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That doctrine which is distinguished among Christians by the name of the doctrine of election, is conceived to be so disconsonant to the spirit of the christian charities, that those who consider themselves established on the general calls and invitations of the gospel, view the doctrine of elec tion as a dangerous heresy. On the other hand, those who having committed the error of deceiving themselves as above noticed, have modified the doctrine of election in such a way that it is impossible for them to make use of general invitations without involving the absurdity of an invitation where he who gives the invitation, not only wills that it should not be complied with, but fore-ordains such means as will unavoidably prevent compliance.
It would undoubtedly be unnecessary to proceed to show all the unreasonable and contradictory notions, which have been imbibed as nesessarily connected with the main error, which having been mistaken in the way above pointed out, was immediately nursed to an extensive degree, by the natural partiality of the human heart, which is found so congenial with all false opinions. All those false opinions must share the fate of the main error, on which they are built, and by laying the axe at the root of the tree, not only the trunk, but all its numerous branches come to the ground together. In doing this, we propose the following method.
1st. State the main error and connect with it the detached passages from St. Paul's Epsitle to the Romans by which this error is supposed to be supported. And
2nd. Show by the connection in which those passages are found, that the Apostle designed them for a very different purpose.
1st. The main error is stated as follows.
God the creator of all things and sole disposer of all creatures, did from all eternity, elect some of the human family to everlasting life in the enjoyment of himself: and did predestinate the rest as vessels of wrath, to endure inconceivable torments to all eternity in sin and rebellion against him.
The portion of detached scripture on which the above sentiment is founded are the following. See Rom. 9, 11, 12, 13. (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,) it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the young
er. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Verses 15, 16, 17, 18. "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even for the same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared through all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom we will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth" Verses 21, 22, 23, 24. "Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour; What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had aforetime prepared unto glory; even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." Chap. 11, 5-10 "Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is writ ten, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway." As it is evident that the Apostle, in the foregoing scriptures, represents Esau, Pharaoh, the house of Israel, except seven thousand, who were chosen men, in the days of Elias, and the whole house of Israel in the Apostle's day, except a covenant according to the election of grace, in a similar situation, it has been believed a greably to the above statement of the doctrine of election that Esau, Pharaoh and the house of Israel as above noticed, were predestinated, from all eternity, to never ending woe and misery. While on the other hand but a remnant were chosen of God as vessels of eternal, never ending glory.
Now that St. Paul neyer designed the thread of his argue ment, from which those scriptures are detached, to prove or substantiate any such idea or doctrine, we proceed 2dly to show.
This will be seen as clearly as the sun at noon day, the moment we shall have pursued the Apostle's argument to the close of the 11th chapter. See verse 11. "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?" Whom does the Apostle ask this all important question about? Answer, the non-elect, who are pointed out in the 7th. verse as follows. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Nothing can be more evident than that the Apostle asked this question concerning those who were not elected, whose eyes were blinded according to the prayer of David, who stumbled at the stone of stumbling as noticed in the 9th. chapter, verses 31, 32. "But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumat the stumbling stone." Look at the 11th chapter and 11th verse, and see how the Apostle answers this question. "God forbid but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy."
The Apostle having turned his attention to speak of those who were not elected, still goes on with his query, see verse 12. "Now, if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles how much more their fulness?" Whose fulness? Those blinded, fallen Israelites, through whose fall Salvation came to the Gentiles.
What is the natural force of the Apostle's argument in this case? Answer. If the world of Gentiles were made rich through the fall and the diminishing of blinded Israel, it shows that the fulness of the riches of blinded Israel will be much more than the riches of the Gentiles. The nature of this argument is repeated in the 15th verse. "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" The Apostle still pursuing his argument, goes on to show under the similitude of the first fruits and the root, the lump and the branches, the moral relation in which fallen Israel stood to Christ.
See verse 16th and onward. "For if the first fruits be holy the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olivetree; boast not against the branches: but if thou boast, thou beareth not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt sav then, the branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." Here the reader will do well to notice that the Apostle shows that the believing Gentiles were liable to as great a fall by unbelief, as had happened to the Jews, and that the blinded Jews might by faith be restored from their fall. See the subject continued. "Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shall be cut off. And they also if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again." This is plain talk. The Apostle goes on to show the abundant reasonableness of his argument in respect to the recovery of those who had fallen through unbelief. See the subject continued. "For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive-tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive-tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (lest you should be wise in your own Conceits,) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved," (Here notice, that the Apostle cannot mean less by "ALL ISRAEL" than all those to whom blindness had happened, and all those who, as the elect, had obtained the righteousness of faith. He goes on to strengthen his argument in its ample form as follows,)" as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." The Apostle touches again on what he has before clearly expressed (viz.) that the salvation of the Gospel had reached the Gentiles
though the blindness fall and enmity of blinded Israel, and show that all this was necessary that Israel might finally obtain mercy through the mercy before communicated to the Gentiles through their blindness. See the subject still continued. "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them al! in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." Here the Apostle Paul closes one of the most sublime and important arguments on which his divinely inspired mind ever dwelt, and he closes it in an extacy suited to the dignity of the subject. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompenced unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen."
Though we can entertain no doubt but the subject, under the foregoing arrangement, will appear plain to every impartial reader, and that the mind will naturally be struck with the impropriety of detaching from the thread of the Apostle's argument, those passages for the use to which they have generally been devoted, yet there are, in such close connection with the arguments which we have noticed from the Apostle, several important subjects which we think it necessary to illustrate.
1st. As has been noticed, it is evident that the Apostle represented Esau, Pharaoh, and the house of Israel in several ages of the Jewish Church in a similar situation, and that this circumstance has led those, who having unfortu nately mistaken the Apostle, to believe that Esau, Pharaoh and the house of Israel, in general, in those several ages of that Church, will be endlessly excluded from the Salvation of the Gospel according to an eternal purpose of God. And we here acknowledge that had the Apostle finally, in the conclusion of his argument, in the 11th Chapter to the Romans,