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view which the word of God gives of the subject, will, I think, appear by attending to these few arguments. 1. The date of electing love is in eternity. We are never said to have been holy, or to have been converted from eternity, or from the foundation of the world; nor have been forgiven and justified at so early a date, But those who are saved, are said to have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; and to be chosen from the beginning. Eph. i. 4. 2 Thess. ii. 13.*
cording to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began." Titus iii. 5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
It will now be demanded by our opponents what can be meant by God's predestinating those whom he foreknew, and electing according to his foreknowledge. Foreknowledge seems most naturally to mean a previous knowledge of that which will certainly come to pass. When foreknowledge is used in this sense, it is, in the order of nature, posterior to the divine purpose; as a thing cannot be known to be about to come to pass, which is not fixed. But it would seem, that in the pas-' sages now under our consideration, foreknowledge must be used in a sense somewhat different. Predestination, tho' an act of sovereignty, is not a foolish unadvised act. Infinite knowledge is employed in fixing upon the number, and the persons of those who are to be redeemed from the earth by the blood of the Lamb. Whom God foreknew, or foresaw, it would be for his glory to save, he predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. The election of this sinner, and of that sinner, and of the whole congregation of those who shall be benefitted by the death of the Son of God, was according to an infinitely clear and comprehensive knowledge, which the eternal Being always had of that which would be most conducive to the interests of his holy and blessed kingdom.
*As to the eternity of God's purpose of election, Mr. Wesley seems to think he has found a complete solution of the whole difficulty, in those words of Paul, Rom. iv. 17,calleth those things which be not as tho they were. See Methodist Doct. and Discip. p. 73. Within the compass of but a lit tle more than one page, he repeats this passage six or seven times, as if it were sufficient to repel every thing which could be said in favor of the eternity of the divine purpose.
It may be proper to devote a little time to examine into the force of this all-destroying argument. I will put down the whole verse in which the above quoted clause is found:
As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations) be
2. Regeneration or the new birth is the beginning of holiness in the hearts of apostate men, but when election and regeneration are both brought into view, election is represented as preceding it in natural order; as
fore him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not us tho they were. serve," says Mr. Wesley, commenting on this passage, speaks then, at that present time, to Abraham, saying, I have made thee a father of many nations, notwithstanding Abraham was not at that time the father of one child but Ishmael. How then must we understand, I have made thee a father of many nations?" Mr. Wesley's question is easily answered, by those who believe that God has an immutable purpose about all fu ture events, and that he brings all events into existence according to his purpose. It was proper for the Most High to say to Abraham, "I have made thee a father of many nations," if he had purposed that it should be so. And the fixedness of his purpose concerning that, and every other event, makes it proper that he should speak of them, before they actually exist, as if they had already happened. For it is as certain that his purpose will unfold in the event, as that it now exists in his own mind. Therefore it becomes the lips of the one only liv ing and true God, to "declare the end from the beginning,saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasureI have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." Isa. xlvi. 10, 11. "I have made thee a a father of many nations," i. e. "I have purposed it, I will also do it." Therefore, tho' it be not yet done, God speaks of it, as if it were done; and thus he calleth things which be not, as tho' they were.
Now if it be the purpose of God concerning future events, which makes it proper for him to speak of them as tho' they had already happened, then Mr. Wesley's text, which he has chosen to counteract the eternity of God's decrees, has no tendency to do it. The event is spoken of as already existing, because the existing decree makes its futurition certain: but this cannot be the reason why the decree is spoken of as certain, unless we suppose some other decree gives certainty to this; which will lead us back to one decree which gives certainty to all the others. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, because he was from everlasting set apart in the counsel of God for a sin-offering. "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." 1 Pet. i. 20. It is proper to say that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, because he was even then foreordained to the death of the cross. But what can be the reason why he is said to have been foreordain' ed to this, before the foundation of the world, only that it was actually so, that he was thus fore ordained? And what can be
appears in the following passages: "And we know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purfrose.- Moreover whom he did predestinate them he also called." Rom. viii. 28, 30. Calling, in both these verses, manifestly means that gracious and effectual call, which brings wanderers back to God. In the 28th verse it is placed before the purpose of God, but is said to be according to his purpose; which clearly implies, that the purpose was first. The same is implied in John vi. 37. "All the Father giveth me shall come to me.' " Mr. B. thinks that because the word giveth is in the present tense, it makes nothing for our doctrine. But it is evident from this passage, that in the order of things, the giving of them to Christ, precedes their coming to him-i. e. election, in its natural order, goes before effectual calling or the new birth. But in a pa
rallel text, John xvii. 2, we find the verb is in the past tense: "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." It is also in the past tense in the 6th chapter, verse 39: "That of all which he hath given me," &c.
3. The Spirit which moved upon the holy men who wrote the scriptures, most manifestly designed to teach, that God's predestinating grace was free and sovereign,
the reason, why the saints are said to be chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, only this, that in this early period they were appointed not unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ? See Eph.i.4: 1Thess.v.9. Ifit had been said, that they were sanctified before the foundation of the world, we should have been obliged to understand it to refer to the eternal purpose of God concerning their sanctification; that is, sanctified, in the divine purpose; but when they are said to be chosen before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy; when they are said to be predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ, and ordained to eternal life; we are immediately led back to the eternal purpose of God concerning their salvation, as the very thing intended by their being chosen unto holiness, predestinated unto a conformity to Christ, and ordained unto eternal life. God calls the events of his providence, which have not yet transpired, as tho' they were, because his decrees give them a certain future existence : But he calls his decrees, as tho' they were, because they are, and have been from everlasting.
and not for the sake of any thing good foreseen in those whom he predestinated. This is clearly taught in the text which gave rise to my sermon on the doctrine of election. That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." The same subject is in view, verse 15: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." It is continued in that part of the chapter which follows. In the 15th chapter of John, Christ evidently designed to humble his disciples, by saying, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." Mr. B. makes it mean "Ye did not select me as the Saviour of the
this; world." p. 116. Is this as natural as to suppose he meant to say, I came to my own professing people, in the character of the Saviour of the world, and they received me not; and you were by nature no better than they, and would not have chosen me, if I had not first chosen you ?' The purpose of election, and the good works of men are put in contrast, 2 Tim. i. 9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began." Notice, 1st. The calling is holy; or in other words, regeneration is a holy change. 2ndly. There are no works in us before this holy change, which have any accordance or agreement with
Forgiveness accords with that repentance which takes place in us before we are forgiven. But nothing before the new birth, exists in us, or is done by us, which has any such relation to the new birth, as repentance has to forgiveness. 3dly. But this holy change accords with something else, namely, with God's own purpose and grace, which were given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Here God's own purpose concerning the salvation of such, as had now become subjects of grace, is spoken of, in distinction from their works, as a reason why they were called. Now if this purpose to call them into the kingdom, were in view of works foreseen, such as their repenting and turning to God, there would be no foundation for the contrast between the works of those who are called, and the purpose and grace of God.
Mr. B. seems to acknowledge God's sovereignty in the election of one nation, in distinction from another. P. 99, he says, "The apostle proceeds to show that God as a Sovereign, elected the Jews to be his people, without any regard to their worthiness or merit."
This election," (that is of the Israelites to their distinguished privileges,) " depended solely on the sovereign pleasure of God." p. 102. By its depending solely on the sovereign pleasure of God, I conclude, that our author meant to exclude their works from having any influence in their election.* If works are thus excluded from national election, why is it not analagous, that they should be excluded from personal election?
But my antagonist wholly denies personal election. In his preface he says, "Personal and individual election and reprobation appear to have been strangers upon earth in the apostles' days." It seems to be his grand object to get rid of the doctrine of individual election, and this he does by acknowledging God's sovereignty in choosing some nations, to enjoy greater privileges than others. Speaking of Jacob and Esau, he says, "It is evident beyond contradiction, that these words were spoken, not of Jacob and Esau in their individual capacity, but of their posterity. Two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels, which plainly refers to the Israelites and Edomites." p. 101. In this place it may be proper to ask, What was the great point of differ ence between these two people? They were not only two distinct nations, but they were two manner of peuple. Was it the different soil which they cultivated, or the different degree of civilization which prevailed among them, which made them two manner of people? Or was it their religion? Their religion, no doubt. To Jacob's posterity Jehovah says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." Christ says, "Salvation is of the Jews." Mr. B. acknowledges that Jacob's posterity were, by the sovereign pleasure
That this is his meaning is made manifest from what we find in the Appendix, p. 309: "These favors were not granted them (i. e. the Jews) because they were any better by nature than others, but were bestowed according to the sove reign pleasure of God."