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this honoured one, ye become vessels unto honour.
If any one interposes the question, But what makes one man come, whilst another holds back? And what is the meaning of that expression in the 8th verse, “ whereunto also they were appointed?” I must answer, by repeating a statement which I have already often made-The Father is drawing every man by his Spirit, even by that living and incorruptible seed of the word, (spoken of in the end of the 1st chapter of this Epistle,) which is sown in every heart, whether it be way-side or good ground. If he yields to this drawing, he will come to Christ, and become one of the living stones, and one of the chosen generation; but if he be disobedient to this drawing of the word, he cannot come truly to Christ, but will find him a stone of stumbling and rock of offence. No man can come unto Jesus but by following the Father's drawing—this is the appointmentand thus those who are disobedient to that drawing, bring themselves under the appointment, to find Jesus a stone of stumbling, instead of a sure foundation stone.
I may here bring forward some passages in which the principle of personal election,
according to its received meaning, is contrasted with the principle of election founded on approbation of character; and in which it seems as distinctly to be denied, that the former has any place in God's government, as it is asserted that the latter is His rule. These passages are important also in showing the misinterpretation by which the false view is supported. There are few titles more frequently claimed for God, throughout the Bible, than that of being no respecter of persons ; and in some of the places where it is claimed for Him, it appears as a direct and explicit denial of the common view of the doctrine of election. The first place where it occurs, is Deut. x. 17; and it is introduced there evidently for the same purpose as the parable of the potter in Jeremiah, namely, to warn the Israelites against misinterpreting God's peculiar and distinguishing kindness to them, and inferring from it that they were definitively elected by Him, and safe from his displeasure, although they walked after their own counsel. I shall cite from verse 14th, 6. Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God; the earth also with all that therein is. Only the Lord thy God had a
delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you, above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts, and be ye no more stiff-necked ; for the Lord your God is God of Gods, and Lord of Lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh rewards.”
The Israelites were thus taught to distinguish God's sovereignty, which had raised them in point of privilege above the rest of the nations, from His real judicial election, which rests only on those who circumcise their hearts, and are no more stiff-necked ; and they were warned against supposing that God's personal and final election, was determined by any thing except character. Indeed, when it is said of God that He is no respecter of persons, the meaning evidently is, that he is a respecter of characters.
Some of the other instances in which the expression occurs, are perhaps even more striking than this one ; but if I were to adduce all the striking passages to this effect, I should transcribe a great proportion of the Bible. I shall therefore leave the reader to find them out for himself, in a concordance, and I shall only add two other passages to
the same purport, out of 1 Samuel. One is, the threatening message to Eli on account of the wickedness of his sons, 1 Sam. ii. 30. " Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed, that thy house and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever; but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me, for them that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” The reader may compare this most explicit declaration, with that similar one in Num. xiv. 28—34, which concludes with these remarkable words of the God of truth, “and ye shall know my breach of mise.” The other passage is Samuel's expostulation with the people, on their offence in asking fora king, 1 Sam. xii. 20—25. “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not; (ye have done all this wickedness ; yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and turn ye not aside : for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain :) for the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. Moreover, as for me, God
, forbid that I should sin against the Lord in
proceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for, consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both you and your king.”
In these passages, the distinction between the election of sovereignty and the definitive election of judgment is plainly marked. God in sovereignty appoints the conditions of his rational creatures, giving them their provision of natural and spiritual gifts according to the place in the world or the church, which He elects them to fill-He gives spiritual manifestations to one man, which He does not give to another; in the same way as He gives greater intellectual talents, or moral firmness, to one than to another. But this is not the definitive election—it is only an initiatory or provisional election. The definitive election, is the judicial election, which rests only on those who rightly use their provision, whatever that provision may be.
There is as great a diversity in the inward visitations of the spirit sent to different persons, as in the outward events of their lives. Some are visited by a sense of the presence