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the sacred writers, must not pass unnoticed Truth does not require such management. The Jews, and the unbelieving gentiles to whom the apostles preached, were supplied with the ' means of salvation,' and so are all nominal Christians. In what then does the difference between true believers and others consist, as to their obligation to divine mercy, if they have nothing except in common with unbelievers who are favoured with the means of grace ?-I confess that I do not understand the concluding words, “through ' that grace which is given to them.' Are outward advantages exclusively meant, or is some internal influence intended? Outward advantages are indeed 'grace given to us, because an unmerited favour ; and they are means of salvation : but internal influence, however distinguished, is, I believe, never called means of grace, or means of salvation, either in the scripture or by approved theologians.
It appears, that elect and reprobate persons, in ' the Calvinistic sense, are not even known in the ? Old or New Testament.'i
That nothing is said of reprobation or reprobate, (as far as the words are concerned,) in the sense put on them by some Calvinists, has been allowed: and the reader must judge for himself, how far the assertion concerning the elect and election is well grounded. If any one be disposed to think that nothing even plausible can be adduced from scripture, in support of the system commonly called Calvinistic; I only intreat him to read again, without comment, but with atten
tion and prayer, and at one time, as in connexion, the latter part of the eighth chapter of Romans and the ninth; at another time, the eleventh chapter of the same epistle ; and at another, the first two chapters of the epistle to the Ephesians : and then, if he do not deduce an opposite conclusion, let him, if he can, retire from the investigation, affirming without hesitation, that there is nothing in scripture, which can give pious persons any ground to maintain the reprobated doctrine of personal election. The passages referred to, and many others, seem to me, of themselves most decidedly to speak our language. We can express our meaning in the apostle's words, without addition or alteration : and frequent quotations from them in a sermon, without some attempt to explain away their obvious meaning, would suffice in most congregations to subject the preacher to the charge of being a Calvinist. This experiment any minister may make if he chooses; and there is no room to doubt the event of it. On the contrary, when our conclusions are rejected and opposed, the whole effort of learning, and argument, and management, is requisite to put another meaning on these scriptures : and, in respect of preaching, they are generally kept out of sight; or, if adduced, much ingenuity and pains must be taken to ward off the unfavourable impression. Were I disposed to engage in a controversial discussion of the subject, very many texts might be adduced in support of our doctrines, besides those which have been here particularly considered. But enough has been said for my purpose.
I would desire to be considered rather as an apolo
gist for those who hold the doctrine of personal election to eternal life, and such other tenets as are inseparable from it, than as an eager disputer for Calvinism. I would wish to make it understood what we really do believe, and what we do not, and on what grounds; to obviate misapprehension and misrepresentation ; and, if it might be, to procure for us somewhat more candour, and fairness, and equity, from our opponents, than we generally meet with. This I should greatly desire for their sakes; as I must think that many things advanced groundlessly against us are exceedingly criminal in the sight of God.—Having before stated to the public, in my comment on the scriptures, my deliberate judgment concerning the true meaning of every passage here considered, and of every other text pertaining to the argument; and not having been convinced by the ' Refuta‘tion,' that my interpretation is erroneous; I must refer the reader, who may wish more fully to know my sentiments, or the reasons of them, to the comment itself; and, as a more compendious method, to ‘A Sermon on Election and Final Perseverance,' published thirty years ago.
" To send Christ into the world, that mankind might be saved, was indeed the eternal purpose of God; this he decreed from the beginning: but, in making this decree, he did not appoint, that the benefits of Christ's mission should be enjoyed by certain individuals only, but that they should extend to all who believed and obeyed; and that every one, to whom the gospel should be made known, should have the power
' of believing and obeying. There was no abso'lute election of particular persons who must necessarily be saved, but a conditional offer of salvation to all. If the redemption purchased by the death of Christ be confined to the elect, the design of Christ's coming into the world was to save * the elect, and the elect only, and not “ to save
sinners” in general. But we find not in scripture ' a single text which thus restrains the object of · Christ's incarnation ; and, on the other hand, we · have seen that there are numerous passages upon ' this subject, of the most comprehensive signifi'cation. The impenitently wicked are alone ex*cluded from “ the blessed hope of everlasting ' life which God has given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ."'1
Are not all who believe and obey'' certain in'dividuals only,' to the exclusion of all who do not believe and obey?' as well as the elect are * certain individuals only,' excluding such as are not elect? Now we believe that they will prove in the end exactly the same individuals : all, who believe and obey are elect, and prove their election, by their faith and obedience; and all the elect are, or will be by efficacious grace, brought to believe and obey. Instead of ' necessarily,' we should say certainly. The conditional offer of
salvation to all' is made to all where the word of God is preached; but is nothing more done, by the
grace of God, for those who believe and obey? The saving effect of the redemption of Christ is confined to those who believe and obey :' eventually he will save these, and these only, and not Ref. 244, 245.
? See Art. xvii. former part.
' sinners in general ; ' that is, he will not save men whether they believe and obey or not. Now, supposing all who believe and obey to have been chosen, in Christ out of mankind,'' by the counsel of God secret to us ;' and, in consequence, to have been called according to God's purpose by ' his Spirit, working in due scason; and that ' through grace obey the call, &c.'l then the doctrine of personal election is as consistent with the general intention of Christ's coming to save sinners, as the doctrine that only those who believe and obey shall be saved. And to explain the general design in any other sense would bring in universal salvation. On our principles also, the impenitently wicked alone are excluded from the blessed hope of everlasting life, which God has given us in Jesus Christ our Saviour:' for we consider none as non-elect, but those who die im penitent and unbelieving, not by necessity, or in
way than by being left, without renewing grace, to the effects of their wicked dispositions and actions—How far the following texts may be considered as instances in which the scripture thus restrains the object of Christ's incarnation, the reader must judge. “All that the Father “giveth me, shall come to me; and him that “ cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. For “ I came down from heaven, not to do mine own
will, but the will of him that sent me: and this
is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of “ all which he hath given me I should lose no“ thing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me ;
Art. xvii. See also Art. x.