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itself. Thus men are “ created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:10. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." 2 Thess. 2:13. And “whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Rom. 8:30. Effectual calling, therefore, and justification must, according to the decree of God, go before glorification. Men must become holy, and obtain deliverance from sin, through faith in Jesus Christ, before they can enter into glory. Such is the appointment of God. For Christians are “ chosen in Christ, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love," Eph. 1:4; and they sare kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.” 1 Pet. 1:5.
This view of the subject, (the only scriptural one,) completely refutes, the common objection against the doctrine of election, that it leads to sin, and opens the door to licentiousness. It is often alleged, that if men are elected to eternal life, their salvation is secured, and they may live as they please. But this objection is founded in ignorance, or in a desire to pervert and mislead. Those who are appointed to eternal glory, are appointed to holiness, to faith, to a right use and improvement of the means of grace, with all that is necessary to final salvation, and that, in a way which does not impinge upon the liberty of the will. The decree of God in relation to their salvation, embraces all these. Indeed, these constitute a part of that salvation to which persons are chosen, and are necessary to its enjoyment. Such appears to have been the view of the apostle when he penned the following passage. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet. 1:10,11.
The election of a portion of the human family to eternal life, without any regard to their faith or holiness as the ground or reason of their election, is received by many with great abhor rence, and rejected as arbitrary and unsuitable to the character of God. Those who take this ground, affirm that God, contem plating all men as fallen, determined to provide a Saviour, in whom he would give to all sufficient grace for their salvation, and to save such as improved this grace to purposes of faith and holiness. Hence, they allege, that the election of persons to eternal life, always has respect to faith or holiness, foreseen in those who are its subjects, as the ground or reason of that election. In other words, election is nothing more than the purpose of God to save such as he foresaw would make a wise improvement of the common grace given them in Christ the Redeemer. These are views which have long been entertained by many, and are still extensively prevalent among those who do not fully accord with the doctrines of grace.
But against the adoption of this scheme, there are several objections. '1. In the first place, it makes that to be the ground of the divine purpose, which the scriptures represent as its effect or consequence. According to Paul, persons are “chosen in Christ, that they should be holy.” Eph. 1:4. Here, the implication evidently is, that the subjects of this choice were, at the time of their electioni, contemplated as under sin and unholy, and that their holiness was a subsequent effect in view of the Divine mind in electing them to eternal live. Holiness, therefore, is the effect or consequence of the decree of election, and not its cause. Of course, the scheme which reverses this order, is at variance with the scriptures, and cannot be admitted as true. 2. Another objection to this scheme is, that it suspends the purpose of God upon the will of the sinner, and transfers the ground of salvation from God to man. For although, according to this hypothesis, God is supposed to have given to all sufficient grace for salvation, their election to eternal life, is made to depend on their improvement of this grace, for purposes of faith and holiness. Now, what is this, but to give the sinner the entire control of the purposes of God! It is, inoreover, to make him the author of his own salvation; because, as already stated, it is on the ground of his foreseen improvement of the grace of God, that he is elected to eternal life. And what is the tendency of the doctrine 'which thus subjects the will of God, to the will of the creature? Is it not to nourish pride and self sufficiency, and encourage boasting in the sinner? thus subverting what the apostle has established, when he says, " By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. 2:8,9. For in the improvement of divine grace, which forms the basis of the decree of God, the sinner has a work whereof he may boast, and for which he is not indebted to the grace of God. And thus far, at least, salvation is of works and not of grace, contrary to what the apostle teaches. Will it be said that for his ability to improve the grace given him in Christ, the sinner is dependent on that grace? This, however, is to concede the whole question; for if it be grace communicated in Christ on the ground of sovereign mercy, which moves, inclines, or enables the sinner to improve its impulses for the atonement of faith and holiness, then the whole of
salvation must depend on the purpose of God to bestow that I grace, and make it operative for these ends. Instead, therefore, of the decree of election being founded on the sinner's improvement of the grace given him, it is the decree of God which secures that improvement, and inclines and enables him to lay hold on eternal life. So that the scheme which would go to make God's purposes subservient to man's will, must be rejected as unscriptural and dangerous. 3. A still farther objection to this scheme is, that it is contradictory to itself, and to the holy scriptures. It is contradictory to itself. For while it contemplates all men as fallen, and indebted to the sovereign mercy and purpose of God for that sufficient grace which has been granted to every man in Christ, it makes the grace of God a debtor to man by suspending its successful operation, on the improvement made of it by the sinner. It is sufficient grace, and yet it is insufficient, until the sinner makes it sufficient by improving it for the purposes of salvation. It is also contradictory to the holy scriptures. They give no intimations of the purpose of God in electing sinners to eternal life, being founded upon any anticipated goodness in those who are the subjects of this choice. On the contrary, their language on this subject is, “ I will have mercy, on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy; therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy.” Rom. 9:15,16. 18.
But it would occupy too much space to notice all that might be urged in opposition to this scheme. Besides, it would lead to the discussion of questions incidental to the doctrine which it is our business at present to establish. These few remarks may be sufficient to show, that the views of those who place the election of men to eternal life on other grounds than the divine sovereign
ty, or “mere free grace alone," are fallacious and unscriptural. · The objection that this is an arbitrary ground, unworthy of God,
proceeds from erroneous notions of the divine sovereignty. Men confound it with blind purpose--a purpose formed without reason, and which is totally regardless of the principles of right and wrong. With such views of the sovereignty of God, it is not surprising that they object to it, as having a control in the decrees of God in relation to men. Their mistake, however, must not be permitted to operate to the prejudice of the truth in the minds of others. “The sovereignty of God," to use the language of the venerable Dr. Scott, “is, I apprehend, a very different thing from arbitrary power: it is the sovereignty of infinite wisdom, knowledge, justice, truth, goodness, and mercy.”—God does
g nothing without the best possible reasons, but he does not gratify
the pride and curiosity of fallen rebels, by assigning his reasons * to them. He doubtless has reasons for choosing a sinner to sal
vation, but the sinner's merit, or inferior degree of criminality, or more docile disposition, or natural voluntary concurrence with
his grace, is not of the number of these reasons." Upon the , whole, then, we are brought back to the plain, scriptural repre. ļsentation of this matter, that it was "out of his mere free grace
alone," and for reasons known to himself, that God did, from eternity, elect a people to the enjoyment of everlasting life...
But as election implies the choice of some, from amongst i others, what, it will be asked, has God done in relation to that e portion of the human family who are not chosen to eternal life?
į It has already been remarked, that in the formation of his
adorable purposes of salvation, God contemplated man as fallen. To God all things were present from eternity. Before his allcomprehending mind, the creation and the fall of man, with all their circumstances were present. Beholding the whole human
family, therefore, as fallen, and liable to death, he determined to į save some, and “to pass by” others, “and to ordain them to
dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious - justice." And what objection can there be to this? Are men
sure that this is so inconsistent with the character of God, that it cannot be true? Let us examine and see how the case stands.
That by the fall, the whole race of man was rendered liable to iwrath and condemnation, cannot be well doubted. “By one man, i sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed
upon all men, for that all have sinned."-"By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” Rom. 5:12.18. " And were by nature children of wrath, even as others." Eph. 2:3. Now this liability of the whole human family to condemnation and wrath, was either just, or it was not. If it was just, as we believe, then God might have ordained the whole human family, on this ground, to eternal misery, without any charge of injustice or cruelty. For there could be neither injustice nor cruelty in providing for the certain infliction of a punishment which was justly due to them on account of sin. And if God might have justly acted in this manner towards the whole, why not towards a part? The election of the other part to salvation, cannot alter their case. They are not less deserving of punishment after the others have been appointed to salvation, than be. fore. Being still contemplated as under sin, they are justly, on account of sin, ordained to everlasting condemnation and misery.
But, it will, perhaps, be alleged that it would have been unjust in God to have consigned the whole of our race to perdition, without making provision for their salvation. If this allegation be well founded, then God was bound in justice to provide a Saviour; and the scheme of salvation, instead of originating in the infinite love of God, as the scriptures teach, was formed to meet the just claims which his creatures had upon his justice.' What, according to this view, comes of the grace of the gos- | pel? It is entirely destroyed. Salvation is no longer of grace, but of debt, as God owed it to his fallen creatures to provide for them a Saviour, and would have been unjust if he had not made such provision. But all this is so completely at variance with scriptural statements, that it cannot fail to secure its own rejec tion. The only legitimate conclusion then, is, that viewing man as fallen and guilty, God might in justice, have ordained the whole to wrath for their sin. And if there would have been no injustice in thus leaving all to perish, there can be none in leaving a part. If he might have done the greater, no possible reason can be assigned why he may not do the less.
· From these remarks, you will perceive that we consider God merely as “ passing by” those whom he has not elected to eternal life, and “ for their sin, ordaining them to dishonor and wrath." In this God stands acquitted of all injustice. For is it not just, that God, foreseeing that man would fall, that without special grace he would go on in sin till death, should, for his sin, determine to inflict upon him the punishment it merited? As already shown, God was under no obligations to provide a Saviour, or to impart grace to convert the sinner, and fit him for heaven. His doing so, in the case of the elect, was a matter of sovereign mercy. They had no claim upon him for the blessings of salva. tion. And in reference to the enjoyment of these blessings they must all say, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory.” Neither have the others, who are not the objects of God's electing love, any claims upon God. All have been forfeited to his justice, and in the view of the divine proceedings towards them, they can only say, “ Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints-Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."
Many passages of scripture support these views. “The elec tion hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." " Therefore, he hath merey on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."-What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endureth with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and that he might make