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propriety of language be an unmerited gift of God to any of his creatures: yet, as far as we know, it might have been honourably given to us; had it not been that man was so guilty and God so holy, that without the atonement made by the death of the divine Saviour, it would not have consisted with his holiness to save so vile a rebel. If this be not so, “then Christ is dead “ in vain.”
But if the heart of sinful man is enmity to a holy God, and disdains the authority, dislikes the precept, and abhors the sentence, of that holy law which condemns him for his crimes; if the gospel shews the malignity of sin and the desert of every sinner, in the most conspicuous light; if it maintains the authority, magnifies the precept, and vindicates the justice of the sentence of the law; and if it gives no quarter to any sin, saves no man in his sins, but from all sin, and to all that very holiness which the law demands, “ writing “the law in the heart:" could it be reasonably suppos. ed, that man would not also hate and quarrel with the affronting, though most merciful, message of free sal. vation? It might have been previously expected, and matter of fact indisputably proves, that the unadulterated gospel, notwithstanding its surprising largeness and freeness of grace and love, is more offensive to the
ing us, to submit to his righteousness, and apply for his mercy; than in the midst of our ignorance and blindness, to spend our time in vain reasonings upon a subject, for which we are incompetent; and in making objections to those appointments which are unalterably determined, whether we submit to them or no.
proud rebel than the very law itself, and excites more enmity and blasphemy. Nor need we hesitate to assert that every individual, if left to himself, would as infal. libly have either neglected and opposed, or perverted and abused, the gospel, as he has broken and quarrel. led with the law. From this source especially have arisen, all the persecutions of Christianity which have raged in many ages and places; all the indifference and contempt which have prevailed; and all the innumera. ble corruptions of the gospel, which have been devised, to render it more palatable or tolerable to the pride or to the lusts of men.
Foreseeing this as the inevitable consequence of leaving the gospel to take its own course in the world; knowing that all would reject or abuse it to their deeper condemnation; the Lord did not consider himself bound in justice to afford his obstinate enemies any further grace, but judged that he might righteously have left them all to the consequences of their perverseness. He is no man's debtor, he doeth no man injustice, he punisheth no man who hath not deserved it, nor any one above his deservings: and, however men may now dare to find fault, all his dealings will be shewn most glori. ous in wisdom, holiness, truth, and love, and “ every 66 mouth will be stopped” in “ the day of wrath, and 56 revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who 66 svill render unto every man according to his deeds."
But where none has any claim, may not the great Ruler of the universe bestow his unmerited favours on whom he will? Is he alone restricted from “doing what 66 he will with his osyn?” Seeing that none either de
serve, or desire mercy in his appointed way, but all harden themselves in impenitent and obstinate rebellion; in high sovereignty he declares, “ I will have mercy, " on whom I will haye mercy, and I will have com“ passion on whom I will have compassion. So then “it is not of him that wilļeth, nor of him that run“ neth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”-“ There“ fore he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, " and whom he will he hardeneth.” Not but that all who are sayed, do run and seek; and “ every one that , seeketh, findeth:” but God's mercy takes the lead; his preventing grace hath produced this willingness; and therefore the one sinner wills, runs, seeks and finds: whilst others, left to themselves and to their own lusts, and to Satan's temptations, meet with those things in the righteous providence of God, which harden them more and more to their destruction. *
Doubtless the Lord acts with the most perfect wisdom in making this difference among sinners; but he deigns not to inform us of his reasons; and who are
* « The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that 6 he cannot turn and prepare liimself, by his own natural strength ! and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore • we have no strength to do good works pleasant and acceptable (unto God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing usy
that we may have a good will, and working in uɛ when we have • that good will.' (10th Article.)
« Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for < it is God, which worketh in you to will and do, of his good 4 pleasure.” (Phil. ii. 12, 13.)
we, worms, rebels, and enemies, that we should expect it from him?
When therefore he appointed his beloved Son (“his " Elect whom he had chosen”) for salvation to the ends. of the earth; that his grace might not be frustrated by man's perverseness, as otherwise it must have been; while he saw good to leave others under the condemnation of the law, and, through the tendency of their evil nature, to reject the gospel, “ from the beginning “ he chose” a people “ unto salvation, through sanc-', “ tification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; where“ unto he calls them by the gospel, to the obtaining of " the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."*—These are the persons, spoken of in the text, as “ given unto “ Christ” (by some mysterious transaction, according to our low apprehensions, betwixt the Father and the Son) when he undertook the work of redemption.t
* 2 Thess. ii. 11–14.! + Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were 1 id) ne hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver « from curse and damnation those, whom he hath chosen in • Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to ever• lasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they, • which he endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called , according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due sea6 son: tliey through grace obey the call: they be justified freely; (they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk reli
giously in good works; and at length, by God's mercy, they • attain to everlasting felicity.' (17th Article.). Some argue,
With an especial intention of saving this “remnant “according to the election of grace,” Christ shed his precious blood. “I lay down,” says he, “ my life for “ the sheep.” His death was a sufficient atonement for all: this forms an encouragement for every one that hears the gospel, and leaves all without excuse who neglect such great salvation. But our Lord fore. saw who would eventually partake of this infinite ran. som. These are in some sense his sheep even before conversion: “ Other sheep, says he, I have, which are “not of this fold:” meaning the unconverted Gentiles. When as lost sheep they are wandering in the ways of destruction, he sends his ministers to those places where they reside, that he may seek and save them, and bring them home to his fold:-and he continues them in their stations till his purposes are accomplished. “ Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace, for “ I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt " thee; for I have much people in this city,” saith he to persecuted Paul at Corinth, concerning the licentious inhabitants. * And for these he especially intercedes, and not for the world.t-"God who is rich in mercy, “ for his great love wherewith he loved us even when “ dead in sin;-hath quickened us together with Christ "—For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and
that this article is not Calvinistick: it, however, exactly and admirably, sums up the opinions of the author, by whatever termu he may be distinguished.
* Acts xviii. 9, 10.
† Joho xvii. 9, 10, 20,