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AN EXAMINATION OF PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE OFTEN ADVANCED IN SUPPORT OF CALVINIAN PRE
DESTINATION AND ELECTION.
By J. Burns, Pastor of the General Baptist Church, St. Mary-le-bone.
HAVING adverted to the cases of ruse the last chapter of the book of Abel and Cain, Jacob and Esau, and Deuteronomy. But these national also to the history of Pharaoh, we blessings depended on their obedience now refer to the Jewish nation, as to God's righteous laws, and God they occupy a prominent place, both suspended over them the most terriin the writings of the Old and New ble threatenings in case of their reTestament.
bellion against his holy commandThey are often described as God's ments. In their history we often see peculiar people, as his chosen and elect these threatenings executed; and hunnation. The election of the Jewish na- dreds of thousands of them perished, tion was an election to distinguished as monuments of the Divine displeaimmunities and privileges, and not to Their various captivities, with individual and everlasting salvation; death, famine, and war, were sent to and even their election to these privi- punish them for their numerous aposleges was conditional. The apostle tacies from the service of the living shows the superior advantages confer- God. Hear what the apostle says in red upon them above other nations. reference to those who were excluded “Who are Israelites, to whom per- from the land of promise, taineth the adoption, and the glory, with whom was he grieved forty and the covenants, and the giving of years ? Was it not with them that the law, and the service of God, and had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the the promises; whose are the fathers, wilderness ? And to whom sware he, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, that they should not enter into his
who is over all, God rest, but to them that believed not? blessed for ever.
Amen.”—Rom. ix. So we see, that they could not enter 4, 5. They were blessed with the in, because of unbelief.”—Heb. iii. most distinguished promises as 17—19. See also the profitable cautemporal mercies and enjoyments; for tion the apostle urges from these a record of which, let the reader pe- examples, -“ Let us labor therefore VOL. 6.-N.S.
to enter into that rest, lest any man for this purpose, to make thee a minfallafter the same example of ister and a witness, both of these unbelief;"—Heb. iv. 11. And at things which thou hast seen, and of length, when the elect Jewish nation those things in the which I will aphad filled up the cup of their iniquity pear unto thee; delivering thee from by crucifying the Lord's anointed, and the people, and from the Gentiles, refusing the Gospel of his grace, they unto whom now I send thee:”— were cut off from their national privi- Acts xxvi. 16, 17: and he concludes leges, and scattered throughout the by saying, that she was not disobeworld as a proverb and a by-word. dient to the heavenly vision.” Paul
Now the election of the Jews was was therefore miraculously arrested, clearly to national privileges, and and deputed by the direct authority did not include their individual and of Christ to fulfil the apostolic office. everlasting salvation; and was sus- His personal salvation the apostle pended on condition of obedience to clearly connects with faith in the God.
Lord Jesus, and with perseveringly Within the Jewish nation, no doubt maintaining the spiritual conflict. God had always a pious seed, who Hence he says, “I therefore so run, served and glorified him, and formed not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as an illustrious number of that holy one that beateth the air; but I keep character, whom God had predesti- under my body, and bring it into nated to eternal life.
subjection; lest that, by any means, The case of Jeremiah is clearly one when I have preached to others, I of official election. God called and myself should be a cast-away.”qualified him for the prophetical i Cor. ix. 26, 27. Here the apostle work. “Then the word of the Lord evidently did not undersand his eleccame unto me, saying, Before I formed tion to be an unconditional one to thee in the belly, I knew thee; and, eternal life, but considered his own before thou camest forth out of the salvation connected with fidelity womb, I sanctified thee, and I or- and perseverance in the Christian dained thee a prophet unto the nations.”—Jer. i. 4, 5. Now, that God From these instances we may turn foresaw the piety of Jeremiah, none to several passages where the doctrine can dispute ; and that he had a sove- of eternal, unconditional salvation, is reign right to elect him to the pro- supposed to be laid down. phetical office, who will deny? but In the teachings of the Redeemer the case itself says nothing either for we find several passages supposed to or against the doctrine of eternal, un- favor this doctrine. On one occasion conditional election to salvation. he says, “Ye have not chosen me,
The case of the apostle Paul is but I have chosen you, and ordained precisely of the same kind. Thus, you, that ye should go and bring Ananias was inspired to tell him, forth fruit, and that your fruit should “The God of our fathers hath chosen remain ; that whatsoever ye shall ask thee, that thou shouldest know his of the Father in my name, he may will, and see that Just One, and give it you.”—John xv. 16. Barnes, shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. in his admirable “Notes,” says, “It For thou shalt be his witness unto all refers here, doubtless, to his choosing men of what thou hast seen and or electing of them to be apostles." heard :”—Acts xxii. 14, 15: and And, even if the passage might be Paul, in describing to Agrippa his applied to their personal salvation, it conversion, represents Jesus as saying is manifestly conditional; for, in the to him, “
Rise, and stand upon thy preceding verses, he speaks of their feet; for I have appeared unto thee fruitfulness depending on their abiding
- For many
in him; (verse 4) and of the withered unconditional election; and I do not branch not abiding in him being cast wonder that the ordinary reader should into the fire and burned.—(verse 6.) so interpret it. As rendered in our Those who think that eternal, un- translation, I confess it presents a forconditional election, is here taught, midable difficulty to our views of this must reconcile it with a parallel pas- subject. Barnes, a professed Calsage, “Have not I chosen you twelve, vinist however, relieves us and one of you is a devil ?”—John point. He says, in his notes on this vi. 70.
passage, “ It does not properly refer Another passage often repeated is to an eternal decree, or directly to that in Matt. xxii. 14,
the doctrine of election, though that are called, but few are chosen." But may be inferred from it; but it refers as this is the application of the para- to their being THEN IN
FACT disble of the man expelled for not having posed to embrace eternal life.” We on the wedding garment, is it not de- have given his words in capitals and signed to teach us, that we must have italics, as he has printed them in his the required spiritual costume to en- own commentary. It is confessed by joy the privilege of those who shall nearly all critics, that the word should sit down at the marriage banquet of have been“ disposed,” instead of“ orthe Lamb? It proves nothing what- dained;" that those Gentiles, who ever as to the predestinating acts of heard the word with gladness, and Deity, and is most grossly distorted were disposed to receive the offer of when thus applied.
eternal life, believed. Let the reader The addresses of Jesus were of the compare this verse, thus rendered, most universal kind, every where with verse 46, and this must commend exhibiting God's love to the world, itself as being the meaning of the and expressing his gracious readiness sacred writer. The editor of the to receive all who should come unto Baptist edition of the “ American him in the way he had appointed. Comprehensive Commentary,” says,
Some persons have drawn an in- in a note on this text, “ It would ference in favor of unconditional elec- seem, that we must look elsewhere tion from an incident referred to by for the doctrine of absolute election.” the evangelist, where, in speaking of Again we read, that the Lord spake Christ's journeys of mercy, it is said to Paul, and said, Be not afraid, “He must needs go through Sama- but speak, and hold not thy peace; ria.”—John iv. 4. But the reason of for I am with thee, and no man shall this is obvious, and involves no mys- set on thee to hurt thee; for I have tical truth, either as to the doctrine much people in this city.”—Acts of election, or any other subject; but xviii. 9, 10.—those whom God foresimply because Samaria was directly saw would receive the Gospel, and between Judea and Galilee, and he thus by faith become the members of must either have gone that way or his spiritual family; and this fully attained the end of his journey by a harmonizes with the doctrine, that very lengthened and circuitous route. God hath elected all believers, of A glance at the map of Palestine is every age and country, to everlasting all that is requisite to rescue this pas- life. sage from any supposed connection The epistle to the Romans has with the doctrine of eternal predesti- been generally considered the chief nation.
armory by those who defend unconActs xiii. 48, it is written, “ As ditional, personal election, and theremany as
were ordained to eternal fore to the scope and design of this life believed.” This has ever been epistle, great and careful attention considered one of the bulwarks of should be paid. This epistle seems
to contain five grand divisions. First, even isolated from the rest, which is the great doctrine of justification by not capable of being consistently exfaith, as applicable to all, whether Jews plained, so as to teach the election of or Gentiles. In this department the character rather than unconditional, apostle dwells on the riches of the personal election. The cases referred Divine grace, and the meritorious to in the ninth of Romans, we have efficacy of the sacrifice of the Lord already discussed; but let us attempt Jesus Christ. This therefore occupies a simple paraphrase or exposition of the first five chapters of the epistle. several texts in the eighth and ninth Secondly, the holiness of heart and chapters. righteousness of life which the grace “For whom he did foreknow," as of God will produce in all believing, repenting of their sins, and believing justified persons : and this is argued the message of salvation, “he also did and illustrated in the sixth and predestinate," or fore-appoint, “to be seventh chapters. Thirdly, the dis- conformed to the image of his Son, that tinguished privileges to which such he might be the first-born among are called in the Gospel, including many brethren. Moreover, whom he their adoption and heirship to eter- did” thus “predestinate, them he also nal glory: beautifully exhibited in called,” invited, by the proclamation the eighth chapter. Fourthly, the of the Gospel, according to his gloriground on which God had cast ous purpose ;
“and whom he called, off the Jewish nation, and had ad- them he also justified; and whom he mitted the Gentiles to the glorious justified, them he also glorified,” immunities of the heavenly dispen- (Romans viii. 29, 30,)-rendered the sation. The sovereign right of God subjects of the glorious immunities is illustrated in the ninth chapter. and privileges of the heavenly dispenThe eligibility of the Jews to be co- sation. The term, glorified, used by sharers with the Gentiles, and the the apostle is in the past tense, and freeness of divine grace to all who evidently refers to the glory which should call upon the name of the believers have in their union to Christ, Lord Jesus, in the tenth chapter. and heirship with him of the fulness The true position both of Jews and of the blessings of the Divine favor ; Gentiles, and the manifest condition- and not to the glory which is reserved al election of both, in the eleventh in heaven for all saints. Hence, the chapter Fifthly, the epistle con- apostle says, “But we all with open cludes with sundry practical exhorta- face beholding as in a glass the glory tions and admonitions, with directions of the Lord, are changed into the on the subject of Christian forbear- same image, from glory to glory, even ance and charity, and the apostle's as by the Spirit of the Lord.”salutations to various distinguished 2 Cor. iii. 18. disciples of Christ.
The right of God to elect some and The reader who will take a candid reject others, and that unconditionally, and comprehensive survey of the scope has been boldly argued from what the of the whole epistle, in all its connec
“ Hath not the potter tions and bearings, will perceive, that power over the clay, of the same lump it has only been by the most partial to make one vessel unto honor, and selection of passages from their legiti- another unto dishonor ?"-Rom ix. mate connections, and a distorted 21. He is here evidently referring view of these passages, that the doc- to a passage in the prophecy of Jeretrine of unconditional election has miah, where it is said, “ O house of been deduced from the epistle to the Israel, cannot I do with you as this Romans. We aver, moreover, that potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as there is not one text in the epistle, the clay is in the potter's hand, so are
ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." first twelve verses refer to the apostles, -Jer. xviii. 6. But, so far from this as will be seen by reading the thirteaching any such doctrine, hear what teenth verse; but, supposing the the Lord says by the mouth of the Ephesian saints were intended, a few same prophet,
,—" At what instant I questions will tend to the removal of shall speak, concerning a nation, and every difficulty as to its Calvinian sigconcerning a kingdom, to pluck up, nification. Who were chosen of God and to pull down, and to destroy it; the Father? The saints at Ephesus, if that nation, against whom I have the faithful in Christ Jesus. (verse 1.) pronounced, turn from their evil, I They are said also to be “chosen in will repent of the evil that I thought him," that is, in Christ, in connection to do unto them. And at what in- with their vital union to him by saving stant I shall speak concerning a na- faith. What was the end of their tion, and concerning a kingdom, to election ? That they should be "holy, build and to plant it ; if it do evil in and without blame before him in my sight, that it obey not my voice, love”, &c.—(verse 4.) Now, the very then I will repent of the good, where- spirit and letter of this passage favors with I said I would benefit them.” the conditional election of a certain
-(verses 7—10.) We marvel that description of character which is here any person, who has read these con- fully and clearly described by the nective verses of the prophet, should apostle. ever quote the language of the apostle Let this principle of interpretation as favorable to the doctrine of uncon- be applied to 1 Thes. i. 4, i Peter i. ditional election, when the very oppo. 2, and it will be seen, that the election site sentiment is evidently taught. of the word of God is invariably the
“ According as he hath chosen us election of described character, and in him before the foundation of the not the unconditional election of perworld, that we should be holy and sons to eternal salvation. without blame before him in love ; We purpose in our next to exhibit having
predestinated us unto the adop- those passages where the universal tion of children by Jesus Christ to love of God towards all men, and himself, according to the good plea- their possible salvation, is unequivosure of his will.”—Eph. i. 4, 5. The cally affirmed.
HEBREW HISTORY. (No. VII. concluded.)
AFTER this time there appears to have They were moreover reminded of former been a lengthened period of order and rebellions and deliverances, and of their quiet in the land. Tola, of Issachar; ingratitude. They then humbled them, and Jair, of Gilead, judged the people, selves greatly before the Lord, confessed -the former twenty-three, and the their sins, and like true penitents, put latter twenty-two years. But as their away their polluted idols from them, successors fell into idolatry, they were and at length God interposed in their delivered into the hands of the Ammo- behalf. Jephthah, a Gileadite, a sort nites and Philistines. The Ammonites of freebooter, a very valiant man, was in the east of Reuben, pressed upon the instrument employed for their liberthem severely, and overrun their land ation. God's instruments even unto Judah and Ephraim. The adapted to the work assigned them. people, conscious from whence their By a rash vow, which indicates the deliverance must come, cried unto God, daring and unsubdued spirit of the man, who told them, by his servants, to go to his daughter, an only child, was devoted the idol-gods they had served, for help. to perpetual virginity, or, as the Jews