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ACCORDING AS HE HATH CHOSEN US IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF
THE WORLD, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE
It has been proved in former Lectures that men by nature are destitute of holiness, are supremely selfish and enemies of God, and so remain, without any approach toward sanctification, without any abatement of their enmity, without any. feelings or actions otherwise than sinful or indifferent, without any prayers that God will hear, without any thing that tends to a change of heart, until the very moment of Regeneration ; that the work of conviction in every case is carried on just as far as God pleases, the cooperation of the sinner to that extent being secured by the controuling influence of motives ; that Regeneration is produced by the supernatural and immediate power of God, unaided and uninduced by the sinner, and notwithstanding his unabated resistance to the last;
that in every instance where this power is exerted, Regeneration follows; that of course it is exerted upon some and not upon others,--not because the favoured ones have better improved antecedent grace, or have been more ready to yield, or have induced or aided God, but because He will have mercy on whom” He “ will have mercy;" that He makes one to differ from another according to His sovereign pleasure, for no other assignable reason than, “ Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” All this, I must believe, has been proved; and it completely establishes the doctrine of Election, except so far as relates to the eternal decree.
Now if God performs all His works from design, and is unchangeable, the fact of the eternal decree is easily established. The theory of decrees is simply this : WHATEVER GOD DOES HE ALWAYS MEANT TO DO.
Whatever He accomplishes by positive power, He always meant to accomplish; whatever He permits, He always meant to permit. This must be true if He acts from design, and is unchangeable. For example, if He creates a world to-day, and does it designedly, He always had the same design, or else He has formed a new purpose, and is changeable. If He produces a new heart to-day, and does it designedly, He always had the same design, or else He has formed a new purpose, and is changeable. If He makes one to differ from another to-day, and does it designedly, He always intended to make that dis
crimination, or else He has formed a new purpose, and is changeable.
The fact that whatever God does He always meant to do, may be argued also from His foreknowledge. Did He eternally foreknow that He should create a world ? How did He foreknow it? He knew no one could compel Him: if He had not determined to do it,--if the purpose was unsettled in His mind, how did He certainly know that He should create ? Did He eternally foreknow that He should change that heart to-day? How did He foreknow it? He knew no one could compel Him: If He had not determined to produce the change, -if the purpose was unsettled in His mind, how did He know that He certainly should do it?
Take the subject in another view. He foreknew that He should of His own accord make a world.
On that event He deliberately held His eye from eternity. And could He eternally foresee a voluntary act of His own, and have
choice or design about it? Could you fore. see that you should voluntarily take a journey at a given time, and yet have no choice or design about it? Is it possible to conceive that God should eternally have foreknown, that of His own free consent and choice He should make one to differ from another, should change one heart and leave another unchanged, and yet should eternally have had no purpose or choice about
it? I must assume it as a point about which no i doubt can exist, that whatever He foresaw that
He Himself should voluntarily do, He always meant to do.
The only question is, What does God perform? What does He accomplish by positive power? what does He permit? If it is a fact that He changes one sinner, and permits another to take his course to ruin, He always intended to do the same. If it is not a fact that He makes these discriminations, then to be sure He never intended to make them. The question wholly turns on what He actually does,—whether in Regeneration He really does more for one than another. If He does not, and the sinner makes himself to differ, the doctrine of Election falls. But if God actually makes the discrimination, (according to the proofs adduced in the foregoing Lectures,) then the doctrine of Election, including the eternal decree, follows with mathematical certainty.
And what special difficulty arises from the de. cree? Is it contrary to human freedom ? But the decree touches no man till it is executed. No de. cree to make Peter to differ from Judas affected either till one was taken and the other left. If while this was done both remained free, certainly their freedom was not impaired by the previous purpose. If liberty is infringed it is not infringed by the decree, but by the discriminating act at the time of Regeneration. But if God can actually change one heart and leave another unchanged, without destroying freedom, the freedom remains entire notwithstanding the eternal purpose. What
special difficulty then arises from the decree? Is it against the divine character. But it cannot be wrong to purpose what it is right to perform. If it is proper to do an action, it is not improper to resolve to do it. If it is right to change one heart and leave another unchanged, the eternal decree to make this discrimination was right.
The doctrine of Election, thus necessarily deduced from that of Regeneration, is abundantly supported by the Word of God.
There we are distinctly taught that God eternally elected a part of mankind, not on account of their foreseen holiness, but to holiness itself. “ According as He hath chosen us in Him, [in Christ,] before the foundation of the world, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM IN LOVE ; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will ; to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved :-having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will ; that we should be to the praise of His glory.--For we are His workman