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chap. iv.] of Election. 337
red from that declaration of God, the truth of which might have remained, though none of those who then dwelt at Thessalonica had been chosen. We therefore conclude, that, the re. ceived explication of divines is perfectly well grounded, " . XXIII. There is another learned person, who .§ place of Paulis to beunderstood “of that beginningin which Go o to make the Gentiles heirs of salvation; seeing the Thess onians were almost among the first of thes, they are said to be chosen, separated from the beginning. Or, also the begitining of the gospel may be understood, of which Mark i. 1. Phil. iv. 15, or of the salvation which was preached by Jesus, Heb. iii. He hath chosen you from the beginning: that is, from the beginning of preaching the gospel, and of salvation manifested .." proclaimed.” But even these things are not satisfactory: for, 1st. We have shewn, that Paul treats : election in pu or intention, and not in execution. 2dly. I is indeed ... the term beginning, ought to be : ed in a way suitable to the subject it treats of; but I do not think that, from the beginning, absolutely taken, does any where signify the beginning of the gospel preached, much less the benning of the inheritance of the Gentiles; nor do the places al. eged prove it. 8dly. Nor does it agree with history, that the Thessalonians were the first-fruits ; the Gentiles brought to the inheritance of salvation: for, the people of Antioch, both in Syria and Pisidia, and the people of Lystra and Derbe, and the Philippians, had already received the gospel, and the apostles had acquainted the brethren at Jersualem with the o of the Gentiles, Acts xv. 3, before ever Paul preached the go pel at Thessalonica, as appears from the Acts of the Apostles, Nor do I think, the learned person was unacquainted with this; and therefore he said, the Thessalonians were almost among the first; which diminutive particle does not a little weaken the force of the expression from the beginning. 4thly. Much less can it be said, that the Thessalonians were separated from the beginning of that salvation which Jesus published; which beginning Paul makes prior to the confirmation of the gospel made by those who heard it from the mouth of Jesus himself, that is, to the preaching of the apostles, Heb. ii. 3. For it is plain, Christ was the minister of circumcision, and did not preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Nothing therefore appears more easy and solid than that explication we have already given. . %:v. Having said enough concerning, the eternity of election, let us now consider its freeness ; which consists in this, that God, the oute Lord of all his creature, has chosen, out of mankind, whom and as many as he pleased; WOL. I. Y
and indeed, in such, a manner, as that no good which he foresaw in such a man, was the foundation of that choice, or the reason why he chose one rather than another. This appears, 1st. Because the scripture asserts, that the most free will of God was the supreme reason or cause of election, Mat. Xi. 26, “even so, Father, for so it seemed in thy. flight.” Luke xii. 32. “it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Above all, the apostle is full in vindicating this absolute power of God, Rom. ix. Where among other things he says, ver. 21. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour f" 2dly. At the same time also, that the scripture refuses the consideration of any good foreseen in man, it maintains this most free and gracious good-pleasure of God, Rom. ix. 11. “for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth,” &c. 2 Tim. i. 9. “not according to our works, but according to his own purpose.” 3dly. Neither faith, nor holiness, nor any thing truly good can be considered in man, unless bestowed out of divine grace, Phil. i. 29. unto you is given to believe on Christ, Eph. ii. 8. faith, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. But the bestowing of this favour can proceed from no other cause than the election of grace, and the benevolent good pleasure of his will. And con uently these benefits cannot be presupposed as preparatory . election. , 4thly. The scriptures expressly declare, that we are chosen to faith, holiness, and to perseverance in both, which being the consequents and fruits of election, cannot be the antecedent conditions of it, Eph. i. 4. “ he hath chosen us, that we should be holy and without blame,” or have it begun on earth, and consummated in heaven. John xv. 16. “I have chosen.you and ordained you, that you should bring forth fruit.” I have chosen you from eternity, called and ordained you in the appointed time. 2 Thess. ii. 13. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” Election is as well to the means, as to the end. Am these passages, and many others of a like nature, have been so fully and solidly defended by our divines against the objections of the Remonstrants, that I have scarce any thing to add.
XXV. This counsel of God, as it is free, so it is also Immutable from eternity. 1st. Immutability belongs to all the decrees of God, in general, Is. xiv. 27. “The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?" Is. Xlvi. 10. “my
counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Rom. ix.19.
You will answer; God, indeed, wills what he has decreed to
be done, but on condition the creature also, wills it, whose
—'Ou yūf iuby raxiwáygárov so’ "arodnoy,
'Ovö' 'artxournrou bri x'sy xspaxi, zaravāvgal.
Nec enim mutabitur unquam
Quod capite annuero, nec falsum fine carebit.
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340 • OF ELECTION. - [book iii.
“I will not blot out his name out of the book of life;”Isa. iv.
cHAP. Iv.] Or election. 341
the Jewish doctors, also observed this, who writes, the verse is double, the same sense being proposed in different words. And he adds, LET THEM BE Blotted out, signifies let them not be written in the book of life. From which it appears, that our adversaries argue falsely from this passage, against the immutability of God's election. .. XXVII. As this is fixed and settled with respect to God, so the believer may also attain to a certain assurance thereof, and from i.i. marks, know that he is one of the chosen. If it was not so, Peter had to no purpose admonished believers, “to make their calling and election sure,” 2 Pet. i. 9, 10. That is, to endeavour by evident signs to be fully persuaded in their own mind. Vain also would have been Paul's glorification, 1 Thess. i. 4. “knowing brethren below. ed your Election of God.” For by the same evidences Paul o have known this of the Thessalonians, the Thessalonians could have known it with t to themselves. In fine, they could not possibly, in faith, give thanks to God for their Election, unless they could be assured of it in their own mind. And yet they do give thanks to God for it, Eph. i. 3, 4. - XXVIII. But in what manner do believers attain the assurance of their Election ? Who hath ascended into heaven? Or who, with a prying eye, hath perused the volumes of God's decrees and secrets? Who hath looked into the heart of God? We are here, indeed, to guard against rash presumption. But what God has, from eternity, determined about the salvation of his people, he declares to them in time by signs. that cannot deceive them. He has given them two books, from which they may gather what is sufficient to know, that they are written in the book of life: namely, the book of scripture, and the book of conscience. In the book of scripture, the distinguishing marks of Election are drawn out with great exactness. In the book of conscience, every one may read, if he gives that proper diligence, as a matter of such importance requires, whether these marks are with him. The scripture shews, that the marks of Election are, 1st. Effectual calling by the word and Spirit of God, Rom. viii. 30. 2dly. Faith in God and Christ, 2 Thess. ii. 13. 3dly, Hatred and eschewing of evil, 2 Tim, ii. 19. 4thly. The sincere and constant study of holiness, Eph. i. 4, 2Thess. ii. 13. And when it is well understood and known, what effec. tual calling is, what faith in God and Christ, what eschewing of evil, and what the study of genuine godliness are; the conscience is then to be examined, whether these can be found