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or refuse, the overtures, and trample this goodwill of his God under his feet, or esteem it a priceless treasure. But, if he refuses, and continues the gift of eternal life, he must abide the dread consequences : there is no alternative.
Some may say—“How can a man accept that which He cares not for?' My answer to such a question is this: When a man can honestly look up into God's face, and say, that he is not able to yield to inward promptings towards his Saviour, that he is not able to pray for the help promised him, that he is not able even to try to do God's will, then it will be time—and never before-to say that God offers to man & gospel which is of no value to him ; a redemption which leaves him exactly where he was, a slave, lost, and undone ; a heaven he can by no possibility gain; and an immortality that is nothing but an empty sound; and then (God forgive me, if I speak with irreverence) man is indeed mocked, and God is unfaithful, and dishonoured !
Another question may arise-“Why does God then bring some men into such a high position and privilege as those are supposed to enjoy whom we designate the Elect?”
I have already endeavoured to show in my former paper some of the reasons which apparently actuate the Divine mind. One grand ruling principle predominates, that through the elect a wider blessing should come upon others; for so it “ seemeth good in His sight, who ordereth all things after the counsel of His own will.” Such are able to teach from experience “ the wonderful works of God.” From the heavenly light that has shone into their own souls, they can better demonstrate to others what the love of God in Christ is. And, being “men of like passions,” they are able to sympathise with their fellows, and so attract them to the same Saviour they love and serve ; and also, by their lives, they will prove that they are worthy of God's special favour: for these will be found to be the noblest and best of the sons of men. God is perfectly righteous in conferring special marks of His favour on some more than others. There is no dead level in the universe. It is neither in heaven, nor the earth. Unity in variety, is God's grand method of order and harmony. Surely, no man would desire that God should not exercise His right, as Sovereign Lord of all, in choosing whom, and what He will, for certain purposes that seem good to him ; especially, when it is borne in mind, that He has conferred a similar right and privilege on man with regard to the choice he makes from amongst his fellows. We choose our immediate friends, to whom we give our confidence and love, and no one is damaged thereby,—nay, often it has the effect of producing more good to others. Some will say—If this be true, what can be made of such passages as these, “ Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated,” and, “Therefore, He hath mercy on whom HA will have mercy, and whom He will be hardeneth ? " My reply is this-It is said that the proper rendering of the first quoted should
be, “Jacob have I preferred, and Esau have I disregarded." I see nothing very particular here to interfere with man's free agency. Esau, in a weak moment, gave up “his birthright for a mess of pottage." The conduct of Jacob all through is open to grave censure, for his deceptive arts in trying to anticipate the fulfilment of the promise ; and, though an elect man, he pays very dearly for bis sins; but no one can deny that Esau's act was his own. matter of choice. And how lightly he regarded his privilege as the firstborn. is apparent by his throwing it away under so slight a temptation.
I see nothing in the election of Jacob but an act of God exercising his own will. Jacob was to inherit the promise, and become the hend of God's people, Israel : but Esau, thongh deprived of the bonorr of his position naturally, is not left without a blessing. In hi: lifetime, he became great and eminent, and founded a nation, which existed for a length of time side by side with Israel. The rapiditv of the rise of this man under his blessing, contrasted with the wenry years of labour, disappointments, and disorder, which ma k the career of Jacob, is not without its lesson to us, and perlaps some of us have not yet thoroughly learnt it.
With regard to the other passaye-God having mercy on whom He will, and hardening whom He will --we must bear in mind that the apostle is speaking of the Jews--or Israelites, if you will — both
as a uution, and an election of grace. In all cases, God bestows mercy as a Sovereign act. He confers favours on whom He will. It is as though Paul said, “Israel has sinned, and is given up: and yet. from among these doomed people, some are chosen on whom God confers special favours, while the rest are passed over and allowed to become hardened in their sin.”
What I understand by God's “hardening "the sinners is this: Thit He witlıdraws all the restraints and influences He had hitherto affirleil them, because they have been abused, and now punishment, or julgment, must take its course. And if God sees fit to make use of such individuals, or a nation, to show to the sons of men His justice, and supreme authority, is there any unrighteousness in Him? God forbid ! Nay, does it not thoroughly accord with our own views of what is right and fitting? And is not the argumint as applicable in the case of a single individual-as Pharaoh, for instance-as that of a community, or nation ? a
In man,' we are told, " dwelleth no good thing." If God leave man to himself
“ ' in the devil, what more is required to “barden ” a man's heart ? Gurd baz but to withhold His grace, for man to become a demon ia nate. But if He sees fit to do this in exceptional cases, and w ler exceptional circumstances, and for certain purposes, we have Du right to insist that this is His general method of procedure, unless it be proved to be such. God “delights in mercy:" it is th joy of His infinite existence : but “ judgment is His strange work."
There is one thought I must enforce here, and that is : No mercy comes to man because he wills it. No; from first to last, it is a free gift from God, the Sovereign of all. Now, with regard to the two passages on which our thoughts have been built, I would advise that you do not strain or force them from their natural meaning. Take the first, “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Now, if we bear in mind the special view that must have prevailed in the minds of the apostles and early believers, that this dispensation was for the special purpose of calling out an elect church from amongst all men, the utterance seems perfectly natural : but mark well,—the word of God never says that none but the elect shall be saved.
One passage of truth from the Word of God is not to be hugged to our bosom as a precious darling at the expense of others which are hardly looked at by some, much less examined. One text is as true as another, and if we are not able to harmonise them the fault lies in us, and not in God's word. We may learn a little now, but much more remains to be learnt and understood. "we see through a glass darkly," but the more our hearts and minds become purified with the grace of God, the more clearly shall we apprehend and understand the ways of God to man. If God at one time “ suffered all men to walk in their own way," He now calleth all men to repent and believe on His dear Son Jesus Christ, that they may have eternal life. This call is real; it is an earnest, yearning call, prompted by infinite solicitude, and infinite love. Man's way leads to darkness and death, it ends in corruption and extinction ; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This precious gift may be his, if he will but obey the call, and lose his will in the will of his Heavenly Father.
In bringing my remarks to a close, I desire to lay three conclusions before you of which I feel thoroughly assured.
1st. That God is love, and has provided a salvation-a real, tangible, glorious salvation-alike for all, by giving His beloved Son for their redemption.
2nd. That He has had an elect people from the beginning of our race down to the present time, and will have an elect people up to the end of this dispensation, when “the fulness shall be brought in,”—“the day of Jesus Christ,” who will then be acknowledged earth's Redeemer and King.
3rd. That man is a free agent, to whom God has manifested mercy and goodness, of which man, being placed in a position to know and understand the gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ may avail himself, and with God's promised help, may even win his way to the highest position.
The fact of God suffering any to walk in their own way, and do their own will at all, is very suggestive. Men fancy that God's plans of government are inimical to their enjoyment; His precepts, a heavy yoke of bondage. They become restive, and “kick.” The
tempter tells them they will live the best of life. On this side,
the bulk of the race have been walking in their own way, and it is to be feared that too many of those who have professed to have given up their own ways and to follow “in the good ways of the Lord," only do so by profession while they are making their own paths. But to all who will hear, “God calleth to all men everywhere to repent, and believe the Gospel," and if they yield, a hearty welcome awaits them to a loving Father's heart and home. Yet, to all the word of admonition is addressed, which we do well to heed. “He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.”
This is sure. But here is encouragement for every effort in the right direction. “He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
It may be said that I have observed a strange reticence in quoting texts in support of my argument in this paper compared with the first. It is true; and not without reason. It appears to me, as I believe it must to every candid mind, that the whole tenor of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, sustains the argument. Man's free agency is a doctrine, or principle, of the Bible as clear and unmistakable as that of election. What need, then, of quotations ?
I now bring my remarks to a close, without saying all I wished to say, because of time; but in all honesty, and, I trust, godly sincerity, I am not aware that it has been said precisely in the same way by others. I am not at all anxious about that: for I want, as much as possible, to find out God's will for myself, and would do all I can to urge others to study the Word of God—not in isolated texts—but as a whole, and I believe we shall get more quickly at its true meaning and scope. Difficulties will appear and blunders will be made ; but far better will it be for us to be found faithful in our search with the light we have, however dim it may be, than to be in the position of the slothful servant. “ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” May we ever have the fear of the Lord in our hearts, and before our eyes, then this happy and most blessed privilege will be ours. Amen.
" THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS." ”
REVELATION i. 1.
No. XVI. (Concluded.) VII. THE LOOSING OF SATAN AND HIS FINAL RUIN. BUT UT the seventh chiliad of time as the day of man's rest will
have its evening too. When the seventh day is recorded as God's day of rest, it has for its limit no morning no evening. His time for rest or work has no limit. When "God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth” it was not His beginning but theirs ; when He rested from all His work which He had made He ceased not to work, but only in that particular. Ever working, ever resting. Watts nobly sings,
Thy throne eternal ages stood
Ere seas or stars were made,
Were all the nations dead.
Stands present in Thy view,
Great God, there's nothing new.
And vexed with trifling cares,
Thine undisturbed affairs. But Earth and Time, as the scene and space of man's work and man's rest, will, with its seven-thousandth year, we believe, complete its history and reach the limit assigned to both by the Creator, so far as revealed in His word. Hence we read of the closing in of this day of millennial glory with shadows dark and deep, though happily of brief duration, termed a little season.
For the Dragon, that old Serpent which is the Devil and Satan, is bound only “until the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that he must be loosed a little season.” (Rev. xx. 3.) This is a most wonderful fact in revealed truth; and one end of his life being thus prolonged will doubtless be to magnify the power of God as greater to hold him in check for a thousand years than at once to crush and destroy him. But power and daring enough remain in him after this his long imprisonment to dare and defy. Omnipotence yet once again, and he will find moreover ready and willing agents through whom to carry out his presumptuous design. For we read, “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog (which we must be careful not to confound with the pre-millennial gathering to battle under the same name) to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth,