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Israelite. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew,” that is, the Christian community to whom through the Gospel he was to make himself known, and whom he thus should take into a peculiar relation to himself. As the rejection of the Jews was not personal, nor had immediate respect to their eternal condition, so neither had the reception of the Christians in their place respect immediately to their personal salvation. As there might be some or many Jews after they were rejected as a nation, who might be saved personally, so there might be among those who were elected, that is the Christian community which he took in their stead, some, or many persons who might not be personally saved. God, you perceive, foreknew the Christians as a people, not as individuals, just as he rejected the Jews, 'not as individuals but as nation. Taking this sense of “foreknow,” which the apostle has given himself as the true sense, the meaning of the whole passage will be this. “Take courage under your sufferings, for they shall promote your spiritual good. They indeed coincide with the very purpose of the Gospel. For what was the design of God in determining to give you the Gospel? It was with the determination or the design that you should be conformed to the image of his Son, that is that you should be holy and virtuous, if you improve your privileges. Whom he thus designed to be good and holy he called, that is, so ordered in his providence that the Gospel should be preached to them, and the over
tures of the Gospel made to them. And those whom he called he justified, or more literally made righteous.” And this clause, permit me to remark, opens the cause of all the difficulty that has ever been made from this passage. All the trouble and dispute to which this portion of Scripture has given rise, has sprung from straining to the letter of logical exactness, words which were written loosely and in popular language. “Those whom he called he justified or made righteous.” Now this was literally not a fact. All were called, in a literal sense, to whom the Gospel was preached. But were all who heard the Gospel justified and made righteous? By no means. Some rejected it, and received no benefit from it. It evidently means some of them, or many of them, who were called were justified, that is, all who chose to obey. If all who were called were not justified, then it follows that all who were foreknown were not justified. Where then is personal election? For this is the very thing on which the whole question turns. If the identical persons are not meant in each step, if those who were justified did not embrace all who were called, then it will follow that the predetermination extended no further than calling. The number predestinated, does not correspond to the number actually justified or made holy. Then it follows that the justified, though they belong to the called, do not embrace them all. All the predestination there is then goes no further than we before found it from other reasons, to the enjoyment of the
spiritual privileges of the Gospel, the means of salvation which it affords. This inaccuracy of language, this speaking of all who were called as having obeyed, when in fact but a part did, this speaking, as if complying with the call were the necessary and invariable result of being called, shows us that the language is popular, and loose, and should put us on our guard against building important doctrines on it as if it were a cautious, logical and intended statement of a particular truth. The advocates therefore of the doctrine of unconditional election have attempted to cover up this weak part of the argument by making that definite and particular, which the apostle has left indefinite and general, and have supplied a word here, which is not found nor intimated in the original text. They put in the word effectual, which alters the whole complexion of the passage. All are justified who are effectually called. Now what right have they to interpolate a word in this manner, and thus make the apostle assert a doctrine which his own words do not assert, and which probably never came into his mind? As it stands, without this word effectual, it does not express the doctrine of personal election, because if we interpret language by facts all were not justified who were called, that is to whom the Gospel was preached, it will follow that though all were called who were foreknown or predetermined to be, yet all were not justified who were called, and so fore-ordination in this sense will not embrace the same persons as
justification, and therefore personal election falls to the ground. To remedy this, they put a restriction where the apostle has put none, and say that calling does not mean calling unless it be effectual calling. It is unaccountable to see what liberties men will take with the Scriptures in order to sustain a favourite hypothesis.
I now return to the apostle's argument. “Those whom he justified he glorified.” Fear not, says he, in your troubles, they shall promote that very spiritual benefit which the dealings of God with you as Christians are intended to produce and
If God predetermined to send the Gospel to you, it was with the design that you should be conformed to the moral image of his son. suit of this design he actually sent the Gospel to be preached among you. The effect of that is to make those who are called, that is of course as many as choose to accept, righteous, good, holy, and prepared for glory. It is not the purpose of the apostle to assert the doctrine of personal election. It is entirely foreign to the subject on which he is treating. His design is to show the subordination and subserviency of each step in God's dealings with them as Christians to the great end and result of holiness and glory. The certainty of any individual's attaining this result is no where expressed or implied for it is not even hinted at in the whole discourse. This would depend on each individual's own free and voluntary choice. It is not to declare that any particular individual would infallibly do this, but merely God made such
arrangements in his providence that he might. It was his design in the Gospel dispensation that these successive processes should be gone through by those who enjoy it. For he adds immediately after, “He that spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all, shall he not with him freely give us all things?” That is, shall he not make all things, that is all outward things, work together for our good, even our afflictions, since he has given his Son to suffer so much on our account? Nothing shall be wanting on his part, provided as is always understood in Scripture, we are faithful to him and to ourselves.
To what then does Paul's doctrine of election amount? To this, that God predetermined to reject the Jews and to choose the Christians, that is, those who believed in Christ, for his people, who should enjoy the advantages of a revelation; that it was with a design that those who enjoyed this revelation, should become assimilated in character to Christ. In pursuance of this plan the Gospel was preached, and men were invited, as it is elsewhere expressed, "into his kingdom and glory.” Those who obeyed the call were, by the moral means of the Gospel, made holy, and accepted, and glorified by God. Is there any thing here said of the natural and moral inability of man, and his being in a state, by nature, of inevitable damnation? Is there any thing said of election causing. any individual to embrace the Gospel, or does the election which Paul speaks of merely give him the