« PreviousContinue »
But they were not sanctified by the Spirit before they had a being. It is plain then, neither were they chosen from the foundation of the world. But God calleth things that are not as though they were.'
"9. This is also plain from the words of St. Paul, God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.' Now,
"If the saints are chosen to salvation through believing the truth, and were called to believe that truth by hearing of the gospel, then they were not chosen before they believed the truth, and before they heard the gospel, whereby they were called to believe. But they were chosen through belief of the truth, and called to believe it by the gospel. Therefore they were not chosen before they believed-much less before they had a being, any more than Christ was slain before he had a being. So plain is it that they were not elected till they be lieved, although God calleth things that are not as though they were.'
"10. Again; how plain is it where St. Paul saith, Eph. i, 11, 12, that they whom God did predestinate, according to the counsel of his own will, to be to the praise of his own glory,' were such as did first trust in Christ. And in the very next verse he saith, that they trusted in Christ after they heard the word of truth, not before. But they did not hear the word before they were born. Therefore it is plain, the act of electing is in time, though known of God before; who, accord. ing to his knowledge, often speaketh of the things which are not as though they were.' And thus is the great stumbling-block about election taken away, that men may make their calling and election sure.'
Again we proceed to show that this personal" election" is conditional. And here also we have the word of God to direct our steps.
1. To suppose that our personal" election" to salvation was unconditionally and unalterably fixed in eternity, is to admit a doctrine which has no existence in the word of God. For this would supersede the necessity of the use of means. For if our "election" was unconditionally and unalterably fixed in eternity, then it was independent of means. And if it were independent of means, then means were not necessary to it. And if means were not necessary to it, then our "election" has no dependence upon or connection with means; then all means in reference to our "election" are useless. But, if all means in reference to our "election" are useless, then will the "elect be saved, do what they will;" and the "reprobate will be damned, do what they can." To say that God has "elected" the use of means also, is to say, that God has converted the doctrine of unconditional election into the doctrine of conditional election by the use of means. For if the use of means are necessary to our "election," then is our "election" conditional, and not unconditional; which is the doctrine taught in the Bible.
2. If we say, that the doctrine of "election" is unconditional, and yet is inseparably connected with the use of means, we say, that it is both conditional and unconditional at the same time, which is a contradiction; for where the use of means is inseparably connected with the "election" of a responsible agent to life and salvation, it must be a conditional, and not an unconditional election; because the neces
sity of the use of the means demonstrates it to be a conditional "election." An "election" which was unconditionally and unalterably fixed in eternity, must be, in the very nature of the thing, far back and independent of all means.
Again: an "election" which was unconditionally and unalterably fixed in eternity, which must be far back and independent of the use of all means, must be an "election" of an irresponsible and necessary agent, if an agent at all. Therefore such an "election" cannot be applied to man.
3. But the "election," spoken of by St. Peter, is an "election" of men to salvation, and that conditionally too; which we soon shall prove by the word of God.
This the words of the apostle, to which we have repeatedly alluded, prove; for it is "unto obedience:" and it is an "obedience" which implies "faith in Christ," which is the condition upon which our personal "election" to salvation is suspended. Whoever knew a disobedient unbeliever, as such, to be an "elect" child of God, or a partaker of salvation? Both repentance and faith are implied in the word "obedience," in the text to which we have referred. But if our personal "election" to salvation be unconditional, then there is no "obedience" on our part to be performed. Repentance and faith are out of the question. For if our personal "election" to salvation be inseparably connected with "obedience," then is our " election" conditional, and not unconditional, as before stated. A conditional " election" has connected with it" obedience," and an "obedience" which implies both repentance and faith. But an unconditional "election," which was fixed in eternity, must be independent of" obedience;" and repentance and faith have no connection with it. "Obedience," or repentance and faith, destroy its identity. But the "election" spoken of by St. Peter is "unto obedience." Therefore it is conditional.
4. The apostle, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, asserts that "God hath from the beginning chosen us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." "Belief of the truth" is the condition of our being chosen to salvation. Hence "he that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” This is the doctrine taught throughout the Bible. This faith is always preceded by repentance as a preparation to believing. And although faith is the condition of our "election" to salvation, yet repentance, as preparatory to our believing, is indispensable. Hence "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repent ye therefore, and be converted." "Now commandeth he all men everywhere to repent." And although repentance is not the condition of our "election" to salvation, yet no impenitent man ever did or ever will believe to the salvation of his soul, while he remains impenitent. For none but the penitent feel the need of salvation. And none but those that feel the need of salvation will ever believe to the saving of their souls. Repentance im. plies law, and law violated. Faith acknowledges the atonement, and applies its merits to the soul. All penitent believers, therefore, are chosen to salvation, whether they be Jews or Gentiles; and none else, except infants. Are not repentance and faith acts of the creature, performed by divine assistance? Repentance acknowledges a just expo
sure to the penalty of violated law. But can law give salvation? Certainly not. Its appropriate work is to condemn, not to save. Salvation is suspended upon faith; for "he that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," notwithstanding he may have been penitent. Because repentance looks at the law which condemns; but faith "beholds the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." A conditional "election" implies an act of the creature and that act is faith; but an unconditional "election" im plies Rone. Faith, therefore, is the condition of our "election" to salvation.
5. Once more: the Apostle Peter exhorts us to make our "calling and election sure." But if our "election" were unconditionally and unalterably fixed in eternity, then our laboring to make it sure would be in vain; for it would be an effort to make that sure in time which had been made so in eternity. But the apostle does exhort us to "make our calling and election sure;" therefore our "election" was not made sure to us unconditionally in eternity. Hence it follows, that our personal election to salvation is a conditional, and not an un.. conditional election.
Having finished our remarks on the different kinds of “election" spoken of in the Bible, we purpose,
II. In the second place, briefly to give some of the marks or characteristics of the "elect;" and to show how we are to make our "calling and election sure."
1. The apostle says, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth," Rom. viii, 33. An "elect" person, then, is one who is "justified;" that is, pardoned, forgiven. To suppose that a man is an "elect" child of God before he is "justi fied," that is, pardoned or forgiven, is an absurdity at variance with both Scripture and reason.
2. Again: an "elect" or "justified" person has " peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Hence says the apostle, "Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," Rom. v, 1. Pardon and peace are marks or characteristics of the "elect." Are these the marks of unpardoned sinners, or unjustified souls? Have they peace and forgiveness? No! but the contrary: "For there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God; they are like the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." But the "elect" have peace. Therefore they are "justified;" that is,
3. But they are "elected" or "justified" by faith. "Faith" is the condition of their "election" or justification, as we have before proved. "Faith," therefore, is another mark of the "elect ;" and a "faith," too, which "justifieth."
4. And again: penitence is another trait in the character of the "elect;" for whoever knew an impenitent man believe to the saving of his soul while impenitent? "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish," is a doctrine as clearly and as fully set forth in the word of God as is the declaration that " he that believeth not shall be damned." Both are indispensible. Repentance breaks up the fallow ground. Faith receives the precious seed, the word of life: and justification and peace are the first fruits.
VOL. X.-Oct., 1839.
5. The "elect of God" are called "holy and beloved;" and they put on "bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering," &c. Holiness, then, is another mark of an "elect" child of God. But are any "holy and beloved" before they repent and believe? Every man that believes the Bible knows they are not. How absurd is it then to suppose that men are the "elect of God," while they are destitute of holiness. This is the fatal rock on which thousands have split, supposing that, if they were the "elect of God," they would get to heaven at last, although they were as destitute of holiness as a soul in hell is of happiness.
6. Another very prominent trait in the character of the "elect" is that they pray much. Hence says our Saviour, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" Luke xviii, 7. Prayer is the life of their souls: they love to pray. They "pray day and night." But who do this, except those that can with confidence approach God, and cry, “Abba, Father." This none can do but such as are "born of God"-" born of the Spirit" of God.
Finally, we proposed to show how we are to make our "calling and election sure."
In reference to this we may remark, that those who assert that our "election" was unconditionally made "sure" to us in eternity, or before the foundation of the world, make the apostle speak nonsense. He sets us at work to "make sure" an impossibility; for how can we "make" that "sure" in time, which was "made" so in eternity, or before the foundation of the world?
But the apostle does exhort us to "give all diligence to make our calling and election sure;" therefore it was not made sure to us in eternity, or before the foundation of the world.
Again: it is not by a dead, inactive, Antinomian faith that this is to be accomplished; for such a "faith" is of no more use to the soul than a dead body is to society. There is reason to fear that this is all the "faith" thousands have who flatter themselves that they are the "elect of God." Perhaps they once had both " faith and a good conscience;" a faith that justifies. But they have long since "made shipwreck" of both, and at the same time claim to be of the "elect." Q! what
"Mistaken souls, that dream of heaven,
Of inward joys and sins forgiven,
3. But how are we to make our "election sure?"
The Apostle Paul informs us that we are "elected," or "chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." "Faith" or "belief of the truth" was the condition of our "election." And now the Apostle Peter takes up the subject where the Apostle Paul left it, and says, "Add to your faith"-which was the condition of our election—" virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, cha. rity." For if we do these things (constantly,) we shall be diligent; and this, in the true sense of the apostle's doctrine, shall "make our
calling and election sure." Hence our "faith" is to be a living, active principle in the soul-a "faith that works by love, and purifies the heart." This is the faith which "overcometh the world.” Such a believer has a "hope" that is "like an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast." And if he be "faithful unto death," he shall receive "a crown of life;" "for he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved." Hence we are "elected according to God's foreknowledge" of our "obedience" or "faith" in Christ from, or before the foundation of the world; and our "election" is made "sure," by our being "faithful unto death." Thus the great stumbling-block concerning "election" is removed out of the way, so that every man may "make" his "calling and election sure."
With all this agrees the language of the apostle, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure for if ye do these things ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Amen and Amen.
From the (London) Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.
THE DUTY OF METHODISM TOWARD ITS YOUTH.
In the April number of the Wesleyan Magazine there is a wellwritten paper, designed to prove that "the church should educate her children." Perhaps its readers will tolerate a few additional words on the same subject. These, although not properly a sermon, will have an especial reference to a well-known passage of Scripture-the parable of the sower. (Matt. xiii.) A learned commentator has said, "The unfruitfulness of the different lands was not owing to bad seed, or an unskillful sower. The same sower sows the same seed in all, and with the same gracious design; but it is unfruitful in many, because they are careless, inattentive, and worldly-minded." That unfruitfulness is not owing, in any case, to the badness of the seed, is readily admitted; for this is divine, and therefore perfect in its kind. Nor is it less true that many are unfruitful because they are careless, inattentive, and worldlyminded. But that failure is never to be attributed to the unskillfulness or misconduct of the sower, is an assumption made without sufficient authority. The parable represents the general and ordinary state of things in the Christian Church; and, of course, supposes that the gospel is preached, not by angels, but by men. The sowers and the soils are but different specimens of human nature; and all that is human, connected with Christianity, may equally contribute to its failure. In the kindred parable of the tares, there is mention made of the following circumstance, intended, it would seem, to convey a distinct censure upon the ministers of the gospel: "While men slept," ("They ought," says Mr. Wesley, "to have watched,") "the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way." Nor can it be doubted that many a promising crop has been so mixed as to be destroyed, through the criminal negligence of the ministers of Christ; and that, in many cases, what is now a wilderness would have been a fruitful field,