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THE principal sPECIAL DECREE of God RELATING TO MAN is termed PREDESTINATION, whereby GoD IN PITY To MANKIND, THOUGH FoRESEEING THAT THEY WOULD FALL OF THEIR OWN ACCORD, PREDESTINATED to ETERNAL salvation BEFoRE THE Foundation of THE world Those who should BELIEVE AND continue IN THE Faith: FOR A MANIFESTATION OF THE GLORY OF HIS MERCY, GRACE, AND WISDOM, According To His PURPOSE IN CHRIST.
It has been the practice of the schools to use the word predestination, not only in the sense of election, but also of reprobation. This is not consistent with the caution necessary on so momentous a subject, since wherever it is mentioned in Scripture, election alone is uniformly intended. Rom. viii. 29, 30, whom he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son ..... moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. I Cor. ii. 7, the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Eph. i. 5. having predestinated us unto the adoption. v. 11. in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to his purpose. Acts ii. 23. compared with iv. 28. him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God they have taken ..... jor to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done, namely, as a means of procuring the salvation of man.
In other modes of expression, where predestination is alluded to, it is always in the same sense of election alone. Rom. viii. 28. to them who are the called according to his purpose. ix. 23, 24. the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called. Eph. iii. 11. according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim. i. 9. according to his own purpose and grace. For when it is said negatively, 1 Thess. v. 9. God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, it does not follow by implication that there are others who are appointed to wrath. Nor does the expression in 1 Pet. ii. 8. whereunto also they were appointed, signify that they were appointed from all eternity, but from some time subsequent to their defection, as the Apostles are said to be chosen in time, and ordained by Christ to their office, John xv. 16.
Again, if an argument of any weight in the discussion of so controverted a subject can be derived from allegory and metaphorical expressions, mention is frequently made of those who are written among the living, and of the book of life, but never of the book of death." Isai. iv. 3. written among the living. Dan. xii. 1. at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. Luke x. 20. rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Philipp. iv. 3. whose names are in the book of life. At the same time this figure of enrolment in the book of life does not appear to signify eternal predestination, which is general, but some temporary and particular decision of God applied to certain men, on account of their works. Psal. lxix. 28. let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous; whence it appears that they had not been written from everlasting. Isai. lxv. 6. behold it is written before me; I will not keep silence, but will recompense. Rev. xx. 12, the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. It is clear, therefore, that it was not the book of eternal predestination, but of their works. In the same way neither were those ordained from everlasting who are said, Jude 4. to have been before of old ordained to this condemnation. For why should we give so extensive a signification to the term of old, instead of defining it to mean, from the time when they had become inveterate and hardened sinners? Why must we understand it to imply so remote a period, either in this text, or in the passage whence it seems to be taken 2 2 Pet. ii. 3. whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not, that is, from the time of their apostacy, however long they had dissembled it.
* . . . . . . . . . . . . blotted out and ras'd By their rebellion from the book of life. Paradise Lost, I. 362.
The text, Prov. xvi. 4. is also objected,—Jehovah hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. But God did not make him wicked, much less did he make him so for himself All that he did was to sentence the wicked to deserved punishment, as was most fitting, but he did not predestinate him, if innocent, to the same fate. It is more clearly expressed, Eccles. vii. 29. God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions, whence the
day of evil ensues as certainly, as if the wicked had been made for it.
PREDESTINATION, therefore, must always be referred to election, and seems often to be put for it. What St. Paul says, Rom. viii. 29. whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, is thus expressed 1 Pet. i. 2. elect according to the foreknowledge. Rom. ix. 11, the purpose of God according to election. xi. 5. according to the election of grace. Eph. i. 4. he hath chosen us in him. Col. iii. 12. as the elect of God, holy and beloved. 2 Thess. ii. 13. because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation. Reprobation, therefore, could not be included under the title of predestination. 1 Tim. ii. 4. who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 2 Pet. iii. 9. the Lord .... is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,—to us-ward, that is, towards all men, not towards the elect only, as some interpret it, but particularly towards the wicked, as it is said, Rom. ix. 22. God endured.... the vessels of wrath. For if, as some object, Peter would scarcely have included himself among the unbelievers, much less would he have numbered himself among such of the elect as had not yet come to repentance. Nor does God delay on account of the elect, but rather hastens the time. Matt. xxiv. 22. ..for the elects sake those days shall be shortened.
I understand by the term election, not that general or national election, by which God chose the whole nation of Israel for his own people,' Deut. iv. 37. because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and vii. 6–8. Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, Isai. xlv. 4. for Israel mine elect. Nor do I mean that election by which God, after rejecting the Jews, chose the Gentiles as those to whom the Gospel should be announced in preference, of which the apostle speaks particularly Rom. ix. and xi. Nor am I referring to that election by which an individual is selected for the performance of some office,” as 1 Sam. x. 24. see ye him whom the Lord hath chosen 2 John vi. 70. have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? whence those are sometimes called elect who are eminent for any particular excellence, as 2 John 1: the elect lady, that is, most precious, and v. 13. thy elect sister. I Pet. ii. 6. a chief corner stone, elect and precious. 1 Tim. v. 21. the elect angels. But that special election is here intended, which is nearly synonymous with eternal predestination. Election, therefore, is not a part of predestination; much less then is reprobation. For, speaking accurately, the ultimate purpose of predestination is the salvation of believers, a thing in itself desirable,_but on the contrary the object which reprobation has in view is the destruction of unbelievers, a thing in itself ungrateful and odious; whence it is clear that God could never have predestinated reprobation, or proposed it to himself as an end. Ezek. xviii. 32. I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. xxxiii. 11. as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live. If therefore the Deity have no pleasure either in sin, or in the death of the sinner, that is, either in the cause or the effect of reprobation, certainly he cannot delight in reprobation itself. It follows, that reprobation forms no part of what is meant by God's predestination. WHEREBY GoD, &c. that is, God the Father. Luke xii. 32. it is vour Father's good pleasure. So it is stated wherever mention is made of the divine decrees or counsel: John xvii. 2. as many as thou hast given him. v. 6, 11, 24. the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Eph. i. 4. he hath chosen us in him. v. 5. having predestinated us. v. 11. being predestinated according to his purpose.
* . . . . . . . . . . . . Resolving from thenceforth
* . . . . . . . . . such as thou hast solemnly elected
BEFoRE THE Found ATION of THE world, Eph. i. 4. 2 Tim. i. 9. before the world began. See also Tit. i. 2.
IN PITY To MANKIND, THOUGH For ESEEING THAT THEY WOULD FALL of THEIR own Accord. It was not simply man as a being who was to be created, but man as a being who was to fall of his own accord, that was the matter or object of predestination;” for that manifestation of divine grace and mercy which God designed as the ultimate purpose of predestination, presupposes the existence of sin and misery in man, originating from himself alone. It is universally admitted that the fall of man was not necessary; but if on the other hand the nature of the divine decree was such, that his fall became really inevitable, which contradictory opinions are sometimes held in conjunction by the same persons,—then the restoration of man, who had fallen of necessity, became no longer a matter of grace, but of simple
* According to a part of the Sublapsarian scheme, taught by St. Augustine and maintained by the Synod of Dort.