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ELECTION AND REPROBATION.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren, Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.-Romans, viii. 28, 29, 30.
The doctrine of predestination, or election and reprobation is thus declared in the Seventeenth Article of the creed of the Church of England. “Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they, which he endued with so excellent a benefit of God, he called according to God's purpose by his Spirit, working in due season; they through grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only begotten son Jesus Christ:
they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.
“As the godly consideration of predestination and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God; so, for curious and carnal persons lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchedness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.”
The Westminster Confession is somewhat more bold and unscrupulous in its statement of the doctrine of election, and shrinks not likewise from its counterpart and consequence, the doctrine of reprobation. "By the decree of God for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated to everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death. These angels and men thus predestinated and fore-ordained are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that
are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace. The rest of mankind, God was pleased according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.”
I presume to say, there is not one who has listened to this statement, every feeling of whose moral nature has not been shocked, and pained, and outraged by this most revolting doctrine. No words can describe the loathing I feel for a dogma so slanderous to the moral character and government of God. The ancient doctrine of fate was mild and amiable when compared to it. And they, who endeavour to fasten it upon the Bible, are endeavouring to hang a mill-stone on the whole cause of religion.
What I wish you to notice at the very commencement of the discussion, is the wide difference there is between the apostle's doctrine of election, and that we have read from the creeds of men, you
will observe, that the creeds put many things into it, which the apostle leaves out, and thus change the complexion of the whole doctrine. The creeds connect with it the dogma of the fall of man, his being born under the wrath and curse of God, in the state of damnation by nature, entirely disabled from doing the will of God, and, without miraculous aid, inevitably.doomed to eternal misery, being without freedom of the will to choose between good and evil; as having no power, no opportunity of salvation. Of all this, the apostle's doctrine of election is profoundly silent. Not a hint does he drop of man's being by nature in a state of inevitable damnation, or that he is not free to choose between good and evil. The creeds connect it with the dogma of miraculous, irresistible spiritual influences, whereby, not only power to choose good, not possessed before, is conferred, but the volition to choose good is absolutely produced; thereby making any reward or good consequences, which follow this miraculously produced volition and choice as arbitrary and undeserved, as the privations and sufferings of the non-eleet are unmerited. The apostle asserts no such thing. He says not one word of the conversion to Christi. anity of those whom he addresses as elected, by any supernatural influence bestowed on those individuals, and withheld from others who heard the Gospel at the same time.
Now to my mind, the creeds, by adding these other dogmas, man's inability, and his being neces
sarily and naturally in a state of damnation, and his being converted by irresistible power, have entirely changed the doctrine of election, as stated by Paul, and make it another and a new doctrine altogether. What then does Paul assert? What is he treating of in this chapter, and in this epistle? Certainly not of personal election. He is speaking of the rejection of the Jews by God, and the adoption of Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, to be his chosen, that is his elected people. He tells Christians that they are the chosen people of God, to whom he had sent the Gospel. This he considers to be a great privilege and blessing, as it was the design of God through the Gospel to make them holy and happy. “And,” says he, "you ought to take comfort from these considerations even in your afflictions, and not sink under them, for to true Christians they are the means of promoting the very purpose for which they are called to be Christians. Holiness and sanctification are the ends aimed at both by giving you the Gospel, and sending you afflictions. It is no token of God's displeasure, nor ought it to discourage you. For why did God determine in his providence that you should have the Gospel preached to you?” That to “foreknow” means the determination of God that the Gospel shall be preached to a people, you may learn to demonstration in the beginning of the eleventh chapter of this Epistle. Speaking of the Jews, who were about to be rejected and destroyed, he says: “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an