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The doctrine thus stated is capable of the fullest proof,
1. From reason
[God is a Being of infinite perfection. But he could not be independent if the accomplishment of his purposes depended on our free-will; nor omniscient, if he did not know how we should act; nor immutable, because his knowledge must increase with a succession of events. Again, It is ordained, that man shall never have whereof to boast before God'. But if the doctrine of election be not true, man may boast that he has made himself to differs. Again, Jesus Christ must have a seed to serve him. But if none are elected of God, it may happen that none will choose God; and thus Christ may have shed his blood in vain.]
2. From Scripture
[In the Old Testament we find that God had a peculiar people, and that some from among them were chosen by him to particular stations". Nor can any argument be brought against God's election of men to eternal life, which will not be equally valid against the right he has confessedly exercised in choosing them to the enjoyment of the means of grace. In the New Testament, we are plainly told that some of the Jews were chosen to special and saving mercies: they were called in time, in consequence of having been predestinated from eternity. God had no respect to any works of theirs, either done by them, or foreseen by him; but simply to his own eternal purpose. St. Paul not only argues this point at large, but, conceiving that he has fully established it, he lays it down as an incontrovertible truth, that the salvation of entirely owing to the grace and mercy of God".]
3. From experience—
every man is
[Whence is it that so small a part of the world is evangelized? or that the persons who, according to human appearance, are least likely to receive the Gospel, are still, as in the early ages, the first to embrace it? Whence is it too that
e It is not sufficient to say that He foresees every thing, though he has not fore-ordained it; for if things be uncertain, they cannot be foreseen; and if they be certain, they cannot but be fore-ordained, since the certain operation of every distinct cause must be traced up to the first great Cause of all.
f Rom. iii. 27. 1 Cor. i. 31.
g Contrary to 1 Cor. iv. 7. before quoted.
h Levi to the priesthood, David to the throne, &c.
i Rom. xi. 5, 7.
m Rom. ix. 16.
k Rom. viii. 30.
1 2 Tim. i. 9.
all the godly, not excepting even those who are most prejudiced against the word Election, are yet ready to ascribe their own salvation to the unmerited grace of God? These things strongly corroborate the testimonies of reason and Scripture ; and though there are difficulties attending this doctrine, yet are there much greater difficulties attending the denial of it. And since God has affirmed it to be true, we should say to all objectors, Who art thou that repliest against God"?]
The principal objection against this doctrine will be obviated, if we consider,
II. The ends to which we are elected
There is no reason to think this doctrine injurious to morality. Indeed there is no other doctrine that secures morality on so firm a basis
1. We are chosen expressly to good works
[Our Lord might refer in part to the labours of his Disciples, and to their consequent success in them. But he certainly had a further view also to the fruits of righteousness which they should bring forth. In this sense his words are applicable to all believers. God has ordained holiness as the way to heaveno and has appointed the means no less than the ende - yea, he has decreed the end to be obtained only in and by the means Hence the performance of good works is secured by that same decree which secures the salvation of God's elect.]
2. We are chosen also to persevere in them
[God does not leave us at liberty to return to sin: on the contrary, he will have no pleasure in those who do. He will regard all the righteousness which they have wrought as though it had never beens: and their latter end will be worse than their beginningt. But against such apostasy God will secure his own elect. He has given them a new heart, that they may fear him for ever". He has promised, that their path shall be steadfast, and progressive. And every saint may indulge a humble confidence that it will be so.]
1. Those who object to this doctrine
[For argument sake, we will give up the doctrine, and
allow the first choice to arise from ourselves. Have ye then chosen Christ? Have ye chosen him as your almighty Saviour and your rightful Lord? If you think you have, consider how much is implied in such a choice. If you acknowledge you have not, "out of your own mouth shall ye be judged."] 2. Those who doubt their own election
[You are too apt to perplex yourselves with unprofitable inquiries. You should rather examine whether ye have been called. It is by your vocation that you are to know your election. Keep your evidences of conversion clear, and they will be indisputable proofs that you have been chosen to life.] 3. Those who have good reason to hope that they have been elected of God
[Never can you sufficiently admire the goodness of God to you. Well may you say, Why was I taken, while so many better than myself were left? But at the same time remember to what ye are chosen. Never attempt to separate the end from the means. If ye have this hope, ye are bound to purify yourselves, even as God is pure".]
a 1 Thess. i. 4, 5.
b 1 John iii. 3.
CONSOLATION TO THE PERSECUTED.
John xv. 18-20. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep your's also.
WELL might our Lord enjoin his Disciples to love one another; for, if they be not united in affection towards each other, they will in vain look for any love in the world. They are "as sheep in the midst of wolves:" the wolves indeed are kept from devouring now, as they have done in former times; but the disposition to devour still remains in the minds of ungodly men, and the godly are still regarded as their legitimate prey. Our Lord may be considered
a Isai. lix. 15.
as addressing his own immediate Disciples in the first place but the grounds on which he teaches them to expect hatred from the world, are such as apply equally to all his people in every age; and consequently we may consider the words as addressed to all his followers.
We shall take occasion from them to consider,
I. What it is in Christians that calls forth the enmity of the world
The reasons usually assigned are, that they are enthusiasts, and hypocrites, and disturbers of the peace of mankind: but the true reasons are those which our Lord assigns in the text, namely,
1. Their election out of the world
["The whole world lieth in wickedness," all being equally alienated from God, however they may differ from each other in their moral conduct. But God has from eternity chosen a people, whom he has given to his dear Son, and whom in due time he calls by his grace, and brings out of nature's "darkness into the marvellous light" of his Gospel. These, when called, are made sensible that they owe the change, not to any merit or power in themselves, but altogether to the effectual working of his grace: and they acknowledge thankfully their obligations to him, saying, "By the grace of God I am what I am."
This acknowledgment is very offensive to the world. They cannot endure to hear of the sovereignty of God: they think that God cannot choose some to be objects of his favour without being unjust to others. Though they cannot but see that God has exercised his sovereignty in every age, in the case of Abraham, for instance, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of the Jewish nation, and of those nations that now enjoy the light of his Gospel, yea, in the redemption of fallen man when he never provided such a remedy for the fallen angels, yet they will not allow him to do so now: and every person who ascribes his conversion to the distinguishing grace of God, they consider as actuated by consummate pride; when, in fact, the doctrine of election is the most humiliating that can be imagined, and the denial of it is the fruit of ignorance and presumption
That this is a principal ground of men's enmity against the people of God is asserted by our Lord: and it is confirmed by every part of the sacred records. Why did Cain hate Abel,
b See 2 Tim. i. 9. Rom. xi. 5.
but for the distinguishing favour shewn him by God? In like manner Esau hated Jacob, not merely for the manner in which he had gained the blessing, but because the birthright was transferred to him. Thus Saul hated David also, because he saw that God was with him: and the Jews sought to destroy our Lord for no other reason than because he had brought to their recollection some instances wherein God had imparted to Gentiles favours which he had withheld from his own peculiar people.]
2. Their separation from the world—
[When once the Christian sees the sin and danger of a carnal life, he will of necessity depart from it. He not only desires to obey the command which says, "Come out from among them and be separate," but he perceives, that, with his new views and principles, he can no more maintain communion with the world than light can with darkness, or Christ with Beliale. Hence he no longer walks in "the broad road that leadeth to destruction, but in the narrow path that leadeth unto life."
This is another great occasion of offence to the ungodly world; for in departing from the pursuits and vanities of the world, the Christian does, in effect, declare the danger of those who still adhere to them; just as "Noah condemned the world" by building the ark, and Lot condemned Sodom by fleeing from it. "Those who are of the world, the world will approve and love;" because their spirit and conduct have a direct tendency to justify the world in all its proceedings: but "those who, like their Lord, are not of the world," and refuse to be conformed to its maxims and ways, will assuredly become objects of the world's displeasure; for though their testimony be never audibly delivered, it will be seen and felt; and every effort will be made on the part of the world to bring back those who have deserted its standard and enlisted themselves under the banners of the Lord Jesus.]
That there is, however, no cause for alarm, will appear, if we consider,
II. What are those considerations which Christ has suggested for their support—
We confine ourselves to those mentioned in the text
1. Our Lord himself was so treated
c Gen. iv. 4, 5. 1 John iii. 12.
g Ps. xxxviii. 20. Gal. iv. 29.
d Luke iv. 25-29.
f Prov. xxviii. 4.