Page images
PDF
EPUB

o che

WOULD FALL OF THEIR OWN ACCORD.

have no pleasure either in sin or in the death of the sinner, that is, either in the cause or the effect of reprobation, certainly he cannot delight in reprobation itself. It follows, that reprobation forms no part of what is meant by the divine predestination.

WHEREBY GOD, &c., that is, God the Father. Luke xii. 32. “it is

your Father's good pleasure.” Thus, also, wherever mention is made of the divine decrees or counsel : John xvii. 2. as many as thou hast given him.” v. 6. 11, 24. men which thou gavest me out of the world.” Eph. i. 4. “ he hath chosen us in him.” v. 5. “having predestinated us.” v. 11. “ being predestinated according to his purpose.”

BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, Eph. i. iv. 2 Tim. i. 9. "before the world began.” See also Tit. i. 2. IN PITY TO MANKIND, THOUGII FORESEEING THAT THEY

It was not simply man as a being who was to be created, but man as a being who was to fall of his own accord, that was the matter or object of predestination ;' for that manifestation of divine grace and mercy which God designed as the ultimate purpose of predestination, presupposes the existence of sin and misery in man, originating from himself alone. That the fall of man was not necessary, is admitted on all sides; but if such, nevertheless, was the nature of the divine decree, that his fall became really inevitable (both which opinions, however contradictory, are sometimes held by the same persons), then the restoration of man, after he had lapsed of necessity, became no longer a matter of grace on the part of God, but of simple justice. For if it be granted that he lapsed, though not against his own will,

yet of necessity, it will be impossible not to think that the admitted necessity must have overruled or influenced his will by some secret force or guidance. But if God foresaw that man would fall of his own free will, there was no occasion for any decree relative to the fall itself, but only relative to the provision to be made for man, whose future fall was fore

Since then the apostacy of the first man was not decreed, but only foreknown by the infinite wisdom of God, it

seen.

? According to a part of the Sublapsarian scheme, taught by St. Augustine and maintained by the Synod of Dort.

MANIFESTATION OF THE

follows that predestination was not an absolute decree before the fall of man; and even after his fall, it ought always to be considered and defined as arising, not so much from a decree itself, as from the immutable condition of a decree.

PREDESTINATED; that is, designated, elected : proposed to himself the salvation of man as the scope and end of his counsel. Hence may be refuted the notion of a preterition 8 and desertion from all eternity, in direct opposition to which God explicitly and frequently declares, as has been quoted above, that he desires not the death of any one, but the salvation of all; that he hates nothing that he has made; and that he has omitted nothing which might suffice for universal salvation. FURA

GLORY OF HIS MERCY, (+RACE, AND WISDOM. This is the chief end of predestination. Rom. ix. 23. “ that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy.” 1 Cor. ii. 7.“ we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God had ordained before the world unto our glory.Eph. i. 6. “ to the praise of the glory of his grace.'

ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE IN CHRIST. Eph. iii. 10, 11. “the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” i. ,, 5.

lie hath chosen us in him ; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.” v. 11. “in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to his purpose.” This is the source of that love of God, declared to us in Christ. John ii. 16. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” Eph. ii. 4, 5. “ for his great love wherewith he loved us .... by grace ye are saved.”

1 John iv. 9, 10. “in this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world,” &c. Hence there was no grace decreed for man who was to fall, no mode of reconciliation with God, independently of the foreknown

ö Calvin distinguishes between preterition and condemnation, both which acts, according to his system, are included in reprobation. Preterition is the passing by the reprobate, and withholding from them the means of grace. Condemnation is the act of condemning those who are passed by, for the sins which they commit.

grace and

CONTINUE IN

THE

FAITH.

sacrifice of Christ ;' and since God has so plainly declared that predestination is the effect of his mercy, and love, and grace, and wisdom in Christ, it is to these qualities that we ought to attribute it, and not, as is generally done,” to his absolute and secret will, even in those passages where mention is made of his will only. Exod. xxxiii. 19. “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,” that is, not to enter more largely into the causes of this graciousness at present, Rom. ix. 18. «

he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy,” by that method, namely, which he had appointed in Christ. It will appear, moreover, on examination of the particular texts, that in passages of this kind God is generally speaking of some extraordinary manifestation of his

mercy. Thus Luke xii. 32. “it is your Father's good pleasure.” Eph. i. 5, 11. "by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will : in whom also we have obtained an inheritance .... after the counsel of his own will.” James i. 18. “ of his own will,”—that is, in Christ, who is the word and truth of God, —“begat he us with the word of truth.” THIOSE WHO SHOULD BELIEVE, AND

This condition is immutably attached to the decree, nor does it attribute mutability either to God or to his decrees; 2 Tim. ii. 19. “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his :” or according to the explanation in the same verse, all who

name the name of Christ, and depart from iniquity;" that is, whoever believes : the mutability is entirely on the side of them who renounce their faith, as it is said, 2 Tim. ii. 13. “ if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” It seems, then, that there is no particular predestination or election, but only general,-or in other words, that the privilege belongs to all who heartily believe and continue in their belief,—that none are predestinated or elected irrespectively, e.g. that Peter is not elected as Peter, or John as John, but inasmuch as they are believers, and continue in theij belief,– and that thus the general decree of election becomes per

in thee
As from a second root, shall be restor'd
As many as are restor'a, without thee none.

Paradise Lost, III. 287. ? So Toletus, Malvenda, Grotius. VOL. IT.

E

66

sonally applicable to each particular believer, and is ratified to all who remain stedfast in the faith.

This is most explicitly declared by the whole of Scripture, which offers salvation and eternal life equally to all, under the condition of obedience in the Old Testament, and of faith in the New. There can be no doubt that the tenor of the decree as promulged was in conformity with the decree itself,otherwise the integrity of God would be impugned, as expressing one intention, and concealing another within his breast. Such a charge is in effect made by the scholastic distinction which ascribes a twofold will to God;2 his revealed will, whereby he prescribes the way in which he desires us to act, and his hidden will, whereby he decrees that we shall never so act; which is much the same as to attribute to the Deity two distinct wills, whereof one is in direct contradiction to the other.3 It is, however, asserted that the Scriptures contain two opposite statements respecting the same thing ;-it was the will of God that Pharaoh should let the people go, for such was the divine command,—but it was also not his will, for he hardened Pharaoh's heart. The truth however is, that it was God alone who willed their departure, and Pharach alone who was unwilling; and that he might be the more

2 •Voluntas Dei in varias species distingui solet, ut absolutam et conditionatam ; antecedentem et consequentem ; signi et beneplaciti, &c.

Voluntas signi dicitur cum Deus verbo suo significat quid velit aut nolit ab hominibus fieri, et mandatis ejus continetur ; beneplaciti vero, qua Deus apud se premit et occultat id quod vult facere. Curcellæi Institutio, ii. 9. 6, 7. • Thomas Aquinas and his disciples frame another distinction to elude the text in Timothy (1 Tim. ii. 4.) and tell us of a will revealed, and of another hidden, which is, many times at least, contrary to that revealed

a distinction rejected by our 17th Article, which directs us to follow, not this supposed hidden will of God, but that which is expressly declared in his word.' Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Divinity and Operations of the Holy Ghost. Compare Taylor's Ductor Dubitantium, Book i. chap. 2.

3 • If it be affirmed, that God, as being Lord, may do as he will, yet we must know that God hath not two wills, but one will ; much less two contrary.' Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Prose Works, III. 222. And again ; “It is wondered how there can be in God a secret and revealed will; and yet what wonder, if there be in man two answerable causes ? But here there must be two revealed wills grappling in a fraternal war with one another, without any reasonable cause apprehended.' Ibid. 225.

unwilling, God hardened his heart," and himself deferred the execution of his own pleasure, which was in opposition to that of Pharaoh, that he might afflict him with heavier punishment on account of the reluctance of his will. Neither in his mode of dealing with our common father Adam, nor with those whom he calls and invites to accept of grace, can God be charged with commanding righteousness, while he decrees our disobedience to the command. What can be imagined more absurd than a necessity which does not necessitate, and a will without volition ?

The tenor of the decree as promulged (which was the other point to be proved) is uniformly conditional. Gen. ii. 17. “thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” —which is the same as if God had said, I will that thou shalt not eat of it; I have not therefore decreed that thou shalt eat of it; for if thou eatest thou shalt die ; if thou eatest not, thou shalt live. Thus the decree itself was conditional before the fall ; which from numberless other passages appears to have been also conditional after the fall. Gen. iv. 7. “if thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” or," the punishment of sin watcheth for thee.” Exod. xxxii. 32, 33. “ blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written .... whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Such was the love of Moses for his nation, that either he did not remember that believers, so long as they continued such, could not be blotted out, or the prayer must be understood in a modified sense, as in Rom. ix. 1, &c.

This my long sufferance, and my day of grace
They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste ;
But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more,
That they may stumble on, and deeper fall ;
And none but such from mercy I exclude. Par. Lost, III. 195.

the will And high permission of all-ruling Ileaven Left him at large to his own dark designs, That with reiterated crimes he might Heap on himself damnation, while he sought Evil to others, and, enrag'd, might see How all his malice serv'd but to bring forth Lutinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn Un man, by him seduc'd ; but on himself Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance pour’d. I. 211,

4

« PreviousContinue »