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wonderful is the forbearance and rich grace of God, in the conversion of those who will not come unto Christ! The guilt of such is far greater than if Christ had never been revealed. Well may the Apostle consider the gift of the Holy Spirit, after Christ was rejected, as the unspeakable gift; and well may those who blaspheme against the
Holy Ghost, be utterly, and forever uppardonable.....AMEN
The Doctrine of Election.
REDEMPTION, by the precious blood of Christ, by which the door of mercy is opened to sinners ; and by which the way is prepared for the invitations of the gospel ; is found to be made equally for all mankind. Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. And he gave himself a ransom for all. But the special work of the Holy Spirit, to apply the work of redemption, and give it a saving effect, even that crowning work of divine grace, which is called regeneration, extends only to a part of fallen men, And if a part only are regenerated, by the grace of God; it is doubtless a chosen part, a part selected, according to infinite wisdom and goodness, from all the rest of the human race. The doctrine of election, in its most extensive sense, is implied and involved in the doctrine of God's decrees.
The election, or choice of the Divine mind, is nearly the same as his decree.
To avoid the repetition of ideas and arguments contained in the preceding essays, we may limit the present discussion chiefly to the more appropriate meaning of the word, election, as it relates to the choice of the subjects of grace
and salvation. This view of the doctrine of election may be stated in the following definition ;
That, from the whole race of sinful men God has, according to his own most holy and eternal purpose,
and for the richest display of his own glory, chosen a certain number, consisting of particular persons exclusively, to be the happy subjects of his special grace, and the heirs of eternal salvation ; giving up all the rest to final con.
That this doctrine is an important article in the sys. tem of divine truth, may be argued from various considerations, some of which will be noticed.
1. It is evident from a consideration of our absolute dependence on the grace of God for salvation. If sinful men are dependent on divine grace for redemption, for regeneration, for all the christian graces, and for perseverance to life eternal; who can imagine, that God does all these things for a certain definite number of perish
og sinners, without a previous, fixed purpose or choice so to do? Had there been no choice of God, that one should be saved rather than another, when all were absolutely dependent on him; how is it to be accounted for, that one is taken, and another left ? One becomes a convert to Christ, and another becomes a libertine and a reprobate. Altogether more is done for one than for another, though in similar circumstances. Says Paul to the real christian, “ Who maketh thee to differ from another ?” Whoever makes the difference, makes it by a voluntary purpose and design ; and this is what we call election.
2. It may be observed, that the doctrine of God's decrees, so far as it relates to the salvation of sinners, is nearly, if not perfectly identical with the doctrine of election. For God to decree the salvation of certain individuals of the fallen race of men, is the same thing as to choose their salvation. But we have found, that the decrees of God extend to every event in the universe. Of course, the election of certain individual sinners to salvation is established. He that believes in God's infinitely wise and holy decrees, will readily believe in the doctrine of election ; for it is necessarily implied in his decrees.
3. Unless we can suppose God to be indifferent respecting one of the greatest of all the concerns of his spiritual kingdom ; indifferent respecting the number or the persons who shall be saved, and the number or the persons who shall be lost; we must concede to the doctrine of election. But who can imagine, for a moment, that God is indifferent in a case of such infinite magnitude. Paul, we find was a “ chosen, or elected vessel unto Christ, to bear his name before the gentiles, and kings and the children of Israel.” Can any one suppose, that it was a matter of indifference in the mind of Christ, whether it should be the persecuting Saul of Tarsus, or some other man, who should do all this? There were, doubtless, many circumstances respecting this persecu. ting Saul, which rendered it peculiarly important, that he, rather than any other man, should be converted ; and should bear the name of Jesus Christ among the gentiles, and plead his cause before the kings and potentates of the earth. In this case, there was no appearance of indifference in the mind of Christ. He had, from eternity, made up his mind, that Saul himself, vile as he was, should be converted, and should be the great Apostle of the gentiles. And since the conversion of sinners is, in all cases, a matter of infinite importance; and the reasons for the conversion of one, rather than another, are per fectly clear in the divine mind; surely no one can conceive, that God is indifferent, in any case whatever. Of course, he has an election, a choice, a fixed purpose, by which the wide distinction is made among those who are equally dead in sin.
4. Another forcible argument is, that, considering the character and perfections of God, it is infinitely best, and most desirable, that he should designate the persons to be saved, and the persons to be lost. In this most interesting and important part of the divine government, we ought greatly to rejoice, rather than to murmurand repine. For we may rest assured, that the Judge of all the earth doth right. A wide distinction actually takes place among mankind, both as nations, and as individuals. And who would not choose, if such distinctions must
exist, that they should be under the direction of an infinitely wise and holy God, rather than of mere blind chance.
Bat if it be infinitely best, and most desirable, that God himself should choose the objects of his favor, rather than leave the infinitely important decision to another ; we may be assured that he will do it. He will have mer. cy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion.
Finally ; The most clear and satisfactory evidence of the doctrine of election, is derived from the holy scriptures. The bible most abundantly asserts this great and glorious doctrine. The Saviour speaks often, and distinctly, of the elect, as of a certain number, and certain individuals, who were given him by the Father, to be the subjects of special grace and salvation. “ All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." 66 I
pray not for the world, but for those whom thou has given
To the Father he says in prayer ; “ As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Speaking of false prophets who should arise, Christ says, “ They shall deceive, if it were possible, even the very elect. Me informed his disciples, that they were the subjects of his election. “ Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and
, bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” 6 Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." Christians are often denominated the elect. For by their conversion to Christ, their election is made manifest. “ Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." “ He shall send his angels, and gather together his elect.” “ Shall not God avenge his own elect ?" 6 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect 2" The Apostles, also, fully confirmed the doctrine of election. When the gentiles bad begun to receive the gospel, it is said, “ God did visit the gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” This was a selection of a part from the whole. To ancourage Paul in his labors at
Corinth, the Lord declared, “ I have much people in this city.” These could be God's people, only by the election of God; for, as yet, they were, for the most part, in a state of heathen idolatry. In the first epistle of Peter, the church is styled a chosen, or elected generation: and in his second epistle, they who constitute the church, are called the elect, according to the foreknowl. edge of God the Father. Paul, describing the woeful state of the reprobate Jews, makes this exception, that “ There is a remnant, according to the election of grace." Thus the churches and followers of Christ are often denominated the elect. The doctrine of election is established by a single text respecting Jacob and Esau. “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," ir mother Rebecca, “ The elder shall serve the younger.”. As it is written, 6 Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Between these twin brothers, the Lord, by his own purpose and election, made a wide, if not an everlasting distinction.
Lest any should suppose that God's election takes place in time, and has not been from eternity; we may notice some testimonies on this head. To the Ephesians, the Apostle says, “ According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy.” Also, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle expresses his thankfulness to God for the brethren, beloved of the Lord, because 6 God had from the beginning, or from eternity, chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” And again ; The manifold wisdom of God, displayed by the redeemed and elected church of Christ, is said to be “ According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “And in fact, the immutability of God implies, that his election and purposes are all eternal, and cannot be otherwise. For, he is without variableness, or shadow of turning, “ he is the same yesterday, to day and forever.”