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CONCERNING ELECTION UNTO LIFE ; OR PRE
DESTINATION, AS IT RESPECTS THE SAINTS IN PARTICULAR.
HAVING considered predestination, as it regards all men in general ; and briefly shewn that by it, some are appointed to wrath, and others to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. v. 9. I
to consider more distinctly that branch of it, which relates to the saints only, and is commonly styled election. Its definition I have given already in the close of the first chapter : what I have further to advance from the scriptures on this important subject, I shall reduce to several positions, and subjoin a short explanation and confirmation of each.
Pos. 1. Those who are ordained unto eternal life were not so ordained on account of
any worthiness foreseen in them, or of any good works to be wrought by them; nor yet for their future faith : but purely and solely, of free, sovereign grace, and according to the mere pleasure of God. This is evident, among other considerations, from: this ; that faith, repentance and holiness, are no less. the free gifts of God, than eternal life itself. Eph. i. 8. “ Faith-is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Phil. i. 29. “Unto you it is given to believe." Acts v. 31. “ Him hath God exalted with his right hand; for to give repentance. Acts xi. 18 " Then hath God also to the Gen
tiles granted repentance unto life.” In like manner, holiness is called the sanctification of the Spirit, 2 Thess. ii. 13. because the divine Spirit is the efficient of it in the soul, and, of unholy, makes us holy. Now, if repentance and faith are the gifts, and sanctification is the work of God, then these are not the fruits of man's free will, nor what he acquires of himself; and so can neither be motives to, nor conditions of, his election, which is an act of the divine mind, antecedent to, and irrespective of, all qualities whatever, in the persons elected. Besides, the apostle asserts expressly, that election is “ not of works, but of him that calleth ;” and that it passed before the persons concerned had done either good or evil,” Rom. ix. 11. Again, if faith or works were the cause of election, God could not be said to choose us, but we to choose him ; contrary to the whole tenor of scripture ; John xv. 16. “ Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen
you. 1 John iv. 10, 19. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. We love him, because he first loved us." Election is every where asserted to be God's act and not man's, Mark xiii. 20. Rom. ix. 17. Eph. i. 4. 1 Thess. v. 9. 2 Thess. ii. 13. Once more, we are chosen that we might be holy, not because it was foreseen we would be so, Eph. i. 4. Therefore, to represent holiness as the reason why we were elected, is to make the effect antecedent to the cause. The apostle adds, verse 5.
having predestinated us according to the good pleasure of his will :” most evidently implying, that God saw nothing extra se, had no motive from without, why he should either choose any at all, or this man before another. In a word, the elect were freely loved,” Hos. xiv. 4.
freely chosen," Rom. xi. 5, 6. and “freely re.. deemed,” Isa. lii. 3. they are “ freely called," 2 Tim. i. 9. “ freely justified,” Rom. iii. 24. and shall be “freely glorified,” Rom. v. 23. The great Augustine in his book of Retractions, ingenuously acknowledges his error in having once thought, that faith foreseen was a condition of election : he owns that that opinion is equal. ly impious and absurd ; and proves that faith is one of the fruits of election, and consequently, could not be in any sense a cause of it: “I could never have asserted,” says he, “that God, in choosing men to life, had any respect to their faith, had I duly considered that faith itself is his own gift.” And, in another treatise of his, * he has these words 5 “Since Christ says, ye have not chosen me, &c. I would fain ask, whether it be scriptural to say, we must have faith before we are elected ; and not rather, that we are elected in order to our having faith !"
Pos. 2. As many as are ordained to eternal life, are ordained to enjoy that life in and through Christ, and on account of his merits alone, 1 Thess. v. 9. Here let it be carefully observed, that not the merits of Christ, but the sovereign love of God only, is the cause of election itself : but then, the merits of Christ are the alone procuring cause of that salvation to which men are elected. This decree of God admits of no cause but of himself; but the thing decreed, which is the glorification of his chosen ones, may and does admit, nay, necessarily requires, a meritorious cause; which is no other than the obedience and death of Christ.
Pos. 3. They who are predestinated to life, are likewise predestinated to all those means which are indispensably necessary in order to their meetness for, entrance upon, and enjoyment of, that life : such as repentance, faith, sanctification, and perseverance in these to the end.
* De Prædest cap. 17.
Acts xiïi. 48. “ As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Eph. i. 4. " He hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love." Eph. ii. 10. “ For we [i. e. the same we, whom he hath chosen before the foundation of the world) are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them.” And the apostle assures the same Thessalonians whom he reminds of their election, and God's everlasting appointment of them to obtain salvation, that this also was his will concerning them, even their sanctification. 1 Thess. i. 4. and v. 9. and ir. 3. and gives them a view of all these privileges at once, 2. Thess. ii. 13. “God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” As does St. Peter, 1 Pet. 1. 2. “elect--through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Now, though faith and holiness are not represented as the cause wherefore the elect are saved; yet, these are constantly represented, as the means through which they are saved, or as the appointed way wherein God leads his people to glory; these blessings being always bestowed previous to that. Agreeable to all which is that of Austin :* Whatsoever persons are, through the riches of divine grace, exempted from the original sentence
* De Corrept. & Grat. cap. 7.
condemnation, are undoubtedly brought to hear the Gospel ;** and when heard they are caused to believe it; and are made likewise to endure to the end, in the faith which works by love : and should they at any time go astray, they are recovered and set right again.” A little after he adds; “All these things are wrought in them by that God, who made them vessels of mercy, and who, by the election of his grace
chose them in his Son, before the world began.
Pos. 4. Not one of the elect can perish, but they must all necessarily be saved. The reason is this; because God simply and unchangeably wills, that all and every one of those whom he hath appointed to life should be eternally glorified ; and, as was observed toward the end of the preceding chapter, all the divine attributes are concerned in the accomplishment of this his will. His wisdom which cannot err; his knowledge which cannot be deceived; his truth which cannot fail; his love, which nothing can alienate ; his justice, which cannot condemn any, for whom Christ died ; his power, which none can resist; and his unchangeableness, which can never vary : from all which it appears that we do not speak at all improperly, when we say, that the salvation of his people is necessary and certain. Now, that is said to be necessary, quod nequit aliter esse, which cannot be otherwise than it is: and if all the perfections of God are engaged to preserve and save his children, their safety and salvation must be, in the strictest sense of
* We must understand this in a qualified sense, as intending that all those of the elect, who live where the chris. tian dispensation obtains, are, sooner or later, brought to hear the gospel, and to believe it.