Page images

certainly, fall, of his free distinguishing love chose a certain number out of the apostate race of Adam; and ordained them to a partici pation of grace here, and to the enjoyment of glory hereafter. In the execution of which purpose, by, means every way becoming the, Deity, he determined to display and to glorify all his infinite excele. lencies. Such is that eminent act of God, which is commonly called election.

Booth's Reign of Grace.
They, therefore, as to right belong'd,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination over-ruld
Their will, disposd by absolute decree,
Or high foreknowledge. They themselvesdecreed
Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew,
Foreķnowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less prov'd certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse, or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all,
Both what they judge and what they choose ; for so
I form'd them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthral themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
Their freedom; they themselves ordain'd the fall. MNDTON

Election depends on the mere good pleasure of God, without any motive in us to influence the divine will. No other cause is assigned by Paul, when stating and defending the doctrine; no other reason is given by his Divine Master. The former asserts, that the King immortal“ predestinated us according to the good pleasure of his will :" that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. Therefore bath he mercy on whom he will.” (Eph. i. 5.) And the latter with joy.declares, “ I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast bid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Fatber; for so it seemed good in thy sight."

Matt. ix. ' That revelation, which is here designed, is no other than the execution of the divine purpose in election; and the only reason assigned by Him, who is the wisdom of God, and perfectly acquainted with the counsels of heaven, why the mysteries of the Gospel are revealed to some, while others of superior abilities and greater reputation among their fellow-creatures are left in absolute ignorance of them, and suffered to oppose them to their aggravated ruin, is the sovereign pleasure of Him, who "giveth no account of any of his matters."

Much to our purpose are the words of Paul, when professedly handling the subject, and largely defending the doctrine of divine election. “ The children being not yet born," and consequently “ neither having done any good or evil,” to obtain the approbation, or provoke the resentment, of their Creator ; " that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works," or worthiness in the objects of it, but of the grace of " him that calleth ;" it was said, concerning Jacob and Esau, as an instance of the divine procedure towards mankind in general, and as an evidence of the trath of the doctrine, “ the elder shall serve the younger.” Rom. ix. 11, 12. And again : “ There is a remnant," a very small number, "according to the election of grace.” This assertion the sacred disputant proceeds to confirm by the following nervous argument-an argument taken from the nature of grace, as contradistinguished to all works and worthiness of every kind : “ And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.” Rom. ix. 5, 6. Here the truth under consideration is asserted in the plainest manner: here it is defended by the strongest reasoning

Among the various blessings which flow from sovereign goodness, and are dispensed by reigning grace, that of election claims our first regard. It was in the decree of election that the grace of our Infinite Sovereign did first appear in choosing Christ as the head; and in him, as bis members, all that should ever be saved. Election, therefore, is the first link in the golden chain of our salvation, and the corner-stone in the amazing fabric of human happiness.


Good works, indeed, are not the causes of God's act of election ; " For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob bave I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Rom. ix. 11–13. Nothing that is temporal can be the cause of that which is eternal; nor the will of man, vor any thing done by it, be the cause of the will of God; but yet good works are what “God has fore-ordained,” that bis chosen people “ should walk in them.” Eph. ii. 10. Holiness is a means that is fixed in election, and an end that is secured by it. All those who, from the beginning, from everlasting, are chosen unto salvation by Christ, are chosen to it “ through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth;" 2 Thess. ii. 13. all that are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, are so “ through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus;" 1 Pet. i. 2. wbich sanctification is as infallibly secured as salvation itself; for, though men are not chosen because they were, yet they are “that they should be holy; and, in consequence of electing grace, become so, through the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God. Election is the source and spring of all true and real boliness. There would not have been such a thing as holiness in the world, since the fall of Adam, had it not been for electing grace. “ Except the Lord had left us a seed, and reserved a remnant for himself, according to the election of grace, the world had been as Sodom and as Gomorrah.”

Gill's Sermons, The book of life, like the tree of life in the garden of Eden, hath a tree of knowledge growing bard by, which cannot with safety be tasted of. There are some nice and needless questions started, concerning election, which questions ought to be forborne. But these lofty walls and aspiring sons of Anak should by no means prevail with us to act the part of the unworthy spies, sent by Israel to explore the land of Canaan. We ought not to bring up a bad report, or give credit to any brought up by others, on a land that flows with so much milk and honey, as the doctrine of predestination doth, Not to insist on this doctrine, were to stop up those wells, which the prophets, 'the apostles, and our 'Lord Jesus Christ bimself, bare digged, in their writings and ministrations, for the refreshment of thirsty souls; yea, it would be endeavouring to cancel the first great character of our salvation,

Arrorcsmith. By a work of grace in thee, thou mayest as surely know thou art elected, as if thou badst stood at God's elbow, when he wrote thy name in the book of life.

Gurnall. Election is a promotion that cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south ; but from God, who, as he puts down one, and sets up another; so, some he chooses, and others be passes by, as seemeth bim good, and none can say to him, What doest thou ? or, Wby hast thou made me thus ? for election, as it always supposeth a greater number, out of which the choice is made; so, an arbitrary power in bim that chooseth, to choose whom he will, without giving account to any for what he doth. But the ground and motive of divine election is very different from the manner of men; for they commonly pitch upon things for some natural aptness of them for their work; they will not take a knotty, cross-grained, or wind-sbaken piece of timber to make a pillar of state; but the Lord pitches upon such, and such to choose, the poor, base, weak, foolish things of this world, the worst of men, and chief of sinners. The instances of Paul, Manasseh, Mary Magdaler, and others, make it evident; and of these, he is pleased to make lively images of bis Son, and pillars for the house of God, (columns of state indeed !) whereon to write bis own name; to manifest thereby his sovereignty, holiness, wisdom, power, rigbteousness, and free grace to eternity

Elisha Cole. To suppose God to perform any work which he did not first design, is to charge bim with a degree of folly, and with acting below an intelligent agent. On the other band, to strppose biter to design to do any thing which he doth not effect, is to tax him with inpotence. If it is an instance of the wisdom and power of man, first to design a work, and then to perfect it, the great God (who is infinite in both these perfections) must design what he effects, and effect wbat he bras designed. If we consider trim, as idfirite in viso dom, and of almighty power, there cannot be a more rational way of arguing than from his aets to his designs.

If God hath designed to save any person, then he must be saved; otherwise God must repent and cbange bis mind concerning him, or be overpowered by some superior agency to bis. To suppose wither of which, is not only to degrade, but to deny the divine perfections.

Sladen. It is objected, If this doctrine be true, then is man reduced to a mere machine. No: a mere machine has no seusibility, no consciousness, no reason, no will. But he is acted upon, (they say) and therefore not an agent. Is it then essential to an agent not to be acted upon? Then there is but one agent in the universe ; for every thing but the First Cause is acted upon more or less. The fact is, there is no contrariety in these two things: angels and men are acted upon, yet they are moral agents. The holy agency upon them respects chiefly their disposition itself, but the agency they exert is the exercise of their faculties, will, and disposition. Dr. Williams.

Whence is it that the doctrines of special election, of efficacious grace in regeneration and conversion, of justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, and of the infallible perseverance of the saints, though so clearly revealed, and so strongly proved in the word of God, are, not withstanding, so generally denied, opposed, and ridiculed ? Because they give all to the glory to God, and will not allow man so much as to boast a little.

Anon. Few, if any, among us are disposed to deny, that God did foreknow from all eternity who should be saved. He must then foreknow that the requisite qualifications to salvation shall be found in them; that they would repent, and believe, and obey the gospel; for none can be saved without these : and since the Scripture is plain, that these are God's gifts, of his working, wherever they are found; he cannot be said to bave foreknown that these would repent and believe, without an unalterable determination in his own mind to be stow these moving graces on them in particular. Therefore, foreknowledge and predestination are linked together. Rom. viii. 29. Whom he did foreknow, them he did predestinate.

Rev. Wm. Cooper.

« PreviousContinue »