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and depart; for this is not your rest. Come to the Lord Jesus, who alone can open the door of access to God, whose blood quenches the fire of wrath, and who can deliver from the curse of the law. Who would stay in a house ready to fall? who can sleep sound in a case where God is an enemy? Lay these things seriously to heart, and flee from the wrath ye lie under, for the plague is begun already; and speedily flee from the wrath to come: for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
OF ELECTION TO EVERLASTING LIFE.
Eph. i. 3, 4, 5.—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love : having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
The answer to the question, 'Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?' contains two heads of doctrine of great importance in the Christian system, viz. the doctrine of election, and the covenant of grace, each of which I shall speak to distinctly. I shall discourse of the first from the text now read. In which we have,
1. A party brought out of their natural state into a state of salvation, ver. 3.—Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. For whereas by nature they were under the curse, now they are blessed, and that plentifully, with all blessings, not temporal only, but spiritual and heavenly, coming from heaven, and to be consummated there.
2. The person by whom they are brought into this state. It is by the Redeemer, as the purchaser. God the Father bestows them, as the Father of Christ, viz. for his sake. And they are blessed in Christ, upon account of his merit, and coming from him as their Head.
3. Who those are whom God brings out of their natural state into a state of grace; the elect, ver. 4, 5. According as he hath chosen us in him, &c. Where consider,
(1.) Election itself, he hath chosen us, separated us from others in his purpose and decree, selected us from among the rest of mankind, whom he passed by and left to perish in their natural state.
(2.) That to which they are elected : that is, to salvation, and the means leading thereto. The means are, sanctification, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love ; and adoption, ver. 5. that whereas they are by nature children of the devil, they should be children of God. The end is everlasting life in heaven; for that is imported in adoption, Rom. viii. 23. as the inheritance of the children of God.
(3.) Through whom this decree is to be executed, in him ; that is, Christ, whom the Father chose to be the head of the elect, through whom he would save them.
(4.) When God elected them, before the foundation of the world, ere they were created; that is, from eternity; as appears from what our Lord says to his Father, John xvii. 24. 'Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world;' which can denote nothing else than from eternity.
(3.) That which moved him to elect them, according to the good pleasure of his will ; that is, his mere good pleasure, so he would do it; and there was nothing without himself to move him thereto.
The words afford a foundation for the following doctrine.
Doct. God left not all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery, but having from all eternity elected some to everlasting life, brings them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer.'
In illustrating this doctrine, I shall shew,
V. That all the elect, and only they, are in time brought out of a state of sin and misery into a state of salvation.
VI. By whom they are saved.
I. Our first business is, to shew what election is. It is that decree of God whereby some men are chosen out from among the rest of mankind, and appointed to obtain eternal life by Jesus Christ, flowing from the mere good pleasure of God; as appears from the text. So the elect are they whom God has chosen to everlasting life, Acts xiii. 48. God seeing all mankind lost in Adam from all eternity, in his decree separated some from among them, to be redeemed by his Son, sanctified by his Spirit, and brought to glory.
II. I proceed to shew who are elected. Who they are in particular, God only knows; but in general we say,
That it is not all men, but some only. For where all are taken, there is no choice made. To say that God has made choice, plainly
imports that others are not chosen, but passed by. And so there is another party of men who are reprobated ; that is, whom God has not chosen to life, but has decreed to let them lie in their natural state, and to damn them for their sins, Judo 4; whom he shews not saving mercy unto, but hardens, they first hardening themselves, Rom. ix. 18. Here is no injustice in God, seeing he might have left
. all to perish as well as some. This is also clear from plain scripture, Mat. xx. 16, 'Many are called, but few chosen. Whence also it is plain, that the elect are the lesser number of the world, Mat. vii. 13, 14. 'Enter ye in at the strait gate (says Christ); for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.' They are a little flock, Luke xii. 32. Yet the efficacy of the Lord's love and Christ's death is more and greater than that of Adam's sin, seeing it is greater to save one soul than to ruin all. And further, the scripture teaches, that though God has his own of all sorts, yet this blessed company, God does not make up, chiefly of the highest and most honourable among men. 1 Cor. i. 26, 27, 28,
Ye see your calling ; how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.'
III. The next head is, to shew what they are chosen to.
1. They are chosen to be partakers of everlasting life. the scripture speaks of some being ordained to eternal life,' Acts xiii. 48. and of 'appointing them to obtain salvation,' 1 Thess. v. 9. God appoints some to be rich, great, and honourable, some to be low and mean in the world; and others to be in a middle station, objects neither of envy nor contempt; but electing love appoints those on whom it falls to be saved from sin, and all the ruins of the fall; its great view is to eternal glory in heaven. To this they were appointed before they had a being.
2. They are chosen also to grace as the mean, as well as to glory as the end. God's predestinating them to eternal blessedness includes both, as in the text; and it further appears from 2 Thess. ii. 13. God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.' Hence faith is held out as a certain consequent of election, Acts xiii. 48. 'As many as were ordained unto eternal life, believed.' The man who
intends to dwell in a house yet unbuilt, intends also the means by which it may be made a fit habitation. So God having from eternity pitched on a select number of the ruined race of mankind as objects of his love, and having predestinated them to everlasting life, intended also the means necessary and proper for obtaining that glorious end. And therefore there is no ground from the decree of election to slight the means of salvation. God has so joined the end and the means, that none can put them asunder.
IV. Let us consider the properties of election.
1. It is altogether free, without any moving cause, but God's mere good pleasure. No reason can be found for this but only in the bosom of God. There is nothing before, or above, or without his purpose, that can be pitched upon as the cause of all that grace and goodness that he bestows upon his chosen ones. There was no merit or motive in them, as Christ told his disciples, John xv. 16. 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.' His choice is antecedent to ours. The personis who are singled out to be the objects of his special grace, were a part of lost mankind, the same by nature with others who were passed by, and left to perish in their sin. When God had all Adam's numerous progeny under the view of his all-seeing eye, he chose some, and passed by others. He found nothing in the creature to cast the balance of his choice, or to determine it to one more than another. Those that were rejected were as eligible as those that were chosen. They were all his creatures, and all alike obnoxious to his wrath by sin. It was grace alone that made the difference. So the prophet argues, Mal. i. 2, 3. 'I have loved you, saith the Lord : yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us ? was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.' And this is abundantly clear in the text. Why doth God write some men's names in the book of life, and leave out others ? why doth he enrol some whom he intends to make citizens of Zion, and heirs of immortal glory, and refuse to put others in his register? The text tells us, it is the good pleasure of his will.
You may, says an eminent divine, render a reason for many of God's actions, till you come to this, which is the top and foundation of all; and this act can be reduced to no other head of reason, but to that of his royal prerogative. If you inquire, why doth God save some, and condemn others at last? the reason is, because of the faith of the one, and the unbelief of the other. But why do some men believe? It is because God hath not only given them the means of grace, but accompanied these means with the power and efficacy of the Spirit. But why did God accompany these means
with the efficacy of his Spirit in some, and not in others? It is because he decreed by his grace to prepare them for glory. But why did he decree and chuse some to glory, and not others? Into what can you resolve this, but only into his sovereign pleasure ? Salvation and damnation at the last upshot are acts of God as the righteous Judge and Governor of the world, giving life and eternal happiness to believers, and inflicting death and eternal misery upon unbelievers, conformable to his own law. Men may render a reason for these proceedings. But the choice of some and the preterition of others, is an act of God as he is a sovereign monarch, before any law was actually transgressed, because not actually given. What reason can be given for his advancing one part of matter to the noble dignity of a star, and leaving another part to make up the dark body of the earth ? to compact one part into a glorious sun, and another part into a hard rock, but his royal prerogative? What is the reason that a prince subjects one malefactor to condign punishment, and lifts up another to a place of profit and trust? It is merely because he will, Rom. ix. 18. Hence we may infer,
(1.) That God did not chuse men to everlasting life and happiness for any moral perfection that he saw in them; because he converts those, and changes them by his grace, who are most sinful and profligate, as the Gentiles, who were soaked in idolatry and superstition. He found more faith among the Romans, who were Pagan idolaters, than among the Jews, who were the peculiar people of God, and to whom his heavenly oracles were committed. He planted a saintship at Corinth, a place notorious for the infamous worship of Venus, a superstition attended with the grossest uncleanness; and at Ephesus, that presented the world with a cup of fornication in the temple of Diana. And what character had the Cretians from one of their own poets, mentioned by the apostle in his epistle to Titus, whom he had placed among them to further the progress of the gospel, but the vilest and most abominable liars, and not to be credited; evil beasts, not to be associated with; slow bellies, fit for no service. Now what merit and attractive was here? What invitements could he have from lying, beastliness, and gluttony, but only from his own sovereignty? By this he plucked firebrands out of the burning, while he left straiter and more comely sticks to consume to ashes. (2.) God doth not chuse men to grace and glory for any
perfection that is in them; because he calls and renews the most despicable. He doth not elevate nature to grace on account of wealth or honour, or any civil station or dignities in the world, 1 Cor. i. 26. forecited. A purple robe is very seldom decked and adorned with