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This is the last step. Having made them “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” he gives them “the kingdom which was prepared for them before the world began.” This is the order wherein “ according to the counsel of his Will,” (the plan he has laid down from eternity,] he saves those whom he foreknew, the true believers in every place and generation.
11. The same great work of salvation by faith, according to the foreknowledge and decree of God, may appear in a still clearer light, if we view it backward, from the end to the beginning. Suppose then you stood with the “ great multitude which no man can number, out of every nation, and tongue, and kindred, and people," who "give praise unto him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever:” you would not find one among them all that were entered into glory, who was not a witness of that great truth, “ Without holiness no man shall see the Lord :" not one of all that innumerable
company, not sanctified before he was glorified. By holiness he was prepared for glory, according to the invariable will of the Lord, that the crown purchased by the blood of his Son, should be given to none but those who are renewed by his Spirit. He is become “ the Author of eternal salvation” only " to them that obey him:” that obey him inwardly and outwardly; that are holy in heart, and holy in all manner of conversation.
12. And could you take a view of all those upon earth, who are now sanctifed, you would find not one of these had been sanctified till after he was called. He was first called, not only with an outward call, by the word and the messengers of God, but likewise with an inward call, by his Spirit applying his word, enabling him to believe in the only begotten Son of God, and bearing testimony with his spirit that he was a child of God. And it was by this very mean they were all sanctified. It was by a sense of the love of God shed abroad in his heart, that every one of them was enabled to love God. Loving God, he loved his neighbour as himself, and had power to walk in all his commandments blameless. This is a rule which admits of no exception. God calls a sinner his own, that is, justifies him before he sanctifies. And by this very thing, the consciousness of his favour, he works in him that grateful, filial affection, from which spring every good temper, and word, and work.
13. And who are they that are thus called of God, but those whom he had before predestinated, or decreed to “conform to the image of his Son?” This decree (still speaking after the manner of men) precedes every man's calling. Every believer was predestinated before he was called. For God calls none, but “according to the counsel of his will,” according to this apoteous, or plan of acting, which he had laid down before the foundation of the world.
14. Once more. As all that are called were predestinated, so all whom God has predestinated he foreknew. He knew, he saw them as believers, and as such predestinated them to salvation, according to his eternal decree, “ He that believeth shall be saved." Thus we see the whole process of the work of God, from the end to the beginning: Who are glorified ? None but those who were first sanctified. Who are sanctified ? None but those who were first justified? Who are justified ? None but those who were first predestinated. Who are predestinated: None but those whom God foreknew as believers. Thus the purpose and work of God stand unshaken as the pillars of heaven, “ He that believeth shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned." And thus God is clear from the blood of all men; since whoever perishes, perishes by his own act and deed. « They will not come unto me,” says the Saviour of men: and “ there is no salvation in any other.” They « will not believe;" and there is no other way either to present or eternal salvation. Therefore their blood is upon their own head : and God is still justified in his saying, " that he is willeth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of his truth."
15. The sum of all is this. The Almighty All-wise God sees and knows from everlasting to everlasting, all that is,
that was, and that is to come, through one eternal Now. With him nothing is either past or future, but all things equally present. He has, therefore, if we speak according to the truth of things, no fore-knowledge, no after-knowledge. This would be ill consistent with the Apostle's words, “ With him is no variableness or shadow of turning :" and with the account he gives of himself by the Prophet, “ I the Lord change not.” Yet when he speaks to us, knowing whereof we are made, knowing the scantiness of our understanding, he lets himself down to our capacity, and speaks of himself after the manner of men. Thus in condescension to our weakness, he speaks of his own purpose, counsel, plan, fore-knowledge. Not that God has any need of counsel, of purpose, or of planning his work before hand. Far be it from us to impute these to the Most High; to measure him by ourselves! It is merely in compassion to us, that he speaks thus of himself as foreknowing the things in heaven or earth, and as predestinating or foreordaining them. But can we possibly imagine that these expressions are to be taken literally? To one who was so gross in his conceptions, might he not say, “ Thinkest thou I am such an one as thyself?" Not so. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than thy ways. I know, decree, work, in such a manner as it is not possible for thee to conceive. But to give thee some faint, glimmering knowledge of my ways, I use the language of men, and suit myself to thy apprehensions, in this thy infant state of existence.
16. What is it then that we learn from this whole account? It is this and no more. 1, God knows all believers : 2, Wills that they should be saved from sin : 3, To that end justifies them : 4, Sanctifies : and 5, Takes them to glory:
O that men would praise the Lord for this his goodness! And that they would be content with this plain account of it, and not endeavour to wade into those mysteries which are too deep for angels to fathom!
GOD'S LOVE TO FALLEN MAN.
ROMANS v. 15.
“ Not as the Transgression, so is the Free Gift.”
1. HOW exceedingly common, and how bitter is the outcry against our first Parent, for the mischief which he not only brought upon himself, but entailed upon his latest posterity! It was by his wilful rebellion against God, “ that sin entered into the world.” “By one man's disobedience," as the Apostle observes, the many, 01 modos, as many as were then in the loins of their forefather, were made, or constituted sinners : not only deprived of the favour of God, but also of his image; of all virtue, righteousness, and true holiness, and sunk partly into the image of the devil, in pride, malice, and all other diabolical tempers; partly into the image of the brute, being fallen under the dominion of brutal passions and grovelling appetites. Hence also death entered into the world, with all his forerunners and attendants, pain, sickness, and a whole train of uneasy, as well as unholy passions and tempers.
2. “ For all this we may thank Adam,” has been echoed down from generation to generation. The self-same charge has been repeated in every age and every nation where the Oracles of God are known, in which alone this grand and important event has been discovered to the children of men. Has not your heart, and probably your lips too, joined in the general charge? How few are there of those who believe the scriptural relation of the Fall of Man, that have not entertained the same thought concerning our first Parent? Severely condemning him, that through wilful disobedience to the sole command of his Creator,
“ Brought death into the world, and all our woe.” 3. Nay, it were well if the charge rested here: but it is certain it does not. It cannot be denied, that it frequently glances from Adam to his Creator. Have not thousands, even of those that are called Christians, taken the liberty to call his mercy, if not his justice also, into question, on this very account? Some indeed have done this a little more modestly, in an oblique and indirect manner : but others have thrown aside the mask, and asked, “Did not God foresee that Adam would abuse his liberty? And did he not know the baneful consequences which this must naturally have on all his posterity? And why then did he permit that disobedience? Was it not easy for the Almighty to have prevented it?” He certainly did foresee the whole. This cannot be denied. 66 For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Rather, from all eternity, as the words an' awvQ properly signify.) And it was undoubtedly in his power to prevent it: for be hath all power
both in heaven and earth. But it was known to him at the same time, that it was best upon the whole not to prevent it. He knew, that “not as the transgression, so is the free gift :” that the evil resulting from the former was not as the good resulting from the latter, not worthy to be compared with it. He saw that to permit the fall of the first man was far best for mankind in general: that abundantly more good than evil would accrue to the posterity of Adam by his fall: that if “ sin abounded” thereby over all the earth, yet grace would much more abound :” yea, and that to every individual of the human race, unless it was his own choice. 4. It is exceedingly strange that hardly any thing has