« PreviousContinue »
viously denotes those who were previously chosen, and, in consequence, were called by the preaching of the gospel. In what other sense could they be "his elect,” before they were actually gathered into the church?" He should gather together "in one the children of God that were scattered "abroad:" that is, those whom he had " pre"destinated to the adoption of children by Jesus "Christ unto himself, according to the good plea"sure of his will." They who be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called, accord'ing to God's purpose, by his Spirit working in 'due season.' So that there is firm ground for 'considering the elect, here spoken of, as persons 'selected by an irreversible decree of God for sal'vation in the life to come :' and it has been repeatedly shewn that such an idea is perfectly ' reconcilable with the cautions which our Saviour gave his disciples on this occasion;' for he who purposes the end appoints also the means by which it shall be attained and his precept, not his decree, is the rule of our duty.
'Not the slightest intimation is given of any 'decree of God by which their salvation was 'made certain: but, on the contrary, their salva'tion is represented as depending upon themselves, upon their "continuing in the faith, grounded ' and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel."'
No intimation of the decree of God is here given, 2 Eph. i. 5.-See also John x. 16. Acts Art. xvii.
'John xi. 52.
xviii. 10. 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14.
unless the words, "the elect of God, holy and beloved," in the passage intended, imply the source of the special character and blessedness of the Christians at Colossè. But their salvation is not spoken of, as depending on themselves,' at least in this passage. In the other text which is quoted, 2 their salvation is indeed inseparably connected with their" continuance in the faith :" and all, for whom I would plead, agree that none except those who "endure to the end shall be saved." The only question is, whether we ought to depend on ourselves, on our own hearts and resolutions, or on the promises, faithfulness, and grace of God, in respect of this "continuance in the faith," this "patient continuance in well doing," to the end of life. Self-dependence is not inculcated in scripture, but directly the contrary.3" The heart is deceit"ful above all things:" how can we then properly depend on it? How evident is it, that " he "who trusteth in his own heart is a fool!" 4" St. "Peter describes true Christians as those who are
kept by the power of God, through faith unto "salvation." 5 And in our worship we are taught thus to appeal to the heart-searching Judge: 'O 'Lord God, who seest that we put no trust in any thing that we do, &c.'6-They who do not con"tinue in the faith," resemble the hearers repre"sented by the seed sown on stony ground, who "had no root in themselves;" not those "who,
"receiving the word in an honest and good heart, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."7
It is readily allowed that the election, spoken of Rom. ix. 10-13, does not relate to a future ' life, but refers to the election of the descendents ' of Jacob to be God's peculiar people, in prefer'ence to the descendents of Esau.' The character of Esau, is marked with sufficient disapprobation in scripture; but concerning his final doom we know nothing: nor is it implied in the words "Esau have I hated," that he died in sin. So far we may concede on this point. But does not the apostle adduce this instance, as an illustration of another election, concerning which he was treating? Certainly the illustration, and the subject illustrated, cannot both be precisely the same. Now the subject to be illustrated was this: "They are not all Israel, which are of Israel." There was then an Israel, within Israel: one elected to outward advantages, another elected to eternal life. A race chosen collectively; and from among them, a remnant of this race chosen personally. The illustration is taken, from the Lord's not choosing all the posterity of Abraham and Isaac: but passing by the descendents of Ishmael and Esau, confining the promised blessing to the posterity of Jacob. In the case of Isaac, Abraham's only son by Sarah, and the child of promise, as distinguished from his descendents by a bondwoman, the illustration was not so clear: but Esau and Jacob, twin brothers of one mother; the one chosen, the other passed by; the one
loved, the other hated; " the elder rejected and the younger preferred; before either of them was born, or had done good or evil; was full to the
point and in fact lies open to all those specious, yet groundless, objections, which are made to personal election. It was "that the purpose of God "concerning election might stand, not of works "but of him that calleth."
'The word reprobate, or reprobation, as used by Calvin, refers to a supposed decree of God; 'but we shall find it used in a very different sense 'both in the Old and New Testament.'1
It is granted that the words reprobate and reprobation are never used in scripture in the sense which many Calvinists have put upon them. This is, I believe, the general opinion of modern Calvinists. At least I have had no objections made to the critical observations on this subject, contained in the following passages, which are quoted from what I wrote on the subject several years. since. Indeed the whole mass of them, the Jews, was proved to be refuse metal, and not silver, as 'it once appeared to be.'- In this way St. Paul 'sought and possessed the assurance that he 'should not, after having preached to others, (like 'the heralds who called the combatants to the 'conflict,) be himself rejected, as having no title 'to the incorruptible crown.' In righteous judgment, God" gave the gentiles up to a reprobate mind," that they should foolishly and perversely 'prefer the most shameful and pernicious practices, to those which are decent, honourable, ' and becoming rational creatures. These falsc 'teachers withstood the truth, by deceiving men 'with a false gospel, and various lying pretences;
1 Ref. 217.
being corrupt and depraved in their minds, alien'ated from the faith of Christ, and rejected by 'God as hypocrites or apostates.-Their conduct proved them to be abominable and disobedient, ' and to every good work rejected by God and given up to judicial blindness.' '—Reprobates. 'Thus the apostle calls in this place, not those 'who are not divinely elected to eternal life, (for they who still continue in their sins, not being 'yet effectually called, are not directly to be con"sidered as " vessels of wrath," nor those who ' after their calling fall into grievous sins.) but 'such as at present are not approved. (Beza.)— 'It does not appear to me that either the original 'word, or our English word reprobates, is ever ' used in scripture, as the opposite to elect; and, 'as to reprobation, it is, I apprehend, a scriptural 'idea, (for they who are not chosen must be re'jected,) but not a scriptural word in any sense.'— Indeed no Greek word answering to it, is found in the common lexicons. Not that he, (St. Paul) 'and his friends should appear approved, by the 'submission of all parties to his authority; but 'that they might do what was right, and becoming 'them, though it should occasion him to be disap'proved and censured.' 2
'It appears then that the Calvinistic doctrines ' of election and reprobation can receive no coun'tenance from the passages of scripture in which 'these words occur, since they are used in senses
'Notes on Jer. vi. 27-30. 1 Cor. ix. 27. Rom. i. 28. 2 Tim. iii.-8. Tit. i. 16, in the author's Commentary.
2 Ibid. 2 Cor. xiii. 6—10.