his apprehensions had been fully removed, when “ Timothy had brought him good " tidings of their faith and love."Whatever made him doubt of their faith must certainly make him doubt of their election; which could only be known by the work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.' "Their election' was not mentioned, as a proof of their salvation being irreversibly decreed: but their holy conduct was men-' tioned, as the evidence of their “ election of God.” If their works evidenced, that they were true believers, they proved that “God had not appointed " them to wrath ; but to obtain salvation by our : "Lord Jesus Christ. The grand matter was to
prove their effectual calling, which could only be done, by their holy conduct; this shewed their elec- ' tion, and that implied, that their salvation was irreversibly decreed. Let it be observed, that I only
''St. Paul was also under apprehension “ lest by some means " the tempter should have tempted them, and his labour be in
vain;" which could not have been the case, if their election was a proof of their salvation being irreversibly decreed. It appears from the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, that some of them did " walk disorderly," and that St. Paul doubted whether they would obey his precepts, that is, whether they ' would be saved; aod consequently the being from the begin. 'ping chosen by God to salvation, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the belief of the gospel, did not prevent disorderly behaviour, or necessarily cause obedience to the commands of au inspired apostle. • 1 Thes. iii, 5-7 1 Thes. v. 9.
state what our sentiments are, without going out of my way, to establish them, except as the texts commented on do this. My grand object is not to proselyte men to Calvinism ; but to exonerate Calvi." nists from a load of criminality, which they now bear, because their sentiments are misunderstood: Some of the Thessalonians inight walk disorderly ; and, if they persisted in disobeying the words of Christ by his inspired apostle;' this would prove, that they were hypocrites, and consequently had “ not been chosen unto salvation, through sanctifi“cation of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” “The “ sanctification of the Spirit” is “unto obedience ;" and must be wholly inconsistent with wilful, deli. berate, obstinate disobedience.
P. ccxi. l. 15. • St. Paul, &c.!! here referred to, has been repeatedly considered. Certainly “the remnant according to the election of
grace,” means the body of Jewish christians ; real christians, excluding hopocrites, an elect remnant, from an elect nation.
P. ccxii. l. 1. “ As concerning, &c." Is it pos1. St. Paul, in speaking of the Jews, says, that as amidst the idolatry of former times there were 7000 men who did not bow • the knee to the image of Baal, “even so at this present time “ also there is a remnant according to the election of grace ; " " by which expression be means the body of the Jewish Christians, as
appears from a following verse, “ Israel hath not obtained that “. which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the “ rest were blinded;" “ the election" therefore denotes those of 'the Jews who embraced the gospel, and “ the rest” are those • who rejected it.' -2 Rom. xi. 1-7. 3." As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes :