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“I could wish, if it were possible.” The reply of God, however, although metaphorical, explains with sufficient clearness that the principle of predestination depends upon a condition,—"whosoever hath sinned, him will I blot out.” This is announced more fully in the enforcement of the legal covenant, Deut. vii. 6-8. where God pointedly declares his choice and love of his people to have been gratuitous; and in v. 9. where he desires to be known as a faithful God which keepeth his covenant and mercy,” yet he adds as a condition, “with them that love him and keep his commandments.” Again, it is said still more clearly, v. 12. “it shall come to pass, if
ye hearken to these judgments, and keep and do them, that Jehovah thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers.” Though these and similar passages seem chiefly to refer either to the universal election of a nation to the service of God, or of a particular individual or family to some office (for in the Old Testament scarcely a single expression can be discovered referring to election properly so called, that is, election to eternal life), yet the principle of the divine decree is in all cases the same. Thus it is said of Solomon, as of another Christ, 1 Chron. xxviii. 6, 7, 9. “I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father." But what are the terms of the covenant ?“ if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day .... if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for
The election of his posterity also depended on the same stipulation. 2 Chron. vi. 16. “so that thy children take heed to their way, to walk in my law.” See also xxxiii. 8. and xv. 2. “ the Lord is with you, while ye be with him ... but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you ;" whence Isaiah does not scruple to say, xiv. 1. “the Lord will yet choose Israel." See also Zech i. 16. Isaiah also shows who are the
lxv. 9, 10.“mine elect shall inherit it.... and Sharon shall be .... for my people that have sought me.'
Jer. xxii. 24. “though Coniah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee hence.”
The same must be remembered with respect to the covenant of grace, as often as the condition itself is not expressly added. It is, however, rarely omitted. Mark xvi. 16. “he that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth
not shall be damned.” If we figure to ourselves that God originally predestinated mankind on such conditional terms as these, endless controversies might be decided by this single sentence, or by John iii. 16. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
xv. 6. “if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch.”
ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandment.” xvii. 20. “ neither
I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ;” that is, for those whom the Father had predestinated. So also, Luke vii. 30. "the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him ;" whence it appears that even they had been predestinated, on condition of beliet. No man was more evidently one of the elect than Peter, and yet a condition is expressly reserved, John xiii. 8. “if I waslı thee not, thou hast no part with me.” What then ensued ! Peter readily complied, and consequently had part with his Lord; had he not complied, he would have had no part with him. For though Judas is not only said to have been chosen, which may refer to his apostleship, but even to have been given to Christ by the Father, he yet attained not salvation. John xvii. 12. those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition ; that the Scripture ht be fulfilled.” i. 11, 12, “he came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power,” &c., that is, to those who believed in his name ; to whom he did not give power before they had received and believed in him, not even to those who were specially called his own. So St. Paul, Eph. i. 13. “in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise." Undoubtedly those whom in the beginning of his epistle he calls holy, were not sealed till after that they had believed, were not individually predestinated before that period. 2 Cor. vi. 1. beseech
you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” Rev. iii. 5. “ he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.” On the other hand it is said, xxii. 19. “if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.”
Again, if God have predestinated us in Christ, as has been proved already, it certainly must be on condition of faith in Christ. 2 Thes. ii. 13. "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,” whence it appears that it is only those who will believe that are chosen. Tit. i. 1. “according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness. Heb. xi. 6. “ without faith it is impossible to please God,”—and thus become one of the elect; whence I infer that believers are the same as the elect, and that the terms are used indiscriminately. So Matt. xx. 16.
many be called, but few chosen,” only signifies that they which believe are few. Rom. viii. 33. “who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?” that is, of believers : otherwise by separating election from faith, and therefore from Christ, we should be entangled in hard, not to say detestable and absurd doctrines. So also Rom. xi. 7. election have obtained it;" that is, believers, as is clear from the twentieth verse, “thou,” that is, thou that art elect, “standest by faith ;” and v. 22. “ if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Such is St. Paul's interpretation of the doctrine in his own case ; } Cor. ix. 27. “ lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." Philipp. iii. 12. “not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect ; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. ii. 10, 12. “I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,” &c. yet it is said in the next verse, “if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful,” &c.
Two difficult texts remain to be explained from analogy by the aid of so many plainer passages; for what is obscure must be illustrated by what is clear, not what is clear by what is obscure. The first passage occurs Acts xiii. 48. the other Rom. viii. 28--30, which, as being in my judgment the least difficult of the two, I shall discuss first. It is as follows :
5 Compare Arch. King's Discourse on this text, as republished lately, with an Appendix, by Dr. Whateley Milton has quoted the passage as an example of sorites in his logical work. Prose Works, Symmond's Ed., VI. 344.
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, &c. 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.” In the first place it must be remarked, that it appears
from v. 28. that those " who love God” are the same as those who are the called according to his purpose," and consequently as those “whom he did foreknow,” and “whom he did predestinate,” for “them he also called," as is said in v. 30. Hence it is apparent that the apostle is here propounding the scheme and order of predestination in general, not of the predestination of certain individuals in preference to others. As if he had said, We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, that is, to those who believe, for those who love God believe in him. Further, as regards the order, God originally foreknew those who should believe, that is, he decreed or announced it as his pleasure that it should be those alone who should find grace in his sight through Christ, that is, all men, if they would believe. These he predestinated to salvation, and to this end he in various ways called all mankind to believe, or in other words, to acknowledge God in truth; those who actually thus believed he justified; and those who continued in the faith unto the end he finally glorified. But that it may be more clear who those are whom God has foreknown, it must be observed that there are three ways in which any person or thing is said to be known to God. First, by his universal knowledge, as Acts xv. 18. “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Secondly, by his approving or gracious knowledge, which is an Hebraism," and therefore requires more explanation. Exod. xxxiii. 12. “I know thee by name, and thou hast also found
sight." Psal. i. 6: “ Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous." Matt. vii. 23. “I never knew you.” Thirdly, by knowledge at
Paradise Regained, III. 60. 7 See Vorstius, De Hebraismis Novi Testamenti.
tended with displeasure. Deut. xxxi. 21. “I know their imagination which they go about,” &c. 2 Kings xix. 27. “I know.... thy coming in, and thy rage against me." Rev. iii. 1. “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” In the passage under discussion it is evident that the approving knowledge of God can be alone intended; but he foreknew or approved no one, except in Christ, and no one in Christ except a believer. Those therefore who were about to love, that is, to believe in God, God foreknew or approved ;8—or in general all men, if they should helieve ; those whom he thus foreknew, he predestinated, and called them that they might believe ; those who believed, he justified. But if God justified believers, and believers only, inasmuch as it is faith alone that justifieth, he foreknew those only who would believe, for those whom he foreknew he justified; those therefore whom he justified he also foreknew, namely, those alone who were about to believe. So Rom. xi. 2. “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew," that is, believers, as appears from v. 20. 2 Tim. ii. 19. “the Lord knoweth them that are his,” that is, all who name the name of Christ, and depart from iniquity; or in other words, all believers. 1 Pet. i. 2. “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” This can be applicable to none but believers, whom the Father has chosen, according to his foreknowledge and approbation of them, through the sanctification of the Spirit and faith, without which the sprinkling of the blood of Christ would avail them nothing. Hence it seems that the generality of commentators are wrong in interpreting the foreknowledge of God in these passages in the sense of prescience ; since the prescience of God seems to have no connection with the principle or essence of predestination : tor God has predestinated and elected whoever believes and con
8 In the original it is-qui igitur dilecti dilecturi erant, id est, credituri, eos prænovit Deus, &c.—which scarcely seems to have any sense, unless some allusion be intended to John xvi. 27. •the Father himself loveth you,' &c. It seems more probable that dilecti has been inserted by the carelessness of the transcriber.
9 So Chrysostom, as quoted by Toletis on Rom. xi. 2. So also Tena, Mede, (Discourse on Ps. cxii. 6. p. 82, fol. edit. London, 1672), Gerhard, and Estius.