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different from those which the advocates for 'absolute decrees affix to them.'1
The words reprobates and reprobation, it has been allowed, are not used in the sense which some Calvinists have affixed to them: but the same concession cannot be made in respect of the words election and elect. The Calvinistic doctrines, however, receive no support from the texts which his Lordship had been last considering, as relating to reprobation; nor do they need it. Having given this opinion, in respect of the words in question, it would be unmanly should I shrink from an avowal of my sentiments on this subject. The idea of rejection must be excited in the mind with that of election, however understood. If any were" chosen in Christ before the foundation of “the world, that they should be holy, &c;" all who were not thus chosen were passed by. It was the will of God to leave them in the state to which it was foreseen they would be reduced by sin, and to all the consequences of their guilt and depravity. In this state, if salvation be altogether of grace, all men might most justly have been left. No wrong will ever be done to any one: God will not punish any man who does not deserve it, or more than he deserves; and he could not possibly decree to do that which it is infallibly certain he never will do. The question therefore is, whether God, consistently with justice, can leave any part of the human race finally to perish in their sins for it could not be unjust previously to decree that which, when actually accomplished, is undeniably just. If mercy were a debt which God owed to
his rebellious creatures, it would lose its very nature: and, if not a debt, they who obtain mercy are under immense obligations, but no injury is done to others. And, if salvation itself be unmerited mercy, mercy in all respects contrary to our deservings, then every thing relating to it must also be mercy. The gift of the Saviour, the means ' of grace,' the life-giving Spirit, the willing mind, as produced by special preventing grace: all, or any of these, may be withheld in perfect consistency with justice; and, where they are granted, men are laid under additional obligation to "the "God of all grace." This " grace hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence." What God may justly withhold at the time, that he might justly decree from the beginning to withhold. The whole is directed "according to the purpose "of Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will." 2 But that is the will, or sovereign purpose, of infinite wisdom, justice, truth, and love: which always willeth what is most proper, and for the most satisfactory reasons; though he does not deign to inform us of them. At the same time, his secret purpose is perfectly consistent with his revealed will: being unknown to us, except by accomplishment, it is neither the rule nor the motive of our conduct: and, however we interpret the preceding words of our Lord," All "that the Father giveth me shall come to me," the subsequent assurance," And him that cometh unto "me, I will in no wise cast out,"3 may most confidently be depended on. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his words shall not pass away.' 'Eph. i. 8. ' Eph. i. 11. 3 John vi. 37. + Matt. xxiv. 35.
"The Jews first, and the Christians afterwards, were the elect people of God. God gave the 'law to the Jews by the hands of Moses, and the gospel to the Christians by his own blessed Son Jesus Christ, as the rule of their respective lives. 'God was pleased, both by the law and by the gospel, to enter into covenant with his chosen people the Jews and Christians; to promise re'ward to the obedient, and to threaten punishment to the disobedient. But neither in the law, nor in 'the gospel, does he promise certain and infallible salvation, or threaten absolute and inevitable 'perdition, to any number, or to any description, of persons, except as they shall or shall not comply with the expressed conditions.'1
The whole body of professed Christians are never, throughout the New Testament, called "the elect people of God," in a national capacity, independent of personal character, as Israel of old was. The terms to this effect, when used concerning Christians, as it has been shewn, are always connected with those " things which accompany salvation;" or with some words which fix the meaning to true believers exclusively. The case is the same in our liturgy and authoritative books. 'God the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth me ' and all the elect people of God.' Mark the variation of language: God the Son, who hath 'redeemed me and all mankind: God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God.'2 The former is spoken of as general, the latter as special. But are all professed Christians, through populous nations,
1 Ref. 226.
2 Church Catechism.
'sanctified by the Holy Ghost?' If not, how can it be supposed that they are here called the elect people of God?—Thus also we pray, ' Have mercy on all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics; and 'take away from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so fetch ' them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true 'Israelites.' This remnant of the true Israel'ites' is the elect people of God' among professed Christians; even 66 a remnant according "to the election of grace." Again, Grant that 'this child may receive the fulness of thy grace, ' and ever remain in the number of thy faithful ' and elect children.'2 Here elect is joined with 'fulness of grace;' with being faithful,' or believing; and with being the children of God.' And surely more is meant than continuance in the outward profession of Christianity.
The nature of the primitive churches, and the totally different state of things at present, especially as to national churches, or nations called Christian, has been repeatedly noticed: and surely no one, after serious consideration, can think that the apostles, if now living on earth, would address the whole body of nominal Christians, belonging even to our established church, as "saints;" as
holy brethren;" as "chosen in Christ, that they "should be holy, and without blame before him "in love;" as "holy and beloved!" Much less then would he address the aggregate multitude belonging to the Greek church, or the church of Rome, in this language.
Third Col. for Good Friday.
Yet the argument
2 Baptism of Infants.
equally includes all who are called Christians, however idolatrous, superstitious, heretical, wicked, or profligate. The word description of persons' is ambiguous. If it mean any thing except character, the proposition may be maintained; but both promises and threatenings are made to men, as bearing certain characters, and not independently of those characters. The condition' of the law is perfect obedience; and, “Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things "written in the book of the law, to do them." The gospel requires "faith which worketh by "love;" faith accompanied by repentance, and manifested by habitual unreserved obedience. These things form the character, or the de'scription' of men, to whom the promises are made; which promises certainly and infallibly ensure salvation to those who are interested in them. But, as "the wicked may turn from his "wickedness," and escape the threatened punishment, which yet will be certainly and infallibly inflicted on those who die in their sins; so, on the other hand, the question, the sole question is, whether they who repent, believe in Christ, love God and man, and are partakers of the Spirit of sanctification, do ever turn finally from their righteousness, and come short of the blessings which are secured to those who love God.
All the hope and salvation of the Israelites were derived, properly speaking, from the gospel; of which their ceremonies were types, or prefigurative sacraments: and the holy moral law is "established" by the gospel, and is as obligatory on Christians as it ever was on Israelites. The